Lash La Rue

Active - 1945 - 1990  |   Born - Jun 15, 1917   |   Died - May 21, 1996   |   Genres - Western, Action

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Biography by Hal Erickson

A former hairdresser, Al LaRue first tried to break into movies during the war years but failed to get past the casting directors, most of whom felt that he looked too much like Humphrey Bogart to suit their tastes. Refusing to give up, LaRue had by 1945 picked up quite a few supporting bad-guy roles. He began showing up in secondary parts in the Eddie Dean westerns at PRC studios; on the strength of his voluminous fan mail, he was elevated to his own starring series in 1946. Billed as "Lash" LaRue in honor of his skill with a 15-foot bullwhip, the actor played a black-clad do-gooder named Cheyenne, while his comic sidekick was the ubiquitous Al "Fuzzy" St. John. In 1951, LaRue headlined the 15-minute TV series Lash of the West, in which he would introduce and narrate clips from his earlier films. At that time, La Rue began showing signs of a drinking problem. By the late '50s, it was compounded by other legal problems, including an accusation of theft (he was acquitted), an arrest for vagrancy, drug possession and abuse, and other small crimes and misdemeanors. He claimed to have been married 10 ten times and paying his wives and for his legal problems left him impoverished.

Resurfacing in 1972, the destitute LaRue accepted the lead in a porno western, Hard on the Trail (even though he didn't participate in the sex scenes, the film would remain a source of shame and embarrassment for him). Late in life, Al "Lash" LaRue emerged as an evangelist on the rodeo and country-music circuit; he also became a popular guest speaker at western and nostalgia conventions. La Rue made his final film appearances in two sci-fi westerns Dark Power (1984) and Alien Outlaw (1985). He also made a cameo appearance in the terrible made-for-television remake of John Ford's Stagecoach (1986).

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