Leo Maloney

Active - 1912 - 1929  |   Born - Jan 1, 1888   |   Died - Nov 1, 1929   |   Genres - Western

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Biography by Hans J. Wollstein

A hefty (200 pound) native Californian who began his screen career as a stunt double and assistant director, Leo Maloney hit his stride as a performer supporting Helen Holmes and Helen Gibson in the long-running railroad series The Hazards of Helen (1914-1917). Maloney commenced his directorial career with Helen Gibson's famous husband, Hoot, before starring in and directing a series of independent programmers scripted by his friend Ford I. Beebe. Maloney's Westerns were light on action and heavy on exposition, a situation necessitated by the producer/star's heavy drinking. Still, the oaters -- produced at Crestline in the San Bernardino Mountains -- were often refreshing departures from the stunt driven work of the many Tom Mix wannabes who otherwise cluttered the market. Maloney, unfortunately, was a terrible actor whose romantic clinches were customarily received with guffaws if not downright hostility, and although he later signed a distribution deal with the Pathé organization, his ramshackle little oaters remained very much on the periphery of Hollywood film making. Yet it was this most unlikely of screen cowboys who, with borrowed equipment, produced, directed, and starred in the first all-sound independent Western, the otherwise much maligned Overland Bound (1929). Triumphant, Maloney left Hollywood to find a distributor in New York. But he apparently celebrated a mite too lavishly en route and suffered a fatal stroke in a Manhattan hotel room on November 2, 1929, thus never witnessing the premiere of his creation.