Advertised by his studio, Universal, as "The World's Champion Rider," American silent screen cowboy Ted Wells (born John Oscar Wells) had been a stunt double for Rudolph Valentino prior to starring in his own Western series. Arguably the best looking of Universal's many Western stars, Wells, unfortunately, was less inspiring as a thespian; in fact, novice director William Wyler considered it a career advancement when he was bumped from the Wells unit to one starring Fred Humes. Released from his studio contract in the confusing year of 1928, Wells signed with independent producer William Pizor, who promptly changed the cowboy's name, first to Johno Wells, then Pawnee Bill Jr. With legendary bad filmmaker Robert J. Horner at the helm, the Pawnee Bill Westerns suffered from almost nonexistent budgets and received mainly scorn. Returning to his original moniker, Wells managed to survive the transition to sound, but with the exception of The Phantom Cowboy (1935), yet another Horner-directed atrocity, he was reduced to playing bit parts and doubling William Boyd in the Hopalong Cassidy films. Wells lost a thumb doubling for Bing Crosby on a Road comedy, an incident that in all likelihood hastened his desire to become a full-time rancher. Acording to former Universal coworkers, Ted Wells was "a damned good fellow and a top hand."