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Lash La Rue Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trivia (15) | Personal Quotes (1)

Overview (4)

Born in Gretna, Louisiana, USA
Died in Burbank, California, USA  (emphysema)
Birth NameAlfred Wilson LaRue
Height 6' 1" (1.85 m)

Mini Bio (1)

He looked so much like superstar Humphrey Bogart that character actress Sarah Padden asked if the two were related. LaRue said he didn't think so. After a long pause studying the young actor's face, she asked, "Did your mother ever meet Humphrey Bogart?"

Alfred "Lash" LaRue was born in Louisiana (although some records indicate Michigan). His father was a traveling salesman, and young Alfred spent his formative years moving all across the country. His family finally settled in Los Angeles and he attended St. John's Military Academy and began college at College of the Pacific, intending to study law. At some point he took an acting class there in an attempt to overcome a speech impediment. After college he followed his father into sales and became a real estate agent. Unsatisfied, he switched to hairdressing before falling into acting. In 1945 he was interviewed by veteran low-budget producer / director Robert Emmett Tansey, who was looking for a bullwhip-cracking anti-hero to co-star in a production at lowly Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC). That studio had been around since 1940, rising out of the ashes of Ben Judell's failed dream, and had quickly earned a reputation--entirely justified--of being the worst studio among the denizens of "Poverty Row", that grouping of cheapjack independent producers and ultra-low-budget production companies that composed the bottom rung of the Hollywood food chain, at least since the days of equally shoddy Syndicate Pictures a decade before. LaRue, with his remarkable resemblance to Bogart, certainly looked the part and was cast after claiming he'd worked a bullwhip since childhood. In fact he had never handled one, so after he was cast he ran out and borrowed a whip. He spent the next several days trying to learn to use it, but wound up beating himself senseless and bloody, and was finally forced to admit to Tansey that he didn't know what he was doing. Impressed by LaRue's sincerity and laughing at his injuries, Tansey arranged for personalized bullwhip instruction, a rather lavish expense for penny-pinching PRC. Al had appeared in a handful of walk-on roles at Universal, but after realistically gauging his chances at becoming a star at a major studio, he decided it was better to be a bigger fish in a small pond (or, in PRC's case, a mud puddle). His PRC debut, Song of Old Wyoming (1945), headlined singing cowboy Eddie Dean and co-starred the beautiful Jennifer Holt, veteran actor Jack Holt's daughter. This picture was also unique as being PRC's first western to be shot in color, albeit in Cinecolor, a process favored by low-budget producers because it was much cheaper than the better known (and more garish) Technicolor, even though it was decidedly inferior and gave films shot in it an anemic, washed-out look.

Although he wasn't the star, and billed as "the Cheyenne Kid," LaRue received a relatively large amount of fan mail and it dawned on the powers-that-be at PRC that they had a potential star on their hands. Not wanting to mess with a good thing, the studio paired the whip-cracking LaRue with the singing Dean two more times before splitting them off into their own pictures. LaRue quickly adopted an all-black wardrobe and rode a jet black horse to accentuate his image as a bad guy / good guy, sort of an early western anti-hero. He was assigned a sidekick, the hard-drinking, middle-aged Al St. John--a former Keystone Kop for Mack Sennett--beginning with Law of the Lash (1947) and the two gradually became good friends. At PRC he became "King of the Bullwhip" and a solid staple of Saturday-afternoon matinées. LaRue remained with the company after it morphed into Eagle-Lion in 1948, usually playing a character named Cheyenne Davis, before adopting the "Lash" moniker he'd been using for years in screen credits. In private life LaRue loved booze, women and flashy--preferably custom-tailored--clothes. He was married so often it was hard to keep track of his wives, but most sources agree that the number ranged from 10 to 12, two of his more notable ones being actresses Reno Browne, a blonde beauty who co-starred in a few of his films, and Barbra Fuller. Aside from a penchant for marrying pretty much anyone he became attracted to, he also acquired an alcohol problem (which he would battle, with varying degrees of success, for the rest of his life) and after his acting career waned in the early '50s he ran into financial problems. Despite having one of the more recognizable names in B-westerns, he never ranked among the top stars in popularity polls, probably attributable less to his screen persona or acting ability and more to his films' awful scripts and deplorable lack of production values due to PRC's legendary cheapness, a factor that hurt the careers of many of the studio's western stars (had he been signed to a less penurious studio like Republic or Columbia, his career might have risen to far greater heights). LaRue almost always performed his own stunts--mainly because PRC was loathe to spend money on professional stunt men, who in those days demanded higher pay than the stars they were doubling for--a fact he took pride in and made sure that he "conveniently" lost his hat during action scenes so his audience could see that it was actually him in the fray and not a stunt double.

It's interesting to note that although he was never a top-ranked cowboy star during his heyday, he rated his own comic book series that lasted until 1960. After riding out a particularly rough period of his life in the 1960s, he began appearing at Hollywood memorabilia and western shows where he cheerfully greeted fans, happily signed autographs and gained a reputation of being pleasantly accessible. He died in 1996.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jack Backstreet

Spouse (3)

Reno Browne (10 January 1962 - 1964) (divorced)
Barbra Fuller (23 February 1951 - 2 June 1952) (divorced)
Marion Carney (? - 21 May 1996) (his death)

Trivia (15)

Married and divorced ten times.
Although the horse he used was at times called "Rush" and "Black Diamond" in his films, it was actually the same horse--Black Diamond.
His wife Barbra Fuller was an accomplished actress of both radio (Claudia on "One Man's Family") and motion pictures and television, having played opposite Charles Boyer. They never had any children but had a godson who was child star J.P. Sloane, the son of early television personality Jimmie Jackson and actress Anita Coleman.
Lash LaRue comic books sold over one million copies each around the world and many of them featured Lash and wife Barbra Fuller's godson, J.P. Sloane; in fact, Sloane was the only child ever to appear on the "Six-Gun Heroes" comic books when he appeared with Lash on the cover of issue 19.
Subject of the song "Lash LaRue" by Starbuck.
Played guitar very well and became a regular at the jam sessions at the Dew Drop Inn in New Orleans.
After his film career took a dive, he resorted to performing in second-rate circuses and carnivals.
Beset with alcohol problems, he was arrested in 1966 for vagrancy in Miami, Florida.
Bluffed his way into the "bullwhip" movies telling director Robert Emmett Tansey he knew how to use one when he didn't. The studio liked his acting work anyway and later hired a true expert, Rex 'Snowy' Baker, to teach him how to use it. La Rue in turn taught Harrison Ford for his "Indiana Jones" movies.
One of the first recipients of the Golden Boot Awards in 1983.
Professional wrestler Johnny LeRoux borrowed his ring name from LaRue, dubbing himself "Lash LeRoux" in 1999.
LaRue's film sidekick, toothless, grizzled Al St. John, was formerly a member of the Keystone Kops, Their first pairing was Law of the Lash (1947).
He unwittingly played a fully clothed villain in what turned out to be an adult film entitled Hard on the Trail (1972). The sex scenes were later shot and inserted around the scenes he previously filmed. Shocked by this, he later became a born-again Christian and turned into a high-voltage evangelist in some sort of act of repentance. He also performed whip and gun stunts for the Florida-based Hollywood Western Revue for the Lord.
Reared in various Louisiana towns as his father was a traveling hotel representative and real estate salesman, the family moved to Los Angeles when Lash was in his teens and was enrolled at St. John's Military Academy. He then enrolled at College of the Pacific with the intention of studying law. He took drama to overcome a speech impediment, and worked at various jobs (including real estate salesman and hairdresser) before deciding to try acting.
Much of his bullwhip work was done by stunt man Carl Petty, who lived on Fairbanks Way across the street from Rand Brooks in Culver City. Carl used to practice in his front yard all of the time. He was on the TV show You Asked for It (1950) to show how he shot arrows for the movies. Fairbanks Way is a few blocks from MGM Lot 3.

Personal Quotes (1)

[on Al St. John--aka "Fuzzy"--his sidekick in many of his western films] Fuzzy was an angel unaware, as far as I'm concerned. He was a wonderful guy, and I wish he were still here to see how long the films had lasted . . . he was the greatest ad lib artist in the world. He could stumble over a matchstick and spend 15 exciting minutes looking for what he stumbled over.

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