Sunday, May 31, 2020

WMD Promotes Carrie Aulenbacher and Christopher Robinson

In the life of every publication in growth mode, there comes a place where this growth spawns the need for a higher level of organization. It’s with that in mind that today, May 31st of 2020, that I make this announcement:
  • Carrie Aulenbacher is hereby promoted to the position of Managing Editor.

  • Christopher Robinson is hereby promoted to the position of Senior Editor.
Carrie Aulenbacher has a long history of writing books, mentoring other writers, and designing and maintaining excellent websites on the Internet. Her duties include editing our writer’s work, recruiting talent, and building and maintaining WMD’s Twitter feed on social media. She’s already performed an internal audit of WMD’s website and social media outreach and has been instrumental in making adjustments. Stay tuned, there’s more ahead. Learn more about her by reading her partner page on WMD: click here.

Christopher Robinson, creates interesting, realistic, and engaging copy in the pages of WMD. His history includes freelance writing, film production and he's performed camera work for documentaries and other concerns. His personal phone interview with the late James Drury, also known as the Virginian, took the form of two back-to-back articles, beginning on August 25th of 2019, and both part 1 and part 2 continue to interest readers. Learn more about Christopher through his partner page on this website: click here.

Allan B. Colombo, WMD Publisher

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Looking for a Haunted Ghost Town? Here's 15 for the Picking

By Christopher Robinson

They are haunting reminders of a bygone era that creak, howl and bend in the arid dusty wind. Subtly hinting at legendary stories of the past, they offer distant glimpses into the hardships and dreams of the dead that never cease to stir our collective imagination.

They're the ghost towns of the American west and though they fade, rust and decay in an unrelenting sun, they remain nevertheless in various forms of existence. The spirits of their former inhabitants are often imagined to reside there alongside the few living souls who choose to call them their home while the remnants and relics of their humble structures hang on just long enough to tell their heartbreaking and unbelievable tales.

Most of these ghost towns originated as gold mining towns when miners migrated to various destinations in hope of striking it rich after ‘gold fever’ spread in the wake of gold strikes in places like Sutter’s Mill, California and the Black Hills of South Dakota. Many towns were situated near streams where gold was panned for until it went to “hard rock”, meaning ore had been mined.

If the vein “pinched out”, that meant no more ore could be dug, and the townspeople emigrated once again. Often complete hillsides were depleted and decimated, leaving behind empty carcasses of desolate streets and small ramshackle buildings with their unpainted false front rooftops slowly fading gray.

The following is a list of popular ghost towns in the United States. Since many states are opening up from the COVID-19 situation, perhaps you will visit one on vacation this summer.

Instructions: Click on the Town to visit each ghost town location below:
St. ElmoColoradoGoldYes
Virginia CityNevadaSilverYesHome to Mark Twain.
Setting of TV's Bonanza.
Animas ForksColoradoGoldUnknown1884: Endured 23-day blizzard
South Pass CityWyomingGoldYes
RubyArizonaGold, Silver, Lead, Zinc, CopperUnknownSite of notorious 'Ruby Murders.'
ThurberTexasCoalYesPopulation 5
ColomaCaliforniaGoldUnknownDawn of California 'Gold Rush'

As an aside, in 1874, Custer discovered gold in the Black Hills leading to the boomtown of Deadwood, South Dakota. The resulting gold rush clashed with sacred Sioux land, creating a problematic situation with inevitable repercussions.

In Closing, be sure to read Gary Miller's Ghost Towns of the West, previously published in Western Magazine Digest on December 1st, 2018.

About the Author

Christopher Robinson is a writer, filmmaker and musician in New Jersey who has contributed to several magazines and websites.

Robinson also worked as a cameraman, videographer, cable access TV host, teacher and producer. He scripted and produced commercial videos as well as cable television programs for local consumption.

For more info about Christopher, click here.

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Sunday, May 17, 2020

James "Buddy" Edgerton: The Unknown Lone Ranger

By Martin Grams

Throughout the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, the covers of pulp magazines and comic books featured incredible paintings. Many of those illustrators have been forgotten, and their original canvases long ago consigned to garbage bins. The beautiful artwork would ultimately be discarded for cheaper options such as comic illustrations or photographs of the television celebrities in costume. The artwork has since become relished by numerous fans of The Lone Ranger, and of recent years reproduced for the Radio Spirits bookshelf albums containing licensed old-time radio shows.

One of the artists responsible for those oil paintings is Don Spaulding. In the summer of 1950, Norman Rockwell used an empty schoolhouse to create a studio for young promising art students. Among the six students was Spaulding, who was a member of the Art Students League when he had the opportunity to study with the great Norman Rockwell.

“The entire thing was all gratis,” Spaulding later recalled for Charlie Roberts, “which was typical of the type of person Rockwell was. We had a place to live, but we provided our own food… But there was the feeling that I was imposing on Rockwell because I was living rent free and so forth, so I thought I should go home and get some more of the League under my belt.”

After a few months of assignments and studies, Spaulding went back home. “We went around to pocketbook (paperback) houses and magazines in the hopes of securing steady income from his talent. They all smiled, said nice things, and I never heard from them again,” Spaudling concluded. “But then I took my samples to Dell Publishing. They were general illustration sampled. Mostly adventure type stuff. The art director I saw there was Ed Marine. He was art director for the comic books. He liked my work and took a chance on me. That was probably a year or so after art school.”

Spaulding’s first cover was of a cowboy standing in a stream and a Yaqui Indian sneaking up behind him. Marine liked it and Dell assigned him a Lone Ranger comic cover to do. That was the one where he was swinging on a rope, kicking the outlaw in the face. This would ultimately lead to 16 Lone Ranger comic books, 15 Buck Jones, 18 Tonto, and a few Tarzan comic books. The oil paintings confirmed are listed below for reference:

Buck Jones (6 covers): Full Color #500, Full Color #546, Full Color #589, Full Color #652, Full Color #773 and Full Color #850

Tonto (18 covers): Issues #13 through 27, 29, 30 and 31

The Lone Ranger (16 covers): Issues #62, 63, 64, 71, 74, 76, 79, 83, 86, 88, 89, 91, 97, 98, 110 and 111

For the role of The Lone Ranger, he consulted one of the models frequently used by Norman Rockwell, whom he knew from the schoolhouse summer. Don Spaulding asked Norman Rockwell to get in touch with James “Buddy” Edgerton, to see if he would like to model for the covers.
“Being paid to model was easy money and I was a college student, so I jumped at the chance,” Buddy recalled. “I modeled for fifteen Lone Ranger comic book covers for Don. His process was very much like Norman’s – first, he took a photograph, then he worked from the photo to the final piece. It was easy to see Norman’s influence on Don’s work. It was a great experience to be able to model for The Lone Ranger. Though I had handled guns all my life, there sure is something different about holding two pearl-handled revolvers while you’re dressed up like a cowboy – no matter how old you are.”
“I usually wore a uniform of sorts when posing for the oil paintings, sometimes for photographs to be used if I was unable to pose for a few hours. I never wore a mask, tho. Don would add the mask later,” Buddy told me. “I recall being paid $5 per session. He would usually do two or three images each time and pick the best for use as an oil painting.”
The model to pose for Tonto was Don Spaulding himself. A friend would take photographs of Spaulding in pose, which the artist would then consult to produce the oil painting. But Buddy recalls another art student, Don Winslow, posing as Tonto for a number of the sessions.
“I only modeled for The Lone Ranger for twelve of the sixteen paintings,” Buddy explained. But James “Buddy” Edgerton has another claim to fame.
In the Spring of 1943, Norman Rockwell, his wife Mary, and their three young sons moved into the farmhouse next door to thirteen-year old Buddy in West Arlington, Vermont. As a result, he found himself as the model for many of Rockwell’s paintings, some of which are featured below for reference. Who would have thought that the proverbial Boy Scout of magazine fame was also The Lone Ranger in the comics?

Buddy since co-wrote a book about Norman Rockwell, providing insight to the artist from a perspective few could ever provide. The Unknown Rockwell: A Portrait of Two American Families is available for sale on Amazon.


Martin Grams Jr. is the author and co-author of numerous books about old-time radio and retro television.

He's winner of numerous awards in the Best Book categories, author of more than 100 magazine articles and co-author of "THE LONE RANGER: THE EARLY YEARS, 1933-1937."

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Sunday, May 3, 2020

Walter Brennan: The Real McCoy!

By Timothy England

Walter Andrew Brennan--born 1894 and deceased 1974—was a prolific actor and performer of epic proportions. He was the first actor to accumulate three Academy Awards, the only actor to win three Oscars as a Best Supporting Actor.

Within the space of two years, Brennan had moved from accepting largely insignificant roles, such as extras and stand-ins, to that of supporting characters. Brennan’s career began in 1935 with a significant role in Barbary Coast, a Goldwyn production. Here he began an extra but by the end of the production his part was increased to that of a supporting role. Then, in the same year, he landed another supporting role in MGM's 'West Point of the Air.'

In 1936, Brennan took a leading role in 'Three Godfathers.' “He had a small role in 'These Three' with Wyler and a bigger one in Walter Wanger's 'The Moon's Our Home' and 'Fury,' directed by Fritz Lang” ( Wikipedia,

Brennan's Three Oscar Winning Roles

It’s not everyday that an actor wins three Oscars in supporting roles. Brennan certainly didn’t do it in a day, but rather over a 4-year period. The three movies that resulted in this distinction included ‘Come and Get It,' in 1936; 'Kentucky' in 1938; and 'The Westerner' in 1940.

'Come and Get It' (1936) involves an ambitious lumberjack who abandons his saloon girl lover so he can marry wealth. However, years later, he becomes infatuated with the woman's daughter.
“In 1884 lumberman Barney Glasgow leaves his true love, saloon singer Lotta Morgan, to marry Emma Louise, his boss's daughter. His buddy Swan Bostrom marries Lotta instead. Barney becomes a lumber magnate by stripping the Wisconsin forests, without re-planting. After 23 years, Barney finally visits Swan. Lotta has died, but Barney is smitten by their daughter Lotta Bostrom, who looks almost like her mother. His lavish attentions to Lotta create gossip and a rivalry between Barney and his son Richard. Written by Will Gilbert” (IMDb,

And here’s a talented young man to tell you all about it.

Brennan's second Oscar, ‘Kentucky,’ was a “Romeo and Juliet story set amidst horse racing in Kentucky. The family feud of lovers Jack and Sally goes back to the Civil War and is kept alive by her Uncle Peter” (IMDb,

Probably the most touching aspect of this movie is when the Yankee troops came to confiscate the horses on a ranch. The owner, who bred and trained racing stallions, objected and in a fit of rage, was killed by one of the soldiers. In a heart wrenching moment, one of the children ran along side the Captain's horse, crying and yelling that he hated him for killing his father.

His third and final Oscar for Supporting Actor in a movie called ‘Westerner,’ “Judge Roy Bean (Brennan), a self-appointed hanging judge in Vinegarroon, Texas, befriends saddle tramp Cole Harden, who opposes Bean's policy against homesteaders” (IMDb,

The Early Years

In these early days, Brennan played smaller parts, such as extras and stand-ins. His early work began in 1925 when he landed a part in the following movies: 'Webs of Steel,' 'Lorraine of the Lions,' and 'The Calgary Stampede.' The following year, 1926, he landed parts in 'Watch Your Wife,' 'The Ice Flood,' 'Spangles,' 'The Collegians,' and 'Flashing Oars.'

In 1927, Brennan landed parts in 'Sensation Seekers,' 'Tearin' Into Trouble,' 'The Ridin' Rowdy,' 'Alias the Deacon,' 'Blake of Scotland yard,' and 'Hot Heels.' The following year, 1928, he played a part in 'Painting the Town,' 'The Ballyhoo Buster,' The Racket,' and 'The Michigan Kid.' In 1929, 'Silks and Saddles,' 'The Cohens and Kellys in Atlantic City,' Smilin' Guns,' The Lariat Kid,' and so on and so forth (click for more).

Brennan also played a part in the Three Stooges, such as ‘Women Haters’ in 1934. In 1935 he also joined the cast of 'The Wedding Night,' produced by Sam Goldwyn. There were many, many more. In this next video you’ll hear more:

The Real McCoys: TV's Love Affair

Most of us know Brennan from his role in the television series, 'The Real McCoys,' which ran from 1957 through 1963. In this serial, Brennan played the part of Amos McCoy, or Senor Grandpa.

“The Real McCoys is an American situation comedy co-produced by Danny Thomas's Marterto Productions in association with Walter Brennan and Irving Pincus's Westgate Company. The series was broadcast for six seasons, five by the ABC-TV network from 1957–1962 and a final year, 1962–63 by CBS. Set in the San Fernando Valley of California, the series was filmed in Hollywood at Desilu studios” (Wikipedia,

The Real Mccoys - Season 1 Pilot Episode 1

The Real McCoy, Season 1, Episode 18

Brennan In the Western Vein

There is no way that Western Magazine Digest can cover every single twist and turn to Walter Brennan’s magnificent career. But let’s take a quick look at some of the more popular flicks in the Western genre that he’s known for.

My Darling Clementine -- A 1946 American Western film directed by John Ford and starring Henry Fonda as Wyatt Earp during the period leading up to the gunfight at the OK Corral. The ensemble cast also features Victor Mature (as Doc Holliday), Linda Darnell, Walter Brennan, Tim Holt, Cathy Downs and Ward Bond.

Rio Bravo -- “A 1959 American Western film produced and directed by Howard Hawks and starring John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Angie Dickinson, Walter Brennan, and Ward Bond.

Written by Jules Furthman and Leigh Brackett, based on the short story "Rio Bravo" by B. H. McCampbell, the film is about the sheriff of the town of Rio Bravo, Texas, who arrests the brother of a powerful local rancher to help his drunken deputy/friend. With the help of a "cripple" and a young gunfighter, they hold off the rancher's gang.

Rio Bravo was filmed on location at Old Tucson Studios outside Tucson, Arizona, in Technicolor. In 2014, Rio Bravo was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry” (Wikipedia).

How the West Was Won -- “A 1962 American Metrocolor epic-western film. The picture was one of the last "old-fashioned" epic films made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to enjoy great success. Set between 1839 and 1889, it follows four generations of a family (starting as the Prescotts) as they move from western New York to the Pacific Ocean.

In 1997, the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress as being deemed ‘culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant’" (Wikipedia).

In conclusion, it’s hard to imagine another actor that has as many credits to his name was Walter Brennan. Having watched him in Westerns, it’s even more difficult to envision him in other types of movies, but he was such an all around actor that he was able to adapt to almost any role.

In 1932, through an accident, he lost his teeth. After that he was often seen in roles where he took the part of a character who is much older than he was at the time. Despite the loss of his teeth, his career continued to grow in addition to the respect and adoration of Walter Brennan’s followers.

About the Author
On the family farm just outside Nashville, Timothy England grew up surrounded by the beautiful Tennessee hillside where his imagination loved to roam.

His lifelong love of westerns has culminated in his debut novel, Track Down, the first installment in his series centering around US Marshall Jake Boone. To date, Timothy, under the pseudonym Jess Bryan, has written four books, all of them available from Amazon.

Timothy is the author of Track Down, a Western thriller. As United States Marshall, Jake Boone, is hot on the trail of the dangerous Stanton, circumstance pushes his skills and his wits to the limits. Will he be able to live up to his own legend and keep things safe? Or has 'Killer Jake' met his match finally? For more information on this and three other books written by Timothy English, go to:

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