Ken Maynard

Ken Maynard
Freulich / Universal Pictures

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Ken Maynard
Film: North side of the 6700 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Actor | Stuntman
Born Kenneth Olin Maynard on July 21, 1895 in Vevay, IN
Died March 23, 1973 of nutritional deterioration in Motion Picture and Television Country House, CA

During a career that began at the end of the silent movie era and spanned a quarter of a century, cowboy film star Ken Maynard starred in 90 motion pictures and was one of Hollywood's highest-paid celebrities.

Maynard ran away from home, joined a wagon show at 16, later studied engineering and became one of the youngest civil engineers in the U.S. Army.

His fascination with circus life brought him to Hollywood, where he got his first bit part in 1923 opposite Marion Davies and was an almost instant box-office attraction. Some of his best-known films included "Texas Gun Fighter," "Whistlin' Dan" and "Wild Horse Stampede."

The white-hatted figure was linked in the minds of western film fans with four other cowboy heroes of the early screen: William S. Hart, Tom Mix, Hoot Gibson and Buck Jones.

Born in Vevay, Ind. (and not in Mission, Texas, as his studio biography always said), he ran away from home in 1912 to join Buffalo Bill Cody's "Wild West Show." Trick riding and roping became his specialties.

After serving in the Army during World War I, Maynard joined the Ringling Bros. circus and became head rider in the show's wild west event. His fancy riding and roping led to motion picture offers.

In the '30s he was rated one of the 10 highest-paid actors in Hollywood.

Maynard retired in 1948 and formed his own wild west show in the San Fernando Valley, later merging with Clyde Beatty and touring the country.

Alone since the death of his wife Bertha, in 1969, he lived in a modest trailer in San Fernando. He died, reportedly, penniless, losing much of his motion picture fortune in failed circus investments.

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