Todd Gault's Movie Serial Experience

Todd Gault's Film Serial Experience: Movie serials, cliffhangers and reviews. A gallery of movie serial stars.
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"Captain Video"; Columbia, 1951

Gene Roth began acting under his full name, Eugene Stutenroth., and was billed that way for most of his work in the late forties. At the dawn of the fifties he shortened it to first Eugene Roth before deciding on the much simpler Gene Roth.

Like many actors he started out at Universal where he garnered minor henchmen roles in programmers like “Sherlock Holmes and the Spider Woman” (1944) and serials such as “Secret Agent X-9” (1945) and “The Master Key” (1945). After branching out on his own he kept busy during the late forties appearing in such Monogram films as Charlie Chan’s “The Shanghai Cobra” (1946) and “Smuggler’s Cove” (1948) with The Bowery Boys.

It was around this same time that he made several serials for Republic. “Jesse James Rides Again” (1947), “The Adventures of Frank and Jesse James” (1948), and “The James Brothers of Missouri” (1949) all cast Roth in the same role, as a friendly sheriff who helps out the disguised outlaws trying to repay for their life of crime. During this time he also played a well meaning newspaper publisher who helped to defeat “The Black Widow” (1947).

Then Roth got cast in the serial that would set him on his path toward villainous serial stardom when he played a scheming blacksmith in “The Ghost of Zorro” (1949). Moving over to Columbia, Roth spent his time between haranguing The Three Stooges and taking on the studio’s serial heroes in fights to the death. He was a marauding menace in both “Pirates of the High Seas” (1950) and “Mysterious Island” (1951); then tried to take over the universe first in “Captain Video” (1951) and then again in “The Lost Planet” (1953).

After going off on his own again, Roth made appearances in such big budget films like “Prince Valiant” (1954), “Jet Pilot” (1957), and “The Young Lions” (1958). It was also during this time that he embarked on his second most well known genre association, horror films. In quick succession he appeared in the low budget efforts “Zombies of Mora-Tau” (1958), “Earth vs. the Spider” (1958), “She Demons” (1958), “Attack of the Giant Leeches” (1959), and “Tormented” (1960).

The sixties brought him back to his old nemesis in “The Three Stooges Meet Hercules” (1962), as well as semi-regular role on “Perry Mason” as one of the many judges who rotated throughout the run of the show. Other TV appearances included “The Twilight Zone” and “Mission: Impossible”. Sadly Roth died in 1976 when he was struck by a car.

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