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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"King of the Texas Rangers"; Republic, 1941

As hard as it is to believe, not everyone wants to be a movie star. A case in point is hall of famer “Slingin' Sammy” Baugh, quarterback for the Washington Redskins from 1937-1952. His nickname came from his unerring accuracy in passing the football, completing almost 1700 successful passes in his career, his most famous being a 446 yarder against the Boston Yanks in 1948.

As with any person who becomes the hero of adults and children alike, eventually Hollywood will come calling to take advantage of that popularity. For “Slingin Sammy” it was Republic Pictures. Wanting to take advantage of both Sammy's football popularity, and the fact that he came from Texas, the studio cast him in King of the Texas Rangers (1941) as a college football star who leaves school and joins the Texas Rangers to avenge the death of his father at the hands of a group of Fifth Columnists acting on the U.S./Mexican border.

Though inexperienced, Baugh was a quick study, and having worked on a ranch as a youth was able to handle being on a horse. Many, like director William Whitney and co-star Kene Duncan, have both stated that if he had stayed in the business he could have become a bigger western star than even John Wayne.

But it was not meant to be, as Baugh preferred the football field to the sagebrush trail. After retiring from the Redskins in 1952, his number is the only one the team ever retired, Baugh went to the University of Hardin-Simons in Texas where he spent the rest of the decade coaching. When the Football Hall of Fame was created in 1963, “Slingin' Sammy” was one of the first inductees. After retiring from coaching, Baugh returned to his childhood roots and became a rancher.

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