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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"Tailspin Tommy"; Universal, 1934

Al Ferguson always played henchmen. From the time he entered film in 1910 he was cast as a western badman and became a mainstay by 1912. There was a brief attempt at stardom in 1925, where he starred in a short lived series as the hero for producer J. Charles Davis. This ended abruptly due to the unfortunate death of Davis.

With the coming of sound Ferguson became a familiar face in serials at Mascot and Universal, where his still slight trace of Scottish burr gave his line readings a unique sense of menace. Universal used him to good effect in The Lightning Express (1930), The Lost Special (1932), Pirate Treasure (1934), and The Vanishing Shadow (1934), among others. Mascot used him in The Hurricane Express (1932) and The Three Musketeers (1933).

When Columbia began making serials in the late thirties, Ferguson quickly became one the regualrs director James W. Horne employed to harrass his heroes. He was seen in The Spider's Web (1938), The Green Archer (1940), White Eagle (1941), and Captain Midnight (1942) to name a few.

The latter part of the decade saw Ferguson perfoming more often in B-westerns, though he would occasional pop up in small parts in Columbia serials like Son of the Guardsman (1946) and The Vigilante (1947). The fifties saw Ferguson move to TV where he played villains on shows like Sky King. But Columbia was always involved in Ferguson's career as he played henchmen in their last two serials, Perils of the Wilderness (1956) and Blazing the Overland Trail (1956).

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