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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"Vanishing Legion"; Universal, 1934

Onslow Stevens was a third generation actor, son of Housley Stevens. He came to Hollywood's attention when he appeared in the stage production of Under the Roof (1928) at the Pasadena Playhouse. Coming to Hollywood in 1932, he made two serials for Universal before become a popular leading man.

Heroes of the West (1932) featured Stevens as a railroad engineer building a new line across hostile Indian country in Wyoming. His second serial, The Vanishing Shadow (1934) had Stevens employing a robot, ray guns, and an invisibility belt to clear his late father's reputation from a false scandal and his own name from a framed murder charge.

After his time in serials Stevens went on to star in features like Life Returns (1935) which featured real life footage from a documented scientific experiment where a dog was resuscitated from apparent death, Easy Money (1936), Sunset Serenade (1942) and House of Dracula (1945) Universal's final monster rally before Abbott and Costello began meeting them.

After that Stevens became a popular character actor, usually playing villains or weak willed men who are easily manipulated by villains in films such as Johnny Sheffield's debut post Tarzan series Bomba the Jungle Boy (1949), the Johnny Weismuller Jungle Jim epic Mark of the Gorilla (1950), A Lion in the Streets (1953), Them! (1954), and C. B. Demille's The Ten Commandments (1956).

TV fans will probably remember him for his portrayal of kindly Mr. Fisher in the 1952-1955 religious drama This Is the Life.

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