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New book covers cowboy actors of the silent era

William S. Hart is among those covered in Rainey's book

The Strong Silent Type by Buck Rainey


"The Strong Silent Type" was the late Buck Rainey's 2004 reference book on over 100 cowboy actors active from 1903-1930. It has now been released in affordable softcover by McFarland and company, publishers.

Rainey offers biographies of the more noted Tim McCoy, William S. Hart, Tom Mix, Buck Jones, Ken Maynard, Rex Lease, et. al., but also covers the likes of the Fred Humes, Denver Dixon, Joe Rickson, and other lesser known western actors. Each biography contains a filmography. As part of his research, Rainey draws from interviews with the likes of Yakima Canutt, George O'Brien, Tim Holt, Olive Carrey, and Wally Wales, among others.

The biographical information provides on the noted stars offers interesting information not found in other sources. But one of the real strengths of this book is Rainey's providing information on the lesser known performers. The entry for Ernie Adams, for instance, is succint and informative, and is followed by an extensive filmography that covers his 24 year film career. One of the more impressive chapters is on the little know Don Coleman, whose work was confined mostly to the silent era, and whose western films are few. Yet, Rainey manages to offer several two-column pages of information and a complete filmography.

More important than a reference book of statistics, more complete than the photo-laden film books that offer little prose, "The Strong Silent Type" is a very thorough look at western actors from the silent era; the ones that set the foundation for the John Waynes and Clint Eastwoods that followed.

As the western is central to the development of film, a historical study of the earliest cowboy actors is an essential piece of any film study that wants to be comprehensive. There is a great attention to detail and accuracy throughout this volume. It is a book that should certainly find a place in any library or research center, and is also recommended to fans of the western genre's rich history.