Interview with a B-Western Heroine
Itís a small world. Turns out that B.J. Turnage--a friend of ours from church--was, or I should say, is, Jane Adams--Kirby Grantís co-star in several Universal Westerns, as well as quite a few other cowboy flicks made in the 1940s and early Ď50s. Jane (B.J.) was gracious enough to allow me to ask her a few questions concerning her career in Westerns. Her answers follow:
SL: What were your feelings as you walked onto the set of your very first Western?
JA: Sheer joy. I had always dreamed of doing something like this. I was just so awed by it all. We went by caravan to Iversonís Ranch and there was this empty Western set [town], and little-by-little, in the course of a few hours, everything came to life. They brought the horses out and placed them; brought in the extras with their authentic, period outfits and old hats; they dressed up all of the exterior buildings to look like they were lived in; and it just became a live community--full of horses and costumes and activity. It was so exciting to me to actually be a part of it all.
SL: Out of all the Westerns you co-starred in, which was your favorite?
JA: The ones in which I had the most lines of dialogue in were my favorites. I had been trained at the Pasadena Playhouse for four years as an actress and, as you know, women in Westerns had very little to say or very little opportunity to do any real acting. So, when I got the chance to play out a really good scene, that was when I was the happiest.
SL: Who was your favorite co-star?
JA: I would have to say, Johnny Mack Brown--such a gentleman. Though Kirby Grant was a lovely man, too. And, the Cisco Kid--Duncan Renaldo--I liked him very much. Another real gentleman. All of them were charming men--Guy Madison, Jimmy Wakely, Rod Cameron and Bill Williams--including the sidekicks, Fuzzy Knight, who worked in all the Kirby Grant Westerns with me. And Leo Carrillo--he played the Cisco Kidís partner, Pancho. You know, Leo Carrillo was from one of the oldest and finest California families--he rode his horse in the Rose Parade for years.
SL: Any exciting anecdotes?
JA: There was one time when I was supposed to be riding in a buckboard and the wheels became very unsafe, at least I thought they were. This girl (stuntwoman) just took over for me and did all the dangerous stuff in that wagon. I did the closeups later and in the final film it looked like I had done it all. I was very frightened while I was riding in that horse-drawn carriage. I had taken riding lessons when I first signed with Universal and was pretty good on horseback. But I just didnít like being in that wobbly old buckboard any more than I had to.