Museum exhibit takes measure of career on film, screen and stage
A retrospective devoted to the illustrious career of Kingman's favorite son, actor Andy Devine, will be on display at the Mohave Museum of History and Arts this month.
Museum volunteer Paul Carson said he is more than happy to take people on a guided tour of the exhibition - shown for the first time - that is devoted to the cowboy actor whose raspy voice and bulky frame led to fame and fortune.
Starting with an original photo of Devine staring in a silent two-reel movie with Gabby Hayes in 1926, the exhibit chronicles his movie, television and stage appearances through original photos, movies posters, press packages and lobby cards.
The childhood injury that had damaged Devine's larynx when he was young turned out to be an advantage, and he acted in close to 400 movies, occasionally as the leading man, but more often in character parts.
Although most people remember Devine as a cowboy actor, not all the movies were westerns.
Devine's breakout role was in the original version of "A Star is Born" with Janet Gaynor in 1937, Carson said.
The movie was later remade with Judy Garland and James Mason and again with Barbara Streisand.
In "Men with Wings," in 1938, Devine and Fred McMurray starred as aviators.
Devine also starred with Marlene Dietrich in "The Flame of New Orleans."
"He acted with all the stars of the day, including Jack Benny, Bob Hope and Roy Rodgers," Carson said.
"He also filmed many B-Westerns at Republic Studios."
During the making of his first "Class A" movie, "Stagecoach" in 1939, he became friends with John Wayne, a friendship that lasted until Devine's death.
A display in the retrospective includes an original press package promoting the movie "Canyon Passage," along with a photo of Devine's two sons Tad and Dennis, who had bit parts in the movie.
In the 1940s Devine's career received another boost when he acted in serial westerns with Rodgers.
He also played the character "Cookie Bullfincher" in nine movies and continued to play comic relief roles in musicals, westerns and even a couple of gangster movies.
Devine made the switch to television in the 1950s when he starred as Guy Madison's sidekick, Jingles, in "Wild Bill Hickok" from 1950 to 1954.
In 1962 he starred in the movie "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" with famed director John Ford.
Devine was also the voice of Friar Tuck in the Walt Disney production of "Robin Hood."
The museum exhibit also chronicles Devine's roles in stage productions in the 60s and 70s, including the production, "Show Boat."
The retrospective includes photos of Devine on "This is Your Life," on Feb.
2, 1955, and an obituary published in the Kingman Daily Miner on Feb.
Devine died Feb.
18 of cardiac arrest.
His wife, Dorothy, died June 14, 2000, at age 85.
The Devine family arrived in Kingman Nov.
16, 1906, to take over responsibilities as owners and managers of the Hotel Beale, which also served as their home.
They lived at the Hotel Beale until 1925.
During this time Devine's father, Thomas, was elected Mohave County's treasurer, an office he held for many years.
Meanwhile, young Andy attended grade school and high school in Kingman and lived life to the fullest at the hotel.
Before he became famous, he worked at a variety of jobs, including telephone lineman, lifeguard and news photographer.
Throughout his film, stage, radio and television career Devine was a devoted family man and a humanitarian who entertained troops oversees during World War II, Carson said.
The retrospective includes only about five percent of original Andy Devine memorabilia the museum owns.
Included are the chair Devine used on movie sets and the saddle he used in parades.
"We are very proud of Andy," Carson said.
"People tend to forget, but we shouldn't let them do that.
"He was a great person and did some very important work.
He was very successful in his art, and always working."
The special exhibition is open to visitors with the price of admission to the museum through October.
Carson said some of Devine's films will be shown during the retrospective starting next week.