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Famous People from Hale County Texas
Sunset Carson

Sunset Carson

Sunset Carson was born on November 12, 1920 as Winifred Maurice Harrison, at Gracemont, Oklahoma, to Maurice Greely Harrison and Azalee Belle McAdams. His family moved to Plainview Texas when he was a child. In his youth he became an accomplished rodeo rider and for a time he worked in a western show owned by cowboy actor Tom Mix.

In 1940 he traveled to South America, where he competed in rodeos for two years. After his return to the U.S., he played small parts in the 1943 film Stage Door Canteen, and the big budget 1944 film Janie, both having him billed as "Michael Harrison". When he caught the attention of Republic Pictures executive Lou Grey, he was signed to a contract and given his own series of B-westerns beginning in 1944.

When Carson, whose screen name was Michael Harrison, signed with Republic Pictures, studio head Herbert J. Yates thought that his name was too long to fit on theater marquees and would have to be changed. As he looked out his window he saw a used-car lot across the street called "Sunset Motors", and named his new cowboy star "Sunset". The new last name, "Carson", was in honor of legendary frontiersman Kit Carson.

Within two years, Carson was on the top-10 list of money makers for western stars. He was given a horse named "Cactus", and starred in a string of semi-successful western genre films. In 1944 he starred in Bordertown Trail, Code of the Prairie, and Firebrands of Arizona opposite Smiley Burnette. In 1945 (the peak of his career), his first film was Sheriff of Cimarron, followed by Santa Fe Saddlemates, Bells of Rosarita, Oregon Trail, Bandits of the Badlands, Rough Riders of Cheyenne, and The Cherokee Flash.

In 1946, Carson began the year strong, starring in Days of Buffalo Bill and Alias Billy the Kid. He followed those with The El Paso Kid, Red River Renegades, and Rio Grande Raiders. However, by the end of 1946, Carson and Republic Pictures were having disputes. He claimed the disputes were over his contract. Republic Pictures would later claim that he was fired by Republic creator and executive officer Herbert Yates after attending a studio function while intoxicated and in the company of an underage girl. By year’s end, he and Republic had parted company. He would never again achieve any large degree of acting success.

In 1948 he starred for Astor Pictures in Fighting Mustang, Deadline, and Sunset Carson Rides Again. Then in 1949 he starred in Rio Grande, and in 1950 he starred as the lead character, for the last time, in Battling Marshal. By the following year, his career was all but over as a leading actor of the day. For the next several years he obtained small bit parts.

Years later, in 1972, he played the lead in a B-movie called The Marshal of Windy Hollow, a film that co-starred a host of old time actors, including Ken Maynard, Tex Ritter, and Bill Cody, Jr. He then had a bit part in the movie Seabo in 1978, and another bit part in the 1985 sci-fi movie Alien Outlaw which was his last film role.

He toured for five years with "Tommy Scott's Country Music Circus". In the early 1980s, Carson hosted ″Six-Gun Heroes″, a South Carolina Educational TV show produced by Jim Welch presenting classic B Westerns which still airs on many PBS affiliates across the US. In 1985, Carson appeared in an episode of the television series Simon & Simon.

Carson married five times in his lifetime. He married Patricia Hussey in 1938, which ended in divorce. He then married Betty Price, Dorothy Shockley, and Margaret Nesbitt, all ending in divorce. His last marriage was to Jean Jackson Davis in 1989.

He retired to Reno, Nevada where he died on May 1, 1990.

Resources:

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Texas History in the 19th Century (Amazon)

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Famous People from Hale County Texas

Amazing People from Hale County TexasStories about people from Plainview, Hale Center, Petersburg and Abernathy Texas

Famous Actors from West TexasFamous Celebrities from West Texas
Books about Hale County People and Places

Books about Hale County People and PlacesBooks about People from Plainview, Hale Center, Petersburg and Abernathy Texas

 

Hale County Treasure on eBay

Rare Artifacts, Books, Memorabilia, Ancestry and History Records from Plainview, Abernathy, Hale Center, Petersburg, Edmonson, and Cotton Center Texas

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