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James Brown
Desdemona's Celebrity Actor

by Linda Ruhl

"One of Baylor's earliest Hollywood success stories."
James Brown and Rin Tin Tin

James Brown
as Lt. Rip Masters
with co-star Rin Tin Tin


Photo courtesy thinhippo.com
Desdemona, Texas, became the birthplace of a future movie and TV star, when James Brown was born on March 22, 1920. His parents came to Desdemona during the oil rush, where his father, Floyd, worked as a carpenter. Some of the construction his father took part in was the Desdemona Post office and Baptist church. The family moved back to their home in Waco sometime before 1924, where James attended elementary and high school, then went on to study at Baylor University. The Baylor University Online Magazine refers to him as "one of Baylor's earliest Hollywood success stories."

After a brief career as a professional tennis player, this young athletic Texan began a successful career in Hollywood. His career as an actor, which spanned over 40 years, included rugged military roles in films such as Wake Island (1942), Air Force (1943), Objective Burma (1945), and Sands of Iwo Jima (1949). He also made several westerns, in which he either starred or played supporting roles, and many other films ranging from comedy to drama.
Rip Master James Brown autographing

James Brown at the Charlotte, NC Film Festival, 1981

Photo courtesy Cowboypals.com
In 1954, James Brown was cast as the strong, handsome hero in the "Adventures of Rin Tin Tin" tv show, a role which endears him to many "Baby Boomers" even today. This show ran from 1954 to 1958, with 52 episodes recorded. It was re-released in 1976, hosted by Brown, who reprised his Rip Master character for the program. Two of the Rin Tin Tin episodes showcased Brown's musical talent, with him singing "Forward Ho" in one episode and "The White Buffalo" in another. He had a rich baritone voice and was a recording artist,backed by the "Trailwinders," for MGM records.

While James Brown's resume includes many other films and television appearances, most notably "Dallas," his work in the Rin Tin Tin series will live in his fans' hearts for all time.

This fine actor passed away on April 11, 1992, after a long bout with lung cancer.
Linda Ruhl
They Shoe Horses, Don't They? June 19, 2005 Guest Column

Anyone with information about James Brown, his career or boyhood in Desdemona, Texas, please contact Linda Ruhl: linrvt@yahoo.com

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