John Wayne: One ‘Gunsmoke’ Actor was Dubbed Over the Duke’s Singing Voice in Early Films

by Joe Rutland
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Picture, if you will, John Wayne as one of those “singing cowboys” in movies. It happened yet his vocal talents were dubbed by other actors.

In fact, one actor who would sing Wayne’s parts happened to play the bartender on “Gunsmoke” from 1961-74.

But let’s not get there quite yet. John Wayne played in some B-movie roles while at Monogram Pictures between 1933-35. He played Singin’ Sandy Saunders in the 1933 picture “Riders of Destiny,” according to an article from Wide Open Country.

John Wayne Had Voice For Singing Dubbed Over Twice In Career

Bill Bradbury, who was the son of the movie’s director, Robert N. Bradbury, overdubbed Wayne’s singing voice.

In 1935, John Wayne took to the screen as John Middleton in the Republic Pictures film “Lawless Range.” This time, it was actor Glenn Strange who dubbed in the singing parts for “The Duke.”

Strange made a name for himself, too, in movies and TV. He was the actor in Frankenstein’s suit in the 1944 film “House of Frankenstein” along with Boris Karloff. Strange made another appearance as Frankenstein in the 1948 film “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.”

But if you are dialing around your TV set one day and come across “Lawless Range,” then you’ll know it is the voice of Glenn Strange. Obviously, Wayne is doing the acting in the film as only he could do. Singing, though, was not a strong suit of Wayne despite all of his great success.

Glenn Strange Managed To Keep The Peace Behind The Bar In Dodge City

Millions of people, though, will know Glenn Strange best from playing the bartender in Dodge City as part of “Gunsmoke.” Yep, he was right in there along with Miss Kitty, played by Amanda Blake, making sure the drinks were flowing.

John Wayne actually introduced “Gunsmoke” to TV audiences when it debuted on CBS in 1955. He made a short cameo in the first scene, talking about the show and its star, James Arness. So, you could say that there also was a tie between “The Duke” and television’s longest-running western series. “Gunsmoke” was on CBS for 20 seasons, leaving the network in 1975.

Strange was beloved by his “Gunsmoke” cast members. Sadly, he died on Sept. 20, 1973, of lung cancer at 74 years old. Buck Taylor, who played Newly on “Gunsmoke,” named his third son after Strange.

But John Wayne fans who may see those early “singing cowboy” pictures will know now that Strange was one of those actors singing for Wayne.

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