Born in Pumpkin Center, California in January of 1922, Robert Ozell Moseley was an American film, television and radio actor. He was one of five children born to a machinist father and raised in Bakersfield, California. Moseley attended the city’s junior college where he majored in animal husbandry, he worked briefly as a telephone linesman in California before joining the Coast Guard in 1942.
In Hollywood on a liberty pass in 1944, Moseley attended a Lux Radio Theater broadcast where he was noticed by a talent scout and brought to the offices of Selznick International Pictures. David Selznick signed Moseley to a contract and gave him several screen tests and his first film role. Moseley appeared as a lonely sailor in a three-minute bowling alley sequence with film stars Jennifer Jones and Robert Walker in the 1944 “Since You Went Away”. He filmed his screen time on a weekend pass under the name Guy Madison, a screen name composed by David Selznick and his assistant Henry Wilson.
“Since You Went Away” was set in an American town where families dealt with loved ones fighting in the Second World War and the effects of that war at home. The cinematography was produced by Stanley Cortez, who would film Charles Laughton’s “Night of the Hunter”, Lee Garmes, an Academy Award winner for “Shanghai Express”, and George Barnes, Academy Award winner for “Rebecca”, and documentary producer Robert Bruce, the last two being in uncredited roles. The film was a success and generated thousands of fan letters for Guy Madison in his role as a lonely sailor.
Guy Madison, after his discharge from military service, was cast in several roles by Selznick. He appeared in leading roles in the 1946 drama film “Till the End of Time”, co-starring with Dorothy McGuire, Bill Williams and Robert Mitchum, and the 1947 comedy film “Honeymoon”, co-starring with Shirley Temple and Franchot Tone. Madison’s early acting roles in these films was judged by critics to be amateurish and, by the end of the 1940s, he was no longer getting roles. Along with most of the Selznick International’s contract-players during this period, Madison was eventually released from his contract.
Despite the bad reviews, Madison studied and started perfecting his art in the theater.His fortune changed when he was given the role of James Butler Hickok in the television series “The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok”, which ran from 1951 to 1958 and on the radio from 1951 to 1956. His co-star in the series was Andy Devine, a character actor well known for his distinctive raspy voice, who played the role of the trusty sidekick Jingles. This popular series was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1956 for Best Western or Adventure Series.
Guy Madison’s popularity as Hickok led to a starring role in the 1953 western film “The Charge at Feather River”, a role which gave him a new start as an action hero, albeit mostly in western films. Films which followed include the 1954 Western calvary film “The Command”; the 1955 robbery film “Five Against the House”; “The Beast of Hollow Mountain”, a 1956 horror western with a prehistoric beast; the 1956 science fiction drama “On the Threshold of Space”; the 1957 western drama“The Hard Man”; and “Bullwhip”, a 1958 western film in which Madison co-starred with Rhonda Fleming.
In the 1960s, Madison traveled through Europe and made several costume dramas, German adventure films and Italian westerns. Among his many European films are such films as the 1965 film “Das Vermächtnis des Inka (The Legacy of the Incas)”, the 1966 “I Cinque della Vndette (Five for Revenge)”, and the 1968 “I Lunghi Giorni dell’Odio (Long Days of Hate)”. In the 1970s, Madison returned to the United States and appeared in mainly cameo roles in film and television. In 1988, he appeared in a television remake of the western classic “Red River” along with western stars James Arness, Robert Horton and John Lupton. Madison’s role as rancher Bill Meeker became his final film role.
In his later years, Guy Madison’s work was greatly limited by physical aliments and the onset of emphysema. He eventually retired to a large ranch home he designed in Morongo Valley, California. Madison died at the age of seventy-four in February of 1996 at the Desert Hospital Hospice in Palm Springs, California. He was buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Cathedral City, California.
Guy Madison, in addition to all his appearances on many television shows, appeared in over fifty films in his career. In 1954, he was awarded a special Golden Globe Award for Best Western Star and, in 1986, was awarded a Golden Boot Award given in recognition of his contributions to the genre of westerns in television and film. Madison has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for his work in radio and one for his television contributions. He also has a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars in California.
Note: Character actor Andy Devine acted in many western films. One of his most notable roles was as Cookie, the sidekick in ten Roy Rogers feature films. He also appeared in several films with John Wayne, including “Stagecoach” in 1939, the 1953 “Island in the Sky”, and “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” released in 1962. Devine appeared extensively in radio including seventy-five appearances on Jack Benny’s radio show between 1936 and 1942. He was also the host for “Andy’s Gang”, a children’s television show hosted on NBC during the later half of the 1950s. Devine has a star of honor on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Second Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Guy Madison”, Studio Photo for “The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok”, circa 1951-1958
Third Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Guy Madison and Andy Devine”, Studio Photo for “The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok”, circa 1951-1958
Fourth Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Guy Madison and Robert Mitchum”, Publicity Photo for “Till the End of Time”, 1945-1946