Wednesday, January 12, 2011
The Green Hornet: Cliffhanger Serials
The title role in the first Green Hornet serial, released in 1940, went to a guy named Gordon Jones. Jones had appeared in about 30 films in the previous nine years of his career, but this was probably his biggest break. Unfortunately, it wasn't much of a career changer. He was replaced in the second serial, and went on to small roles in various films and TV episodes for the next 23 years. His main recurring film role was as Splinters McGonagle in a half dozen Roy Rogers flicks, and he later had guest shots on Maverick, Wyatt Earp, the Rifleman and most other westerns (and non-western dramas) of the day.
More interesting was the casting of Keye Luke as Kato. Luke had already appeared as Charlie Chan's No. 1 son in several films with Warner Oland, and later filled the same role with Sidney Toler. In 1972 he provided the voice of Charlie himself for an animated TV series, and began a recurring role as Master Po in TV's Kung Fu.
For The Green Hornet Strikes Again, made later that same year, the lead went to Warren Hull, who had appeared in previous serials as The Spider and Mandrake the Magician. He later made one more Spider serial and appeared in a handful of other films and series, but these heroic leads would appear to be the high point of his career.
Wade Boteler, who played Mike Axford in both films, is unknown today, but enjoyed a long career, appearing in over 400 films.