Western Stars of the Past: Lash LaRue

Alfred "Lash" LaRue 1921-1996

Lash LaRue was born on either June 14, 1921 according to Wikipedia and on June 15, 1917 according to the Internet Movie Database and there is a question about his birthplace but he is generally listed as having been born in Gretna, Louisiana but Michigan has also been mentioned as a possible birthplace for LaRue.

He was known for using a bullwhip in his movies although his first attempts to use one resulted in several lash marks on his body before he was trained by Snowy Baker an expert with the bullwhip.

He had been told by director Robert Tansey who looking for an actor for his movie Song of Old Wyoming that he needed someone that knew how to use a bullwhip so LaRue lied and said he had been using one for years while in fact he had never used one in his life.

When Tansey saw the scars from LaRue futile attempt to learn on his own was when the PRC studio hired Baker to teach LaRue the tricks of the trade.

He was credited as Al LaRue in Song of Old Wyoming and Jennifer Holt the sister of western star also appeared in the movie with LaRue playing the Cheyenne Kid in the movie.

First Movie Credited as Lash LaRue

Three movies later in Law of the Lash he was credited as Lash LaRue for the first time. He once stated that he changed his name to Lash and his mother called him Lash.

LaRue did his own stunts since the PRC studio was famous for its penny pinching so they were paying LaRue for being an actor while probably not paying him any extra for doing his own stunt work.

Re-Used Scenes From Previous Movie

Scenes from Frontier Revenge were re-used in his next movie The Black Lash saving the studio money. He continued to star in movies until 1952.

He then portrayed seven different characters in seven episodes of the Judge Roy Bean television show in 1956.

Then from 1958-59 he played Sheriff Johnny Behan on the Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp television show. That would be his last appearance on television in a series.

Like most actors LaRue had a couple of movies he would rather not have appeared in like Alien Outlaw and Dark Power. He used the bullwhip to fight zombies in Dark Power which influenced one reviewer of the movie at Amazon.com to toss their DVD of the movie into Tampa Bay.

The movie’s claim to fame, the casting of Lash LaRue, was yet an additional painful addition. It was as if someone found a washed out drunk at a biker bar (no offense to Harley enthusiasts), threw a whip in his hand and said “go nuts”–and he did, with no attention to content, directive or acting. But then, he was tied for worst actor in the film…with every other actor involved.

It’s not that this movie was bad. It’s that it was so bad that it made me want to take the chopsticks (with which I was eating while suffering through this film), jam them in my eyes, swirl them all around, and force them through to my brain to end the suffering.

I will offer one olive branch to those who may disagree with me. I am someone who knows that, when watching B-movies, one should surround himself with friends and adult beverages. I did not do this (a rookie mistake for which I would normally scold others) and, as a result, I side-armed this dvd like a discus off my balcony into Tampa Bay. To my credit, however, normally I can identify those which would be good drinking movies under any circumstances and there are simply too many other options to consider Dark Power. (I guess I just stomped on that olive branch–sorry)

Baptized in Shreveport, Louisiana

This paragraph from Wikipedia tells about how LaRue came to be baptized in Shreveport, Louisiana and also about him being in Alexandria:

He was a born-again Christian who was baptized at Shreveport Baptist Tabernacle by pastor Jimmy G. Tharpe. Tharpe initially met La Rue inAlexandria, the seat of Rapides Parish, when LaRue was visiting the home of his daughter. He and another minister, Don Chelette of Alexandria, were at the time knocking doors to win souls to Jesus Christ, when they met LaRue and his daughter. Tharpe thereafter declared a “Lash LaRue Day” at his church at which LaRue gave his Christian testimony: “He came, and we had a wonderful service in our gymnasium. There were thirty-seven people saved in the gym that day. He cut paper from the mouth of Debbye, my daughter, with his whip. We all rejoiced over Lash LaRue and his testimony. I introduced Lash to others, and several churches invited him to give his testimony, and he accepted.”[3]

New York Times Obituary

The New York Times obituary for Lash LaRue stated that he had died on May 21, 1996 at Burbank California and that he had recently undergone triple bypass surgery and had suffered from emphysema. The obituary also noted that when he took a screen test for Warner Brothers that he been rejected because he too closely resembled Humphrey Bogart who was already signed by Warner Brothers.

The article also tells of how he was arrested in 1966 for vagrancy with only 35 cents in his pocket. His wife at the time of his death Frances Bramlet LaRue said that he didn’t the names of his family disclosed upon his death but he did claim at one time that he had been married ten times.

For those interested in learning more about  the life of Lash LaRue can find more information and photos at:


Author: Andrew Godfrey

Retired from newspaper work after 38 years. Had served in the Army in Hawaii and Vietnam in the 60's. Am now retired and living in Sulphur, Louisiana.

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