Buffalo Bill Jr.
Missouri-born cowboy Jay Wilsey was yet another youngster furnished with a catchy moniker, Buffalo Bill Jr., by enterprising Poverty Row producer Lester F. Scott Jr. and then left to fend for himself in the already overcrowded independent Western field of the mid-'20s. Newly renamed, Buffalo Bill Jr. (kids bought the deception hook, line, and sinker) starred in a series of fast-paced shoot-'em-ups with little in the way of production values but plenty of hard riding. Titles such as Hard-Hitting Hamilton (1924) and Quicker'n Lightnin' told the story and although never a mainstream Western star like Tom Mix, Wilsey gained enough of a following for Universal to star him in two late-silent serials, A Final reckoning and Pirate of Panama (both 1929). As Jay Wilsey, the screen cowboy enjoyed steady employment in talkies as well, headlining in extremely low-budget oaters and doubling for Columbia star Charles Starrett. Wilsey tried his hand at directing in 1935, helming a little item entitled Trails of Adventure. The producer, veteran director Robert J. Horner, was killed in a road accident just as filming was about to commence and Wilsey was forced to take over. Centered around a gang of outlaws attempting to ship stolen ore, the film was no worse than Horner's usual output, but that wasn't very impressive, and Wilsey was never given another chance to direct. He continued working in front of the camera until 1943, when he retired to run a trailer park. Today, Wilsey's work is remembered only by die-hard Western fans, but for a short time in history, the name Buffalo Bill Jr. stood for nonstop action and excitement to rural audiences, who made this former cowboy a star despite his limited acting prowess.