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Born in Athol, Massachusetts, he graduated from the Worcester Academy in 1922 and continued his studies at Dartmouth College. While on the Dartmouth football team, he was hired to act as a player in the 1926 film The Quarterback. In 1930 he played Fast and Loose, along with Miriam Hopkins, Carole Lombard and Frank Morgan. In the following two years he worked constantly, although in minor roles. In 1933 he was selected to act in Our Betters, and helped organize the Screen Actors Guild, and in 1936 he signed a contract with Columbia Pictures that made him a star of the western, starring 115 films in the following 16 years.
After various interpretations as Sheriff and Ranger, Starrett came to fame for his role as the Durango Kid. The first film in which he played the character was The Durango Kid, released in 1940, but Columbia decided not to continue with the series at that time. The character resumed in 1944, and remained until 1952. Dub Taylor, as “Cannonball”, worked with Starrett until 1946. At that time Smiley Burnette, a very popular partner of Gene Autry, replaced Taylor. Burnette played a character named Smiley Burnette. In the films of the series spectacular scenes of action carried out by Jock Mahoney were shown. In addition, in each film a musical group played western music.
Starrett ended his acting career at 48 years of age, when the Durango Kid series came to an end. He died in 1986 in Borrego Springs, California, because of cancer. His remains were incinerated.
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