TRAILS FAR FROM HAPPY FOR B-WESTERN COWBOY

By Bartee Haile

The matinee feature at Waco’s Fox Theater on Jun. 4, 1948 was “Chicago Kid” starring Don “Red” Barry, the well-known cowboy actor, in a crime drama for a change. The future rider of the B-western range was born Donald Barry de Acosta in Houston in January 1912. Despite his small stature – five feet four and a half inches – he was good enough at football, presumably as a running back, to win a college scholarship. In one version of how the tiny Texan got his big Hollywood break, John Wayne and Mickey Rooney happened to see him play in an exhibition game between a team of college all-stars and UCLA. The diminutive Rooney, who at five-two had to look up to Barry, arranged a speaking part for him in “Boys Town,” but he could not remember his lines and the director kicked the flustered first-timer off the set.

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