Sunset Carson

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Sunset Carson

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Sunset Carson
Sunset Carson as he appeared in a scene in the 1948 film Sunset Carson Rides Again.
BornWinifred Maurice Harrison
November 12, 1920
Gracemont, Oklahoma, U.S.
DiedMay 1, 1990 (aged 69)
Reno, Nevada, U.S.
OccupationFilm actorrodeo rider

Sunset Carson (born Winifred Maurice Harrison, November 12, 1920 – May 1, 1990) was an American B-western star of the 1940s.


Early life, acting[edit]

Lon McCallisterMarjorie Riordan, William Terry, Cheryl WalkerMargaret Early and Michael Harrison in Stage Door Canteen (1943)

Carson was born on November 12, 1920, at Gracemont, Oklahoma,[1] to Maurice Greely Harrison and Azalee Belle McAdams. He moved to Plainview, Texas, as a child ([2]). Carson became an accomplished rodeo rider in his youth. For a time he worked in a western show owned by early cowboy actor Tom Mix. In 1940 he traveled to South America, where he competed in rodeos for two years. After his return to the U.S., he played small parts in the 1943 film Stage Door Canteen, and the big budget 1944 film Janie, both having him billed as “Michael Harrison”. Catching the attention of Republic Pictures executive Lou Grey, he was signed to a contract and given his own series of B-westerns beginning in 1944, changing his name to “Sunset Carson”.

Fame and career climb[edit]

Within two years, Carson was on the top-10 list of money makers for western stars. He was given a horse named “Cactus”, and starred in a string of semi-successful western genre films. In 1944 he starred in Bordertown TrailCode of the Prairie, and Firebrands of Arizona opposite Smiley Burnette. In 1945 (the peak of his career), his first film was Sheriff of Cimarron, followed by Santa Fe SaddlematesBells of RosaritaOregon TrailBandits of the BadlandsRough Riders of Cheyenne, and The Cherokee Flash.

In 1946, Carson began the year strong, starring in Days of Buffalo Bill and Alias Billy the Kid. He followed those with The El Paso KidRed River Renegades, and Rio Grande Raiders. However, by the end of 1946, Carson and Republic Pictures were having disputes. He claimed the disputes were over his contract. Republic Pictures would later claim that he was fired by Republic creator and executive officer Herbert Yates after attending a studio function while intoxicated and in the company of an underage girl. By year’s end, he and Republic had parted company. He would never again achieve any large degree of acting success.

Career decline, retirement and death[edit]

In 1948 he starred for Astor Pictures in Fighting MustangDeadline, and Sunset Carson Rides Again. Then in 1949 he starred in Rio Grande, and in 1950 he starred as the lead character, for the last time, in Battling Marshal. By the following year, his career was all but over as a leading actor of the day. For the next several years he obtained small bit parts.

Years later, he played the lead in a B-movie called The Marshal of Windy Hollow (1972), a film that co-starred a host of old time actors, including Ken MaynardTex Ritter, and Bill Cody, Jr. He then had a bit part in the movie Seabo in 1978, and another bit part in the 1985 sci-fi movie Alien Outlaw (his last film role).

He toured for five years with “Tommy Scott’s Country Music Circus”. In the early 1980s, Carson hosted ″Six-Gun Heroes″,[3] a South Carolina Educational TV (SCETV) show produced by Jim Welch presenting classic B Westerns which still airs on many PBS affiliates across the US. In 1985, Carson appeared in an episode of the television series Simon & Simon.

He married five times in his lifetime. He married Patricia Hussey in 1938, which ended in divorce. He then married Betty Price, Dorothy Shockley, and Margaret Nesbitt, all ending in divorce. His last marriage was to Jean Jackson Davis in 1989.[4] He retired to Reno, Nevada. He died there on May 1, 1990.[5] He is buried at Highland Memorial Gardens in Jackson, Madison County, Tennessee.[citation needed]



  1. ^ Boggs, Johnny D. (2013). Billy the Kid on Film, 1911-2012. McFarland. pp. 86–87. ISBN 978-0-7864-6555-2. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  2. ^ 1930 US Census Hale County, Texas
  3. ^ McGillis, Roderick (2009). He Was Some Kind of Man: Masculinities in the B Western. Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. p. 4. ISBN 978-1-55458-059-0.
  4. ^ family friend
  5. ^ “Sunset Carson; Cowboy Star of 1940s, ’50s”Los Angeles Times. 1990-05-03. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-08-31.
  6. ^ McGillis, Roderick (2009). He Was Some Kind of Man: Masculinities in the B Western. Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. p. 4. ISBN 978-1-55458-059-0.

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