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(From Old Corral collection)

Above - portrait shot of Canutt during his Lone Star / Monogram films with John Wayne, circa 1934.
 Yakima Canutt

Full name:
Enos Edward Canutt

"Yak", "Yakima"

1895 - 1986

Special thanks to Audrea Elaine "Honey" Canutt Dittman, the daughter of Yak and Audrea Canutt, for helping on Canutt family history. Honey - your old e-mail address is no longer valid. Would you please shoot ye Old Corral webmaster an e-mail please.

Click HERE and a separate window/tab will open with photos of some of the costume used by Canutt during his stunting and doubling in the serial ZORRO RIDES AGAIN (Republic, 1937). A thumbnail image of Canutt's Zorro mask is shown on the left.

Born in Washington state, Canutt became active in rodeos and wild west shows as a teenager.  He picked up the moniker of "Yakima" during rodeo days because he wound up being billed as "The Man (or Cowboy) from Yakima".

Canutt won the 'All Around Cowboy' title at the Pendleton Oregon Roundup in 1917, 1919, 1920 and 1923.  It was during this rodeo work that he met and married Kitty Wilks who was the All-Around Champion Cowgirl at the 1916 Pendleton Roundup. They married in Flathead County, Montana on July 20, 1917 and witnesses were Mr. and Mrs. Ben Corbett. Pudgy Benny Corbett, a familiar face in B-westerns during the 1930s, was also a rodeo performer and close friend of Canutt. On the marriage license, Kitty's name is spelled "Katherine Wilkes", she was divorced, and Wilkes was the surname of her first husband. Her birth name was Katherine Derre.

I've included several quotes below from the book Stunt Man, The Autobiography of Yakima Canutt (Walker and Company, New York, 1979) by Canutt with Oliver Drake. These provide a timeline on the Kitty Wilks marriage and divorce as well as his entry into the film business.

Quote: "This marriage turned out to be one of those undeclared vest-pocket wars. It was an unhappy one that terminated three years later when I acquired a divorce. It was never contested --- seeming to be one-hundred percent mutual."

It was 1919-1920, and Canutt had recently won the 1919 All Around Cowboy at the Pendleton Roundup. He was riding in a big rodeo that was being held in Los Angeles.

Quote: "I decided to stay in Hollywood for the winter. I had met quite a few screen personalities during the rodeo. Westerns were very big in Hollywood at that time, and many of the stars were former rodeo contestants and cowboys. Tom Grimes and Ben Corbett, close friends with whom I had rodeoed, now worked in pictures, and promised to show me around. I went to the Fox Studio with Tom Grimes and by luck ran into Tom Mix."

Summarizing - Mix asked if Yak would like a job in films ... he said yes ... and Mix took him to the casting office and got him on the payroll.

Quote: "During the winter, I did work in two or three pictures. Ben Corbett took me to the studio that was starting a twelve-part serial titled Lightning Brice, which starred Jack Hoxie and Ann Little. Paul Hurst was directing." (The correct title is LIGHTNING BRYCE (Arrow, 1919) and it was 15 chapters.)

The Canutt autobiography also mentions his enlistment in the Navy for World War I service, but he was not sent overseas and was released soon after the 1918 Armistice.

In the 1920s, Canutt continued working both the rodeo circuit and Hollywood. By the middle of the decade, he was starring in low-budget, independently produced westerns, many cranked out by prolific director Ben Wilson (1876-1930).  His first starring role was probably RIDIN' MAD (Ben Wilson Productions/Arrow, 1924). In 1926, Canutt had the lead in THE DEVIL HORSE (Hal Roach/Pathe, 1926), and that movie included the spectacular and lengthy battle between a paint hoss and the black Rex, "King of the Wild Horses". That horse fight became part of filmdom's stock footage library and bits and pieces of it show up in many sound westerns and cliffhangers.

For those interested in viewing Canutt during his silent era western hero period, Grapevine Video has a DVD-R double feature with BRANDED A BANDIT (Ben Wilson Productions/Arrow, 1924) and IRON RIDER (Goodwill, 1926).

For those of you who want to read more about Yakima Canutt, stuntwork and Hollywood history, see if you can find Stunt Man, The Autobiography of Yakima Canutt at your local library or from a used book outfit. This autobiography was co-authored by Oliver Drake, who wrote screenplays as well as directing and producing B westerns.  It was first published in 1979 by Walker and Company, New York, and is ISBN: 0-8027-0613-4. Was also issued in paperback by the University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma and London, ISBN: 0-8061-2927-1, first paperback printing was 1997. Both are now out of print. Search for either the hardbound or paperback versions at one of the used book services - you'll find a page on the Old Corral with links to many used book sources.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

1925 - note the A Yakima Canutt Production on this lobby card from WILD HORSE CANYON (Yakima Canutt Productions/Goodwill, 1925). The heroine is Helene Rosson (1897-1985), who had three brothers (Arthur, Richard and Harold) that were members of the Hollywood film community. Cinematographer Harold (Hal) Rosson is probably the most famous, and much of his career was spent at MGM during their glory years. Hal Rosson's film work includes EL DORADO (1967), NO TIME FOR SERGEANTS (1958), SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952), THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE (1951), DUEL IN THE SUN (1946), THIRTY SECONDS OVER TOKYO (1944), THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939), TARZAN THE APE MAN (1932), lots more.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

1926 - Canutt's "Boy the Wonder Horse" gets credit in this lobby card from THE FIGHTING STALLION (Ben Wilson Productions/Goodwill, 1926). The heroine was Neva Gerber (Genevieve Dolores Gerber) (1894-1974), who did a bunch of serials in the 1920s.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

1927 - in HELLHOUNDS OF THE PLAINS (Ben Wilson Productions/Goodwill, 1927), Neva Gerber is the female lead.

(From Old Corral collection)

Above is silent hero Yakima Canutt riding his "Boy, the Wonder Horse". Bob Steele rode Boy in many of his early 1930s sound oaters.

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