Leo D. Maloney, Actor, Director, Writer, Producer, Stunt-Coordinator, and Movie Studio Owner!

Leo D Maloney

Leo D Maloney

 

Leo D. Maloney, as late as 1910, our soon to be actor, stunt-coordinator, director, writer and producer was a produce dealer, in New York City. What a humble occupation for a summa cum laude graduate of Santa Clara College.[1] But the degree from the San Francisco Bay area school did little to help this young man, whose upbringing consisted of ranch living, replete with lariat practice, cattle-round-ups, line-riding, bronc-busting and bulldogging a steer.[2] All of this prepared Maloney for a successful career in films, especially in the action and western genres, where his natural and learned talents were best utilized. As with A Wild Ride, 1915, where Maloney performed a death-defying stunt, this according to the Moving Picture World;[3] his horsemanship was well known in the industry.[4]

In July of 1922, Maloney signed a distribution contract with Pathé for The Range Rider Series,[5] which lasted for twenty-six two-reel installments. The first Range Rider episode was His Own Law, released on September 3, 1922; the last of this series was Warned in Advance, which opened on August 19, 1923. The Range Rider series followed his work in another proposed Pathé character-cycle entitled: Santa Fe Mac. Santa Fe Mac was distributed by Clark-Cornelius Corp and was planned for twelve two-reel, weekly episodes.[6] But, it seems that this initial short-western was used as pilot, rather than the beginning of a series, for we have no other connection to any other film or character to Santa Fe Mac.

Leo Maloney Exhibitor's Trade Review (Jun-Aug 1922)

Leo Maloney Exhibitors Herald (Apr-Jun 1922)5

Santa Fe Mac series

 

In the mid-1920’s Maloney purchased land in the San Bernardino Mountains, building a western-city for the purpose of making movies. The property was located in the Crestline, California, neighborhood ,[7] specifically in the Huston Flat[8] area, about a quarter of mile west of Lake Gregory. The property is now the very center of Lake Gregory Village on Lake Drive; beginning at Alder Lane, on the south side, stretching east toward the lake.[9] This movie was called Skyland, with fifty buildings, its own lake and stream, along with fifty head of horses. At the time Skyland was the only studio devoted only to the making of western-movies and cost $100,000.00 to construct.[10]

Unfortunately Maloney and his second-wife (Genevieve) were not able to keep up the payments and they defaulted on the $1,500.00 promissory note, which was held by the Hellman Commercial Trust and Savings Bank, acting as Trustee for Charles S. Mann and H. W. Ramsey.[11] A very disturbing way to lose a $100.000.00 property, over a $1,500.00 note; all of this occurred just a half a year prior to his death.

In the early to mid 1920’s Maloney reached the pinnacle of his career. Pathé’s advertising for the thirty-something actor was “America’s Cowboy,” and in the same ad: “He knows the good old audience stuff the way Tiffany knows a watch.”

Leo Maloney The Film Daily (Jul-Dec 1926)

 

Of course a cowboy hero needs his trusty side-kick, and Maloney had at least two of these Equus ferus caballus cohorts, Monty Cristo,[12] and Come and Get Me.[13]

Leo D. Maloney and Monty Cristo

Leo D. Maloney and his horse Monty Cristo

Leo Maloney Exhibitors Herald (Jul-Sep 1922) 6

 

What saddens me is the premature loss of Leo Maloney, all because he could not put the bottle down, acute alcoholism topped off by one long binge was his downfall; what a shame for his family, for the movie-goers then, and for us now looking back at what could have been.

 

Maloney, had thirteen writing credits, he produced thirteen films, coordinated the stunts for The Hazards of Helen, 1914, directed fifty movies and acted in almost two-hundred flicks.

Leo Maloney The Film Daily (Jul-Dec 1926Leo D Maloney

 

 

By C. S. Williams

 

 

[1] The Huntington Press (Huntington, Indiana) September 24, 1922 (article by George Arthur Gray)

[2] The Huntington Press (Huntington, Indiana) September 24, 1922 (article by George Arthur Gray)

[3] Moving Picture World, July 24, 1915

[4] Exhibitors Herald, September 2, 1922

[5] Exhibitor’s Trade Review, July 22, 1922

[6] Exhibitors Herald, May 6, 1922

[7] The San Bernardino Daily Sun (San Bernardino, California) April 29, 1929

[8] Crestline Chronicles, by Rea-Frances Tetley, History Press, 2012, page 38

[9] Crestline Chronicles, by Rea-Frances Tetley, History Press, 2012, page 38

[10] The Evening Independent (St. Petersburg, Florida) April 23, 1927

[11] The San Bernardino Daily Sun (San Bernardino, California) January 8, , 1929

[12] The Lincoln Evening Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) November 5, 1929

[13] Exhibitors Herald, September 2, 1922

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