Budd Leland Buster (14 June 1891 – 22 December 1965), briefly was an American actor known for western films. Since his first film credit in 1935, he appeared in 304 films. He was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado and died in Los Angeles, California. As Henchman Coffee, Buster appeared in Westward Ho in 1942 and his career begun in 1933. Buster also appeared on television. On Rotten Tomatoes, Buster's highest-rated film was in Bus Stop, a 1956 film. On the same website, his lowest-rated film was the 1953 It Came from Outer Space, with 81%. His final film appearance was in Guns of the Timberland in 1960.
Wiry, feisty Budd Buster was one of the most prolific…and talented…character actors to ever appear in B-westerns. Old timer, outlaw henchman, townsman, the leading lady’s father, military officer, scout, newspaper editor, store clerk, lawman, even sidekick a few times…Budd did it all in over 250 B-Westerns for over 20 years from 1933-1960, appearing in a staggering 32 movies in 1937. Other years from ‘35-‘46 he was in 20 or more! (Oddly, Budd took a several year hiatus from 1949 to the mid ‘50s.)
Budd, a name he adopted, was born Leland Buster in Colorado (probably near Colorado Springs) June 14, 1891 (some references list 1892 but in Budd’s own handwriting he listed 1891 on his 1917 WWI draft registration card.) His parents were John M. Buster and Anna (Annie) Moore Buster, both from Missouri. By the 1900 census the family, including Leland’s younger (by one year) sister, Demple, and his grandmother on his father’s side, was living in Colorado Springs. By 1920 Leland/Budd was married to Mary with two children, Mary Jane (4) and John (1), and was employed as a driver at a livery house in Ivywild, CO.
|Budd featured on the right|
At some point it’s believed Budd got into vaudeville which led to film work by 1933, as one of his greatest talents was his ability to apply makeup, giving him wide latitude in portraying various characters. That expertise allowed him to play multiple roles in several films. In Bob Steele’s “Cavalry” (‘36 Republic) Budd had the titular role of Steele’s wagon boss sidekick as well as Abraham Lincoln in silhouette. In Montie Montana’s “Circle of Death” (‘35 Kent) Budd is a wagon train scout and a storekeeper. He’s a trading post operator as well as a waiter in the barroom in Bill Cody’s “Six Gun Justice” (‘35 Spectrum). For Hoot Gibson’s “Cavalcade of the West” (‘36 Diversion) Budd is a stage guard and an Indian. He was a rustler and a townsman in “Between Men” with Johnny Mack Brown (‘35 Supreme) This chameleonic ability also kept Budd in demand by national ad agencies who used him on national billboards for Studebaker, Eastside Beer and others. Studio-wise, Budd was everywhere, but PRC and Monogram might have gone out of business if not for Budd’s participation. As stated, Budd did it all. We’d have to devote an entire issue to Budd in order to cover all his roles. As for badmen, see him at his nefarious best in “Colorado Kid” (‘37 Republic) w/Bob Steele, a bank robber in “Desert Justice” (‘36 Atlantic) w/Jack Perrin, a rustler in “Silent Valley” (‘35 Reliable) w/Tom Tyler, “Texas Marshal” (‘41 PRC) w/Tim McCoy, “Billy the Kid Trapped” (‘42 PRC) w/Buster Crabbe, “Man’s Country” (‘38 Monogram) w/Jack Randall, “Overland Stagecoach” (‘42 PRC) w/Bob Livingston, a Nazi saboteur in “Cowboy Commandoes” (’43 Monogram) w/Range Busters, an underhanded foreman in “Brand of the Devil” (‘44 PRC) w/Dave O’Brien/Jim Newill, a crooked postmaster in “Border Badmen” (‘45 PRC) w/Buster Crabbe and, best of all, as a crazy old coot in a haunted mine in “Wild Horse Phantom” (‘44 PRC) w/Buster Crabbe.
|Budd on the right side again|
Budd was even a bonafide sidekick to Jack Randall in Monogram’s “Covered Wagon Trails” (‘40), Crescent’s “Drums of Destiny” (‘37) w/Tom Keene and “Feud of the Range” (‘39 Metropolitan) w/Bob Steele. But perhaps the best role of Budd’s illustrious career was in “Trail of Terror” (‘43 PRC) w/Dave O’Brien and James Newill as the interested “protector” of saloon lady Patricia Knox much like Richard Barthelmess was for Marlene Dietrich a year earlier in “The Spoilers”.
Interesting to note Budd’s 27 year old son, John L. Buster, got into the act in two mid-‘40’s Buster Crabbe Westerns at PRC—he even sings in “Prairie Badmen” (‘46). It’s imperative we point out that character player George Selk (1893-1967), while bearing a slight passing resemblance to Budd, is not Budd using an alias nor is he in any way related. Selk was in films from ‘53-‘66 and is best noted for playing stableman Moss Grimmick on “Gunsmoke” in the ‘60s. Budd barely ventured into TV, but two of his last roles were on “Buffalo Bill Jr.: Black Ghost” (‘55) and “Gene Autry: Outlaw Warning” (‘54).
Budd passed away in 1965 due to a heart attack. He was 74 years old.
John M. Buster (b.1862, Clay, MO) FATHER
Charles Wallace Buster (b. 1833, Clay, MO,) GRANDFATHER
James Jarman Buster (b. 1798, Washington, VA) GREAT-GRANDFATHER
Michael Sr. Buster (b. 1757, Russell, VA) 2ND GREAT-GRANDFATHER
William Jr. Buster (b. 1735, Albemarle, VA) 3RD GREAT-GRANDFATHER
William Sr. Buster/Bustard (abt. 1694, UK )4TH GREAT-GRANDFATHER
There were a few articles on Budd at the Newspaper Archive:
Birthday party article in the April 27, 1905 Colorado Springs Weekly Gazette. Excerpts: "The Elk hotel was the scene of a ... children's party yesterday ... Dimple, the little daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. M. Buster, celebrated her eleventh birthday anniversary. The guests were ... Leland Buster ..."
November and December, 1930 newspaper articles on Budd and Pee-Wee Football in his Colorado Springs, Colorado home town:
Headline: "'Pee-Wee' Football Invades Colorado." Excerpt: "Colorado Springs, Colo., Nov. 5. - Comes now miniature football. This sport world innovation is announced by Bud L. Buster, Colorado Springs dog fancier ..."
Headline: "MINIATURE FOOTBALL MAKES COLORADIO [sic] BOW" Excerpt: "Bud Buster, of Colorado Springs, has constructed a half-size gridiron on which miniature teams can play ..."
1937 newspaper article about Budd working in the Bob Steele CAVALRY oater. Caution on this as it could have been lifted from a pressbook (and is more hype than reality; and may be the source of that scuttlebutt on Budd doing early east coast films, vaudeville and road shows):
Excerpts: "Born, raised and educated in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Budd joined a stock company and road show stopping at his home town. Since then, he has made appearances in every state in the union in some stage production. Budd made his first motion picture, for Powers Company of New York, 'Frozen on Love's Trail,' back in 1909." and "Budd has collected more than 200 different costumes worn by him in some stage production or motion picture during his career."
(Footnote: tradepapers have 1912 as the release year for 'Frozen on Love's Trail'.)
It's 1930 and Budd is nearly forty years old. He's still in Colorado, operating a kennel and building a Pee-Wee football stadium. His film career begins late 1933 - early 1934. The reasoning behind that move to Tinseltown and the movie business is lost in Hollywood history.
Les Adams has him in about 300 sound films - of those, 254 are westerns and 18 are serials. He played all kinds of parts - henchie, old codger, townsman, father of the heroine, military officer, lawman, ranch owner, bank clerk, newspaper editor, wagon train scout ... you name it. He could also handle a team of horses, and you'd occasionally see him driving a buckboard, wagon or stage. While Budd seemed to be a 1940s fixture in sagebrush adventures at Monogram and PRC, he did about 65 films for Republic Pictures during the years 1936-1954 - and these were mostly cliffhangers and westerns.
Perhaps Budd Buster's greatest talent was his ability to handle any kind of role by modifying his look via makeup or a costume change. And if the job required an older man or a younger man, Budd added a moustache or dark hair or grey hair, etc. That expertise with makeup - along with an extensive costume collection - allowed Budd to play multiple roles in a film. A few examples follow:
In Bob Steele's CAVALRY (A. W. Hackel/Republic, 1936), Budd portrayed the wagon train boss as well as Abraham Lincoln. In Montie Montana's solo starring effort, CIRCLE OF DEATH (Kent, 1935), Budd is the wagon train scout and a storekeeper. He's a townsman and a member of the rustler gang in the Johnny Mack Brown BETWEEN MEN (Supreme, 1935). In Hoot Gibson's CAVALCADE OF THE WEST (Diversion, 1936), Buster is a stage guard and an Indian. On a few occasions, Budd was the helper to the hero. Some examples: he sidekicked Tom Keene in DRUMS OF DESTINY (Crescent, 1937), assisted Bob Steele in FEUD OF THE RANGE (Metropolitan, 1939), and was Jack Randall's pal in COVERED WAGON TRAILS (Monogram, 1940).
I have several favorite Budd Buster roles: he's the old, grizzled and dirty "desert rat" in the Tim McCoy FIGHTING RENEGADE (Victory, 1939); and he portrays a crazed miner in WILD HORSE PHANTOM (PRC, 1944), the Buster Crabbe and Fuzzy St. John comedy western with the flying bat zoomin' around a mine shaft.
You may want to go to the In Search Of ... page on the Old Corral and then to the California Death Index. There you will find a record for: Budd L. Buster, born 6/14/1891 in Colorado, Mother's maiden name of Moore, and he passed away on 12/22/1965. There is a corresponding record in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI).
The Family Search website (free) and Ancestry.com (subscription) have more on Budd Buster and family. An unanswered question is whether his real name was Budd ... or was that a nickname that he later adopted. He does report his full name as "Budd Leland Buster" on his World War I and World War II draft registrations.
1900 census - 38 year old John M. Buster (born Missouri), his 28 year old wife Annie (born Missouri), 8 year old son Leland (born Colorado), 6 year old daughter Demple [sic] (born Colorado), 64 year old mother Mrs. G. A. Buster (born Kentucky), and a lodger reside in Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Colorado:
Ancestry had the 1900 census takers worksheet - the family is living at 220 South Conefos (?) Street, Colorado Springs. Father John M. Buster's occupation is "Transferman".
1910 census - living in Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Colorado are 45 year old John M. Buster (born Missouri), his 35 year old wife Anna (born Missouri), 19 year old son Badr [sic] Buster (born Colorado), and 15 year old daughter Dimple (born Colorado): https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MK43-JC4
Ancestry had the 1910 census takers worksheet - the family is renting at 324 N. Nevada Avenue, Colorado Springs. Occupation of father John M. is "Keeper - Livery Stable". No occupation is listed for son "Badr Buster". Looking closely at the spelling of the first name, it is "Budd".
World War I draft registration dated June 5, 1917 - 25 year old Budd Leland Buster was born June 14, 1891 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He is a self-employed "Liveryman" working in Colorado Springs. He, his wife and one child reside at 504 N. Spruce, Colorado Springs: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-26425-9394-46?cc=1968530
Ancestry.com had about ten Colorado Springs city directories spanning the years 1907-1918. In those, Budd is sometimes Leland Buster, sometimes B. Leland Buster, etc. Additionally, Budd, his father John and another individual were owners of a livery business. From the 1916 Colorado Springs, Colorado City Directory: Buster, Williams & Buster (J. M. Buster, J. C. Williams, B. L. Buster), proprietors Colorado Springs Auto and Carriage Livery Company.
1920 census - 27 year old Leland Buster, 23 year old wife Mary, 4 year old daughter Mary Jane, and 1 year old son John, and the family is living in Ivywild, El Paso County, Colorado:https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MX2R-H75
Ancestry had the 1920 census takers worksheet - they own their home but the address was difficult to read. Budd's occupation is "Driver - Tourist". 1920 census for Budd's parents - 58 year old John M. Buster (born Missouri) and his 58 year old wife Anna M. (born Missouri) are lodgers living in Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Colorado: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MX2P-H8F
Ancestry had the 1920 census takers worksheet - John M. Buster's occupation is "Auto Livery - Tourist Business" and it looks like Anna is 50 years old, not 58. John and Anna are among dozens of lodgers and boarders at a hotel/rooming house at 112-20 Cascade Avenue, Colorado Springs.
1930 census - living in Ivywild, El Paso County, Colorado are 37 year old Bud L. Buster, 33 year old wife Mary, 14 year old daughter Mary Jane, and 11 year old son John:https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/X747-5CC
Ancestry had the 1930 census takers worksheet - they own their home but address was difficult to read. Budd's occupation is "Breeder ??? - Kennels".
1940 census - 48 year old Budd, 43 year old wife Mary A., and 21 year old son John L. are in Los Angeles: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/K9C6-24R
1940 census takers worksheet has Budd, wife Mary and son John L., and their home address is 7167 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles. Both Budd and son John L. report their occupation as "Actor - Pictures", and wife Mary is a "Beauty operator - Beauty Salon". And in 1939, Budd worked 40 weeks and earned $1100.00: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-27797-3308-38?cc=2000219&wc=MMYH-X1V:1535596176
1942 World War II draft registration - Budd Leland Buster was born June 14, 1891 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Wife Mary is his contact and they live at 7167 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles. His occupation is "Actor - Free Lance": https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-16389-63209-5?cc=1861144&wc=MMRW-1R1:n1009056979
Some Budd Buster tidbits:
There is an error in some Budd Buster biographies and filmographies - Budd Buster is not actor George Selk. George W. Selk was born May 15, 1893 in Nebraska and passed away on January 22, 1967. Selk's most remembered role was as stableman "Moss Grimmick" on TV's GUNSMOKE.
Budd's son John L. Buster appears in a few mid 1940s Buster Crabbe PRC westerns. He has a large role - including some singin' and guitar playin' - in the Buster Crabbe PRAIRIE BADMEN (PRC, 1946). The California Death Records database has a record on: John Buster, born 7/29/1918 in Colorado and he passed away 6/4/1974 in the Los Angeles area. U. S. Air Force veteran John L. Buster (1918-1974) is interred at Los Angeles National Cemetery, Los Angeles, California. If ol' Budd got listed on the ad/artwork or in the film's cast listing, his first name was often misspelled as "Bud" (with one D).
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Budd Buster (as of June, 2006, Budd's film work has been erroneously combined with actor George Selk): http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0124560/ and the IMDb record for Budd's son John L. Buster: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0124564/
Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has a photo of the marker for Budd L. Buster (1891-1965) who is interred at Pierce Brothers Valhalla Memorial Park, North Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California:
Find A Grave has info on Budd's son, U. S. Air Force veteran John L. Buster (1918-1974), who is interred at Los Angeles National Cemetery, Los Angeles, California:
The U. S. Veterans Administration gravesite locator website at http://gravelocator.cem.va.gov/ has the following information on Budd's son, John L. Buster:
PFC (Private First Class) US AIR FORCE
WORLD WAR II, KOREA
DATE OF BIRTH: 06/29/1918
DATE OF DEATH: 06/04/1974
LOS ANGELES NATIONAL CEMETERY