Charles Starrett was an American actor best known for his starring role in the Durango Kid Columbia Pictures western series. He was born in Athol, Massachusetts.
A graduate of Worcester Academy in 1922, Starrett went on to study at Dartmouth College. While on the Dartmouth football team, he was hired to play a football extra in the 1926 film The Quarterback. In 1930 he played the romantic lead in Fast and Loose, which also featured Miriam Hopkins, Carole Lombard and Frank Morgan. He also starred in the Canadian production The Viking (1931), filmed on location in Newfoundland, which had begun as a Paramount Pictures project.
After that, he was very active for the next two years but his roles were unremarkable. In 1933 he was featured in Our Betters and helped organize the Screen Actors Guild, and in 1936 signed with Columbia Pictures and become one of the top ten western stars, starring in 115 movies the following 16 years.
After playing assorted sheriff and rangers roles, Starrett gained fame for his role as the Durango Kid. The first film in which he played his famous alter-ego character was known as The Durango Kid, which was released in 1940, but for some reason, Columbia did not see fit to continue with the series at that time. The character was revived in 1944 and lasted through 1952. Dub Taylor, as "Cannonball", worked with Starrett until 1946. At that time, Smiley Burnette, who had been a very popular sidekick to Gene Autry, was brought in to replace Taylor. Burnette, appropriately enough, played a character called Smiley Burnette. The Durango Kid films combined vigorous action sequences – often with speeded up camera work and spectacular stunts performed by Jock Mahoney – and western music. Each film featured a singing group, and many gave free rein to Burnette's singing and playing.