Alfred Wilson "Lash" LaRue
Lash LaRue starred in a string of B-Westerns in the 1940s and early 1950s, most of them at ultra-low budget studio PRC and its equally low-budget spinoff Western Adventure. In the early days he typically played the Cheyenne Kid or Cheyenne Davis, before ascending to the movie rank of U.S. Marshal Cheyenne Davis. After bailing out on PRC along with producer/director Ron Ormond, legendary B-Western director Ray Taylor and Cinematographer of the Gods Ernest Miller, who combined their talents and hung out their own shingle as Western Adventure Productions, LaRue got to appear for much of the rest of his career as a version of himself, in the person of U.S. Marshal Lash LaRue.
Lash LaRue with his trademark bullwhip
While he had no whip skills to speak of at the time he launched his acting career, LaRue learned fast — and it became his trademark, with Lash earning the nickname King of the Bullwhip. In the video at the bottom of this post, LaRue reveals to David Letterman that he lied about his ability with the bullwhip to land his first acting job. The above promotional still, courtesy of Western movie expert Jerry England, shows LaRue as an accomplished whipsman, plying his trade at the Iverson Movie Ranch, with Chatsworth's Stoney Point visible in the background. Hollywood legend has it that LaRue taught Harrison Ford how to use the bullwhip for the "Indiana Jones" movies.
Lash LaRue's Arch, as it appears today
LaRue was a regular at the Iverson Movie Ranch in the peak filming era — and even ended up with an Iverson rock feature named after him: Lash LaRue's Arch. The formation can still be found today, near the swimming pool at the Indian Hills Mobile Home Village.
Lash LaRue comic book
Lash's series of comic books back in The Day went with the one-word "LaRue," and even if it may be weird to use a comic book as the definitive source, it does seem likely that the comics would have got his name right. A couple of noteworthy tidbits about the above cover: Note that Lash autographed it using his real name, Alfred, but he tells Letterman in the video clip below that even his mom called him Lash. Also, note that the background appears to be the Iverson Movie Ranch, although I haven't been able to make a positive ID on it.
The Golden Boot Awards were the idea of Mr. Haney from "Green Acres" — veteran Gene Autry sidekick and B-Western regular Pat Buttram. They were meant to honor the people who kept the Western tradition alive in film and on TV, while also raising money for the Fund — a charitable organization that looks after veterans of the entertainment industry who wind up in tough health situations and low on money.
Golden Boot honorees over the years included all the heavyweights of the genre — John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Chuck Connors, Sam Peckinpah, Dale Robertson, Audie Murphy, Jimmy Stewart, James Arness, Tex Ritter, Rhonda Fleming, Glenn Ford, Johnny Cash, Robert Duvall, Burt Reynolds, Robert Mitchum ... the list goes on.
Eva Marie Saint in "On the Waterfront" (1954)
I suppose by 2007, the last year the Golden Boots were handed out, they were running out of Western stars to honor. The "heavyweights" who got in on that last batch of Boots included Caruth C. Byrd — a well-funded but relatively unknown actor and producer who apparently made up for his puny (and not particularly Western-oriented) filmography by being generous to the Motion Picture & Television Fund — Martin Kove — an actor known mainly for "Rambo," "Karate Kid" and "Cagney & Lacey" — "Lord of the Rings" actor Viggo Mortensen — who did make a Western called "Appaloosa" around that time — stuntman Walt LaRue — possibly the most legit recipient in the bunch, having done stunts on "Silverado," "Pale Rider" and even "Blazing Saddles" (I don't know whether he's related to Lash, but my guess is that he is, either by blood or by hero worship) — and that giant of the Westerns, Eva Marie Saint — a terrific actress known more for her Oscar-winning performance in "On the Waterfront" and her star turn in Hitchcock's spy masterpiece "North by Northwest," although she did appear in a 1977 TV remake of "How the West Was Won."
John Wayne is introduced in John Ford's epic Western "Stagecoach"
in 1939 — with the Iverson Movie Ranch in the background
The organizers of the Golden Boots also took the opportunity in 2007 to bestow the Founder's Award on the late John Wayne, so the Boot went out with a bang.
The other kind of Golden Boot — with Bulgarian soccer star
Dimitar Berbatov, a striker in Premier League
In recent years the term "Golden Boot" has come to be associated more with sports — specifically soccer, or what much of the rest of the world calls football. The Premier League's "Barclays Golden Boot" is one of a number of Golden Boots and Golden Shoes awarded annually in the sport.
The clip montage includes Lash slugging a bald-headed guy (whose hat fell off), after which Lash eventually makes his way out to trade quips with Dave and torment the host with his whip technique. It's worth checking out.
Here's the video: