"Chairman June Allyson, Prexy Glenn Maxwell Roll Oaters in Spain"
June Allyson is board chairman and Glenn Maxwell, prexy of newly-formed Allyson-Maxwell Productions. Stan Web is veepee.
June Allyson as a spaghetti western star! June Allyson? Sure it might sound strange, but as the above notice from the weekly Variety of June 7, 1967 attests Miss Allyson was indeed bound for the plains of Spain. At the time North American audiences were just becoming acquainted with - made-in-Europe - westerns. In fact the term - spaghetti western- had not yet even been coined. All across the continent ex Hollywood male stars were saddling-up to renew their careers. On the distaff side only a few American actresses, namely Anne Baxter ("The Tall Women") & Janet Leigh ("Kid Rodelo") had made the trek across the pond.
Miss Allyson was born Eleanor 'Ella' Allyson Geisman, on October 7, 1917. She had been married to actor Dick Powell, from 1945 until his death on January 02, 1963. Before that year was out the grieving widow had found new love with a family friend, her late husband's personal barber. On October 13 she married Alfred Glenn Maxwell, who at that time owned a chain of highly successful barber-shops. One would say he was the original wealthy barber! This second marriage appears to have been tumultuous as it ended on April 20, 1965, almost as quickly as it had started. He must have been quite the ladies man as he got June to remarry him on April 1st, 1966, almost a year to the day of their divorce. Miss Allyson now in her late 40's was thinking about reviving her showbiz career.
Since the death of Mr. Powell, the financially secure Miss Allyson had been able to be picky about her choices. She had guested on "Burke's Law" (12/27/63), and occasionally appeared on local talk and variety shows. It was during this second marriage to 'Glenn', as he preferred to be called, that the 'newly-wed-weds' formed their own production company, Allyson-Maxwell Productions. The happy couple soon set out and purchased two scripts to start off with. The first was entitled "Nine Miles to Yucca", written by Steve Fisher (1912-80). He had earlier written one episode for her late husband's TV anthology show "The Dick Powell Show" (1961-63). Better still, Mr. Fisher was well versed in writing low-budget action-westerns, with strong female roles. He had turned out nearly a dozen westerns, mostly for A. C. Lyles over at Paramount Pictures, such as "Quick Gun" & "Law of the Lawless" (both 1964), "Young Fury" & "Black Spurs (both 1965), "Johnny Reno" & "Waco" (both 1966), "Red Tomahawk", "Hostile Guns" and "Fort Utah" (all 1967). From the above titles one can tell that this new western would be more like a Hollywood 'programmer', rather than a real spaghetti.
One would think that both projects must have been well into preparation by that early summer of '67. The start date of the first film would have been fast approaching. It was due to go before cameras in just over a month. They must have had a director, and a supporting cast in mind, if not already signed up. Spanish crews, horses, costumes and sets would have to have been hired over the next few weeks. Time would have been running out! A dozen or so other 'local' westerns would have been chompin' at the bit to scoop up any available start dates that summer. What would have been the hold up? The Banks? The Distributors? Allyson and Maxwell certainly talked like they had the start-up money ready. Following this announcement in Variety, it appears that nothing was heard of either script. Neither Miss Allyson, nor Mr. Maxwell attempted to mount any other productions. June, always the trooper resumed her acting career at home in Hollywood.
When the planned slate of westerns failed to materialize Mr. Fisher went back to writing for his old boss at Paramount. His next western was "Arizona Bushwhackers" (1968), and it starred Canadians John Ireland and Yvonne De Carlo, who was born Margaret Yvonne Middleton. Fisher's son Michael had the distinction of writing Lyles last B-western "Buckskin", the same year. Whether either of these two scripts had any connection to "Nine Miles to Yucca" is anyone's guess. On a brighter note in 1977 Fisher did finally get to turn out a spaghetti-like roughie western entitled "The Great Gundown", (even if it was shot stateside). As for the second script, "Gun for a Brother" (that would have made a great title for a later '70's 'Blaxploitation' flick), it appears to have been the first and only writing attempt by the still unknown Mr. Sellar.
by Biltmore Michael Ferguson,
[Thanks to Michael Anderson at the Hollywood Canteen (Toronto), John Lamontagne and Ernest Pereira for their assistance.]