Red Grange: A Halfback in Hollywood

Like many other pro athletes, Jazz Age football star Red Grange (Harold Grange, 1903-1991), a.k.a. The Galloping Ghost also dabbled in show biz.

Grange played for the University of Illinois and the Chicago Bears, and was one of the first stars of the NFL. Well-managed athletes always try to make the most out of their fame, ever since the beginning. Many dabble in acting, though few have really distinguished themselves at it. Grange was associated with FBO, the studio that Joe Kennedy later merged into RKO. His first film, not suprisingly was the silent football drama One Minute to Play (1926), directed by Sam Wood. This was followed by A Racing Romeo (1927), which had an auto racing theme, also with Wood and FBO. This one featured Jobyna Ralston and Trixie Friganza.

Grange toured big time vaudeville in 1927 and 1928 with an act called C’mon Red. The tin pan alley song depicted in the sheet music above is associated with him, although I don’t know if he sang it in the act. Grange returned to films in 1931, this time in a low budget Mascot adventure serial called The Galloping Ghost. Speaking dialogue in a movie was a little out of the zone for Grange, however, although after his retirement in the mid ’30s he did tour the lecture circuit and work in radio and television as a sports announcer.

For more on vaudeville history, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, and for more on silent film read  Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.