Johnny Mack Brown

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This article is about the college football player and actor. For similarly named people, see Johnny Brown (disambiguation).

Johnny Mack Brown

Johnny Mack Brown (September 1, 1904 in Dothan; died November 14, 1974 in Woodland Hills, California), billed as John Mack Brown in the first and most prestigious phase of his screen career, was an All-American college football player and successful film actor.

Born and raised in Dothan, Brown was a star of the high school football team, earning a football scholarship to the University of Alabama. Playing the halfback position for the Crimson Tide, Brown helped his team to become the 1926 NCAA Division I-A national football champions. In that year's Rose Bowl, he earned Most Valuable Player honors after scoring two of his team's three touchdowns in an upset win over the favored Washington Huskies.

His good looks and powerful physique saw him portrayed on Wheaties cereal boxes and in 1927, brought an offer for motion picture screen tests that resulted in a long and successful career in Hollywood. He appeared in minor roles until 1930 when he was cast as the star in a western movie entitled Billy the Kid and directed by King Vidor. An extremely early widescreen film , the movie also features Wallace Beery as Pat Garrett. Also in 1930, Brown played Joan Crawford's love interest in Montana Moon.

Cover of a "Johnny Mack Brown" comic

Brown went on to make several top-flight movies under the name John Mack Brown, including The Secret Six (1931) with Wallace Beery, as well as the legendary Lost Generation celebration of alcohol, The Last Flight (1931), and was being groomed by MGM as a leading man until being replaced on a film in 1931, with all his scenes reshot with Clark Gable in his place. Rechristened "Johnny Mack Brown," he returned to making exclusively westerns and eventually became one of the screen's top B-movie cowboy stars, making 127 western films during his career, including Ride 'Em Cowboy with Abbott and Costello. Brown also starred in four serials for Universal Studios (Rustlers of Red Dog, Wild West Days, Flaming Frontiers and The Oregon Trail) and was a hero to millions of young children at movie theaters and on their television screens. When the B-Western genre dropped sharply in box office popularity, Johnny Mack Brown went into retirement in 1953. He returned more than ten years later to appear in secondary roles in a few Western films. Altogether, Brown appeared in over 160 movies between 1927 and 1966, as well as a smattering of television shows, in a career spanning almost forty years.

In recognition of his contribution to the motion picture industry, Brown was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6101 Hollywood Boulevard. In 1969, he was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.

Johnny Mack Brown died in California of heart failure at the age of 70. He was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.


  • Johnny Mack Brown. (November 9, 2007). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 16:06, January 29, 2008.

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