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The Secret Star of The Man Without a Star

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Midway through The Man Without a Star, Kirk Douglas does his best to charm you with a gleeful banjo rendition of “And the Moon Shone Brighter and Brighter”, but he doesn’t realize that the show has already been stolen– by Frankie Laine, whose voice you hear over the opening credits belting the titular song.

Laine was already a well-known jazz singer with plenty of hits to his name before he became the golden voice of Hollywood Westerns. When he sang his version of the theme song from High Noon in 1952, its popularity eclipsed the actual film version sung by actor Tex Ritter. Before long, Laine was famous all over again for the openings of Bullwhip, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and 3:10 to Yuma, not to mention the TV show “Rawhide”. So utterly did Frankie Laine corner the market that in 1974 Mel Brooks asked him to do the honors for his cowboy spoof Blazing Saddles, an effort that resulted in an Oscar nod.

Laine– who died a year ago this week– will surely be remembered for bringing country music to the mainstream, as well as his achievements as a early rock n’ roll innovator. So when he turns up in movies like The Man Without a Star take note: Kirk Douglas may get to ride off into the sunset, but it’s Laine who gets the first and last word in this one.

Hear for yourself on AMC, Saturday, February 9th at 10:15 AM | 9:15C.

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