Your Shopping Cart | Your Account Information | Catalog Quick Order | Customer Service | Order Status | Contact Us


AboutBlogOur Radio Show SEARCH   KEYWORD

Happy Birthday, Paul Sutton!

From 1938 to 1955, Detroit radio station WXYZ was the home of Sergeant William Preston—the stalwart Canadian Mountie who, with his trusty canine King, brought evildoers to justice in the exciting days of the Klondike Gold Rush.  When Challenge of the Yukon premiered on WXYZ in February of 1938, it was a five-day-a-week quarter-hour featuring actor Jay Michael in the role of Preston…but when the series expanded to a half-hour on June 12, 1947, Michael relinquished the part of Preston to an actor born in Albuquerque, New Mexico on this date in 1910.  We know him as Paul Sutton.

The details of Paul Sutton’s biography are sketchy at best: many reference books (Dick Osgood’s Wyxie Wonderland, Jim Harmon’s Radio Mystery and Adventure in Film, Television and Other Media) note that Sutton migrated to WXYZ after a busy motion picture career in Hollywood, where he played villains and heavies in B-westerns and low-budget films.  His first onscreen credit was in Rio Grande Ranger (1936), in which he squared off against Texas Ranger Bob Allen.  The following year, Paul graced the casts of such films as Nancy Steele is Missing!Under Strange FlagsThe Firefly, and Conquest.

Paul Sutton also had a prominent role in a 1937 Universal serial, Jungle Jim, based on the comic strip by Alex Raymond (which debuted in 1934, as competition to the popular Tarzan of the Apes).  Grant Withers plays the titular hero, whose best friend is murdered by a henchman named LaBat (Sutton).  (At the risk of spoiling it for anyone…LaBat only sticks around for the first six chapters, which should clue you in as to his fate.)  Sutton continued to amass entries on his cinematic c.v. with appearances in Shadows Over ShanghaiSunset Murder CaseAir Devils and the Hopalong Cassidy oaters Bar 20 Justice and In Old Mexico (as “The Fox”)—all of which were released in 1938.

Though familiar for his work in B-pictures, Paul Sutton occasionally landed minor roles and uncredited bits in bigger “A” films, like Jesse James (1939), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), North West Mounted Police (1940), and Little Old New York (1940).  In the 1940s, Paul continued his villainous ways with memorable turns in In Old California (1942; with John Wayne), Riders of the Northland (1942; with Charles “Durango Kid” Starrett), and Silver City Raiders (1943; with Russell “Lucky” Hayden…and Bob Willis and the Texas Playboys!).  His last movie role (according to the IMDb) was a brief bit as a barfly in the 1945 Gary Cooper-Loretta Young western comedy Along Came Jones.

Not long after his cinematic swan song, Paul Sutton began his career with WXYZ, playing utility roles on the station’s popular radio adventure The Lone Ranger.  He took over for Jay Michael as Sergeant Preston on Challenge of the Yukon (Michael continued to work on the show as the announcer) and became for many fans the most familiar voice of Preston.  Sutton handed off the Challenge of the Yukon gig (which was renamed Sergeant Preston of the Yukon in 1951) to ex-Lone Ranger Brace Beemer, and embarked on a career in politics (running for Congress in 1954 and 1956).  Those two races were run from Michigan, where Paul resided until his death in 1970 at the age of 59.

Here’s an amusing bit of trivia: today’s birthday boy portrayed a villainous scoundrel named “Pierre Ledoux” in the 1939 adventure film North of the Yukon…which cast Charles Starrett and Bob Nolan (with The Sons of the Pioneers) as heroic Mounties!  It’s nice to know that Paul Sutton eventually turned to the right side of the law, and you can hear him emote in his most famous radio role in the Sergeant Preston of the Yukon collections On, You Huskies!Relentless Pursuit, and Frozen Trails.  Radio Spirits also has “plenty of Sutton” on our Lone Ranger collections The Lone Ranger Rides Again and Vengeance!

Leave a Reply