William Andrew Lamoreaux, born in Gallatin, MO, on Sept. 3, 1913, became known as “The Boy Wonder of Westerns” after his family moved to California. At one time he was probably the most successful and well-known of the young, silent screen cowpokes starring in Westerns. But his starring career floundered as he reached puberty and as the new medium of sound put an end to silent films.
Young William took interest in cowboys while growing up in the Newhall movie sets. He became a skilled horse rider and roper by the time he entered into his first film experience at age 13 in 1926. Cowboy star Jack Perrin helped the freckled faced boy get into movies. He appeared in the Rayhart series with Perrin.
During this period, a nationwide emphasis was placed on youth in movies. In 1927, his parents, Floyd and Myrtle Lamoreaux, signed a long-term contract for FBO (later RKO), making him the youngest actor to star in a western series.
His name changed to Buzz Barton, and the first release of “The Boy Wonder” soon followed in October. Then followed “The Slingshot Kid” in December. One early reviewer called Barton as a combination Mix, Maynard and Fred Thomson. Even if this was a bit of exaggeration, the following Buzz attracted was not questioned — a popularity that sustained him throughout the remainder of the silent film era.
Most of Buzz’s titles reflect his youth. He had the misfortune (as well as a number of older cowboy stars) of coming on the scene as the silent era was ending. Although his films were good, fast-paced stories, they were not strong enough to endure the changes taking place in Hollywood. The studio dropped him after starring in 14 features. The last one, “Pals of the Prairie,” was released in July, 1929.
Barton still landed a number of roles in westerns during 1930 and 1931. His popularity at the time still remained so strong that the Daisy Company introduced the “Buzz Barton Special Daisy Air Rifle” (complete with tlelscope sight), to tie in with the Big 4 pictures then being released.
William Andrew Lamoreaux (1913-1980), aka Buzz Barton, is one more name linking Gallatin, MO, to the Old West, though only through Hollywood and only by his place of birth.