MILES, Betty

(1910–1992)
   Betty Miles played the female lead in numerous low-budget Westerns of the 1940s, perhaps most remembered in Monogram’s Trail Blazers series. She usually played a strong, independent woman, often with as many masculine skills as the Trail Blazers themselves, which made for good humor. An excellent rider, she did her own stunts on and off her horse. In The Law Rides Again (1943), Miles rides for the cavalry pursued by the villains, outsmarts and outrides them, and brings the cavalry to rescue Hoot Gibson and Ken Maynard. Miles’s character was a transition from the helpless damsel in distress of the 1930s to the strong female lead beginning to appear in the 1950s. She played the pretty tomboy type in a sexy pants role—a beautiful, independent woman who could ride a horse, carry a gun, and protect her own ranch from the bad guys. Her riding ability was such that she often received billing with her horse, Sonny.
   Miles’s entry into film was as a stuntwoman. A Monogram Press Guide claims that while riding her horse up to a location set in 1941, Miles watched a female actor struggle with a horse through numerous retakes in a difficult action scene. Finally, Miles offered to demonstrate how to do the stunt, after which Monogram offered her a contract. Her stunts were well above the typical action for other B Western female actors of the time. On a Trail Blazers film, Sonora Stagecoach (1944), for instance, Miles makes a spectacular leap off the runaway stagecoach. Besides low-budget Western acting, Miles also doubled and stunted in full-budget films for female actors such as Linda Darnell. Fittingly, she followed her film career with a circus career.

Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Cinema. . 2012.

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