After an unsuccessful try at marketing a series western based on Fred Harman's comic strip character Red Ryder in 1940, featuring Don "Red" Barry, Republic Studios shelved the idea until someone noticed "Wild" Bill Elliott's resemblance to Harman's character. In 1944 the studio released TUCSON RAIDERS, the first in a new Red Ryder series of oaters. With little Bobby Blake as his sidekick, Elliott blazed his way out of the pages of a giant Red Ryder book to open the show. The first movie in the series saw Elliott, Blake, and comedy relief king Hayes battling to rid the territory of an evil governor who had stepped on too many toes, including those of Elliott's aunt. The new Red Ryder was a success and Elliott starred in 16 episodes before he retired from the part. Allan "Rocky" Lane took over the Red Ryder role in 1946.