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Lash LaRue, the Western movie star who was king of the bullwhip in low-budget films of the 1940s, has died. He was in his late 70s or early 80s.

He died May 21 at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center, a hospital operator who would not give her name said Thursday. She did not give the cause of death."How could any kid who grew up wanting to be a cowboy not enjoy being Lash LaRue?" he once said. "It was a dream come true."

Al LaRue got his screen nickname because of his trademark maneuvers with a 15-foot bullwhip. Fans also knew him for his black garb. Among his films: "Song of Old Wyoming," 1945; "Law of the Lash," 1947; "The Fighting Vigilantes," 1948; and "Mark of the Lash," 1948.