Western TV Series

Aug 26, 2020

Out of the hundreds of mass emails I have sent to my various lists, my recent email on actors who appeared in “The Lone Ranger” got the most replies.

 

Being a researcher/writer who doesn’t need a lot of encouragement, I decided to do a follow up.  This is a list of all the earliest TV Western series, in order of their TV appearance.  

 

I hope I haven’t included too many attachments.  I urge you to view them all.

 

The Lone Ranger

1. The Lone Ranger (1949–1957)

A great pace-setter.  Several aspects would even fit the tenor of modern times.  The co-star was a Native American, treated with the utmost respect.  The Ranger seldom (never) even wounded anyone.  He shot the gun out of their hands, without even drawing blood.  He recognized the importance of education and the media as the country moved west.  The Creed of the Lone Ranger was marvelous:

The Lone Ranger Creed

That God put the firewood there but that every man must gather and light it himself.

In being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for that which is right.

That a man should make the most of what equipment he has.

That 'This government, of the people, by the people and for the people' shall live always.

That men should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.

That sooner or later...somewhere...somehow...we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.

That all things change but truth, and that truth alone, lives on forever. 

In my Creator, my country, my fellow man."

2. The Adventures of Cyclone Malone (1949–1951)

Never heard of it!  Had to look it up.  Apparently it was from L.A. and was about a marionette, in the Howdy Doody tradition.

The Cisco Kid

3. The Cisco Kid (1950–1956)

Loved it!  What a great example of Mexican manhood Duncan Renaldo portrayed.  He was born in Romania.  Pancho was portrayed by Leo Carillo, a real Mexican, whose heritage could be traced back to the days long before California became a state.  Carrllo was a learned man.  A conservationist, he had a state park named after him.

The Gabby Hayes Show

4. The Gabby Hayes Show (1950–1954)

I never liked ANY of the “sagebrush” type characters.  NONE of them.  George Hayes was actually a handsome leading man when he started acting.

The Gene Autry Show

5. The Gene Autry Show (1950–1955)

Gene was a close friend of Sheriff Peter J. Pitchess, for whom I served as Chief of Staff.  I still recall the line that PJP had me write in a congratulatory note when Gene remarried after his wife’s death:  “I am always pleased when my friends marry above themselves”.  Because Gene had a long-time problem with alcohol, when he bought the Angels, all of their strategies were geared to trying to win soon.  Had they known he was going to live so long, they might have used the much wiser strategies that Toronto Blue Jays more successfully employed.  Gene was one of the wealthiest men in California and had a large broadcasting empire.  One of his sidekicks was comic Pat Buttram.  Pat once spoke at Sheriff’s Department event.  He said “Gene had two wives and both were tens”….me?  I’m still paying alimony to two threes and a four.

6. The Marshal of Gunsight Pass (1950)

Three episodes.  Singing Cowboy Eddie Dean was the Marshal in two of the three episodes.  Roy Rogers and Gene Autry stated that Dean had the best voice of all the singing cowboys.

EDDIE DEAN ~ San Antonio Rose - YouTube

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Singing Movie Cowboy EDDIE DEAN ~ 'San Antonio Rose'. Show less Show more. Up next. Autoplay. When ...

Oct 31, 2008 - Uploaded by HillBillyHit

 

The Adventures of Kit Carson

7. The Adventures of Kit Carson (1951–1960)

The star, Bill Williams, was the 46-year husband of Della Street (Barbara Hale).  Their son, William Katt, was the star of “The Greatest American Hero”.

8. Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok (1951–1958)

Guy Madison was the star.  The handsome Madison was married to the beautiful Gail Russell, from 1949-1954.  Gail was the female star in my favorite John Wayne movie, “The Angel and the Badman”.  I strongly encourage you to find this movie.  Sadly, Gail died young, from chronic alcoholism.

The Range Rider

9. The Range Rider (1951–1953)

Jack/Jock Mahoney was a fine actor.  Like many cowboy actors of the time, the 6’4 Mahoney was athletic and a stuntman.  Gene Autry’s Flying A Productions produced the show.

10. Red Ryder (1951)

The show was a flop.  Too bad.  One of the original movie Red Ryders was Allen “Rocky” Lane, a favorite of mine.  His Hollywood bio indicated he was a multi-sport athlete at Notre Dame.  That got me very interested.  Sadly, Harry Albershardt, although born nearby, never attended ND.  Lane was the voice of Mr. Ed, though not credited for it while the show was on the air.  Great baritone voice.  Coincidentally, I play bridge with Tom Hallum, who lives in the Mishawaka home in which “Rocky” grew up.

11. The Roy Rogers Show (1951–1957)

As Leonard Slye, he was one of the founders of the “Sons of the Pioneers”.  He was once a singing cowboy in a Gene Autry movie.

12. Cowboy G-Men (1952)

13. Death Valley Days (1952–1970)

GREAT series.  The final three narrators were OUTSTANDING!  Stanley AndrewsRobert TaylorRonald ReaganDale Robertson.  Featured a lot of heart-warming stories, allegedly based on true characters and actual incidents.

14. Hopalong Cassidy (1952–1954)

Liked him.  One of his nephews was married to Muffett McGraw’s long time secretary.  Because his seat in the Athletic Department section was next to where I stationed myself, while managing security for the Notre Dame’s women’s basketball game, we used to talk about Hoppy.  I regret that I never went to his house to see the artifacts he had.  Hoppy could also lay claim to being the first Western TV series, because many of his former movies were edited as a TV series, a few months before “The Lone Ranger” began to air.

15. Action in the Afternoon (1953)

Annie Oakley

16. Annie Oakley (1954–1957)

Gail Davis was my neighbor in L.A.  A lovely lady.  She sent me a great photo and nice note when I told her I was moving.  Voted the most beautiful baby born in Arkansas-1925.  In interviews over the years, Gail was proud that she provided a role model for young girls.

17. The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin (1954–1959)

The long list of actors who appeared in this series is quite similar to the cast of The Lone Ranger.

18. Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color (1954–1991) 
Episode: Davy Crockett: Indian Fighter (1954)

Loved it.  I became friends with Buddy Ebsen in Los Angeles.  He introduced me to singing cowboy Rex Allen.  That was a real highlight.

19. Stories of the Century (1954)

Jim Davis was the star, as a railroad detective, as he warmed up his acting skills, prior to becoming Jock Ewing.  

20. The Adventures of Champion (1955–1956)

I have never gotten excited about westerns whose star was a horse.

 

21. Brave Eagle (1955–1956)

Good idea, I guess, to feature a strong Indian.  Never saw it.  What tribe was Keith Larsen from?  The Norwegians.  One of this three wives was Vera Miles.  Always liked her.

Vera Miles

Vera Miles Picture

 

22. Buffalo Bill, Jr. (1955–1956)

23. Cheyenne (1955–1963)

One of my all-time favorites.  Who couldn’t like Clint Walker!  During the 50’s, as I was coming of age, I was fortunate to have a sports hero (Stan Musial) and a cowboy hero (Lone Ranger).  The character of Cheyenne Bodie was also a wonderful hero to admire.


 

Clint Walker, The Man They Call Cheyenne - YouTube

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My own fan video for Kelly Wayne's wonderful song about the classic TV western series, and it's one of a kind ...

Mar 6, 2018 - Uploaded by Maricatrin's Music Videos

Walker also had a great speaking voice and sang a few songs.  He was the kind of guy that if you were on a beach with him, you would go quickly and put on a shirt.


 

Clint Walker - When Day is Done - YouTube

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Clint Walker singing When Day is Done from his Inspiration CD. Clips are from his role as Cheyenne Bodie in ...

Mar 9, 2012 - Uploaded by debco12

24. Frontier (1955–1956)

25. Fury (1955–1960)

Peter Graves, who would be great in “Mission Impossible”, was the younger brother of James Arness.

26. Gunsmoke (1955–1975)

One of the GREAT TV shows and most long-lasting.  James Arness had the perfect persona for the role.  The radio Matt Dillon was William Conrad, a great actor with a wonderful voice.  He was too fat for the TV role, so had to settle on being “Cannon”.  Ken Curtis played “Festus”, with perhaps the worst speaking voice ever heard on TV.  In reality, Curtis was an early member of the Sons of the Pioneers and had one of the best singing voices in cowboy music.  Many great singers have tried this wonderful song…..nobody nailed it like “Festus”.

About 2,040,000 results (0.64 seconds) 

 

 

 

Rio Grande - I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen - YouTube

 

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27. The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp (1955–1961)

I liked this show more then, than now.  Long list of great TV mainstay character actors.  A movie actor I liked who was in 8 episodes was Lash Larue.

28. My Friend Flicka (1955–1960)

Teach the horse to talk and it would be more interesting.

29. Sergeant Preston of the Yukon (1955–1958)

LOVED this show.  Once you’ve been to the Alaskan wilderness, it’s difficult to imagine Sgt. Preston and his dog, King, traversing a few thousand miles to capture some of the few Canadians who ever break the law.  This was another Trendle/Striker show.

30. Steve Donovan, Western Marshal (1955)

The high school teacher I had for all four years of Latin went to Amherst with Douglas Kennedy, the star of this series.  He mentioned it each time Kennedy was one a TV show the night before.

31. Tales of the Texas Rangers (1955–1959)

Hard to imagine Harry Lauter as a good guy, after all the episodes of shows in which he was a bad guy.  One of the enjoyable aspects of digging into the lives of these character actors is learning fascinating aspects of their lives outside of acting.  Lauter worked as a rodeo rider and came from a circus family, The Flying Lauters trapeze act, which featured his father and grandfather.  He became an artist and gallery owner in his later years.

Harry Lauter 

Harry Lauter Picture

 

32. The Adventures of Jim Bowie (1956–1958)

33. Boomtown (1956–1974)

Children’s show from Boston.  I have no recollection of this show, despite growing up with WBZ as one of our three TV channels.

Broken Arrow

34. Broken Arrow (1956–1960)

Michael Ansara was a VERY realistic Indian.  Odd that he was from Syria!

35. Circus Boy (1956–1958)

Mickey Dolenz achieved much greater fame as a member of The Monkeys and Noah Beery, Jr. was wonderful as “Rocky”, father of James Garner, on “The Rockford Files”.  Guinn “Big Boy” Williams was one of my favorite “heavies” in other westerns.

36. The Gabby Hayes Show (1956)

A second version of the show, from two years earlier.  One was too many.

37. Judge Roy Bean (1956)

Edgar Buchanan’s son was one of my favorite L.A. disc jockeys.  A real good one.

38. The Sheriff of Cochise (1956–1959)

I did a one-week consulting job with the Cochise County (AZ) Sheriff’s Department.  

39. Zane Grey Theater (1956–1961)

Dick Powell was the host.  Always seemed like a classy guy.  Two of his wives were Joan Blondell and June Allyson.

40. 26 Men (1957–1959)

Some of these shows must have been on opposite of others I watched or that my parents watched, back in those one-TV in the house and only three channels on TV days.  I’m sure I never saw an episode of this series, but they had some great character actors in their shows.  One of my favorites was Leo Gordon.  When I lived in Los Angeles, I was good friends with comedian Foster Brooks, who portrayed a drunk.  BTW, Brooks had a wonderful baritone singing voice.  His best friend was Gordon.  Leo left the Army with an undesirable discharge.  Not long after, he attempted an armed robbery of a bar.  A police officer shot him in the stomach.  Gordon served five years in San Quentin.  While in prison, he turned his life around.  He has a fascinating bio.  One of his directors called him “The scariest man I ever met”.  He was a bright and thoughtful man and wrote many screenplays.  Here’s part of his bio from Wikipedia:

 

Gordon once told an interviewer that because of his imposing size he never felt he was fully accepted as a screenwriter: "Writing is more rewarding than acting, but look at my face. Nobody believes I’m a writer. I should be 5' 8", 142 pounds, wear patches on my elbows and horn-rimmed glasses and smoke a pipe. That's a writer!" In addition to his script work for films and television Gordon wrote or co-wrote several novels, including the historical Western Powderkeg.

Leo Gordon 

Leo Gordon Picture

 

41. Boots and Saddles (1956)

42. The Californians (1957–1959)

43. Casey Jones (1957)

Alan Hale was better as Gilligan’s Skipper.  He also had a minor role in a great Western Movie, “The Gunfighter” starring Burt Lancaster.  

Colt .45

44. Colt .45 (1957–1960)

I REALLY liked this show.  

45. The Gray Ghost (1957)

This was based upon the life of Confederate Major John Singleton Mosby.  We are not likely to see any more TV shows about this subject.

Have Gun - Will Travel

46. Have Gun - Will Travel (1957–1963)

Probably my #1, over my sentimental favorite, “The Lone Ranger”.  I first became of Richard Boone, when he played Dr. Konrad Styner, in “Medic”, which showed actual operations.  Great theme music.


 

Victor Young BLUE STAR - YouTube

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Contents solely and rightfully owned and administered by BELIEVE - not intended for copyright infringement ...

Jan 18, 2012 - Uploaded by felixbautista

47. Hawkeye and the Last of the Mohicans (1957)

The star was John Hart, the “other” Lone Ranger.  Lon Chaney Jr. portrayed Chingachgook.  He also had a role in “High Noon” and a fine episode of “Have Gun Will Travel”

 

48. Man Without a Gun (1957–1959)

Mort Mills played one of the characters who actually did have a gun, Marshal Frank Tallman.  Mills had a repeat role on “Perry Mason” as Sgt. Ben Landro.  Since Perry was usually defending Los Angeles murderers, he usually encountered Lt. Tragg, but if the case required Perry to meet with a Sheriff’s officer Mort Mills played Sgt. Ben Landro.  This is what Boyd Magers wrote about Mort:

MORT MILLS

Ex-Marine paratrooper Mort Mills made his screen debut in 1952 as a thug in the Bowery Boys’ “No Holds Barred”. Although Mills co-starred (with Rex Reason) as Marshal Frank Talman on TV’s “Man Without A Gun” (‘57-‘59) and certainly simulated the part of other sheriffs, bartenders, reporters, etc., it is as a stern, sour-faced badman that we best remember him on over 150 TV shows and in nearly 50 films for almost 20 years from ‘52-‘71.

Bartender Mort Mills holds a serious discussion with Wayne Morris in Allied Artists' "Texas Bad Man" ('53). Stanley Price is on the right.

 

 

Maverick

49. Maverick (1957–1962)

This was one of my big favorites then, but not so much now.

50. The Restless Gun (1957–1959)

I liked this show, starring John Payne.  The pilot episode featured Andrew Duggan, whose dad played Notre Dame Football with Knute Rockne.

Not many people know that John Payne also had a singing career.  His an example of his voice.  While this short clip is described as “beefcake”, it’s only fair since I featured “Lorna” in my prior email that caused me to produce this essay.

 


 

John Payne beefcake - "Give Me the Simple Life ... - YouTube

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John Payne singing "Give Me the Simple Life" (with cleaned up audio), and a really great photo session....

Jun 21, 2011 - Uploaded by stevers62

 

51. Sugarfoot (1957–1961)

 

Tales of Wells Fargo

52. Tales of Wells Fargo (1957–1962)

VERY good.  Dale Robertson was a fine actor………and, since I’m left handed, I always was pleased to see a lefty gunslinger.

53. Tombstone Territory (1957)

Had a great theme song which I can nearly remember---“Whistle me up a memory”.   During the early 90’s I drove to Tombstone to check out the site of the Gunfight at the OK Corral.

54. Trackdown (1957–1959)

Good show.

55. Wagon Train (1957–1965)

Ok show………..but I came to like Rawhide better.

56. Zorro (1957–1959)

Excellent.  Gene Sheldon played the mute……..he was actually a fine banjo player.

57. Bat Masterson (1958–1961)

Liked it.  Masterson ended up as a NYC Sportswriter.

58. Bronco (1958–1962)

They picked a pretty boy and gave him a show.

59. Buckskin (1958–1959)

60. Cimarron City (1958–1960)

Frontier Doctor

61. Frontier Doctor (1958– )

I was friends with Buddy Ebsen.  He introduced me to Rex Allen, the GREAT western singer who starred in this show.

62. Frontier Justice (1958–1961)

63. Jefferson Drum (1958–1959)

64. Lawman (1958–1962)

I liked this show a lot.  John Russell played a nice role….quite different from the mean guy he played in “Pale Rider”, one of Clint Eastwood’s best movies.

65. Mackenzie's Raiders (1958–1959)

66. Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color (1954–1991) 
Episode: The Nine Lives of Elfego Baca (1958)

67. Northwest Passage (1958–1959)

68. The Rifleman (1958–1963)

Good one.  Chuck Connors and I were once both speakers at a major baseball event in Anaheim.  He played MLB and Pro Basketball.

69. The Rough Riders (1958–1959)

The Texan

70. The Texan (1958–1960)

I met Rory Calhoun’s ex-wife at a party in Beverly Hills.  She called him “Cory Buffoon”.  Not a lot of love there.

71. Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color (1954–1991) 
Episode: Texas John Slaughter (1958)

72. Union Pacific (1958)

73. Wanted: Dead or Alive (1958–1961)

VERY good show.  Steve McQueen got his big start here.

Yancy Derringer

74. Yancy Derringer (1958–1959)

ABSOLUTELY loved it!  I wish it were on longer.  X Brands played the mute Indian, Pahoo (“Wolf who walks on water”).  He was German. 

75. The Alaskans (1959–1960)

76. Black Saddle (1959–1960)

Peter Breck, the star, spent some summers in my hometown, of Gloucester, MA.

77. Bonanza (1959–1973)

Liked it better then, than now.   

78. The Deputy (1959–1961)

LOVED it.  Reminded me of the movie, “The Tin Star”, which is a must see.  Fonda starred in both.  This show was created by Norman Lear, for whom I worked a lot of security assignments.

79. Hotel de Paree (1959–1960)

Liked it.  Earl Holliman lived near me in L.A.

80. Hudson's Bay (1959)

81. Johnny Ringo (1959–1960)

Don Durant Picture

Don Durant

The "fastest gun in all the West" and the poster boy for "tall, dark and handsome:, Don Durant was best known for his title role in the CBS western series Johnny Ringo (1959). 

 

82. Laramie (1959–1963)

Liked it.  

83. Law of the Plainsman (1959)

84. The Man from Blackhawk (1959–1960)

85. Pony Express (1959)

Rawhide

86. Rawhide (1959–1965)

Liked it a lot.  Eastwood was terrific.  Great theme music.  The composer of the theme, also composed the music to “High Noon” (“Do not forsake me, oh my darling”).  Who was the composer and what cowboy state was he from?  Dimitri Zinovievich Tiomkin.  Among his many other great movie scores was the theme to “The High and the Mighty”, one of my favorite movies.  Go find it.

Search Results

 

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R A W H I D E Opening Theme - YouTube

 

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87. The Rebel (1959–1961)

Liked it.  GREAT theme song.  Can’t have a show today about a “Rebel”.  At least this kind.

88. Riverboat (1959–1961)

Don’t recall ever seeing it.  Two good co-stars, in Darrin McGavin and Burt Reynolds.

89. Shotgun Slade (1959–1961)

Scott Brady, the star, was a HUGE ND fan.  He word an ND baseball cap when tending the cop bar he owned in the TV series “Police Story”.  I met Brady at the same ND even I met Regis Philbin, Larry Moriarty, and Meredith Wilson.


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