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Maverick

   
 

 

  MAVERICK

A subversive Western with a dark sense of humor, Maverick soared to sixth place in the Nielsen ratings during its second season with a 30.4 share as well as winning an Emmy award for Best Western Series in 1959. Starring the then relatively unknown James Garner as footloose frontier gambler Bret Maverick, shortly after joined by Jack Kelly as brother Bart, this hour-long series followed the duplicitous adventures and, more often, misadventures of the Mavericks in their pursuit of money and the easy life.

Starting out as a straight Western drama (the first three episodes, "The War of the Silver Kings", "Point Blank" and "According to Hoyle", were directed by feature Western auteur Budd Boetticher), the series soon developed a comedy streak after writer Marion Hargrove decided to liven up his scriptwriting work by inserting the simple stage direction: "Maverick looks at him with his beady little eyes." Other scriptwriters then followed suit. Garner, in particular, and Kelly joined in with the less-than-sincere spirit of the stories and Maverick took a unique turn away from the other, more formal and traditional Warner Brothers-produced Westerns then on the air (Lawman, Colt .45, Cheyenne and Sugarfoot).

The series was created by producer Roy Huggins and developed out of a story (co-written with Howard Browne) in which Huggins tried to see how many TV Western rules he could break and get away with; the script, ironically, was filmed as an episode of the "adult" Cheyenne series ("The Dark Rider") and featured guest-star Diane Brewster as a swindler and practiced cheat, a role she was later to take up as a recurring character, gambler Samantha Crawford, during the 1958-59 season of Maverick. "Maverick is Cheyenne, a conventional Western, turned inside out," said Huggins. "But with Maverick there was nothing coincidental about the inversion." The Maverick brothers were not heroes in the traditional Western sense. They were devious, cowardly card-sharps who exploited easy situations and quickly vanished when faced with potentially violent ones. A popular part of their repertoire for evading difficult moments was the "Pappyisms" that corrupted their speech. Quoting their old Pappy, and mentor, as a suitable excuse they were likely to come out with (when all else failed, for instance): "My old Pappy used to say 'If you can't fight 'em, and they won't let you join 'em, best get out of the county'."

Following the success of Cheyenne on ABC (from its premiere in 1955) the network asked Warner Brothers TV division to give them another hour-long Western program for their Sunday evening slot. Maverick premiered on 22 September 1957, and pretty soon won over the viewers from the powerful opposition of CBS's The Ed Sullivan Show and NBC's The Steve Allen Show, two programs that had been Sunday night favourites from the mid-1950s. With Garner alone starring in early episodes, Warners found that it was taking eight days to film a weekly show. They decided to introduce another character, Bret's brother, in order to keep the production on schedule. This strategy resulted in a weekly co-starring series when Jack Kelly's Bart was introduced in the "Hostage" episode (10 November 1957). With separate production units now working simultaneously Warners managed to supply a steady stream of episodes featuring either Bret or Bart on alternate weeks. Occasionally, both Maverick brothers were seen in the same episode, usually when they teamed up to help each other out of some difficult situation or to outwit even more treacherous characters than themselves.

The series also reveled in colourful characters as well as presenting wild parodies of other TV programs of the period. During the early seasons recurring guest characters popped in and out of the plots to foil or assist the brothers: Dandy Jim Buckley (played by Efrem Zimbalist Jr.), Gentleman Jack Darby (Richard Long), Big Mike McComb (Leo Gordon) and Bret's regular antagonist, the artful con-woman Samantha Crawford (Brewster). Among the more amusing episodes: "Gun-Shy" (second season) was a send-up of Gunsmoke featuring a hick character called Mort Dooley; "A Cure for Johnny Rain" (third season) spoofed Jack Webb's Dragnet with Garner doing a deadpan Joe Friday voice-over; "Hadley's Hunters" (fourth season) had Bart enlist the help of Ty Hardin (Bronco), Will Hutchins (Sugarfoot), Clint Walker (Cheyenne), John Russell and Peter Brown (Lawman) all playing their respective characters from the WB stable of Western TV series (and with Edd "Kookie" Byrnes from Warner Brothers 77 Sunset Strip as a blacksmith); and "Three Queens Full" (fifth season) was a wicked parody of Bonanza in which the Subrosa Ranch was run by Joe Wheelwright and his three sons, Moose, Henry and Small Paul. In addition, two other episodes ("The Wrecker" and "A State of Siege") were loose adaptations of Robert Louis Stevenson stories, albeit translated into the Maverick vein.

In 1960 actor James Garner and his Warner Brothers studio bosses clashed when Garner took out a lawsuit against the studio for breach of contract arising out of his suspension during the January-June writers' strike of that year. Warners claimed that it was justified in suspending Garner by invoking the force majeure clause in Garner's contract due to the writers' strike; the clause, in other words, meant that if forces beyond the control of the studio prevented it from making films, the studio didn't have to continue paying actors' salaries. It had been no secret at the time that Garner had wanted to be released from his contract ("Contracts are completely one-sided affairs. If you click, [the studio] owns you," he stated). Finally, in December 1960 the judge decided in favour of Garner. During the course of the testimony it was revealed that during the strike Warners had obtained--under the table--something in the number of 100 TV scripts, and that at one time the studio had as many as 14 writers working under the pseudonym of "W. Hermanos" (Spanish for "brothers").

Garner then went on to a successful feature film career but returned to series television in the 1970s with Nichols (1971-72) and the popular The Rockford Files (1974-80). He appeared as a guest star along with Jack Kelly in the 1978 TV movie/pilot The New Maverick, which produced the short-lived Young Maverick (1979-80) series, minus Garner; he also starred in the title role of Bret Maverick (1981-82) which he co-produced with Warners. A theatrical film version, Maverick, was produced in 1994 with Mel Gibson starring as Bret Maverick and Garner appearing as Bret's father; Richard Donner directed the Warner Brothers release.

As a replacement for Garner in the fourth season of the original series Warners brought on board Roger Moore, as cousin Beauregard, a Texas expatriate who had lived in England (a WB contract player, Moore had been transferred from another Warner Western series, The Alaskans, which had run only one season from 1959). When Moore departed after just one season another Maverick brother, Robert Colbert's Brent Maverick, a slight Garner/Bret lookalike, was introduced in the spring of 1961 to alternate adventures with Bart. Colbert stayed only until the end of that season, leaving the final (and longest remaining) Maverick, Jack Kelly, to ride out the last Maverick season (1961-62) alone, except for some early seasons' rerun episodes.

The series came to an end after 124 episodes, and with it a small-screen Western legend came to a close. Perhaps the ultimate credit for Maverick should go to creator-producer Roy Huggins for the originality to steer the series clear of the trite and the ordinary, and for not only trying something different but executing it with a comic flair.

-Tise Vahimagi

CAST

Bret Maverick (1957-1960)........................ James Garner Bart Maverick............................................... Jack Kelly Samantha Crawford (1958-1959).............. Diane Brewster Cousin Beauregard Maverick (1960-1961).... Roger Moore Brent Maverick (1961).............................. Robert Colbert

PRODUCERS   Roy Huggins, William T. Orr, Howie Horwitz

PROGRAMMING HISTORY 124 Episodes

ABC
September 1957-September 1961         Sunday 7:30-8:30 September 1961-July 1962                   Sunday 6:30-7:30

FURTHER READING

Anderson, Christopher. Hollywood/TV. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 1994.

Barer, Burl. Maverick: The Making of the Movie and the Official Guide to the Television Series. Boston: Tuttle, 1994

Hargrove, Marion. "This is a Television Cowboy?" Life (New York), 19 January 1959.

Jackson, Ronald. Classic TV Westerns: A Pictorial History. Seacaucus, New Jersey: Carol, 1994.

MacDonald, J. Fred. Who Shot the Sheriff: The Rise and Fall of the Television Western. New York: Praeger, 1987.

Marsden, Michael T., and Jack Nachbar. "The Modern Popular Western: Radio, Television, Film and Print." In, A Literary History of the American West. Sponsored by The Western Literature Association. Fort Worth, Texas: Texas Christian University Press, 1987.

Robertson, Ed. Maverick, Legend of the West. Los Angeles: Pomegranate Press, 1994.

Strait, Raymond. James Garner, A Biography. New York: St. Martin's, 1985.

West, Richard. Television Westerns: Major And Minor Series, 1946-1978. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 1987.

Woolley, Lynn, Robert W. Malsbary, and Robert G. Strange, Jr. Warner Bros. Television: Every Show of the Fifties and Sixties Episode-By-Episode. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 1985.

Yoggy, Gary A. Riding the Video Range: The Rise and Fall of the Western on Television. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 1994.

 

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Maverick

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Cheyenne

   
 

 

  Cheyenne was the first successful television series to be produced by the motion picture studio, Warner Brothers. Originally one of the three rotating series in the studio's showcase series, Warner Brothers Presents, Cheyenne emerged as the program's breakout hit and helped to fuel ABC's ratings ascent during the mid-1950s. ABC had fewer national affiliates as CBS and NBC, but in markets with affiliates of all three networks, Cheyenne immediately entered the top ten; by 1957, it had become the number one program in those markets. Although clearly successful, Cheyenne never stood alone as a weekly series, but alternated bi-weekly with other Warner Brothers series: Casablanca and King's Row in Warner Brothers Presents (1955-56), Conflict (1956-57), and two spin-off series, Sugarfoot (1957-61) and Bronco (1958-62). Cheyenne's eight-year run produced only 107 episodes, an average of thirteen per season.

Early network television was staked out by refugees from Hollywood's B-western backlots who salvaged their careers by appealing to a vast audience of children. Cowboy stars Gene Autrey, Roy Rogers, and William "Hopalong Cassidy" Boyd made their fortunes in television with inexpensive little westerns made from noisy gunfights and stock-footage Indian raids. As television westerns were made to appeal to younger viewers, the movie industry shifted in the opposite direction, toward "adult" westerns in which the genre's familiar landscape became the setting for psychological drama or mythic allegory, as in High Noon (1952) and The Searchers (1956). With the 1955 premieres of Cheyenne, Gunsmoke (1955-75),and The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp (1955-61), the networks attempted to import the "adult" western into prime time by infusing the genre with more resonant characters and psychological conflicts.

Cheyenne starred Clint Walker as Cheyenne Bodie, a former frontier scout who drifts through the old West, traveling without any particular motivation from one adventure to another. Along the way he takes a number of jobs, working on ranches or wagon trains, taking part in cattle drives or protecting precious cargo. Sometimes he works for the federal government; at other times he finds himself deputized by local lawmen. Essentially, the producers of Cheyenne changed the character's circumstances at will in order to insert him into any imaginable conflict. Indeed, several Cheyenne episodes were remakes of earlier Warner Brothers movies like To Have and Have Not (1944) and Treasure of the Sierra Madre(1948) with the character of Cheyenne Bodie simply inserted into the original plot.

With Walker as a lone redeemer wandering from community to community, Cheyenne had a thin, though extremely adaptable, premise for generating episodic stories. With its virtually unrelated individual episodes, this type of series bears many similarities to the anthology format. In Cheyenne, each episode featured a new conflict involving new characters, with only the recurring character of Cheyenne Bodie to connect one episode with another. Each time Cheyenne enters a new community, he either witnesses or provokes a new story in which he can participate to varying degree--though he is the force of moral order able to resolve any conflict. This structure is particularly suited to the western's violent resolutions, since only one continuing character must remain alive when the dust settles.

The series was held together not so much by its premise as by its charismatic star, Clint Walker, who rose from obscurity to become one of the icons of the TV western. With his powerful physique and towering height, Walker commanded the small screen through sheer presence; his performance gained gravity simply from the way his body dominated the screen. Walker's personal strength extended beyond the screen to his dealings with Warner Brothers, which exercised tight control over its contract performers. In battling the studio, Walker made Cheyenne one of the more tempestuous productions in the history of television.

For the 1957-58 season ABC offered to purchase a full season of thirty-nine episodes of Cheyenne, but Warner Brothers declined. Since each hour-long episode took six working days for principle photography alone, the studio couldn't supply a new episode each week. Because Walker appeared in virtually every scene, it was also impossible to shoot more than one episode at a time. Consequently, Warner Brothers developed a second series, Sugarfoot, to alternate with Cheyenne.

In a gesture that would characterize creativity at Warner Brothers, the studio designed Sugarfoot as only a slight variation on the Cheyenne formula. In Sugarfoot, Will Hutchins played Tom Brewster, a kind-hearted young drifter who travels the West while studying to become a lawyer. Toting a stack of law books and an aversion to violence, he shares Cheyenne Bodie's penchant for meddling in the affairs of others. But whereas Cheyenne usually dispatches conflicts with firepower, Tom Brewster replaces gunplay with a gift for rhetoric--though he knows how to handle a weapon when persuasion fails. The series was more light-hearted than Cheyenne, but otherwise held close to the formula of the heroic loner.

In May 1958 Clint Walker demanded to renegotiate his contract before returning for another season. Walker had signed his first contract at Warner Brothers in 1955 as a virtual unknown and had received an initial salary of $175 per week, which had risen gradually to $1250 per week. After the second season of Cheyenne, Warner Brothers capitalized on Walker's rising popularity by casting him in a feature film, Fort Dobbs (1958), and by releasing a musical album on which he sang. But Walker was still merely a contract performer who worked on the studio's terms. Walker timed his ultimatum carefully, assuming that he had acquired some leverage once Cheyenne finished the 1957-58 season as ABC's second-highest-rated series. He requested more freedom from his iron-clad contract, particularly the autonomy to decide which projects to pursue outside the series. "Television is a vicious, tiring business," he informed the press, "and all I'm asking is my fair share."

When Warner Brothers refused to negotiate, Walker left the studio and did not return for the entire 1958-59 season. After meeting with ABC and advertisers, Warner Brothers decided to continue the Cheyenne series without its star. In his place the studio simply substituted a new charismatic drifter, a former Confederate captain named Bronco Layne (Ty Hardin). Warner Brothers received some puzzled fan mail, but the studio sustained an entire season without Walker--and finished among the top twenty programs--by interspersing Bronco Layne episodes with reruns of Walker episodes from previous seasons. If there was a difference between episodes of Bronco and Cheyenne, it was solely in the stars; otherwise, Bronco was a nearly identical clone.

Warner Brothers finally renegotiated Walker's contract after his boycott, and Cheyenne resumed with its star for the 1959-60 season. Bronco survived as a stand-alone series and alternated with Sugarfoot for the season. During the following season, the three shows alternated in The Cheyenne Show; occasionally the characters would crossover into episodes of the other series.

By the end, the actors were numbed by the repetition of the scripts and by the dreary, taxing routine of production on series in which one episode was virtually indistinguishable from another. Even after returning from his holdout, Walker disliked working on Cheyenne and complained to the press that he felt "like a caged animal" pacing back and forth in a zoo. "A TV series is a dead-end street," he lamented. "You work the same set, with the same actors, and with the same limited budgets. Pretty soon you don't know which picture you're in and you don't care." Will Hutchins admitted hoping that Sugarfoot would be canceled. Its episodes, he complained, "are pretty much the same after you've seen a handful. They're moneymakers for the studio, the stations, and the actors, but there's a kind of empty feeling when you're through."

-Christopher Anderson

CAST

Cheyenne Bodie...................................... Clint Walker Toothy Thompson ......................................Jack Elam

PRODUCERS

William T. Orr, Roy Huggins, Arthur Silver, Harry Foster

PROGRAMMING HISTORY 107 Episodes

ABC

September 1955-September 1959.... Tuesday 7:30-8:30 September 1959-December 1962...... Monday 7:30-8:30 April 1963-September 1963................. Friday 7:30-8:30

FURTHER READING

Anderson, Christopher. Hollywood TV: The Studio System in the Fifties. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 1994.

Jackson, Ronald. Classic TV Westerns: A Pictorial History. Seacaucus, New Jersey: Carol, 1994.

MacDonald, J. Fred. Who Shot The Sheriff: The Rise And Fall Of The Television Western. New York: Praeger, 1987.

West, Richard. Television Westerns: Major And Minor Series, 1946-1978. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 1987.

Woolley, Lynn, Robert W. Malsbary, and Robert G. Strange, Jr. Warner Brothers Television: Every Show of the Fifties and Sixties, Episode by Episode. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 1985.

Yoggy, Gary A. Riding the Video Range: The Rise and Fall of the Western on Television. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 1994.

 

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Lawman

   
 

 

 

  Lawman

9/22/1957 - 7/8/1962 ABC
Black and White - 30 minutes -156 episodes
Oct. 1958-April 1962 Sunday 8:30-9:00
April 1962-Oct. 1962 Sunday 10:30-11:00

Produced by Warner Brothers

Lawman Cast

John Russell as Marshal Dan Troop
Peter Brown as Deputy Johnny McKay
Bek Nelson as Dru Lemp, owner of the Blue Bonnet Cafe
Peggie Castle as Lilly Merrill,owner of Birdcage Saloon
Barbara Long as Julie Tate, owner of the Laramie newspaper

Lawman Theme Song

"Lawman Theme" music by Jerry Livingston and lyrics by Mack David

Lawman. Lawman.
The Lawman came with the sun.
There was a job to be done.
And so they sent for the badge and the gun
Of the Lawman.

And as he silently roved,
Where evil violently ploved
They knew he'd live or he'd die by the code
Of the Lawman.

The man who rides all alone
And all that he'll ever own,
Is just a badge and a gun and he's known
As the Lawman.

 

Lawman Tidbits

Marshal Dan Troop (John Russell) may have been the straightest lawman in the TV West. A fella of few words and fewer smiles, he protected Laramie from all manner of bad guys.

In sharp contrast was the hunky Peter Brown as Deputy Johhny McKay. If Russell was stonefaced, it didn't matter to women. They only had eyes for Brown.

Passings

Peggy Castle died in 1973 of cirrhosis of the liver, John Russell died in 1991.
 
       
 

Wyatt Earp

   
 

 

 
 
Though actor Hugh O'Brian has appeared in a myriad of television shows and movies through the decades, there is one role with which he immediately identified: that of frontier lawman Wyatt Earp. O'Brian played the lead role in the "Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp," a top-rated series aired on ABC television from 1955-61, catipulting O'Brian to stardom.
But becoming a star was not always his ambition. He almost became a lawyer.
Born April 19, 1925 in Rochester, New York (as Hugh J. Krampe), O'Brian attended school at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois, and Kemper Military School in Booneville, Missouri. In high school, his sports activities were divided among football, basketball, wrestling and track, with O'Brian winning letters in all four sports. After a semester at the University of Cincinnati with studies charted toward a law career, O' Brian, at 17, enlisted in the Marine Corps. He became the youngest drill instructor in the Corps' history, and during his four year service won a coveted Fleet appointment to The Naval Academy. After passing the entrance exams, he declined the appointment, intending to enroll at Yale to study law.
After serving four years, and receiving his honorable discharge from the Marine Corps, O' Brian went to Los Angeles where he planned to earn money for his Yale tuition. He met leading ladies Ruth Roman and Linda Christian, who introduced him to a little theater group. When a leading man became ill, O' Brian substituted. Originally, he felt the acting experience might be helpful in his legal career; however, he got such good reviews in Somerset Maugham's play "Home and Beauty" that he decided to enroll at UCLA and continue his little theater appearances as an avocation while continuing his quest for a college education. About a year later, Ida Lupino saw one of his performances and signed him to play his first starring role in the film "Young Lovers" which Lupino directed. This brought him a contract with Universal Studios. During his first year under contract, he enrolled at Los Angeles City College and managed to amass 17 college credits in addition to making five pictures at Universal.
O' Brian left Universal after three years to guest star in numerous television shows and in such films as "Broken Lance" and "No Business Like Show Business." The "big break" in his career came when he was chosen to portray the legendary lawman Wyatt Earp on television. Shortly after the series debuted in 1955 as the "first adult western," it became the top-rated show on T.V., and O' Brian became a much-discussed talent. During its seven-year run, "Wyatt Earp" always placed in the top 10 television shows in the nation. In 1972-73, he starred in the action series, "Search."
O'Brian starred on Broadway in "Destry Rides Again," "First Love," and in the Broadway revival of "Guys and Dolls." He also starred in the national company of "Cactus Flower," "The Odd Couple," "The Tender Trap," "A Thousand Clowns," and "Plaza Suite." He has been a guest on numerous television and radio shows including the Today Show, the Larry King and Jim Bohanan Shows, Charlie Rose's Nightwatch and The Pat Sajak Show. Recent credits include "The Shootist," "Killer Force," "Game of Death," "Twins," and numerous appearances on "Fantasy Island," "Love Boat," the T.V. series "Paradise," "Gunsmoke II," "Murder, She Wrote," "L.A. Law," and a Kenny Rogers Gambler IV movie, "The Luck of the Draw: The Gambler Returns." "Wyatt Earp: Return to Tombstone" was O'Brian's latest film project.
In 1958, O'Brian spent nine inspirational days with the great humanitarian Dr. Albert Schweitzer at his clinic in Africa. Dr. Schweitzer's strong belief that "the most important thing in education is to teach young people to think for themselves" impressed O'Brian. Upon his return to the United States, he put Schweitzer' s words into action by forming the Hugh O' Brian Youth Foundation (HOBY). Its format for motivation is simple: bring a select group of high school sophomores with demonstrated leadership abilities together with a group of distinguished leaders in business, education, government and the professions, and let the two interact. Using a question-and-answer format, the young people selected annually by over 14,500 public and private high school to attend a HOBY Leadership Seminar held each spring in their state get a realistic look at what makes America's Incentive System work, thus better enabling them "to think for themselves."
HOBY Leadership Seminars take place in all 50 states (35 states hold two to five per state depending on the number of schools in each state), as well as in Canada and Mexico. More than 14,500 "outstanding" high school sophomores, selected to represent as many schools, will attend these three to four day educational seminars annually at no cost to the student, parents or to the school. All HOBY programs are coordinated by volunteers. Service organizations such as the Jaycees, Kiwanis, General Foundation of Women's Clubs, the National Management Association and Optimists are the backbone of this volunteer effort. O'Brian himself sets the example by donating 70 hours a week or more to HOBY.
HOBY is a non-profit organization and is funded solely through the private sector.
In 1972, O'Brian was awarded one of the nation's highest honors, the Freedom Through Knowledge Award, sponsored by the National Space Club in association with NASA. In 1973, he was honored by the American Academy of Achievement. In 1974, he was awarded the George Washington Honor Medal, highest award of the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge, as well as the Globe and Anchor Award from the Marine Corps. In 1976, the Veterans of Foreign Wars honored him with an award. He is the recipient of the AMVETS Silver Helmet Award, and in 1983, the National Society of Fund Raising Executives honored him with their premier award for overall philanthropic excellence as a volunteer, fundraiser and philanthropist. This is the only time one individual has received the award in all three categories. Notre Dame honored him with the first "Pat O' Brian Memorial Award" in 1984. That same year, The Family Counseling Service honored O' Brian with its first National Family of Man Award.
In 1989, he received the 60th Annual American Education Award presented by the American Association of School Administrators. This award is the oldest and most prestigious award that the education profession bestows. O'Brian joins Norman Rockwell, Lyndon Johnson, Helen Keller, Walt Disney, and Bob Hope as a recipient of this most significant award. On June 2, 1990, the Los Angeles Business Council awarded O'Brian its 6th Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of outstanding achievement, working within the framework of the American Free Enterprise System. In 1992, O' Brian was inducted into the Great Western Performers Hall of Fame, and in 1993, O' Brian was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Franklin Mint. In 1994, O'Brian was awarded the Freedoms Foundation's Private Enterprise Exemplar medal, in 1995 the American Celtic Globe Humanitarian Award from the Ireland Chamber of Commerce, in 1995 the Epsilon Sigma Alpha (ESA, Int.) Vision Award, and in 1997 the KNX Newsradio Man of the Year Award and the Central City Association of Los Angeles' Treasures of Los Angeles Award.
O'Brian has been awarded honorary degrees by several prestigious institutions of higher learning. He has received honorary Doctorates of Humane Letters from Saint Mary of the Plains College in Kansas, Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania, Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania and Green Mountain College, Poultney, Vermont, as well as an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Saint John' s University in New York. In the summer of 1987, O' Brian was presented with an honorary Doctor of Public Services degree from the University of Denver. Each university honored O' Brian for the outstanding work he has undertaken on behalf of youth throughout America and the world.
O' Brian lives in a hilltop home overlooking Beverly Hills. Diverse as ever, his sports activities include sailing, scuba diving, swimming, tennis and long-distance bicycling.

 

 
"The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp"

Debuting on Sept. 6, 1955, "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp" was the first adult western on television. It beat out "Gunsmoke" for that distinction by four days.

The adult-western craze that was to render television one big corral in few years is apt not to have occurred had the first two entries not been of the high calibre that they were. Of the two series, "Wyatt Earp" was more upbeat and fast-paced.

An "adult" western was, of course, simply a western aimed at normal, decent grown-ups; the term "adult" had not yet taken on its present connotation as a euphemism for smut.

Indeed, it is doubtful that actor Hugh O'Brian, now heavily involved in youth causes, would have appeared in a series matching today's definition of "adult."

Hugh O'Brian as Wyatt Earp

The series aired for its entire six-year run on ABC on Tuesday nights from 8:30-9 p.m., and was scripted throughout by Frederick Hazlitt Brennan. O'Brian was Earp for the entire series -- and probably for the rest of his life. The excellence of his performances in that series was such that 36 years after the series "bit the dust," O'Brian is associated with his portrayal of Earp.

There was, however, one other man tied even more closely to the role: the real Wyatt Earp, who lived from 1848-1929. Earp is best remembered for his participation, with his brothers Morgan and Virgil, along side Doc Holliday, in felling the Clanton Gang in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. That event, which took place in 1881 in Tombstone, Arizona, was recreated as the climax of a five-part series finale.

The first episode was titled, "Mr. Earp Becomes a Marshal" and depicted Earp assuming the job of his lawman-friend who had been gunned down, avenging his death.

It was in that episode that Earp acquired his trademark "Buntline Special" pistols, with foot-long barrels. (Hollywood up-manship three years later resulted in Chuck Connors asssuming the role of Lucas McCain in "The Rifleman," twirling a Winchester as if it were a handgun.)

Earp's first lawman post was in Ellsworth, Kansas. The television Earp then moved on (as the real Earp did) to Dodge City, Kansas. While there, he somehow never managed to run into that town's other marshal, Matt Dillon, whose appearances were reserved for Saturday nights on CBS on "Gunsmoke." Earp did, however, encounter Bat Masterson, who became his deputy, and later a sheriff. Masterson was in the series from 1955-57. Funny how different he looked when the "Bat Masterson" series began on NBC in 1959 (with Gene Barry).

Then, it was off to tombstone where the Clanton Gang had a stranglehold on the town -- which ended with the famed gunfight.

O'Brian was the only actor to appear in all six seasons. Among those with supporting roles during part of the run were movie-cowboy Lash La Rue (1959); Denver Pyle (1955-56), who was to play Uncle Jesse in the "Dukes of Hazzard"; and Paul Brinegar (1956-58), who was to play the cook Wishbone on "Rawhide."

Those who recall the series are bound to remember the words of the theme song we heard each Tuesday:

    Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp.
    Brave, courageous, and bold.
    Long live his fame, and long live his glory,
    And long may his story be told.

 

The Real Wyatt Earp

 

This photograph was taken just two weeks before he died on January 13, 1929. He was 80 years old.

Wyatt Earp Photo Page

Josephine Earp later in her life. She and Wyatt remained together until his death in 1929. ... A much more detailed map can be found in Wyatt Earp Speaks! ...
ferncanyonpress.com/tombston/wyatt/photos.shtml - 27k - Cached - Similar pages
 

Wyatt Earp - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wyatt Earp at about age 39, photo in San Diego about 1887 ... In any case, this would not be the last time Wyatt Earp settled legal problems through the use ...
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wyatt_Earp - 117k - Cached - Similar pages

 

How Wyatt Earp Got Buried in a Jewish Cemetery

In 1867, six-year old Josephine Sarah Marcus moved with her observant immigrant German-Jewish parents from Brooklyn, NY, to San Francisco. There, Josie was given the rudiments of a Jewish education, including saying her prayers at home, but she was also exposed to the romance of San Francisco’s Gold Rush era. In 1879, when she was 18, Josie went to see the Pauline Markham Theater Company perform Gilbert and Sullivan’s "H.M.S. Pinafore" and, with a friend, decided to run away with the company when it left town. When the troupe performed in Tombstone, Arizona Territory, she fell in love with Johnny Behan, Tombstone’s corrupt sheriff. Johnny introduced Josephine to Wyatt Earp, at that time a deputy U. S. marshal. Earp won Josie’s heart and married her, a relationship that lasted fifty years. Thus it is that Wyatt Earp, legendary figure of the Wild West, today lies buried in a Jewish cemetery.

While we know a great deal about Josie Earp’s and her Jewish upbringing, Wyatt Earp is a figure whose life story is mixed in with his myth. In 1881, Wyatt Earp (still a U. S. marshal) and his brothers Virgil and Morgan, along with their friend Doc Holliday, attained immortality in a shoot-out with their sworn enemies, the Clanton gang, at the O.K. Corral. During the confrontation, three members of the Clanton gang were killed and Virgil and Morgan Earp were wounded. The surviving Clantons charged that the Earp brothers and Holliday stalked their victims, some of whom were unarmed, and shot first without provocation. The Earps and Holliday, in turn, claimed that the Clantons were waiting for them and cocked their pistols first.

When Josephine heard the sound of guns that October evening, she ran from her house and jumped on a passing wagon, which took her to the O.K. Corral. She knew that the Earps and the Clantons had a showdown but, in her first moments on the scene, she couldn’t tell who was left standing. "I didn’t know at the time who was wounded," she later wrote, "and was too frightened to get closer. I almost swooned when I saw Wyatt’s tall figure very much alive. . . . He spotted me, and [with companions] came across the street. Like a feather-brained girl my only thought was, ‘My God, I haven’t got a bonnet on. What will they think?’"

While the facts of the shoot-out will remain forever in dispute, the courts acquitted the Earps and Holliday on the ground of self-defense. The Clanton gang later took revenge by ambushing Wyatt and Morgan Earp in a saloon, killing Morgan. Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday then took justice into their own hands by raiding various outlaw hideouts and killing individuals who they suspected participated in Morgan’s death.

Now on the run from the law in Arizona, Josie and Wyatt Earp moved to Gunnison, Colorado, where that state’s governor refused to extradite Wyatt back to Arizona on the grounds that he could not get a fair trial. The restless Wyatt and Josie began a life that matched a Hollywood movie script, relocating whenever a new gold, silver or copper mining boomtown appeared. They invested in mines and real estate and operated saloons and gambling parlors in such far-flung places as Nome, Alaska and Eagle City, Idaho. For a while, they lived with Josephine’s parents in San Francisco, giving Josie -if only briefly- with a bit of the warmth of the Jewish home she grew up in. Finally, Wyatt and Josie settled in Southern California, where they owned racehorses and lived on their winnings from gambling and real estate speculation. In the 1920’s, Josephine and Wyatt invested in oil wells, worked on Wyatt’s autobiography and drafted a screenplay about his career as a lawman.

According to historian Harriet Rochlin, the Earps’ original screenplay was never produced but journalist Stuart Lake took a great interest in it and began to write his own biography of Wyatt Earp. When Wyatt died in 1929 at age 81, Josie Earp and Stuart Lake argued about Lake’s forthcoming portrayal of Wyatt, which Josie found unflattering. In 1931, when Lake’s biography, "Wyatt Earp - Frontier Marshal," finally appeared with the offending passages stricken, according to Rochlin, it "fueled fifty years of Wyatt Earp mania, pro and con, in print and in film." At least three movies have been made about the gunfight at the O. K. Corral. Josephine Marcus Earp had helped craft an authentic American legend.

The widowed Josie buried Wyatt’s ashes in the Marcus family plot at the Little Hills of Eternity, a Jewish cemetery in Colma, California. When she died in 1944, Josie’s remains were buried next to Wyatt’s. Today, their graves are the most popular tourist destination in Colma.

A simple plaque anchored flat on the ground marks Josephine and Wyatt’s shared plot. Unlike the other graves around it, no upright stone marks the location. Josie once had an imposing stone marker embedded in a 250-pound block of concrete to mark Wyatt’s grave. In 1957, some of what must have been Wyatt’s fans stole it.

 

       
 

Sugarfoot

   
 

 

 
Sugarfoot

9/17/1957 - 7/3/1961 ABC
Black and White - 60 minutes - 69 episodes
Sept. 1957-Sept. 1960 ABC Tuesday 7:30-8:30
Oct. 1960-July 1961 ABC Monday 7:30-8:30

Produced as Warner Brothers Presents

Sugarfoot Cast

Will Hutchins as Tom "Sugarfoot" Brewster
Jack Elam as Toothy Thompson

Sugarfoot Theme Song

"Sugarfoot"
Original theme by Max Steiner, adapted by Ray John Heindorf and lyrics by Paul Francis Webster

Sugarfoot, Sugarfoot, easy lopin', cattle ropin' Sugarfoot,
Carefree as the tumbleweeds, a joggin' along with a heart full of song
And a rifle and a volume of the law.

Sugarfoot Tidbits

Tom Brewster (Will Hutchins) was a naive, sarsaparilla drinking Easterner who came West seeking to become a lawyer via correspondence school.

At one point, Warner Bros., which produced the show, had the idea to add footage from some the Western movies they had already made. Supposedly, this would make the show look more expensive, although of course, this was the cheap way to achieve that.

 

 

       
 

Wagon Train

   
 

 

 

Series Complete credited cast:

Ward Bond .... Major Seth Adams (1957-1961)

Robert Horton .... Flint McCullough (1957-1962)

John McIntire .... Christopher Hale (1961-1965)

Robert Fuller .... Cooper Smith (1963-1965)

Denny Miller .... Duke Shannon (1961-1964) (as Scott Miller)

Terry Wilson .... Bill Hawks (1957-1965)

Frank McGrath .... Charlie Wooster (1957-1965)

Michael Burns .... Barnaby West (1963-1965)  

(more)

 
Wagon Train followed the trials and tribulations of pioneering families as they set out from the East to carve out a new life in the West soon after the American Civil War. For some of the travelers it was a happy ending, but not for all, which only heightened the drama along the way. Such a structure ensured that the scriptwriters had a wide scope for their stories which , more often than not, revolved around the characters rather than the action, although the series had more than it's fair share of that too. With a new storyline nearly every week and a larger than average budget for the time, it was never difficult for the producers to attract well known guest stars in front of the cameras with some famous names behind the cameras too.

Wagon Train was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic between 1957 and 1965. It survived cast changes to the leading actors and changes to the format which is testimony enough to the show's popularity. Even now fans who watched it back then remember it with fondness, and regular re-runs ensure it's continuing popularity with newer generations.

When it came to the contestants on Survivor, they wouldn't have a fighting chance of the western frontier with actor Robert Horton. As frontier scout Flint McCullough on Wagon Train (which was on two networks, the first was on NBC-TV from 1957-1962 for the black and white episodes, then it went to ABC-TV from 1962-1965 for the color episodes and was the only show on ABC that was in color and also was expanded to a 90 minute format), he was always pushed to his physical limits. While reconnoitering the Conestoga's' westward trail, Flint would get waylaid by a windstorm, blizzard or raging river, rattlesnake bites, savage Indians, Mexican bandits, outlaws, and cattle rushers-he took it all in stride. Each week, he'd pick himself up and return to the caravan to report, "Trouble ahead, Major". The wagon master, Major Seth Adams (played by film star Ward Bond), was the big wheel when it debut in 1957 on NBC-TV. Horton's rugged good looks gave the show some necessary sex appeal as those sturdy Conestoga's trekked from St. Joseph's Missouri to California, stopping along the way for guest stars like Ronald Reagan, Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson and even a special appearance by John Wayne. However, Horton left the show in 1962 when it moved to ABC. Horton was replaced by actor Robert Fuller (who was a regular on another western series called "Laramie", and also went on to play Dr. Kelly Brackett on the "Emergency" TV series during the 1970's) who took over the reigns of the show until its cancellation in 1965. Wagon Train was not your ordinary western by any means, but its was a history lesson that took you to a time when all you have are your wits to stay alive in the vast frontier of the United States during the 1800's.

 

From:  http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/W/htmlW/wagontrain/wagontrain.htm

Wagon Train, a fusion of the popular Western genre and the weekly star vehicle, premiered on Wednesday nights, 7:30-8:30 P.M. in September 1957 on NBC. The show took its initial inspiration from John Ford's 1950 film, The Wagonmaster. NBC and Revue productions, an MCA unit for producing telefilms, conceived of the program as a unique entry into the growing stable of Western genre telefilm, combining quality writing and direction with weekly guest stars known for their work in other media, primarily motion pictures. Each week, a star such as Ernest Borgnine (who appeared in the first episode, "The Willie Moran Story,") Shelly Winters, Lou Costello, or Jane Wyman would appear along with series regulars Ward Bond and Robert Horton. The show, filmed on location in California's San Fernando Valley, had an impressive budget of one hundred thousand dollars per episode, at a time when competing hour-long Westerns, such as ABC's Sugarfoot, cost approximately seventy thousand dollars per episode.

Star presence enticed viewers; powerful writing and directing made the show a success. Writers with experience in other Westerns, such as Gunsmoke and Tales of Wells Fargo, developed scripts that eventually became episodes, Western novelist Borden Chase and future director Sam Peckinpah among them. Directors familiar with the Western telefilm contributed experience, as did personnel who had been involved with GE Theatre, a program influential in the conception of Wagon Train's use of stars. Promotional materials suggested that motion picture directors John Ford, Leo McCarey, and Frank Capra had expressed interest in directing future episodes; whether wishful thinking or real possibility, Wagon Train's producers envisioned their Western as television on a par with motion pictures.

Each episode revolved around characters and personalities who were traveling to California by wagon train caravan from St. Joseph, Missouri. Series regulars conducted the train through perils and adventures associated with the landscapes and inhabitants of the American West. The star vehicle format worked in tandem with the episodic nature of series television, giving audiences a glimpse into the concerns of different pioneers and adventurers from week to week. Returning cast members gave the show stability: audiences expected complaints and comedy from Charlie Wooster, the train's cook; clashes of experience with exuberance in the relationship between the wagonmaster and his dashing frontier scouts. The recurring cast's interrelationships, problems, and camaraderie contributed greatly to the sense of "family" that bound disparate elements of the series together.

Wagon Train lasted eight seasons, moving from NBC to ABC in September of 1962. In 1963, its format expanded to 90 minutes, but returned to hour length for its final run from 1964-65. It survived several cast changes: Ward Bond (Major Adams), the original wagonmaster, died during filming in 1960, and was replaced by John McIntyre (Chris Hale); Robert Horton (Flint McCullogh) left the series in 1962 and was replaced as frontier scout by Robert Fuller (Cooper Smith). Only two characters survived the eight year run in their original positions: Frank McGrath, as comical cook Charlie Wooster, and Terry Wilson's assistant wagonmaster Bill Hawks.

The show's ability to survive a network switch and periodic cast changes during its eight-year-run attests to the popularity of the program. In the fall of 1959, two years after its inception, the show was number one in Great Britain; of seven Westerns in the Nielsen top ten in the United States, Wagon Train was in constant competition with Gunsmoke for supremacy. By 1959, the show was firmly ensconced in the top twenty five programs in the country, bouncing as high as number one in the spring of 1960, and maintaining its number one position over Gunsmoke throughout the 1961-62 season. In a field awash with Westerns, Wagon Train established a unique style reminiscent of the anthology drama, but indelibly entrenched in Western traditions.

-K.C. D'Allesandro

 

       

 

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