Television Westerns: Six Decades of Sagebrush Sheriffs, Scalawags, and Sidewinders
Alvin H. Marill
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Westerns have featured prominently in films almost since motion pictures were first produced at the end of the nineteenth century and when televisions invaded American homes in the late 1940s and early '50s, Western programs filled the small screen landscape. Throughout the 1950s and well into the 1960s, these shows dominated television with such long-running successes as Bonanza, Wagon Train, and Maverick. And though the genre has fallen on hard times over the years, it has never died, as Hollywood continues to produce films, mini-series, and shows that keep the west alive.
In Television Westerns: Six Decades of Sagebrush Sheriffs, Scalawags, and Sidewinders, Alvin H. Marill looks at the genre as it was represented from the beginning of television—from the twenty-year run of Gunsmoke to the brutal revisionist take of Deadwood. This volume encompasses all manifestations of the Western, including such series as Rawhide, The Virginian, and The Wild, Wild West, as well as movies-of the-week, mini-series, failed pilots, animated programs, documentaries, and even Western-themed episodes of non-Western series that provided their own spin on the genre.
9780810881327_Print.indb 19 5/9/11 7:15 AM 20 Chapter Two Betty Hutton headed the cast in her television debut, along with Kevin McCarthy and French chanteuse Genevieve. The ninety-minute show, about a rodeo rider (Hutton) who falls for a magazine writer (McCarthy), had a musical score by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, who previously had written “Buttons and Bows,” among others. The program was glitzy but did not get especially good reviews, prompting Hutton to announce her (first)
Days of Kiowa Jones (premiering on Christmas Day 1966), with Robert Horton in the title role playing a drifter who is deputized by a dying marshal to deliver two killers to prison, while eluding a pair of bounty hunters who want his charges. Diane Baker, Sal Mineo, and Gary Merrill were in the cast. This actually was a pilot for a prospective series that never materialized. Next was Return of the Gunfighter starring Robert Taylor as an aging gunfighter who teams up with a wounded saddle tramp
that Hagman, with all of his “J. R. Ewing charm,” isn’t Garner, and Garner was apparently what was needed. Also in the cast of this ninety-minute pilot were Blythe Danner as the feisty daughter of local sheriff Harry Morgan, plus a posse of veteran actors steeped in sagebrush sagas. Sidekicks was produced and directed by Old West aficionado Burt Kennedy, who knew his way around Westerns, lighthearted and otherwise. Mrs. Sundance (1974) starred Elizabeth Montgomery, not outta place as Etta Place.
following the exploits of the U.S. Army’s 10th Cavalry, a mostly black regiment patrolling the 1860s West, led by a white officer (John Beck as Colonel Frank O’Connor). Stan Shaw also starred, as the highest ranking noncommissioned officer. The Pony Express, a 1980 NBC pilot that had Carroll O’Connor as executive producer, was about a couple of teenage riders (John Hammond and Harry Crosby, Bing’s son, as Jed Beechum and Albie Foreman) for the Pony Express during the 1860s. Victor French played
of three great—but totally diverse—action characters, produced by Norm Prescott and Lou Scheimer’s Filmation and premiering on CBS September 12, 1981. William Conrad narrated and, using the pseudonym J. Darnoc, voiced the Lone Ranger. Ivan Naranjo voiced Tonto, and with the other two cartoon series with which it shared an overall title, the show took on a realistic educational tone not associated with earlier incarnations. Go Go Gophers (CBS, 1968–1969) featured cartoon figures Ruffled Feathers