Archives for ARCHIVES category

Sheb Wooley, Actor, Star of Rawhide and High Noon

Posted on Mar 23, 2012 under ARCHIVES | 5 Comments


April 10, 1921 – Sept 16, 2003

Shelby F. Wooley aka “Sheb”, was born on April 10, 1921 in Erick, Oklahoma.  Best known for his portrayal as Pete Nolan on the television western series Rawhide.  He was brought up on a farm and learned to ride horses at a very young age.  He worked as a cowboy and rodeo rider and  played in a country and western band.  Music was a major interest of Sheb’s so his father bought him his first guitar.  The Wooleys saw some bad times during the depression and the dust bowl.  During World War II, he tried to enlist but was turned down due to his various rodeo injuries.  In 1946 he moved to Fort Worth, TX, becoming a country and western musician.

Western Films and Shows:

In 1949 he moved to Hollywood and appeared in dozens of western films from the 1950s through 1970s.  In 1952, he was cast in his most notable movie High Noon, starring Gary Cooper.

High Noon Scenario:

Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald), sentenced to hang, was pardoned on a legal technicality.  He vowed to get revenge on Will Kane (Gary Cooper).  Miller’s three gang members were Sheb Wooley as younger brother Ben, Lee Van Cleef as Jack Colby and Robert Wilke as Pierce.  High Noon, to this date, is considered one of the finest westerns ever made.


High Noon 1952

In 1954, he played the outlaw Jim Younger in the western series Stories of the Century, starring Jim Davis who went on to portray patriarch Jock Ewing in the hugely popular television series Dallas.  He played Carl five times the western series The Adventures of Kit Carson (1951-1955).  He appeared in the role of Bill Bronson in the television series The Cisco Kid and guest starred as Harry Runyon in The Unmasking episode on My Friend Flicka.  In 1958 he played Baxter in the movie Terror in a Texas Town.

In 1959 he was cast as his best known television character, Pete Nolan in the very popular western Rawhide (1959 – 1966).

Singer, Song Writer, Musician:

In 1958, Sheb embarked on a recording career with a novelty song that was number one on the US Charts “Purple People Eater”.  This song tells the story of a creature: one-eyed, one-horned, flying, purple people eater, who descends to earth because he wants to be in a rock’n roll band!

After hearing a joke told by a good friend’s child, Sheb finished composing the song in under one hour.  He went on to record various other novelty hits, but none that matched the popularity of Purple People Eater.

Want a Little Humor?  Here’s Purple People Eater!

He had a string of country hits, including That’s My Pa which reached No. 1.  He was a regular on the popular television show Hee Haw, which he had written the theme song for.  He also recorded various songs using the name Ben Colder.  He got the name from a song recorded Don’t Go Near the Eskimos. The song was about an Alaskan boy named Ben Colder.  The song was so successful, he continued using the name for 40 years.

On a special note: In the 1940s, Sheb took an interest in his wife’s cousin; composer singer, musician — Roger Miller. He purchased Roger a fiddle and taught him how to play chords.

He was also credited as the voice actor for Wilhelm Scream, having appeared on a memo as a voice extra for Distant Drums.  Wilhelm Scream is a film and television stock sound effect,  first used in 1951 for the film Distant Drums.  This effect gained popularity after it was used in Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Disney cartoons.  It has been used in many television programs and video games.  This scream was usually used when someone was shot, falling off great heights or from explosions.

His Death:

Sheb was diagnosed with leukemia in 1998, spending the following years in and out of hospitals.  On September 16, 2003 Sheb Wooley passed away at 82 years of age.  He was buried in Hendersonville Memory Gardens in Hendersonville, Tennessee.

He contributed a great deal of fine work to the television and motion picture industry and will be sadly missed.  Like many of his fellow actors, he was a member of the greatest generation this country has ever seen.

Will Hutchins, Actor,TV Western Sugarfoot Star

Posted on Feb 22, 2012 under ARCHIVES | 4 Comments

Will Hutchins, born May 5, 1930, is best known for his portrayal of Tom Brewster, a struggling “greenhorn” lawyer in the television western Sugarfoot.  Sugarfoot was a product of Warner Brothers and ran from 1957 to 1961.

Hutch, as he prefers to be called, was born in Los Angeles CA, attended Pomona College in Claremont and majored in Greek Drama.  He also took cinema classes at the University of California and served two years in the U.S. Army.  He was a Cryptographer in Paris, France, serving with SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe).

In 1966 to 1967, he costarred with Sandy Baron in the NBC sitcom Hey Landlord which was set in New York City.  The show could not draw a significant audience as it ran against CBS’s ever popular The Ed Sullivan Show.  Hutch then went on to ABC’s The F.B.I. costarring with a former Warner Brothers colleague, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.

He starred as Dagwood Bumstead (1968 – 1969) in the TV sitcom Blondie based on the ever popular comic strip.

Hutch currently lives on Long Island, NY with his wife Barbara and contributes articles to the online website Western Clippings.

His former wife was actress/comedian Carol Burnett’s sister Chrissie.

 

TV Western Sugarfoot Starring Will Hutchins

Posted on Feb 22, 2012 under ARCHIVES, CATEGORIES | Comments are off

While rummaging through all the old westerns, I came across this little gem that I had totally forgotten about. It was a great western with a good deal of humor added to it. So I figure it was time to give it a good dusting and bring it back to the surface.

The TV Western, Sugarfoot aired from 1957 to 1961, starring Will Hutchins as the “green horn” frontier lawyer Tom Brewster and costarred veteran actor Jack Elam as his sidekick Toothy Thompson. I can’t think of a better character name for Jack Elam then Toothy!

Sugarfoot was one of the earliest productions between ABC and the struggling Warner Brothers studio, chaired by William T. Orr.  During this period of time, Warner Brothers produced other well-known westerns including: Maverick starring James Garner and Jack Kelly, Cheyenne starring Clint Walker, Lawman starring John Russell, Peter Brown and Peggy Castle, Bronco starring Ty Hardin and Colt 45 starring Wayde Preston.

The Scenario:

Tom Brewster was a correspondence school graduate whose total lack of cowboy skills earned him the nickname Sugarfoot.  The pilot episode was a remake of the 1954 Western The Boy From Oklahoma.

In the movie, The Boy From Oklahoma, Will Rogers, Jr starred in the title role.  His character never used a gun, instead he used his roping skills to capture villains.  The television show Sugarfoot altered this, somewhat, by making Brewster a “reluctant” user of a gun yet was willing to as a last resort.

The Pilot episode of Sugarfoot “Brannigan’s Boots” was so similar to the earlier film that Sheb Wooley and Slim Pickens reprised their roles in the show as Pete and Shorty.  Slim Pickens was a well known veteran actor in many westerns, both in films and television.  Sheb Wooley is best know for his character on the TV Western Rawhide, as scout for the cattle drive, Pete Nolan.  Well known actor Dennis Hopper was also in the pilot playing Billy the Kid.

Some thought that Sugarfoot was related to the 1951 Movie Sugarfoot, starring Randolph Scott.  This was not the case at all, there was absolutely no similarities whatsoever.

Milburn Stone, Actor- Doc Adams – Gunsmoke

Posted on Jan 21, 2012 under ARCHIVES | No Comment


July 5, 1904 – June 12, 1980

Milburn Stone was born July 5, 1904 in Burrton, Kansas (Harvey County).  He was the nephew of the Broadway comedian Fred Stone and son of a shopkeeper.  Stone is probably best known for his portrayal of Doc Adams on the longest running western on television Gunsmoke.

As a young man, he turned down a congressional appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy to join a touring theatrical company.

He started his screen career in the 1930s in a featured role in Tailspin Tommy adventures, a Monogram Pictures series.  In 1940 he appeared with Marjorie Reynolds, Tristram Coffin and I. Stanford Jolley in the comedy espionage film Chasing Trouble.

In 1943, Milburn was signed to Universal Pictures and became a familiar face in their various features and serials.  He played a radio columnist in Gloria Jean & Kirby Grant’s musical I’ll Remember April.  He made such an impression in the film that Universal gave him a starring role in the 1945 serial The Master Key.  He appeared in over 150 films throughout his career.

The CBS Radio series Gunsmoke was adapted for television in 1955, the roles were recast with experienced screen actors.  Stone replaced Howard McNear (best known for his character of Floyd Lawson on The Andy Griffith Show) as Doc Adams the irascible but lovable Dodge City doctor.

He stayed with Gunsmoke throughout the entire 20 year run and was often seen as arguing in light humor with his costars Dennis Weaver (Chester Goode) and Ken Curtis (Festus Haggen).  His popularity as Doc Adams was huge and made him a household name.  In 1968 he received an Emmy as best supporting actor in a series.

Dennis Weaver, Amanda Blake, James Arness, Milburn Stone

In March, 1971 he underwent bypass heart surgery at UAB Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama.

An artist from Stone’s home state, Gary Hawk, painted a portrait of Doc Adams.  President Ronald Reagan learned about the portrait and invited Gary Hawk to the Oval office. Reagan was a good friend of Milburn Stone, He (Reagan) was presented the artwork by Gary Hawk.

Stone lived to see Reagan emerge as the “likely” Republican nominee for President, but sadly died on June 12, 1980, before he could witness the election.

I truly enjoyed watching Stone’s portrayal of Doc Adams.  The one technique that  stood out to me was his ability to “listen” to other actors as they spoke.

He died of a heart attack at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California.  He has a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame and was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, OK.

Upon his death, he left a legacy for the Performing Arts in Cecil County, MD — The Milburn Stone Theater at Cecil College in North East, MD.

He was married to Nellie Morrison in 1925 until her death in 1938. He married Jane Garrison in 1942.

Shirley, his daughter from his first marriage, resides in California.

John Russell – American Actor, Star of Lawman

Posted on Jan 14, 2012 under ARCHIVES | 32 Comments


Jan. 3, 1921 to Jan. 19, 1991

John Lawrence Russell was born on January 3, 1921 in Los Angeles, CA, one of five children; two sisters and two brothers.  He studied drama and was an athlete at the University of California.  In 1942 he joined the U.S. Marines and was commissioned as a second lieutenant assigned to the 6th Marine Regiment. He served as an assistant intelligence officer when his division was sent to Guadalcanal.  He received a medical discharge after contracting malaria and was decorated for his valor in 1944.  He met and married his wife Renata in 1943, a marriage that lasted for over 20 years.

He was fortunate enough to be one of those few actors who started their careers by being discovered.  His tall, dark and handsome physique got him noticed by a talent agent in a Beverly Hills restaurant and made his film debut in 1945.  He started his career in supporting roles through 20th Century Fox and later signed with Republic Pictures.

Although he mostly played supporting roles in westerns, in 1955 he was given the lead in the television drama Soldiers of Fortune.   His costar was veteran actor Chick Chandler who appeared in more than 130 films from 1925 through the mid-1950s.   Although the show attracted children, the adult following was very weak and therefore it was canceled in 1957.

In 1958, John guest starred in the popular western Maverick , starring James Garner.  He appeared in two episodes Rage for Vengeance and Lonesome Reunion.  That same year he guest starred on Cheyenne, starring Clint Walker, in the episode The Empty Gun.

According to an article written by Everette Aaker for Television Western Players of the Fifties, his role in The Empty Gun inspired Warner Brothers to create the series that would make John Russell a household name.  He was cast as Marshal Dan Troop in the popular western drama “Lawman“costarring Peter Brown as Deputy Johnny McKay and Peggy Castle as Lilly Merrill.


Lawman 1958 – 1962

Over the run of Lawman, he appeared in two Warner Brothers feature films.  Yellowstone Kelly, starring Clint Walker and costarring Edd Byrnes.

He was also cast in Rio Bravo with John Wayne, Dean Martin, Rick Nelson, Walter Brennan, Claude Akins, and Ward Bond.

In 1959 he guest starred in an episode of NBC’s Northwest Passage, a fictional account of the adventures of Major Robert Rogers in the French and Indian War.

From the 1960s through the 1980s, he appeared in more than 20 films as a supporting actor.  Three of these films were directed by Clint Eastwood and one being  in the role as Marshal Stockburn (the villain) in the 1985 Pale Rider.

He parted company with Warner Brothers in 1962 when Lawman was canceled.  Although he had achieved an excellent repertoire for his acting, his career seemed to slow down for a few years.   He did, however, manage to get work in other westerns including Hostile Guns in 1967 with George Montgomery and Tab Hunter and Cannon for Cordoba (1970) with George Peppard and Peter Duel.

In 1969 John appeared in five episodes of It Takes a Thief starring Robert Wagner.  These episodes were: Guess Who’s To Rio?, Saturday Night In Venice, The Blue, Blue Danube, Payoff In The Piazza and A Friend In Deed.

In the 1980s, John contracted emphysema and sadly passed away at age 70 on January 19, 1991.  He was survived by three children.

In 1998, Peter Brown was asked what his best recollections were of Lawman, he answered: “John Russell, John Russell, John Russell. He was about as good as it got.”

Special Note:

Thanks so much to Leona, I can now add information regarding John’s children:
“Kim, John and Renata’s children were: Renata Amy, Shaunna (married my cousin) and John James”Leona

(John was married to RenataTitus from 1943 – 1965)

Dan Blocker, American Actor: Hoss Cartwright

Posted on Jan 10, 2012 under ARCHIVES | 2 Comments


Dec. 10, 1928 to May 13, 1972

“We shall pass this way on Earth but once, if there is any kindness we can show, or good act we can do, let us do it now, for we will never pass this way again.” – S. Grellet

Hoss Cartwright was my favorite character on Bonanza.  I believe a lot of that had to do with Dan Blocker’s portrayal of this gentle giant.  Hoss always saw the best in everyone, sometimes to a fault.  He could be taken by cons from time to time, yet always was the epitome of goodness and kindness.   I think Stephen Grellet’s passage fit Hoss to a tee!

I often watch the old reruns of Bonanza and always walk away with a smile on my face thanks to Hoss Cartwright. I believe there was a great deal of Dan Blocker incorporated into Hoss.  Although he surely was a great deal more intelligent, I think they both shared a warm heart and a kind thought.

Bobby Dan Blocker was born in De Kalb, Texas on December 10, 1928.  The son of Ora Shack Blocker (1895-1960) and Mary Blocker (1901-1998).  Shortly after his birth the family moved to O’Donnell, Texas; south of Lubbock.  They ran a family store “Blocker” which is now an abandoned building in downtown O’Donnell.

Dan attended Texas Military Institute and played football for Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, TX.  He graduated Sul Ross State Teacher’s College in Alpine earning his masters in dramatic arts.  He was drafted into the Army and served in the Korean War as a First Sergeant.

He was a high school English and Drama teacher in Sonora, TX, a sixth grade teacher and coach at Eddy Elementary in Carlsbad, NM and taught for a while in California.

While in high school, he worked as a rodeo performer and a bouncer at a bar.  His fellow classmates remembered him for his good nature and large profile of  6’3″ — 300 pounds.

Dan is best remembered for his endearing role as Eric “Hoss” Cartwright in the long running western series Bonanza, airing in 1959.  Before Bonanza, his first role was in the film “Hook a Crook” (1955) and taking on cameo roles in Gunsmoke, Playhouse 90, Cheyenne, Tales of Wells Fargo, The Restless Gun and Maverick.  He also appeared on The Rifleman and Zane Grey Theater.  He continued taking on other small parts including the role as a bartender in the 1957 film Gunsight Ridge and in 1958 as a prison guard “Tiny Budinger”, a recurring role, in the NBC western Cimarron City.

His break came in 1959 when he was cast as Hoss Cartwright, the middle son of Ben Cartwright, portrayed by Lorne Greene.  Pernell Roberts was cast as older brother Adam and Michael Landon as his younger brother Little Joe.

Left to Right: Pernell Roberts, Michael Landon, Lorne Greene, Dan Blocker

Bonanza ran from 1959 to 1973, filming in three states and 430 episodes.  Bonanza was the second longest running western on television behind Gunsmoke. which ran for 20 yrs.  It was the first television series designated to be filmed and broadcast in color.

Dan said that he created Hoss’ character based on a quote from Stephen Grellet, a prominent French Quaker missionary:

“We shall pass this way on Earth but once, if there is any kindness we can show, or good act we can do, let us do it now, for we will never pass this way again.”

He also received partial ownership in the very successful chain “Ponderosa/Bonanza Steakhouse” restaurants.  This was in exchange for his being a commercial spokesman, as the character Hoss and for his many personal appearances at the various franchises.

On May 13, 1972, Dan Blocker died following gall bladder surgery, he was only 44 years of age.  The writers of Bonanza  took the step of referencing the character’s death in the show’s story line in August.  This was a very  unusual step for its time.  Bonanza lasted for only one more season without Hoss.  The 14th season ended nine episodes shy of a full season.  He was buried in the family plot in DeKalb, TX.

He was married to Dolphia Parker whom he met as a student at Sul Ross State and had four children.  All his children’s names begin with a “D”.  Dirk Blocker (actor), David Blocker (producer) and twin daughters Debra Lee (artist) and Danna Lynn.

The O’Donnell Heritage Museum, located in O’Donnell, TX is often referred to as “The Dan Blocker Museum” as the second floor is dedicated as the “Dan Blocker Room.”

Eric Fleming – Rawhide Star, Actor – Tragedy

Posted on Dec 09, 2011 under ARCHIVES | 25 Comments

1925-1966

Eric Fleming was one of those actors who always seemed mysterious, aloof and little was known about him.  Although he was an amazing actor and another one of those people who became a household name, he had a hard and tragic life.  I believe it’s time people got to know and understand this great man.

Born Edward Heddy, Jr on July 4, 1925 in Santa Paula, CA, he was an only child and had a very unhappy childhood.  The physical abuse he endured by his father was, according to Fleming, “quite sadistic”. In 1934, at the age of nine, he held a revolver to his sleeping father’s head in an attempt to kill him. Fleming’s father had beaten him so severely with the buckle end of a belt, he was unable to get up for two days.

Eric said of his childhood:

“The beginning wasn’t so hot.  I was born in Santa Paula, California.  My father was an oil rigger and the best I can remember of him were the beatings he gave me.”

Fleming stated “the reason I tried to kill him is because it was either him or me.”  The gun misfired and Eric left home by hopping a freight train.

He ended up as a gang member, learned how to use a switchblade and committed petty thefts.  He also broke into houses and stores and remained one step ahead of being caught.  He was eleven at the time and was badly injured in a gang fight.  The police were going to send him back to his father until they saw the absolute terror in his eyes.  They sent him to live with his mother instead.

Although many critics believe Eric was a grade B movie star, they could not have been further from the truth.  His acting repertoire consisted of many years in theater, many films and television performances and as a screenwriter.

Before becoming an actor he was a Merchant Marine serving in the Pacific during World War II, at 15 years of age, he was a master carpenter with the Seabees. As he appeared older than he really was, the Navy never questioned his claiming to be 17.

In 1942 Eric was stationed in Seattle at a foundry.  He was trying to balance a 200 pound block of steel when it slipped from the hoist and shattered his face.  Forty stitches and facial reconstruction that required four plastic surgeries gave him a new face, the face we all grew to know.

“I look altogether different; I had no idea I’d end up looking like this. I’ve learned that it’s give and take all the way and I have the ‘before and after’ advantage which gives a wonderful balance of values.”

He returned to Paramount, where he had been working as a construction worker, grip and carpenter. He made a bet with an actor that he could do better at a particular audition.  He lost the bet and it cost him $100.  As he stated “I lost a lot of pride too, which hurt, but the $100 hurt worse.  I decided I would do something about it; acting cost me that hundred and I made up my mind it was going to pay me back.”

Eric studied acting during the evenings and had some bit parts in a few Paramount films.  He also worked with small theater groups and stock companies  He toured with Miriam Hopkins, Philip Faversham and Margaret Irving in Anita Loos’ “Happy Birthday” which brought him to Chicago and from Chicago he moved to New York City. He appeared in “The Tower Beyond Tragedy” with Judith Anderson, Alfred Ryder and Robert Harrison at the ANTA Playhouse for 30 performances.

Throughout the early 50s, New York was the production center for live television shows.  Eric worked steadily through this time under such companies as Hallmark Summer Theatre and Kraft Television Theatre.  In 1955 he began rehearsals for a feature role in “Plain and Fancy” on Broadway.  In 1956 he replaced Richard Derr in the role of Dan King which utilized his talents as  a singer and dancer.
In the summer of 1956 he was cast in “No Time For Sergeants” as Irvin Blanchard.  He received critical acclaim for his portrayal and was deemed a great success.

Rawhide 1958 – 1965

In the summer of 1958, 33-year-old Eric Fleming auditioned for the leading role of trail boss Gil Favor in the new CBS television western Rawhide.  His rugged good looks, magnetic presence and rich baritone voice won him the part.

Heading a 20 man cattle drive with 3,000 cattle from San Antonio, TX to Sedalia, Missouri made both Gil Favor and Eric Fleming household names.  The show also starred Clint Eastwood as ramrod Rowdy Yates, Sheb Wooley as scout Pete Nolan, Paul Brinegar as cook Wishbone and James Murdock as Wishbone’s assistant Mushy.

The show aired on January 9, 1959 and was in the top twenty shows through 1962,  The show was also number one in both Europe and in Japan.  Rawhide was considered the best written and directed Western on television.  Eric and screenwriter Chris Miller co-wrote two episodes “A Woman’s Place” and “Incident of a Night on the Town.”  Fleming’s strong portrayal of an honest, strong, intelligent and hero with a strong sense of justice and morality overrode all others.

His presence was so dominant that his character centered the show and formed a base that all the other characters revolved around.  Gil Favor’s background as Confederate Captain and a widower with two young daughters in Philadelphia added a maturity and quite poignant romantic appeal.

In 1966, Eric signed with MGM TV to film a television movie which would be shown as a part of ABC’s “Off to See the Wizard”, a series of adventure films.  High Jungle was to be shot on location in Peru in which he played a 19th century U.S. naval office who rescues lost explorers.  Eric and long time girlfriend, Lynne Garber,  arrived in Lima on August 17th.

Filming in a bad storm was to turn fatal.  The canoe that Fleming and Minardos were in started taking on water.  In an effort to swim to shore, Minardos made it — Eric did not. Locals dove in to help rescue him but upon reaching him, he went down.  His body was recovered 15 miles down river.

Due to Fleming’s death the Screen Actors Guild started placing huge pressure for greater producer adherence to safety standards.

Very sadly, Eric Fleming and Lynne Garber were to have been married within two days of his death.  An interview with Lynne, following the tragedy, she stated: “the three years with Eric were the happiest of my life.”

Eric Fleming was only 41 years old when he died.  He was a loner who lived modestly, had few close friends and chose not to be a part of the Hollywood mechanism.  He was an accomplished actor, sculptor and writer who loved to read and play chess. He was soft spoken, kind and gentle.

His life held a sadness that can only be attributed to his abusive childhood and dysfunctional family. He managed to rise above it and still lives in the hearts of his many fans. He will be sadly missed for years to come.

“Now cracks a noble heart. Goodnight, sweet Prince. and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”  – (Hamlet) – Wm Shakespeare

Courtesy of Nacaro

Clint Walker, Cheyenne Star, Film Actor

Posted on Dec 05, 2011 under ARCHIVES | 2 Comments


Born, Norman Eugene Walker, May 30, 1927 in Hartford, Illinois. He was a twin with sister Neoma “Lucy” Westbrook who passed away November 11, 2000 at age 73.

Growing up in the Depression forced him to take on work wherever he could find it. He worked as a Mississippi River boatman, carnival roustabout and a golf caddy. He quit high school at 16 and joined the Merchant Marines at 17.

At the end of the war he worked his way across the country taking on various jobs, including working in the oil fields in Brownwood, Texas.

Upon arriving in California, he worked as a private detective on the Long Beach waterfront and then landed a job as a security officer at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. It was here that he met many Hollywood people who encouraged him to give it a shot as an actor.

His good looks, size and physique paid off when he arrived in Hollywood. According to an article about TV Westerns in Time Magazine (March 30, 1959), he stood 6’6″, weighted 235 lbs and had measurements of 48-32-36.

He was hired by Cecil B. DeMille to appear in The Ten Commandments. Along with a few other bit parts led him to be noticed by Warner Brothers. Warner Brothers was the leading studio developing the western genre for television.

His good looks landed him the leading role in the Western Series Cheyenne as Cheyenne Bodie, a cowboy in the post American Civil War era. Cheyenne was hugely popular and quite well written. The show ran for 8 seasons and was the first TV Western to run an hour long.

Clint was also a good singer, possessing a very nice baritone voice. Warner Brothers utilized his voice having him sing occasionally on various episodes and then produced an album of ballads and traditional songs.

He appeared and starred in several movies including Fort Dobbs (1958), Yellowstone Kelly (1959), the comedy Send Me No Flowers (1964) and the war film None But the Brave in 1965. In 1967 he played a meek convict Samson Posey in the extremely popular war film The Dirty Dozen.

It was thought that Sylvester Stallone was going to approach Walker to come out of retirement and play his father in Rambo.

Clint presently lives in Grass Valley, California.

Spouses:

Susan Cavallari (March 7, 1997 – present)
Giselle Hennessy (May 26, 1974 – Jan 1, 1994)(her death)
Verna Garver (Sept 5, 1948 – 1968) (divorced) one daughter, Valerie (born 1950)

Yellowstone Kelly (Courtesy of : DukeFanGermany

Amanda Blake “Miss Kitty” Star on TV Gunsmoke

Posted on Nov 12, 2011 under ARCHIVES | No Comment


(February 20, 1929 – August 16, 1989)

Nicknamed the Young Greer Garson, Amanda Blake was born Beverly Louis Neill in Buffalo, NY on February 10, 1929.  She was an only child and arrived in Claremont, CA when her family moved.  She worked as a telephone operator while taking on bit parts for MGM.

After doing a few minor movie appearances, she landed the role of a lifetime playing Miss Kathleen “Kitty” Russell on Gunsmoke.  The 27 year-old became a household name for the next 20 years.  Gunsmoke was the longest running Western as well as the longest running prime-time show with continuing characters.

200 half-hour episodes and 400 hour episodes were filmed and was first broadcast in color in 1966.  Amanda Blake remained on the series for 19 of the 20 year run and it is believed the show started going downhill in the final year.  She had grown tired of playing the role and stated “Nineteen years is a hell of a long time for someone to be stuck behind a bar”.

In 1968 she was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.  She was the third performer inducted after Tom Mix and Gary Cooper.

Her career did not do much thereafter but was featured in a Gunsmoke reunion of the characters in 1987 “Return to Dodge”.  After leaving Gunsmoke, she semi-retired at her home in Phoenix and only took on a few television and film projects.  

Being a great lover of animals, she joined some others to form the Arizona Animal Welfare League in 1971 and to this day is the oldest and largest “No-Kill” animal shelter in the state.  In 1985, she helped financed the start-up of Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and devoted much of her time and money in supporting efforts.

She was diagnosed with a form of mouth cancer in 1980, she was a former smoker at that time and spoke up against smoking.  She testified before the U.S. House of Representatives urging for a  new warning label be placed on cigarette packs.  She told the subcommittee “I believe that I would not have smoked had I seen a label on a cigarette package or in a cigarette ad that said Warning: Cigarette smoking may cause death from heart disease, cancer or emphysema.”

She became an avid and active spokesperson for the American Cancer Society, highlighting the evils of smoking.  When she was diagnosed with mouth cancer, she underwent extensive surgery which left her unable to speak.  She fought this and through determination and hard work, was able to learn to speak again. The Annual Courage Award from the Society was presented to her by President Ronald Reagan.

Amanda Blake died on August 16, 1989 at 60 years of age, her request was she be cremated and her ashes given to her family.  Her will stated she wanted all her memorabilia auctioned off and the proceeds given to the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and the Amanda Blake American Cancer Courage Award.

You can watch the award presentation from President Reagan here:

Robert Horton American Television Actor

Posted on Nov 08, 2011 under ARCHIVES | 3 Comments


As Flint McCullough: Wagon Train

Robert Horton, probably best known for his role as the frontier scout Flint McCullough on the NBC Western series, Wagon Train (1957-1962).  Mr. Horton did all his own riding and stunts on most of the Wagon Train episodes and in the series A Man Called Shenandoah.  He owned an Appaloosa horse named Stormy Night and rode him in both of these series.  The horse got his name because he got him at a rodeo in Idaho on a stormy night.  He left Wagon Train to pursue a career in musical theater.

Born Meade Howard Horton, Jr on July 29, 1924 in Los Angeles, CA, he graduated from the University of California Cum Laude.

The handsome Robert Horton appeared in dozens of movies and television shows between 1951 to 1989. He appeared in Ray Milland’s “Meet Mr. McNutley” and John Bromfield’s Sheriff of Cochise.  He was appeared on seven separate episodes of the Alfred Hitchcock Presents series, including “The Disappearing Trick” with Betsy von Furstenberg.  His character was a tennis playing bookie and blackmailer.

He appeared as Danny Barnes in the episode “No Place to Hide” on the CBS series The DuPont Show with June Allyson.  He was also on NBC’s series “The Barbara Stanwyck Show ” and an interview program “Here’s Hollywood“.  He appeared several times on NBC’s The Ford Show starring Tennesee Ernie Ford.

Robert’s other credits included a role as a cowboy amnesiac on the series “A Man Called Shenandoah” (1965-1966), starred in “The Dangerous Days of Kiowa Jones“.  This was the first Western made specifically for television and simultaneous distributed to cinemas in Europe.

From 1983 to 1984, he tried his hand on the daytime soap “As the World Turns” as Whit McColl.

After leaving television and films, he spent many years in theaters and nightclubs throughout the U.S. and Australia as a singer.  

In 1963, producer David Merrick hired him as the lead role in the musical version of The Rainmaker (titled 110 in the Shade), playing the part first played by Burt Lancaster in the movie.  The musical score written by Tom Jones (best known for his work The Fantasticks) and Harvey Schmidt (musical composer) which ran for 330 performances on Broadway.

Robert was an accomplished pilot, owning a Piper Comanche 250 from 1957 to 1998.  He logged over a thousand hours flying across the country with his wife Marilynn as his co-pilot.   During an interview with “Plane and Pilot”, he said “his three greatest thrills were his first solo flight, a performance before Queen Elizabeth and being featured on “This Is Your Life.”

His hobby is his cars though stated “I don’t show my cars, I drive them.  The two don’t go together.”  His favorite movie is Uncertain Glory and his favorite actors were Errol Flynn and Myna Loy.

He has been the recipient of  lifetime achievement awards for television including the prestigious Golden Boot Award and the Cowboy Spirit Award at the 16th Annual Bison Homes Festival in Phoenix for “embodying the integrity, strength of spirit and moral character depicted by the American cowboy.

His Quote: “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence, Persistence and determination are omnipotent.”  This was from a sign that hung in his father’s office.

He and his wife live in Encino, California.