Monday, September 7, 2015




Three Western series from the sixties and early seventies, two of which haven’t been seen since their original airdates, will be returning starting September 12th on GET-TV, a SONY-owned antenna company in some markets, and cable or satellite in others.  

For years, series that had less than a hundred episodes were not considered worth syndicating.  All three series had just one season each: A MAN CALLED SHENANDOAH (1965) produced 34 segments, NICHOLS (1971) had 24, and HONDO (1967) just 17.  But the recent success of very short-lived programs, particularly ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT (2003), whose production was actually revived after a seven-year hiatus, has proved there is life in a good show no matter how few the episodes.  

SHENANDOAH was developed by writer-producer E. Jack Neuman, who previously created MR. NOVACK (1963), and would go on to develop THE BLUE KNIGHT (1973), POLICE STORY (1973) and PETROCELLI (1974). It starred Robert Horton – still going strong at 91 – who’d starred for years on WAGON TRAIN as head scout Flint McCulloch.  When he left the series in 1962, he announced that he would not do a Western series again, but was tempted back by the tale of a man who awakens from a savage beating with no memory of who he is, or why anyone would want to kill him.  As he travels the West looking for answers, his adventures involve a stellar group of guest stars: Oscar winners Cloris Leachman, Martin Landau and George Kennedy, as well as Bruce Dern, John Ireland, Warren Oates, Sally Kellerman, L.Q. Jones and Strother Martin.

James Garner as NICHOLS

Between his great TV successes MAVERICK (1957-1962) and THE ROCKFORD FILES (1974-1980), James Garner starred as the lead character in NICHOLS, one of his personal favorites.  Set in the early 20th century, Garner plays a career soldier now tired of fighting, who comes home to the town named for his family, and is bullied into becoming its lawman, a job he does without packing a gun, and riding an Indian chopper instead of a horse.  Created by Frank Pierson, writer Juanita Bartlett wrote several episodes before moving with Garner to ROCKFORD FILES, and NICHOLS shares its humorously savvy tone.  Margot Kidder plays Ruth, the Miss Kitty of the town, and unlike at the Longbranch, you have no doubts about what goes on upstairs.

Ralph Taeger as HONDO

Of the three series, only HONDO had exposure after cancellation.  In 1988, Ted Turner bought MGM’s library, and created TNT.  HONDO started getting a lot of play.   A.J. Fenady, who created and produced HONDO, as well as the just DVD-released THE REBEL starring Nick Adams, recalls those early cable days.  “Ted Turner and I became pals.  He loved THE REBEL, but next to THE REBEL he loved HONDO.  When he was there at TNT, they played that thing time and again.  I saw him one time and I said, ‘For God’s sake, how long are you going to keep playing those same seventeen episodes of HONDO?’  And he said, ‘As long as I’m there.’” 

An unusually cheerful HONDO moment.

Ralph Taeger had the unenviable job of taking on a role that John Wayne made famous.  Fenady thought he was up to the challenge.  “You couldn’t draw a picture of a leading man any better than Ralph.  He had the build of Tarzan, he was handsomer than Randolph Scott, and he had a voice like Humphrey Bogart.  If that isn’t a combination for a western, I don’t know what the Hell is.” Even John Wayne was a fan of the show.  “Now Duke used to watch the series, and he said to me, ‘Ralph Taeger is as good a Hondo as I was.’  Parenthetical pause, ‘Almost.’  Well I loved Ralph Taeger.  I talked to him at least once a month until last year, when he died.  And doing the series HONDO led to (my) doing the movie CHISUM with John Wayne and his son Michael Wayne.” 

In addition to Taeger, the cast included Kathie Browne, Noah Beery Jr., and Aussie-playing-Indian specialist Michael Pate.  Among the guest cast did Fenady have a favorite?  “Without doubt, it’s Robert Taylor.  See, I’m the first guy who did a two-hour (theatrical) western, HONDO AND THE APACHES, and used it as a pilot.  MGM said, if you could get Robert Taylor to be in it, we’ll do it.  And I got Robert Taylor, and he was the gentleman of all gentlemen; he was a consummate actor, and a fine, fine man.  And, I’m still making money from that damned thing, because it’s still being featured overseas.”

Each series will be re-introduced with a ‘mini-marathon’, starting at noon on Saturday, September 12th with five episodes of NICHOLS; September 19th with five HONDOS; then September 26th with ten episodes of A MAN CALLED SHENANDOAH. After, they’ll be getting regular spots on Saturdays.  Saturday has always been an all-Western feature day for getTV, showcasing a lot of Tim McCoys and Durango Kid films from the Columbia Pictures vault, as well as big-budget oaters.   Jeff Meier, getTV’s senior veep of programming is excited about adding the shows to the line-up.  “Although each of these series originally had a short run, they all feature classic Old West action that will have viewers agreeing that they were cancelled far too soon.”


On Friday, September 18th, the 18th annual Silver Spur Awards, presented by The Reel Cowboys, will honor the 60th anniversary of the Western TV classic GUNSMOKE!  The event, to be held at the Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City, will be attended by many Western stars who can trace the start of their careers to GUNSMOKE.  The event will benefit United Cerebral Palsy and The National Day of the Cowboy.  Those planning to attend, subject to their availability, include members of the James Arness Family, Bruce Boxleitner, Morgan Brittany, Angie Dickinson, Ed Faulkner, Mariette Hartley, Earl Holliman, Bo Hopkins, L.Q. Jones, Martin Kove, Martin Landau, Michael Learned, Gerald McRaney, Mihaly 'Michu' Meszaros, Mayf Nutter, Jacqueline Scott, Jon Voight, Johnny Whitaker, and Morgan Woodward – GUNSMOKE’s most frequent guest star!

There will be a silent auction, an elegant Delmonico’s-worthy dinner, musical entertainment, a panel discussion and Q&A led by Bruce Boxleitner, and the awards presentation – and a chance to clink spurs with some of your favorite Western stars.  Tickets are $125, $175 for VIP seating, and $250 for premium seating.  For tickets, call 818-395-5020.  To learn more, go to the official website HERE.

There you can also listen to a radio interview with the two folks who are running the event, Reel Cowboys president Robert Lanthier, and historian and event coordinator Julie Ann Ream, cousin of Glenn Strange, aka Sam the bartender at the Longbranch. 


On Saturday, September 12th, as part of The Autry’s long-running ‘What is a Western?’ monthly series, SANTA FE TRAIL (WB 1940) will be presented at 1:30 pm at the Wells Fargo Theatre.  Admission is free with your admission to the museum.  Directed by Michael Curtiz, it stars Errol Flynn as Jeb Stuart, and Ronald Reagan as George Custer, West Point Cadets in the days leading up to the Civil War, with Olivia de Havilland, with Van Heflin, Alan Hale, and Raymond Massey as John Brown. 

One big change is that Jeffrey Richardson, The Autry’s Gamble Curator of Western History, Popular Culture, and Firearms, who has for years informatively and entertainingly introduced the films, will not be there; he’s left the Autry for a curatorial job in New Mexico.  Instead, the film will be introduced by screenwriter, director, Western scholar and author C. Courtney Joyner, who is very excited about the opportunity.  “I consider this one of Curtiz' best westerns - and it’s the last of the Flynn/de Havilland team-ups.  There’s lots of history about it - and how far it strays from the truth!”  In compliment to the current, fascinating exhibition at the Autry, Empire and Liberty: The Civil War and the West, this and the next pair of films will have Civil War themes.  GLORY (1989) will screen on October 10th, and THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES (1976) will screen on November 14th – I’ll be introducing that one!


Following an always delicious lunch in the Autry’s Crossroad Café, Rob Word’s ‘A Word on Westerns’ interview program will focus on how the Civil War has been portrayed on film, from Keaton’s THE GENERAL to GONE WITH THE WIND and beyond.  Confirmed guests include Bruce Boxleitner and Alex Hyde-White of GODS AND GENERALS and esteemed historian Phil Spangenberger.  The program begins at 12:45, but get there early for lunch, and to make sure you get a seat, because these events always fill up.  But don’t get there a week early – the Autry’s ‘What’s Next? calendar incorrectly says this event is September 16th – it’s definitely the 23rd!


Thanks to author Martin Grams  for posting about this in the Rick’s Place  site. The former home of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans in Apple Valley, California, is up for sale.  It sold in 2012 for $645,000, and is now being offered for $770,000.  Want to take an on-line tour?  The realtor has made a ten-minute video, showing not only how the property looks today, but how it used to look.


Norman Rockwell's portrait of 
Alex Cord for STAGECOACH

And speaking of desirable cowboy properties, Alex Cord who, among many other roles, played the Ringo Kid in the 1966 version of STAGECOACH, and starred in the spaghetti Western A MINUTE TO PRAY, A SECOND TO DIE (1968), is looking to sell his home in Texas.  He says, “Quail Run Ranch (is) 30 acres with three fenced pastures, run-in sheds, a pond and a creek running through a wooded area. A custom covered arena with Bob Kiser footing, 200 feet long and 80 wide, built by Butch Reddish. Charming house on a hill, 3 bdrms, 2 bth, granite counters, hardwood floors, Jacuzzi tub, storm shelter. Insulated shop, 40 x 40 ft. Horse barn, 4 indoor stalls and 4 sheltered runs, large tack room, feed room and hay storage, wash rack. Three connected round pens, 125 feet, 50 ft, and 25 ft. The place is dead quiet, surrounded by 3 cattle ranches owned by the finest neighbors in the world. It is secluded but not isolated. Twenty minutes to Denton, one hour to DFW airport, ten minutes to Gainesville, Walmart, Home Depot, Tractor Supply.” 

If you’re in the market, or know someone who is, you can contact Alex through his official website, HERE.


I’ve decided to make a change to the Round-up.  Instead of publishing every weekend, I’m going to publish every other weekend, or bi-weekly.  The fact is, between writing the Round-up, being the Film Editor for TRUE WEST, and teaching full-time, I’m not devoting any time to a screenplay I’ve been trying to finish for months – and that’s the job that’s supposed to make me rich and famous!  With that in mind, if you have any good tips to pass along to me, or know of events that I should be covering, please let me know a little earlier! 

Happy Trails,


All Original Contents Copyright September 2015 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved

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