Monday, July 18, 2011


On Saturday, July 23rd, coinciding with the celebration of the National Day of the Cowboy and Cowgirl, the Autry will reopen the Greg Martin Colt Gallery with a new exhibition exploring the history of Samuel Colt firearms, and impact the Colt revolver had on the American west.

In addition to a section devoted to the Colt Single Action Army Model Revolver, highlights include an original patent, the Colt family coat of arms, opulently engraved sidearms, and all manner of historic artifacts. Thanks to curator Jeffrey Richardson, the Round-up is privileged to receive an exclusive ‘first peek’ at some of the more remarkable pieces that will be on display. The information and descriptions are by Mr. Richardson.

Prototype Colt Revolver
1835; no serial number
Autry National Center;

Samuel Colt constructed his first rudimentary model of a revolver in 1831. Over the next five years, he worked with several gunsmiths, most notably John Pearson of Baltimore, to manufacture prototypes. Pearson was a clockmaker prior to becoming a gunsmith, and his mechanical skills were instrumental in the early development of Colt’s revolver. The Colt-Pearson prototypes clearly show that Colt continued to perfect his invention prior to seeking patent protection in 1835 and 1836. This Colt-Pearson prototype is similar to the revolvers depicted in Colt’s first patent drawings. The bayonet swiveling at the muzzle end of the barrel enabled users to defend themselves even if the revolver was out of ammunition.

Cutaway Model 1855 Sidehammer Pocket Revolver
1856; serial number 6475
Autry National Center; 87.118.20

The most extensively cut-away Colt percussion revolver is this Model 1855 Sidehammer Pocket. Cutaway, or skeleton, arms were used to demonstrate the mechanics and special features found on Colt firearms. Serial number 6475 is superbly machined to reveal the inner workings of the barrel, rammer, barrel lug, frame, cylinder, and grips. The chambers in the cylinder received special attention. One chamber is slightly machined, another is machined approximately in half, and two other chambers are cut into entirely. Despite its impressive design, the Sidehammer was the least successful model introduced by Colt’s Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company during Samuel Colt’s lifetime.

Cased No. 5 Holster Model Revolver
Circa 1840; serial number 944
Donated by Dennis and Karen LeVett
Autry National Center; 98.178.1

The No. 5 Holster Model Revolver was the bestselling of all the firearms produced by Samuel Colt’s first attempt at mass production, the Patent Arms Manufacturing Company. Chambered in .36 caliber, it was also the largest and most powerful revolver produced by the company. The No. 5 Holster Model gained fame in the hands of the Texas Rangers, especially Captain Jack Hayes. In the summer of 1844, Hayes and fifteen other Rangers fought off eighty Comanche Indians using the revolver. Word of the incident spread, and the model came to be known thereafter as the Texas Paterson. (The Patent Arms Manufacturing Company was headquartered in Paterson, New Jersey.)

Theodore Roosevelt’s Single Action Army Model Revolver
1883; serial number 92248
Acquisition made possible in part by Paul S. and June A. Ebensteiner
Autry National Center; 85.5.6

Theodore Roosevelt spent several formative years on the American frontier working as a rancher and cowboy prior to becoming President of the United States in 1901. When he headed west in 1883, he brought with him, in his own words, “equipments finished in the most expensive style.” That equipment included this Single Action Army, which Roosevelt described as his best Western revolver. It was custom-engraved and features a TR monogram on the left side of the recoil shield and on the right side of the ivory grips. Roosevelt carried the revolver in a hand-tooled leather holster, and it can be seen in many pictures from the period. Many of the issues Roosevelt championed as president, including the virtue of leading a strenuous life and the importance of conservation, were solidified during his tenure in the West.

“Buntline Special” Single Action Army Model Revolver
1876; serial number 28802
Autry National Center;

The “Buntline Special” is the most celebrated variation of the Single Action Army. The defining feature of the revolver is an exceptionally long barrel that ranges from ten to sixteen inches. Approximately thirty of the revolvers were produced in 1876. The revolver gets its name from dime novel author Ned Buntline (pseudonym of Edward Z. C. Judson). In the biography Wyatt Earp, Frontier Marshal, published in 1931, author Stuart Lake claimed that Buntline presented five of the revolvers to Dodge City lawmen Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Charles Bassett, Neal Brown, and Bill Tilghman. The story made for great reading, but there is little historical evidence to support it. The name “Buntline Special,” however, has stuck. Serial number 28802 has a sixteen-inch barrel and originally came with an attachable shoulder stock.

Incidentally, Ned Buntline and the Buntline Special figure prominently in the upcoming THE FIRST RIDE OF WYATT EARP.


That's right, the segment I was interviewed for is now viewable here:


On Monday and Tuesday, July 11th and 12th, Melody Ranch was the locale for SHADOW HILLS, a Western series pilot about a former Buffalo Soldier's attempt to settle down in a town ruled by warring factions. The show has a largely black cast, and is written by, co-produced by, and stars Lamont Clayton, who previously produced the Western feature RIDE OR DIE, aka RIDE SWEET, DIE SLOW, and acted in two other Westerns, GANG OF ROSES and BROTHERS IN ARMS. Co-producer Scott Steel is a well-known DJ and TV entertainment reporter.

Prominent in the series cast is John Amos as the town blacksmith. The pilot story turns on a climactic horse-race, and guest star Bobby Brown will be the rider racing Lamont Clayton's character for something much more important than money alone. The pilot episode is directed by K.C. Amos. Next week's Round-up will feature exclusive pictures and interviews with participants on both sides of the camera.


This weekend's Hollywood Show at the Burbank Marriott was an enjoyable opportunity to meet and greet a wide variety of film and TV actors from the oast and present. Among the friends of the Round-up who attended were Western author and screenwriter C. Courtney Joyner, soon to be off to Europe for the filming of his CAPTAIN NEMO miniseries, actor Mike Gaglio, who just completed his role in the film LIZARD MAN, and author Michael Stern, who was signing copies of his Lucille Ball memoir, I HAD A BALL.

Among the stars that I spoke to was villainous Bruce Dern, unforgettable in a plethora of roles and genres, from the lone enviro-astronaut in SILENT RUNNING to Tom Buchanan in THE GREAT GATSBY. But to Western fans he'll always be the man who did the unthinkable in JOHN WAYNE AND THE COWBOYS. I also visited Bo Hopkins, who can use his intimidating good-old-boy charm for humor in AMERICAN GRAFITTI, or menace, as Crazy Lee in THE WILD BUNCH. Tom Kirk, who played a string of iconic kid roles in Disney films of the 1960s, one of the most memorable in OLD YELLER, one of the most-seen Westerns of the current generation of school kids. The Round-up hopes to feature interviews from all three in the near future.

The biggest stars present was Oscar-winner (for MARTY) Ernest Borgnine. He was taking part in a reunion of POSEIDAN ADVENTURE cast members, but to me he'll always be Dutch Engstrom in THE WILD BUNCH. When I asked the 94-year-old actor, "When are you doing another Western?" he laughed, "I'm doing one right now! It's called THE MAN WHO SHOOK THE HAND OF VINCENTE FERNANDEZ. It's a Western, but it takes place in a nursing home." The film is written and directed by Elia Petridis, who previously wrote and directed HOW HENRI CAME TO STAY. We'll have more details soon!


NBC's new game show, “It’s Worth What?" premieres Tuesday night at 8 p.m., and features contestants competeing to guess the value of unusual items. This week, two of the items will be the taxidermied figures of the smartest horse in the movies, and Roy Roger's wonder-dog. If you're a regular reader, you know Trigger and Bullet have been touring the country promoting Roy Rogers movies and TV shows on RFD-TV. They'd better bid a lot, or I'll run 'em over with Nellybell!


As part of their SUMMER OF SILENTS series, the AMPAS will be showing 1926's THE GENERAL, written and directed by Clyde Bruckman and Buster Keaton. It's not only a brilliant comedy, it's also one of the very best silent films portraying the Civil War. To buy tickets, go to HERE or visit the box office 9 to 5 on weekdays at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90211.


The TCM Salute to the Singing Cowboy continues with six movies. The first four, all starring Dick Foran, are MOONLIGHT ON THE PRAIRIE (1935), SONG OF THE SADDLE (1936), TREACHERY RIDES THE RANGE (1936) and LAND BEYOND THE LAW (1937). Then two starring Monte Hale: HOME ON THE RANGE (1946) and UNDER COLORADO SKIES (1947). I wish they had Eddie Dean somewhere in this festival -- as a singer I put him right up there with Autry and Rogers and Ritter. BY the way, Robert Osborne is taking a temporary leave of absence to have some minor surgery, and take a vacation. Robert Wagner is filling in for him for a week, followed by Tippi Hedron, followed by Jane Powell.


As you may know, Saturday, May 23rd, is the 7th annual National Day of the Cowboy. But while we call it national, getting it recognized has been an arduous state by state, volunteer by volunteer, campaign. Word has just come from Bethany Braley, Executive Director of the organization, that Senator Jean Fuller introduced the National Day of the Cowboy resolution in the California Senate. It passed on July 1, officially encouraging Californians to celebrate the National Day of the Cowboy. This is the first time the California Senate has heard and voted on the NDOC resolution! To date in 2011, we have official resolutions from New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Illinois, Georgia and now California. To learn more, visit the official website HERE.


It’s great news that for the second year, the Autry will be taking part in the celebration – last year was an absolute blast! This year’s festivities will feature a ton of activities for kids and families, leather-craft and blacksmithing, square-dancing, lasso demonstrations, gunslinging by the lightnin’ quick JOEY DILLON, and a musical performance by the delightful and downright legendary RIDERS IN THE SKY!

But wait, there’s more! In the Wells Fargo Theatre, Gene Autry’s delightfully whacky serial, THE PHANTOM EMPIRE will screen. And coinciding with the Day of the Cowboy, the Autry will the grand reopening of THE GREG MARTIN COLT GALLERY, featuring a phenomenal new presentation of the history of the Colt Firearms Company.


On Saturday, July 23rd, from 11 ‘til 3 at the Redlands Barnes & Noble, 27460 Lugonia Ave. Western writer J. R. Sanders says, “Come celebrate the National Day of the Cowboy, and support Western literature, at Read 'em Cowboy! A portion of sales from the event will go directly to the Western Writers of America's Homestead Foundation, which promotes the literary preservation of Western culture, history and traditions.

“Western authors will sign books and give talks, children's authors will do readings and other activities with kids, and there'll be a cowboy/cowgirl costume contest for the youngsters. Along with the authors, there'll be live cowboy music by the Coyote Creek Ramblers, historical displays, roping demonstration, raffles, cowboy vittles in the B&N cafe, and more.” But, you say you don’t live near Redlands! How can you take part? Make a purchase at any B&N from 7/23-28. Just print a copy of the voucher found HERE. (The link takes you to a Facebook page, from which you can print the flyer with the voucher attached.) Show it at checkout. Or, order online at, and enter the Bookfair ID# (10510444) at checkout. Either way, a portion of your sale goes to the Homestead Foundation.!/photo.php?fbid=203670429680595&set=o.221304581236513&type=1&theater


Continuing at the Billy Wilder Theatre, at the Hammer Museum in Westwood. On Saturday, July 23rd it's RIVER OF NO RETURN, co-starring Marilyn Monroe, with special guest, producer Stanley Rubin, at 7:30 p.m. On Sunday July 24th at 7:00 p.m. it's THE WONDERFUL COUNTRY. For more details, go HERE.


Built by cowboy actor, singer, baseball and TV entrepeneur Gene Autry, and designed by the Disney Imagineering team, the Autry is a world-class museum housing a fascinating collection of items related to the fact, fiction, film, history and art of the American West. In addition to their permenant galleries (to which new items are frequently added), they have temporary shows. The Autry has many special programs every week -- sometimes several in a day. To check their daily calendar, CLICK HERE. And they always have gold panning for kids every weekend. For directions, hours, admission prices, and all other information, CLICK HERE.


Across the street from the Hollywood Bowl, this building, once the headquarters of Lasky-Famous Players (later Paramount Pictures) was the original DeMille Barn, where Cecil B. DeMille made the first Hollywood western, The Squaw Man. They have a permanent display of movie props, documents and other items related to early, especially silent, film production. They also have occasional special programs. 2100 Highland Ave., L.A. CA 323-874-2276. Thursday – Sunday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. $5 for adults, $3 for senior, $1 for children.


This small but entertaining museum gives a detailed history of Wells Fargo when the name suggested stage-coaches rather than ATMS. There’s a historically accurate reproduction of an agent’s office, an original Concord Coach, and other historical displays. Open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. Admission is free. 213-253-7166. 333 S. Grand Street, L.A. CA.


A staggering number of western TV episodes and movies are available, entirely free, for viewing on your computer at HULU. You do have to sit through the commercials, but that seems like a small price to pay. The series available -- often several entire seasons to choose from -- include THE RIFLEMAN, THE CISCO KID, THE LONE RANGER, BAT MASTERSON, THE BIG VALLEY, ALIAS SMITH AND JONES, and one I missed from 2003 called PEACEMAKERS starring Tom Berenger. Because they are linked up with the TV LAND website, you can also see BONANZA and GUNSMOKE episodes, but only the ones that are running on the network that week.

The features include a dozen Zane Grey adaptations, and many or most of the others are public domain features. To visit HULU on their western page, CLICK HERE.


Every weekday, TV LAND airs a three-hour block of BONANZA episodes from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. They run a GUNSMOKE Monday through Thursday at 10:00 a.m., and on Friday they show two, from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m.. They're not currently running either series on weekends, but that could change at any time.


Check out your cable system for WHT, which stands for World Harvest Television. It's a religious network that runs a lot of good western programming. Your times may vary, depending on where you live, but weekdays in Los Angeles they run DANIEL BOONE at 1:00 p.m., and two episodes of THE RIFLEMAN from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.. On Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. it's THE RIFLEMAN again, followed at 2:30 by BAT MASTERSON. And unlike many stations in the re-run business, they run the shows in the original airing order. There's an afternoon movie on weekdays at noon, often a western, and they show western films on the weekend, but the schedule is sporadic.

RFD-TV has begun airing THE ROY ROGERS SHOW on Sundays at 9:00 a.m., with repeats the following Thursday and Saturday.

Also, AMC has started showing two episodes of THE RIFLEMAN on Saturday mornings.

That oughta do it for this week, but keep an eye on the Facebook page, because news comes in all week. For instance, I just found out I'm going to be on-location for a very unusual sort of shoot on Tuesday -- I'll tell you more when I know more.

I started a Twitter feed this week, and I'm underwhelmed with the response. Check out the link at the top of the page. Tell me if this is worth doing, or if the Round-up and Facebook are enough.

Have a great week, and do something fun on the National Day of the Cowboy!



All Contents Copyright July 2011 by Henry C. Parke -- All Rights Reserved

1 comment:

  1. Westerns are SO awesome. Joey Dillon is awesome. This post is awesome.

    Happy National Day of the Cowboy...