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Interesting Actors on Classic TV Westerms

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Today, on MeTV, on "Gunsmoke", an absolutely gripping episode about a young Indian who became obsessed with killing the man (Neville Brand) who had murdered his father and sister.

 

The young Indian was played - beautifully - by Teno Pollick - and nearly in the nude, too.

 

Teno Pollick was one of the more serious loves in Tony Perkins' life.

 

Teno was extremely protective of his relationship with Tony and could become easily jealous of any looming liasions.

 

Tony's mother, who liked Teno, promised to leave him a great deal of money in her will.

 

It is generally believed that she was trying to keep Teno in line.

 

But, when she died, she left Teno nothing.

 

He felt very betrayed by Tony's mother.

 

Anyway, Teno was memorable in this "Gunsmoke" episode.

Sadly, Teno Pollick committed suicide at the age of 61.

 

He worked on the stage and in TV.

 

He even did an Off-Broadway play, "Steambath", that was directed by his lover, Tony Perkins.  

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Today, on INSP, there was an interesting episode of "The Virginian", which was spilling over with subtext.

 

It was called "The Road To Laramie".

 

It concerned an obviously "gay couple", who were played nicely by Leslie Nielsen and Berkley Harris (sp.?), who were depraved and homicidial and were in trouble with the townsmen.

 

The townsmen wanted to lynch them and rightly so.

 

Human life meant nothing to them.

 

Also, Emmet (Clu Galagher) had just become the town sheriff, because the two crazies had killed him in the jail.

 

A bar girl, who was interested in Emmet, was seriously pursuing him, because she was hoping that he would be able to do the right thing.

 

Clu Galagher's performance showed that he had absolutely no interest in the woman.

 

In fact, his performance bordered on that of a man with a very bad taste in his mouth.

 

It is so, so interesting what these shows, under the cloak of a seemingly conventional storyline, could actually get away with.

 

Two men, who were gay and homicidial and rode on one horse with an umbrella.

 

And a closeted gay man who was so troubled by the attentions of a persistent woman.

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Yesterday, on MeTV, on "Gunsmoke", there was a stunning episode about a child, who was powerfully played by Pat Cardi (sp?), who was driven half-mad by the man who had killed his father and then wanted to kill him.

 

Bruce Dern played this madman quite convincing.

 

And he treated his two young sons like pieces of garbage.

 

Only "Gunsmoke" could have given us such a strikingly well-written episode.

 

I don't know little Pat Cardi, but I will never forget him.

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Yesterday, on MeTV, on "Gunsmoke", there was a stunning episode about a child, who was powerfully played by Pat Cardi (sp?), who was driven half-mad by the man who had killed his father and then wanted to kill him.

 

Bruce Dern played this madman quite convincing.

 

And he treated his two young sons like pieces of garbage.

 

Only "Gunsmoke" could have given us such a strikingly well-written episode.

 

I don't know little Pat Cardi, but I will never forget him.

 

Sounds interesting. I haven't seen that particular episode. Bruce Dern was always excellent at playing scum-of-the-earth types.

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Sounds interesting. I haven't seen that particular episode. Bruce Dern was always excellent at playing scum-of-the-earth types.

Yes, he is 100% SCUM.

 

He was like something that had come out from under a rock.

 

Doc meets Homer Bonney, a little boy who is scared out of his wits -

 

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A real surprise:  Mary Tyler Moore in an episode of Bronco this week-end.  I'd never seen her in a Western before.

 

Bronco is a foreman for a bombastic Texas cattleman, a legend in his own mind.  We finds an Austrian couple fleeing Mexico after the fall of Maximilian fighting off bandits and lets them stay over night at the ranch.  When the owner's temper runs off the cook and butler, they pitch in and are offered work which they accept.  Bronco soon learns that they are not servants but nobility trying to return to Europe with 5 million in gold they want to give to Franz Joseph.  France wants it for Louis Napoleon and the bandits just want it.  The young Count is treated badly by the ranch hands until he stands up to them and gains the love of the rancher's daughter who is played by MTM.  The Countess reminds the Frenchman after the gold that they helped America become free and quotes the Declaration of Independence to him then says living here might be the best thing for her son and her.  They help fight off the bandits and the rancher decides to marry the Countess.  We're left with the idea there's a double wedding. 

 

Mary is feisty and feminine at home on the range in pants as well as a dress at an elegant table.  She stands up to her father's tantrums and when she wants something-the young count-goes after him (she doesn't know that he is at first).

 

An interesting episode of this show.      

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A real surprise:  Mary Tyler Moore in an episode of Bronco this week-end.  I'd never seen her in a Western before.

 

Bronco is a foreman for a bombastic Texas cattleman, a legend in his own mind.  We finds an Austrian couple fleeing Mexico after the fall of Maximilian fighting off bandits and lets them stay over night at the ranch.  When the owner's temper runs off the cook and butler, they pitch in and are offered work which they accept.  Bronco soon learns that they are not servants but nobility trying to return to Europe with 5 million in gold they want to give to Franz Joseph.  France wants it for Louis Napoleon and the bandits just want it.  The young Count is treated badly by the ranch hands until he stands up to them and gains the love of the rancher's daughter who is played by MTM.  The Countess reminds the Frenchman after the gold that they helped America become free and quotes the Declaration of Independence to him then says living here might be the best thing for her son and her.  They help fight off the bandits and the rancher decides to marry the Countess.  We're left with the idea there's a double wedding. 

 

Mary is feisty and feminine at home on the range in pants as well as a dress at an elegant table.  She stands up to her father's tantrums and when she wants something-the young count-goes after him (she doesn't know that he is at first).

 

An interesting episode of this show.      

Interesting, I'd never heard of this series.

 

Who played Bronco?

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Interesting, I'd never heard of this series.

 

Who played Bronco?

Ty Hardin played "Bronco".  Warner's brought in "Bronco" when Clint Walker of "Cheyenne" walked out in a dispute over money. . After Walker returned Warner's started to alternate the two series and a third was introduced "Sugarfoot" with Will Hutchins.

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Bronco did it again this morning with James Coburn doing a different take from the usual portrayal of Jesse James as a misunderstood "Robin Hood of the West."  In this story he was a cold-blooded killer who learns well the ways of his boss, Quantrill.  In recent documentaries this is how he's being shown so this was ahead of its time. 

 

Bronco is a courier for Confederate General Shelby.  Jesse's kinsman and childhood friend Cole Younger serves with him.  Bronco is disgusted when he sees Jesse's men kill 28 young Union Pows just because they're Yankees and refuses to work with him any more.  Cole wants to leave but family ties and his guilt over having been the one who taught Jesse to shoot win out.

 

Years later Bronco and Shelby are U. S. Marshalls determined to get Jesse.  Since they still care about Cole, who hasn't killed anybody yet, they hope to get girlfriend Belle Starr and him out of the gang before that happens.  They agree but Jesse's outlaw instincts and fast guns wrecks all this and leads to Cole going to prison. 

 

Coburn nails this monstrous Jesse as only he could.  The story ends with the narration that he was shot in the back by one of his own men implying poetic justice.

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Two interesting episodes on MeTV today of "The Rifleman", which is graced by the performances of Chuck Connors and Johnny Crawford as a loving father and son - which is an unusual occurrence on TV today - 

 

in the first, the storyline was blessed by the star turn of Richard Anderson, who always seemed somewhat lacklustre in his MGM glory days -

 

he played an old friend of Lucas McCain's, who made his living at playing cards -

 

the contrast between Connors and Anderson was very interesting -

 

and that contrast made for an involving storyline -

 

in the end, Anderson had to leave town -

 

and both men were brokenhearted about it -

 

another superb example of male bonding -

 

in the second, Lucas and son Mark were involved in a murder mystery -

 

in the course of a half-hour format, a young spitfire was murdered -

 

and the revelation of the murderer was a totally unexpected one -

 

his loneliness got the better of him and outweighed all other considerations -

 

implicit in the denouement was the suggestion that a woman will always be a challenge -

 

contrary and aggressive, the very last thing that you would need -

 

Connors made something quite special out of it -

 

he was both an icon AND a sex symbol. 

 

(The conventions of the Western genre provide the basis for the implicitness of sexual relationships between MEN that are more "felt" than "acted upon".)

 

(But these feelings can be much more meaningful than any actual sex.)

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in the first, the storyline was blessed by the star turn of Richard Anderson, who always seemed somewhat lacklustre in his MGM glory days -

 

Yes, he seemed to really come into his own as a character actor on television. He was still too young during his time at MGM-- but in those later TV roles, he always makes an impression.

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Yes, he seemed to really come into his own as a character actor on television. He was still too young during his time at MGM-- but in those later TV roles, he always makes an impression.

Jarrod -

 

I agree, he did a "Big Valley" episode, in which he was most impressive - he played a doctor who was trying to save Audra's life and who was threatened by a man who wanted to kill him for supposedly "killing" the man's wife.

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Jarrod -

 

I agree, he did a "Big Valley" episode, in which he was most impressive - he played a doctor who was trying to save Audra's life and who was threatened by a man who wanted to kill him for supposedly "killing" the man's wife.

 

Yes, that's an episode from season 1, called Last Train to the Fair. He returned a few more times, in different roles, during the later seasons. He was always excellent, and of course he and Lee Majors would costar in the 70s on The Six Million Dollar Man.

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Today, on MeTV, on "Wagon Train", Bette Davis did a high-comic turn as a madam who was transporting "her girls" westward.

 

At the end, Davis did the can-can with all of her girls.

 

She even bared her backside to the camera.

 

I got a kick out of her no-holds-bared performance.

 

A very young Robert Strauss played the man in her life.

 

And he was having a high old time, too.  

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Today, on MeTV, on "Wagon Train", Bette Davis did a high-comic turn as a madam who was transporting "her girls" westward.

 

At the end, Davis did the can-can with all of her girls.

 

She even bared her backside to the camera.

 

I got a kick out of her no-holds-bared performance.

 

A very young Robert Strauss played the man in her life.

 

And he was having a high old time, too.  

 

Decades showed Burke's Law and Basil Rathbone was featured as a director of Shakespearian plays.   He played an over the top character that actually felt the plays were very dated and was doing this for the money.   The role allowed Basil to do the old 'acting within acting' stunt and it was very funny.    Agnes Moorehead  was also featured as an actress allowing her to chew up the scenery (with great comic effect).

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Today, on MeTV, on "Gunsmoke" there was an exceptional episode that was smoldering in bloodlust.

 

It was about an aging gunfighter, who was played by a youngish, but riveting Jack Elam.

 

His son, who was played by Teno Pollick, wanted to kill him for abandoning his mother and him many, many years ago.

 

And a father, who was played by Lee Van Clef, wanted to kill him for shooting his son down, who had challenged his reputation (this role was played by Zalman King)

 

James Arness, as Marshal Dillon, and Roger Ewing, as "Thad", were around in an effort to curb all of that bloodlust.

 

The relationship between James Arness and Roger Ewing seems, to me, to be a very mysterious one - both on and off the set.

 

Although years apart, they are carbon copies of each other.

 

Can a man fall in love with his mirror image?

 

There is just so much "subtext" to their relationship.

 

But what a cast there was today - Arness, Ewing, Elam, Van Clef, Pollick and King.

 

(As I mentioned once before, Teno Pollick had a very famous male lover - Tony Perkins - and their relationship had been a very serious one.)

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Today, on MeTV, on "Gunsmoke" there was gorgeous teamwork between Milburn Stone and Ben Cooper.

 

Ben Cooper was involved with an outlaw gang, but wanted to be a doctor.

 

Milburn Stone took him under his wing so that Ben Cooper could "read medicine".

 

The two men developed a real affection for each other.

 

In the end, Ben Cooper was killed by the leader of the gang.

 

And Milburn Stone expressed a genuine sense of loss.

 

A TV Western, which explores the possibilities of a male to male relationship, is more than unexpected - and welcome.     

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President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt seems to be a plum role for any actor with talent.  I had the pleasure to see James Whitmore do it live at The University of Tampa many years ago and usual movie villain Claude Akins in a Gambler movie .  This week-end Peter Breck played him just after he came westward trying to conserve the buffalo who were being slaughtered for sport on Bronco.  He also comes to the aid of some exploited NAs who think he's a nut case which saves his life.  Bronco, nor anybody else, has any idea that they'll be calling him "Mr. President" in thirty years if they live that long. 

 

As well as a convincing dramatic actor, Breck was a real comedian which he got to show playing "Doc Holliday" on Maverick and "Nick" on The Big Valley often with Lee "Heath" Majors as a foil.  This was another fun episode in a series I didn't really like originally but am coming to appreciate now.   

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Chuck Connors is a Western actor who has not received due credit. His roles in The Rifleman and The Big Country legitimise his status as one of the finer actors in Western film. His ability to play both a hero and a villain demonstrates his versatility as a Western Actor.  

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Chuck Connors is a Western actor who has not received due credit. His roles in The Rifleman and The Big Country legitimise his status as one of the finer actors in Western film. His ability to play both a hero and a villain demonstrates his versatility as a Western Actor.  

Chuck Connors and Johnny Crawford forged such a loving - and memorable - relationship as father and son in "The Rifleman". 

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President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt seems to be a plum role for any actor with talent.  I had the pleasure to see James Whitmore do it live at The University of Tampa many years ago and usual movie villain Claude Akins in a Gambler movie .  This week-end Peter Breck played him just after he came westward trying to conserve the buffalo who were being slaughtered for sport on Bronco.  He also comes to the aid of some exploited NAs who think he's a nut case which saves his life.  Bronco, nor anybody else, has any idea that they'll be calling him "Mr. President" in thirty years if they live that long. 

 

As well as a convincing dramatic actor, Breck was a real comedian which he got to show playing "Doc Holliday" on Maverick and "Nick" on The Big Valley often with Lee "Heath" Majors as a foil.  This was another fun episode in a series I didn't really like originally but am coming to appreciate now.   

I just saw Peter Breck on an early "77 Sunset Strip" episode.  He was wonderfully sleazy, but, unfortunately, got killed off.

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I just saw Peter Breck on an early "77 Sunset Strip" episode.  He was wonderfully sleazy, but, unfortunately, got killed off.

 

Have you seen him in Sam Fuller's cult classic SHOCK CORRIDOR? He does a great job in that one.

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Have you seen him in Sam Fuller's cult classic SHOCK CORRIDOR? He does a great job in that one.

Yes, of course, who hasn't, right?

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When I saw the premier episode of Bonanza back in 1959 my first thought was that I had no idea who any of these actors were.  I now find this amazing especially in regards to Michael Landon who had amassed quite a resume in his few brief years in Hollywood.  He did a lot of work for 4-Star and ZIV as well as WB which has turned up on vintage stations for many years now.  James Garner tried to get WB to sign him but according to his book, Jack Warner only saw a "skinny young kid with no promise" and passed on him.  Had he done so, of course, he would not have been available to play Joe Cartwright for Paramount which produced Bonanza or maybe his other famous role of that time The Teenage Werewolf.  He did a Wells Fargo episode which I saw yesterday and again wondered how he was so long under my radar.     

 

P. S. Dan Blocker showed up on Wells Fargo today.  This was a couple of years before he did Cimarron City which was also a Universal show.  He also did a lot of WB Westerns but never crossed paths with Landon there.

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