Sunday, July 6, 2014

Cheyenne (1960)



Cheyenne garnered a number of firsts when it debuted in 1955. It was one of the first three TV westerns geared for an adult audience, along with Gunsmoke and The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp. It was the first 60-minute TV drama of any kind. And it was the first television show produced by the Warner Brothers studio. Like Gunsmoke, its star was an imposing physical presence--6' 6" and heavily muscled Clint Walker. And though both leading characters were unflinching defenders of justice, there the similarities between their series ends. Cheyenne was never a weekly series during its entire 7-year run. It began as one of three rotating shows on Warner Brothers Presents, along with Casablanca and Kings Row. In 1956-57 it alternated with Conflict. The next year it split time with Sugarfoot, which would remain in the rotation for the next four years. When Walker went on strike against Warner Brothers during the 1958-59 season, the studio created a carbon copy series Bronco starring Ty Hardin to temporarily replace it. When Walker returned, the three shows rotated with each other. Yet despite not airing every week, Cheyenne was a top 30 program from 1957-61.

Like its peripatetic broadcast schedule, the show's hero, Cheyenne Bodie, was a drifter who held a variety of jobs in dozens of locations, which differentiated the show from the single-town focus of Gunsmoke and provided the blueprint for later shows like Have Gun--Will Travel, Wanted: Dead or Alive, and The Texan. Unlike the town-centered westerns such as Gunsmoke, Lawman, and The Deputy in which a moral law officer must defend his community from evil that largely comes from outside, Cheyenne Bodie is the bringer of justice to communities that are corrupt or evil at their centers. He operates from an outsider's perspective, his parents having been killed by Cheyenne Indians when he was a boy and then raised by them until he was rescued and adopted by the Pierce family, whom we meet in the episode "The Long Rope" (September 26, 1960). In this episode, Cheyenne just happens to pass by the house where he was raised until an angry and misguided lynch mob accused the Pierce patriarch of stealing a neighbor's horses and dragged him away while his wife and children watched helplessly. Cheyenne coincidentally returns to the town of High Point at exactly the same time 16 years later when the Pierce son Randy also returns in disguise to avenge the murder of his father. When Randy murders the lynch-mob leader Reed Moriarity, the town again accuses the wrong man and tries to storm the jail to haul off rancher Johnny Kent. Cheyenne has to keep the mob at bay, with the help of Indian Joe Maybe and, at the last minute, Randy Pierce, who finally realizes that his actions have endangered his one-time friend Cheyenne.

In "Riot at Arroyo Seco" (February 1, 1960), Cheyenne is working as the sheriff of the titular town, which is being ruined by the town patriarch's greedy sons, intent on driving out all the citizens due to a lack of water so that the sons can seize their property. When water-well worker Johnny Benson is murdered, the town correctly pins the rap on well operator Chet Noler but want to lynch him immediately, egged on by the greedy sons, who hope to cover up their complicity in the dry well scheme. When Cheyenne guns down one of the sons to stop the lynch mob from storming the jail, the father insists that he be charged with murder, and only when the circuit judge Lloyd Pomeroy smells a rat is Cheyenne let go. He quickly takes his gun belt and leaves town just as the judge uncovers the other brother's crimes and tells the citizens to give Cheyenne back his sheriff's badge. When he is told that Cheyenne has already left, he comments that the town doesn't deserve a man as good as Cheyenne Bodie.

Other episodes follow a similar trajectory. In "Outcast of Cripple Creek" (February 29, 1960), Cheyenne agrees to serve as marshal of Cripple Creek after his friend, the former marshal, summoned him and then died due to unexplained circumstances. Cheyenne allies himself with local sheriff Bill Lockhart against greedy cattle baron Carl Banner and sanctimonious yet corrupt town aldermen Mayor Myron Ackelroyd and Ab Murchison. By episode's end, Lockhart rejects renewing his contract and calls out Ackelroyd and Murchison for their hypocrisy, to which Cheyenne answers, "Amen, brother." In "Alibi for the Scalped Man" (March 7, 1960), Cheyenne investigates the disappearance of his friend Dan Murchison in Emmetsville, which purports to be the cleanest town west of Missouri, and discovers that mayor Angus Emmet is harboring his fugitive, murderous brother Charley, who serves as the town sheriff under an alias. And in "Home Is the Brave" (March 14, 1960) Cheyenne has been commissioned by the U.S. Army to return the body of war hero Cole Prescott to his hometown of White River for burial, only to encounter a refusal by the town council. He learns that the town had always rejected Prescott because he was a half-breed Sioux and was hated by town council president John Thompson because Prescott was at one time a rival suitor for the hand of Thompson's wife Ruth. Even when he exposes all the lies and hypocrisy behind the rejection, Cheyenne is unable to convince the citizens to allow Prescott's burial and is relieved by an army detail who come to take the body back to the Arlington National Cemetery with full honors.

The mistreatment and distrust of Indians is a recurring theme in Cheyenne, which, like many TV westerns in 1960, portrayed Native Americans in a more favorable light than white immigrants. Cheyenne Bodie is depicted as particularly sympathetic to the plight of the Indians, despite the fact that they killed his parents, because he grew up amongst them and came to understand their culture. Whites, by contrast, only see the number of their own race killed by the native inhabitants as a reason for hatred. In "Apache Blood" (February 8, 1960) Cheyenne meets and helps acclimate a version of himself, a young man who calls himself Mickey Free, who was also raised by Indians but is returned to white society when Apache chief Chotah decides to abandon the young insurgent braves of his tribe and take the remaining loyal tribe members to a reservation. Mickey struggles to fit in because of the disapproval of suspicious whites like busybody Elizabeth Quill and the greedy Karl brothers, who jumped the claim on his parents' ranch after they were killed by Indians. Cheyenne is there to rein Mickey in and intercede on his behalf with the regional land office to return the ranch to its rightful heir. But no episode is more of an indictment of the white man than "Savage Breed" (December 19, 1960), which shows how a group of whites on a hunting party each try to outfox the others to steal $70,000 from a fugitive embezzler while fending off a party of Apaches who want their horses to make the journey off the reservation back to the Black Hills. Cheyenne advocates surrendering the horses and taking the Indians at their word that they will be left alone thereafter, but the whites refuse to give up the horses and end up killing each other over the money. The savage breed indicated in the episode title is revealed to be the white men, not the Apaches.

While the producers did give Cheyenne Bodie a few details in terms of a back-story, as mentioned above in the episode "The Long Rope,"  the character is really more of an archetype than a fully realized human being. This is most blatantly illustrated in the two-part story arc "Gold, Glory and Custer" (January 4 & 11, 1960) in which a narrator informs the viewer that there were no credible white survivors of the Custer massacre at Little Big Horn, though many spurious claims were made in its aftermath, but that one observer did see what actually happened that day, an army scout that for the purposes of this story shall be called Cheyenne Bodie. As the authors of the Museum of Broadcast Communications web site have noted, "Essentially, the producers of Cheyenne changed the character's circumstances at will in order to insert him into any imaginable conflict." They go on to say that several plots for Cheyenne were reworked versions of Warner Brothers feature films. In the Custer story, they drop Cheyenne into one of the most infamous events in U.S. military history to illustrate the hubris and greed at the center of Custer's demise, as well as duplicity and revenge at the heart of the Indian attack. Though he exonerates Major Marcus Reno from charges of cowardice and betrayal, Cheyenne does so, despite his disdain for Reno, only so that the truth can be known. Amongst all the players involved in this iconic event in our country's history, only Cheyenne remains pure and righteous.

Besides the recycled plots mentioned above (a sin of many westerns of the era), the series was often sloppy in its execution. In "The Long Rope" Cheyenne clearly calls the Pierce daughter "Kay" when saying goodbye to her at the end of the episode when her actual name throughout the story has been "Fay." In "Two Trails to Santa Fe" (October 21, 1960), Max Baer, Jr. plays a prospector named Willis who is shot dead when he leaves the mission where Cheyenne and the other prospectors have set up their defenses against Indian attacks. Yet later in the same episode there is Baer clearly visible amongst the still-living prospectors after fending off an attack from a duplicitous army corporal. And like many other westerns or TV shows of any stripe, Walker's stand-in stuntmen are sometimes painfully obvious, though more stunt work would have been a blessing in any scene where Walker is asked to throw a punch. For all his physical prowess, Walker's boxing skills are less convincing than Adam West's in Batman. But then realism and verisimilitude were not what Warner Brothers was after in Cheyenne.

The theme song for Cheyenne was composed by William Lava and Stanley Davis Jones. Lava was born in Minneapolis and grew up in the Chicago area, attending Northwestern University, where he studied journalism. He studied conducting with Dr. Albert Coates in Los Angeles and moved to Hollywood in 1936, where he found work arranging music for radio programs. He also worked on dozens of feature films and shorts, most of them uncredited, beginning in 1937. In the mid-1950s he was hired by Disney, for whom he provided musical scores for The Mickey Mouse Club and later Zorro at the same time he was working on Cheyenne. In the early 1960s he also scored individual episodes for The Twilight Zone, Have Gun--Will Travel, The Dakotas, and 77 Sunset Strip. When Cheyenne ended in 1962, he was moved over to Warner Brothers' cartoon production, replacing Milton Franklyn on Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons after Franklyn died. Later in the 1960s he provided the theme song and scores for F Troop and worked on The Pink Panther Show. Lava passed away on February 20, 1971 at the age of 59 in Los Angeles. 

Stanley Davis Jones was born in Arizona and moved to Los Angeles with his mother after his father's death. He dropped out of UC Berkeley in 1934 and joined the Navy, after which he held a number of jobs, eventually becoming a forest ranger with the U.S. Forest Service. While stationed in Death Valley, he was assigned as a liaison to director John Ford while filming The Walking Hills in 1948. During this time, he would often sit around with the crew and entertain them with songs he had written. They encouraged him to get some of them published, and, following their advice, one of his songs became a huge hit--"Riders in the Sky," later renamed "Ghost Riders in the Sky." Ford began using Jones' songs in other films of his, and actor Harry Carey, Jr. got him a job with Disney working on the music for the series The Adventures of Spin and Marty, on which William Lava was also working. In 1956 he was hired to write music for the TV series The Sheriff of Cochise and played the role of Deputy Harry Olsen. He also appeared in Ford's The Horse Soldiers as well as Ten Who Dared and two episodes of the Daniel Boone series on Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color. Jones died December 13, 1963 at the age of 49.

Music supervision for individual episodes was handled by the team of Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter, who were profiled in the1960 post for Lawman. No credit is given for the scores for individual episodes.

All seven complete seasons have been released on DVD by Warner Archive.

The Actors

Clint Walker

Norman Eugene Walker was born in Hartford, Illinois, dropped out of high school at age 16, and joined the Merchant Marine at 17 during the last months of World War II. After the war, Walker bounced around the country working various jobs from Mississippi River boatman to golf caddy to the oil fields of Brownwood, Texas. While working as a security officer at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, Walker met many Hollywood celebrities who encouraged him to give acting a try, so he moved to Los Angeles, where he met actor Henry Wilcoxon. Wilcoxon, in turn, introduced him to Cecil B. DeMille, who cast Walker in The Ten Commandments. But prior to that film's release he was spotted by a Warner Brothers employee playing a Tarzan-like character in Jungle Gents and was tabbed to star in Warner's new western series Cheyenne. Walker, however, did not like the restrictive nature of his contract with Warner, which gave the studio complete control of which feature films he could appear in and even stipulated that any LPs he released had to be on their label. These restrictions led Walker to insist on renegotiating his contract in May 1958. When the studio at first refused, he left the show temporarily. However, he did appear in a few feature films during the life of the series, most notably Fort Dobbs and Yellowstone Kelly.

After Cheyenne ended in 1962, he spent more time on films than television, including the Doris Day/Rock Hudson comedy Send Me No Flowers, Frank Sinatra's lone directorial effort None But the Brave, the Jay North Indian jungle adventure Maya, and The Dirty Dozen. In 1971 he suffered a freak skiing accident when the tip of a ski pole pierced his heart. But he was able to make a full recovery and was back filming in Spain a mere two months later. In 1974 he made a brief return to TV as the star of the short-lived series Kodiak, the same year in which he appeared in the cult TV movie Killdozer. His filmwork and television appearances were sparse thereafter, averaging less than one credit per year into the mid-1990s, the last playing Cheyenne Bodie in an episode of King Fu: The Legend Continues in 1995. He provided the voice of Nick Nitro in the animated feature Small Soldiers in 1998 and since then has made many appearances at events such as the Western Legends Film Festival. He lives with his third wife Susan in Grass Valley, California. His official web site can be found at clintwalker.com.

Notable Guest Stars

Season 4, Episode 7, "Gold, Glory and Custer--Prelude": Julie Adams (starred in The Creature From the Black Lagoon and played Martha Howard on The Jimmy Stewart Show, Ann Rorchek on Code Red, and Eve Simpson on Murder, She Wrote) plays mineralogist's daughter Irene Travers. Liam Sullivan (Major Mapoy on The Monroes, Dr. Joseph Lerner on The Young and the Restless, and Mr. Willis on Knots Landing) plays her fiancé Major Marcus Reno. Ed Kemmer (Commander Buzz Corry on Space Patrol, Paul Britton on The Secret Storm, and Dick Martin on As the World Turns) plays Reno's colleague Capt. Fred Benteen. Stacy Keach, Sr. (Carlson on Get Smart) plays prospector Brad Caldwell. Tyler McVey (Gen. Maj. Norgath on Men Into Space) plays railroad tycoon Henry Toland. Tim Graham (Homer Ede on National Velvet) plays trapper California Joe. Lorne Green (see the biography section of the 1960 post on Bonanza) plays army prosecutor Col. Jonathan Bell. Trevor Bardette (see the biography section for the 1960 post on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp) plays a protestor calling for Reno's trial. Ralph Moody (Doc Burrage on The Rifleman) plays medicine man Slow Bull.

Season 4, Episode 8, " Gold, Glory and Custer--Requiem": Lorne Green (shown on the left, see "Gold, Glory and Custer--Prelude" above) returns as Col. Jonathan Bell. Julie Adams (see "Gold, Glory and Custer--Prelude" above) returns as Irene Travers. Liam Sullivan (see "Gold, Glory and Custer--Prelude" above) returns as Maj. Marcus Reno. Ed Kemmer (see "Gold, Glory and Custer--Prelude" above) returns as Cat. Fred Benteen. Lawrence Dobkin (Dutch Schultz on The Untouchables, the narrator on Naked City, Judge Saul Edelstein on L.A. Law, and Judge Stanely Pittman on Melrose Place) plays the presiding judge, Gen. Philip Sheridan. Carlos Romero (played Rico Rodriguez on Wichita Town, Romero Serrano on Zorro, and Carlo Agretti on Falcon Crest) plays Indian scout Moccasin Charlie. Frank De Kova (Chief Wild Eagle on F Troop and Louis Campagna on The Untouchables) plays Indian chief Dull Knife.

Season 4, Episode 9, "Riot at Arroyo Seco": Willis Bouchey (Mayor Terwilliger on The Great Gildersleeve, Springer on Pete and Gladys, and the judge 23 times on Perry Mason) plays Arroyo Seco patriarch Ralph Tobin. Harry Lauter (Ranger Clay Morgan on Tales of the Texas Rangers, Atlasande on Rocky Jones, Space Ranger, and Jim Herrick on Waterfront) plays his son Harry. Whitney Blake (shown on the right, played Dorothy Baxter on Hazel) plays Tobin's daughter-in-law Beth. Don Haggerty (Jeffrey Jones on The Files of Jeffrey Jones, Eddie Drake on The Cases of Eddie Drake, Sheriff Dan Elder on State Trooper, and Marsh Murdock on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp) plays well-digger Chet Noler. Gary Vinson (Chris Higbee on The Roaring '20's, George Christopher on McHale's Navy, and Sheriff Harold Skiles on Pistols 'n' Petticoats) plays Noler's employee Johnny Benson. Robert Hyatt (Junior Morrison on The Pride of the Family) plays Cheyenne's assistant Joel Weeks. Phil Tully (Charlie the bartender on The Deputy) plays saloon keeper Paddy Moore. Frank Ferguson (Gus Broeberg on My Friend Flicka, Eli Carson on Peyton Place, and Dr. Barton Stuart on Petticoat Junction) plays circuit judge Lloyd Pomeroy.

Season 4, Episode 10, "Apache Blood": Scott Marlowe (Nick Koslo on Executive Suite, Eric Brady on Days of Our Lives, and Michael Burke on Valley of the Dolls) plays Indian-raised Mickey Free. Robert Warwick (starred in Alias Jimmy Valentine, The Supreme Sacrifice, The Heart of a Hero, and Against All Flags) plays Indian chief Chotah. Walter Coy (Zoravac on Rocky Jones, Space Ranger and the narrator on Frontier) plays Free's white guardian Reverend Collins. Adrienne Marden (Mary Breckenridge on The Waltons) plays his wife Martha. Glenn Strange (played Frankenstein's monster in House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula, and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and played Sam Noonan on Gunsmoke) plays stagecoach operator Burton. Bud Osborne (played stagecoach drivers in dozens of westerns and in episodes of The Cisco Kid, Annie Oakley, The Range Rider, Hopalong Cassidy, The Lone Ranger, The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok, The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, Rescue 8, Zorro, Bronco, Law of the Plainsman, Johnny Ringo, The Texan, Maverick, and Rawhide) plays stage driver Ed. Stuart Randall (Sheriff Art Sampson on Cimarron City, Al Livermore on Lassie, and Sheriff Mort Corey on Laramie) plays San Simon Sheriff James Purdy. Kenneth MacDonald (played the judge 32 times on Perry Mason, played Col. Parker on Colt .45, and appeared in several Three Stooges shorts) plays Indian agent Mr. Clum. Hank Patterson (Fred Ziffel on Green Acres and Petticoat Junction and Hank on Gunsmoke) plays gunsmith Luther.

Season 4, Episode 11, "Outcast of Cripple Creek": Robert J. Wilke (appeared in Best of the Badmen, High Noon, The Far Country, and Night Passage and played Capt. Mendoza on Zorro) cattle baron Carl Banner. Whit Bissell (shown on the left, starred in He Walked by Night, Creature From the Black Lagoon, I Was a Teenage Werewolf, I Was a Teenage Frankenstein, and Hud and played Bert Loomis on Bachelor Father, Calvin Hanley on Peyton Place, and Lt. Gen. Heywood Kirk on The Time Tunnel) plays Cripple Creek Mayor Myron Ackelroyd. Rhodes Reason (John A. Hunter on White Hunter and Sheriff Will Mayberry on Bus Stop) plays Cripple Creek Sheriff Bill Lockhart. Lisa Gaye (Gwen Kirby on How to Marry a Millionaire) plays Lockhart's fiancé Jenny Beaumont. Clyde Howdy (Hank Whitfield on Lassie) plays deputy Hy King. Emory Parnell (Hawkins on The Life of Riley and Hank the bartender on Lawman) plays saloon keeper Luther Gannon. Donnelly Rhodes (Dutch Leitner on Soap, Charlie on Report to Murphy, Art Foster on Double Trouble, Dr. Grant Roberts on Danger Bay, Harry Abramotiz on The Heights, R.J. Williams on Street Legal, Dr. Leo Shannon on Da Vinci's Inquest, and Dr. Sherman Cottle on Battlestar Galactica) plays cattle drover Carl Whoopie.

Season 4, Episode 12, "Alibi for the Scalped Man": R.G. Armstrong (Police Capt. McAllister on T.H.E. Cat and Lewis Vendredi on Friday the 13th) plays Emmetsville Mayor Angus Emmet. Richard Coogan (Marshal Matthew Wayne on The Californians) plays his brother Charley. Mala Powers (starred in Cyrano de Bergerac, Rose of Cimarron, and Tammy and the Bachelor and played Rebecca Boone on Walt Disney's Daniel Boone and Mona on Hazel) plays their niece Celia Marley. Ross Elliott (Freddie the director on The Jack Benny Show and Sheriff Abbott on The Virginian) plays newspaper publisher Reed Kingsley. 

Season 4, Episode 13, "Home Is the Brave": Regis Toomey (shown on the right, starred in Alibi, Other Men's Women, The Finger Points, His Girl Friday, and The Big Sleep and played Joe Mulligan on The Mickey Rooney Show, Lt. Manny Waldo on Four Star Playhouse, Lt. McGough on Richard Diamond, Private Detective, Det. Les Hart on Burke's Law, and Dr. Barton Stuart on Petticoat Junction and Green Acres) plays White River physician Dr. Henry Malcomb. Carolyn Komant (Dixie on The Roaring '20's) plays his daughter Nancy. Brad Johnson (Deputy Sheriff Lofty Craig on Annie Oakley) plays White River Sheriff Dan Blaisdell. John Howard (Dr. Wayne Hudson on Dr. Hudson's Secret Journal, Commander John "Pliny" Hawk on Adventures of the Sea Hawk, and Dave Welch on My Three Sons) plays bank president John Thompson. Mickey Simpson (Boley on Captain David Grief) plays his henchman Pete Windsor. Clyde Howdy (see "Outcast of Cripple Creek" above) plays a wagon owner.

Season 5, Episode 1, "The Long Rope": Peter Whitney (Sergeant Buck Sinclair on The Rough Riders and Lafe Crick on The Beverly Hillbillies) plays High Point Sheriff Hugo Parma. Donald May (Charles C. Thompson on West Point, Pat Garrison on The Roaring '20's, Grant Wheeler on Texas, Adam Drake, Sr. on The Edge of Night, Raymond Speer on As the World Turns, and Earl Foster on All My Children) plays revenge-seeker Randy Pierce. Merry Anders (Joyce Erwin on The Stu Erwin Show, Val Marlowe on It's Always Jan, Mike McCall on How to Marry a Millionaire, and Policewoman Dorothy Miller on Dragnet 1967) plays his sister Fay. Dehl Berti (Vittorio on Buck James and John Taylor on Guns of Paradise) plays Indian Joe Maybe. Richard Bellis (Emmy-winning composer for many TV movies) plays Cheyenne as a boy. Frank Albertson (starred in Alice Adams, Man Made Monster, and It's a Wonderful Life and played Mr. Cooper on Bringing Up Buddy) plays rancher Johnny Kent. Forrest Taylor (starred in True Nobility, Big Calibre, Too Much Beef, and The Lost Planet and played Doc Brannon on Man Without a Gun) plays the town parson. 

Season 5, Episode 2, "Counterfeit Gun": Robert Lowery (starred in Criminal Investigator, Revenge of the Zombies, The Navy Way, The Mummy's Ghost, and They Made Me a Killer and played Big Tim Champion on Circus Boy and Buss Courtney on Pistols 'n' Petticoats) plays both train robber Giff Murdock and embezzler Richard Scott. Lisa Gaye (see "Outcast of Cripple Creek" above) plays Scott's daughter Francie. Ray Teal (Jim Teal on Lassie and Sheriff Roy Coffee on Bonanza) plays the Crestline sheriff. Ron Howard (shown on the left, played Opie Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show, Bob Smith on The Smith Family, Richie Cunningham on Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley, and the narrator on Arrested Development) plays train passenger Timmy. William Mims (see the biography section for the 1960 post on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp) plays train robber Tully. Vito Scotti (played Jose on The Deputy, Capt. Gaspar Fomento on The Flying Nun, Gino on To Rome With Love, and Mr. Velasquez on Barefoot in the Park) plays undercover Mexican army officer Julio.

Season 5, Episode 3, "Road to Three Graves": Alan Hale, Jr. (shown on the right, played Biff Baker on Biff Baker U.S.A., Casey Jones on Casey Jones, and The Skipper on Gilligan's Island) plays boys' camp builder Tuk. James Seay (see the biography section for the 1960 post on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp) plays Manuel Loza henchman Parks. Carlos Romero (see "Gold Glory, and Custer--Requiem" above) plays Loza henchman Luiz Perez. Jean Byron (Minnie on Mayor of the Town, Dr. Imogene Burkhart on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, and Natalie Lane on The Patty Duke Show) plays Civil War widow Mrs. Norris. Gregory Irvin (Johnny Brady on Dennis the Menace) plays her son Ted.

Season 5, Episode 4, "Two Trails to Santa Fe": Robert Colbert (Dr. Doug Phillips on The Time Tunnel) plays renegade army Cpl. Howie Burch. Randy Stuart (see the biography section of the 1960 post on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp) plays his former wife Amy Brandon. Richard Webb (starred in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, This Woman Is Dangerous, and Git! and played Captain Midnight on Captain Midnight and Deputy Chief Don Jagger on Border Patrol) plays her current husband Jed. Robert Anderson (Park Street, Jr. on The Court of Last Resort and Aeneas MacLinahan on Wichita Town) plays prospector Jones. John Harmon (Eddie Halstead on The Rifleman and the fingerprint expert on Perry Mason) plays prospector Harris. Max Baer, Jr. (shown on the left, played Jethro and Jethrine Bodine on The Beverly Hillbillies) plays prospector Willis. Tony Young (Cord on Gunslinger) plays Apache leader Yellow Knife. Robert Carricart (Pepe Cordoza on T.H.E. Cat) plays an army fort doctor.

Season 5, Episode 5, "Savage Breed": Ray Danton (starred in Chief Crazy Horse, Onionhead, The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond, The George Raft Story, and Portrait of a Mobster and played Nifty Cronin on The Alaskans) plays Dodge City Marshal Al Lestrade. Robert Clarke (appeared in The Man From Planet X and The Astounding She-Monster, starred in and directed The Hideous Sun Demon, and was married to Alyce King of the King Singers) plays card shark Phil Kenton. Patricia Huston (Addy Olson on Days of Our Lives and Hilda Brunschwager on L.A. Law) plays his wife Nora. Walter Coy (see "Apache Blood" above) plays embezzler George Naylor. Clyde Howdy (see "Outcast of Cripple Creek" above) plays Deputy Pete Saba.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Naked City (1960)



Naked City the television series attempted to recreate on the small screen the same semi-documentary feel of the ground-breaking Jules Dassin 1948 feature film The Naked City, which like the TV show, was shot on the streets of New York. As documented in James Rosin's book Naked City: The Television Series, the rights to the feature film were acquired by Columbia Pictures for television release in 1957. Producer Herbert B. Leonard, who had enjoyed success on TV with The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin as well as Circus Boy and Tales of the 77th Bengal Lancers, approached Columbia about adapting the film for television. Leonard hired scriptwriter Stirling Silliphant, who had written for several drama anthology shows and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Leonard's vision was to create in a police drama the feel of a drama anthology, much as he and Silliphant would do a couple of years later on Route 66. When the series debuted as The Naked City on ABC in the fall of 1958, it was a 30-minute show using the same characters from the feature film, with John McIntire as the elder, more experienced detective Lt. Dan Muldoon and James Franciscus as the young, green detective Jimmy Halloran. But Leonard's unique slant for the police drama was to focus not on the police detectives themselves, but on the characters the detectives encounter in the course of their jobs, often dealing with complex psychological issues rather than simplistic whodunits. Each episode would end with narrator Lawrence Dobkin intoning, "There are eight million stories in the Naked City. This has been one of them." But after 25 episodes, McIntire left the cast, reportedly because he did not like the rigors of a weekly TV series (though a few years later he would replace the late Ward Bond on Wagon Train). He was replaced by veteran tough guy and hard-nosed cop Horace McMahon as the crusty, though tender-heated Lt. Mike Parker. But ABC opted not to renew the show after its initial season.

However, one of the show's sponsors and the production staff tried to persuade ABC to renew the show as a 1-hour drama. After CBS picked up Route 66, ABC consented and brought back the show with the abbreviated title Naked City in the fall of 1960 with Silliphant writing the first two episodes, then serving as story consultant thereafter. Only 9 episodes were aired during the fall of 1960, though another 23 were shown in the spring of 1961, for a total of 32 Season 2 episodes. Franciscus was replaced by Paul Burke as the young, more compassionate Det. Adam Flint. Harry Bellaver was retained as his good-natured colleague Frank Arcaro. Nancy Malone also joined the cast as Flint's aspiring actress girlfriend Libby Kingston. True to Leonard's plan, not much time is devoted to the backstory of these recurring characters. Parker is predictably gruff, though often amenable to Flint's unorthodox approach to unraveling difficult crimes or dealing with problem characters. He is perhaps least sympathetic with Flint in "The Man Who Bit a Diamond in Half" (December 14, 1960) when the latter tries to tie what appear to be loose threads into an impending plot to steal the world's largest diamond. The next day's newspaper headline proves that Flint was on to something. Though they never play the good cop/bad cop hand, Parker's tough-knuckle approach rarely produces results, whereas Flint's more careful and sympathetic style often gets suspects and their conspirators to fess up. In "The Human Trap" (November 30, 1960), Flint and Parker agree that fashion designer Walda Price's story about the killing of Toby Tennant as an act of self-defense while protecting her daughter Jessica doesn't add up. But while Parker's threat and follow-through to lock up Price for murder fails to get her to change her story, Flint works on Jessica, laying out conflicting evidence that gets her to admit that she was the one who plunged the ice pick into Tennant's mid-section, though it was accidental.

Beyond this difference in styles, we never hear anything about Parker's or Flint's backgrounds. Even when Flint is asked by his partner Det. Bane in Season 2's opener "A Death of Princes" why he decided to become a cop, Flint's reply is that it's a job, whereas Bane, the guest character of the episode, provides a much meatier reply, saying that being a policeman is one of the few opportunities in this city, aside from being very wealthy, to feel like a god. Even the relationship between Flint and Libby is somewhat perfunctory, seeming to be ripped from the Peter Gunn playbook. Libby is an aspiring actress; Peter Gunn's girl Edie Hart is a nightclub singer. Both entertainers are constantly frustrated when their boyfriends are called away on business at odd hours of the night and engage in witty repartee with their men about this frustration. Parker and Arcaro are likewise not fleshed out.

But the guest characters are full-fledged psychological studies, perhaps none more so in early Season 2 than the ridiculously named Erwin Lovegod in "Killer With a Kiss" (November 16, 1960). Erwin works in a psychiatric hospital but should be a patient. His mother committed suicide, for which he blames his decorated military father, now deceased, but he cannot strike out at his father, so he collects toy soldiers and exacts his revenge indirectly on other men in uniform--policemen. Though the depiction of Erwin is disturbing, it also bears a trace of sympathy, particularly from his aunt with whom he lives, presaging the direction many crime dramas would take in the coming decade of showing criminals being the product of a troubled past rather than merely eranged and scary psychos. But Libby comments at the end of the episode what an awful responsibility it is to bring a child into the world today, a chilling remark completely original in an era that almost always depicted children lovingly. Parenting also comes in for some critical examination in "The Pedigree Sheet" (October 19, 1960), which begins with Flint and Parker trying to solve the death of a key witness in a murder trial and ends up a reconciliation between an estranged daughter and her alcoholic father after he admits that he has been a negligent parent.

However, occasionally the show can veer into Perry Mason territory with the unraveling of a complicated murder plot. "A Succession of Heartbeats" (October 19, 1960) chases down the killer of playboy Ben Harlow and his paramour Mrs. Marta Brent, finally revealing a down-to-the-minute city-to-city helicopter ride that nabs the perpetrator. Still, the show also has its psychological element in the person of June Walden, who confesses to the murder even though she didn't do it, out of sympathy for the real killer, whom she feels is a victim just as she was at the hands of Harlow.

Perhaps most telling in the role the police actually play is the episode "Down the Long Night" (November 2, 1960), the story of widower Max Evar, who hunts down and torments the man he believes is responsible for his wife's death, finally driving him to confess while Flint helplessly watches the entire proceedings locked inside a funhouse observation room. The killer finally dies by his own hand, setting the funhouse ablaze, then dying from smoke inhalation, a sentence more fitting than any the halls of justice could dispense since Evar's wife also died in a fire.

Not every episode is centered around a grisly death, though there is plenty of that, too. The aforementioned "The Pedigree Sheet" ends with a belated but heartfelt reunion between father and daughter, even if she is hospitalized after nearly being killed by an assassin's bullet. And "Debt of Honor" (November 23, 1960) traces the slow turnaround of hustler Nick Mori from callous player to love-stricken husband, softened by the spirit of his arranged bride he brought to America only to repay a debt he was bound to by his father. The juxtaposition of stark violence and heart-warming emotion is what makes Naked City stand out from many of the more formulaic crime dramas of its era, as do the location shots of New York, giving the series a gritty verisimilitude unobtainable on a studio set.

The theme music  and scores for individual episodes for Naked City were composed by long-time band-leader and Capitol Records arranger Billy May. May was born in Pittsburgh and played tuba in his high school band, a time he credits for his interest in arranging as the tuba player had lots of time observing how the other pieces of the orchestra interacted while he was not playing. After his professional debut playing trumpet with a Polish band in 1933, May approached big band leader Charlie Barnet in 1938 and offered to write arrangements for him. Barnet accepted the offer and May joined the band on trumpet and contributed the arrangement for the band's biggest hit, "Cherokee." In 1940 May was hired away by Glenn Miller. Later in the decade he worked as the staff arranger for the NBC radio network and then the newly formed Capitol Records. At Capitol, May arranged and conducted for some of the biggest vocalists in the business, including Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and Peggy Lee. His arranging credits over the next several decades are seemingly endless. He scored a hit with his own band in 1952 for "Charmaine" and released several albums in the 1950s and 1960s. He also provided musical support for comedian Stan Freberg during this time and won a Grammy for Best Performance by an Orchestra in 1959. Besides Naked City, May provided the music for The Green Hornet and the Batgirl theme on Batman. He continued working into the 1980s, arranging for the Carpenters' Christmas album in 1983. He died as his home in San Capistrano, California on January 22, 2004 at the age of 87.

The complete series has been released on DVD by RLJ Entertainment.

The Actors

Paul Burke

Born in New Orleans, Burke was the son of boxer Marty Burke, a sparring partner of Jack Dempsey who later founded an eponymous New Orleans restaurant and nightclub that the younger Burke said provided the inspiration for some of the characters he later portrayed. After the younger Burke moved to California in the late 1940s and studied at the Pasadena Playhouse, a friend of his father's, director Lloyd Bacon, helped land him a bit part in Call Me Mister in 1951. From there he garnered more small roles that eventually grew to more featured parts, though in such B-grade material as the Francis the talking mule pictures Francis Goes to West Point and Francis in the Navy as well as the jungle horror feature The Disembodied. Simultaneously he began landing TV roles, both as a supporting player and as a lead in the Jack Webb-produced veterinarian drama Noah's Ark in 1956-57. He also had a recurring role as Jeff Kittridge on the Barry Sullivan-starring drama Harbormaster the following year, and he played opposite David Hedison in the spy thriller series Five Fingers in 1959-60 before landing the role of Adam Flint on Naked City.

After Naked City ended its run in 1963, Burke didn't have to wait long before finding another starring role as Captain Gallagher on 12 O'Clock High, which ran from 1964-67. In 1967 he also appeared in one of his more prominent film roles in The Valley of the Dolls, considered one of the worst movies ever made. But that role didn't damage his career, as he appeared the next year in the widely praised Steve McQueen/Faye Dunaway thriller The Thomas Crown Affair. His film roles thereafter tended back to the tawdry, such as Daddy's Gone A-Hunting, but his television work continued in regular fashion. Not only did he garner guest appearances on shows such as Medical Center, Ironside, and Police Story, but he also found recurring roles in the 1980s as Neal McVane on Dynasty, C.C. Capwell on Santa Barbara, and Nicholas Broderick on Hot Shots. All of that came to a screeching halt, however, when he was indicted in 1989, along with Harry Connick, Sr., for racketeering in returning gambling records to a convicted gambler and for lying to a grand jury. Burke said in a 1992 interview that after the trial, during which he and Connick were acquitted but three others were convicted, there was suddenly no work, so he retired to Palm Springs with his wife, actress Lyn Peters. He died there from leukemia and non-Hodgkins lymphoma on September 13, 2009 at the age of 83. Burke is the grandfather of actress Alia Shawkat of Arrested Development.

Horace McMahon

Born in South Norwalk, Connecticut, McMahon tried his hand at acting while attending law school at Fordham University. After school McMahon held a number of jobs, everything from a soda jerk to a shipping clerk to a news reporter for the South Norwalk Sentinel. In 1931 he began landing roles on Broadway and by 1935 he began appearing in films, usually playing some kind of heavy. He would appear in some 135 films in his career but his roles changed to police work beginning with Detective Story, in which he played Lt. Monaghan both on the stage in 1949 and in the 1951 film version with Kirk Douglas and Eleanor Parker. He had a semi-regular role as a newstand owner in the TV series Martin Kane during 1950-51, but his television work was sporadic throughout the 1950s, a time during which he found more steady work in features such as the first major studio 3D movie Man in the Dark as well as Blackboard Jungle, My Sister Eileen, and Jerry Lewis' The Delicate Delinquent. He joined Naked City during its first season at Lt. Mike Parker when John McIntire left the cast.

After Naked City, McMahon found regular work playing Agnes' father on Jackie Gleason: American Scene Magazine and as Hank McClure on the short-lived Mr. Broadway. His career tailed off dramatically thereafter with his last appearance being in an episode of Family Affair in 1969. He retired with his wife, former actress Louise Campbell, to his hometown, where he died August 17, 1971 at the age of 65.

Harry Bellaver

Bellaver was born to Italian immigrant coal mine workers in Hillsboro, Illinois. He dropped out of school in the 6th grade and worked as a coal miner, teamster, and farmhand before winning a scholarship to Brookwood Labor College in Katonah, New York. There he took up acting and was invited by the theatrical director Jasper Deeter to join the Hedgerow Repertory Theater near Philadelphia. From there he moved on to New York City in 1930 and appeared in a number of theatrical productions, including The House of Connelly, We, the People, and The Three-Penny Opera. He would continue to appear in theatrical productions, even after his film and television career took off. His most notable role was as Chief Sitting Bull in the original production of Annie Get Your Gun in 1946. He reprised the role for the 1966 revival of the play. His film career began in 1939 with an appearance in Another Thin Man. He also helped found the Actors' Equity Association, and during World War II served as stage manager and actor in the USO production of Over 21, which starred Vivian Vance and her husband Philip Ober. After the war his film career continued to grow throughout the 1950s with appearances in features such as No Way Out, From Here to Eternity, and The Old Man and the Sea. His TV work was sparse until the mid-1950s, when he began landing multiple appearances on Inner Sanctum, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and Climax!  He was the lone main character to stay with Naked City from its inception in 1958 through the end of its run in 1963.

After Naked City he had a regular role as Ernie Downs from 1964 to 1969 on the soap opera Another World. After that his work tapered off, with occasional TV guest spots on Kojak and Knots Landing and film roles in Madigan, Hero at Large, and his last appearance in 1985 in The Stuff. He retired to Tappan, New York, where he died from pneumonia at the age of 88 on August 8, 1993.

Nancy Malone

Nancy Josefa Maloney was born in Queens, New York and began her acting career in commercials at age 7. At age 11 she was chosen by Life magazine for the cover of its 10th-anniversary issue as the typical American girl. She studied under Stella Adler at the Actors Studio and began acting on the stage at age 15, landing a starring role at age 17 in the production Time Out for Ginger. She began appearing on television in 1950, mostly in theatrical anthology shows, before being cast as Libby Kingston during the second season of Naked City. At the same time, she was playing Robin Fletcher on the daytime soap opera Guiding Light

After Naked City she played Clara Varner on the 1965-66 series The Long, Hot Summer in addition to many guest appearances on The Twilight Zone, Ironside, and as Goober's girlfriend in the very last episode of The Andy Griffith Show. Her acting appearances continued into the mid-1980s, but by the 1970s she had grown tired of the limitations of female roles and at the invitation of ABC President Tom Moore moved over into producing, first for his newly formed Tomorrow Entertainment and then forming her own Lilac Productions. In 1975 she moved to Twentieth Century Fox and a year later became the company's first female vice president. She also helped found the support group Women in Film and received the entity's Crystal Award for her contributions in 1977. In the 1980s she completed the American Film Institute's Directing Workshop for Women, eventually being named to the board of The Alliance of Women Directors and winning Emmy awards for her work on Sisters and The Trials of Rosie O'Neill. She also shared an Emmy for co-producing the special Bob Hope: The First 90 Years in 1993. She continued directing throughout the 1990s on show such as Melrose Place and Diagnosis Murder with her last credit coming in a 2004 episode of The Guardian. She died a decade later from pneumonia on May 8, 2014 at the age of 79.

Notable Guest Stars

Season 2, Episode 1, "A Death of Princes": Eli Wallach (shown on the right, starred in The Magnificent Seven, The Misfits, How the West Was Won, and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and played Vincent Danzig on Our Family Honor) plays trigger-happy cop Det. Bane. Peter Falk (starred in Robin and the 7 Hoods, Murder by Death, and The Cheap Detective and played Daniel O'Brien on The Trials of O'Brien and Columbo on Columbo) plays small-time gunman Gimpy. George Maharis (Buz Murdock on Route 66 and Jonathan Croft on The Most Deadly Game) plays boxer Tony Bacalas. Godfrey Cambridge (starred in Watermelon Man, Cotton Comes to Harlem, and The President's Analyst) plays his trainer George. Anne Helm (Molly Pierce on Run for Your Life) plays Libby's roommate Diane. Richard Ward (played Dewey on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman) plays shoe-shiner Lee.

Season 2, Episode 2, "The Pedigree Sheet": Suzanne Pleshette (shown on the left, starred in The Geisha Boy, The Birds, A Rage to Live, The Ugly Dachshund, Nevada Smith, and Support Your Local Gunfighter and played Emily Hartley on The Bob Newhart Show, Maggie Briggs on Suzanne Pleshette Is Maggie Briggs¸ Christine Broderick on Nightingales, Jackie Hansen on The Boys Are Back, and Claire Arnold on Good Morning Miami) plays runaway daughter Nora Condon. Al Lewis (Officer Leo Schnauser on Car 54, Where Are You? and Grandpa Munster on The Munsters) plays ambulance driver Gus. Roger C. Carmel (Roger Buell on The Mothers-in-Law) plays seedy private investigator Harry Staples. 

Season 2, Episode 3, "A Succession of Heartbeats": Frank Overton (starred in Desire Under the Elms, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Fail-Safe and played Major Harvey Stovall on 12 O'Clock High) plays Andy Brent, husband of a murder victim. Fay Spain (starred in Dragstrip Girl, Al Capone, and The Gentle Rain) plays showgirl Felice Reynolds. Felicia Farr (starred in 3:10 to Yuma, Onionhead, Hell Bent for Leather, Kiss Me, Stupid, and Charley Varrick) plays murder witness June Walden. William Post, Jr. (Harry Henderson on Beulah) plays Wealthy businessman Meredith Linus. Duke Farley (Sgt. Reilly on Car 54, Where Are You?) plays Brent's business colleague George Silver. 

Season 2, Episode 4, "Down the Long Night": Leslie Nielsen (shown on the right, starred in Forbidden Planet, The Opposite Sex, The Poseidon Adventure, Airplane!, and the Naked Gun trilogy and played Lt. Price Adams on The New Breed, Victor & Kenneth Markham on Peyton Place, Harry Kleber on Dr. Kildare, Sam Danforth on The Bold Ones: The Protectors, John Bracken on Bracken's World, and Det. Frank Drebin on Police Squad!) plays ad executive Norman Garry. Nehemiah Persoff (starred in The Wrong Man, Some Like It Hot, and Al Capone) plays funhouse operator Max Evar. Geraldine Brooks (Angela Dumpling on The Dumplings) plays Garry's fiancé Vicky.
Season 2, Episode 5, "To Walk in Silence": Claude Rains (starred in The Invisible Man, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Casablanca, Phantom of the Opera, Notorious, and Lawrence of Arabia) plays estate lawyer John Weston. Deborah Walley (starred in Gidget Goes Hawaiian, Ski Party, and Beach Blanket Bingo and played Suzie Hubbard Buell on The Mothers-in-Law) plays his daughter Heather. Telly Savalas (shown on the left, starred in Cape Fear, The Birdman of Alcatraz, The Dirty Dozen, and Kelly's Heroes and played Mr. Carver on Acapulco and Lt. Theo Kojak on Kojak) plays bookmaking mobster Gabe Hody. Sorrell Booke (Boss Hogg on The Dukes of Hazzard) plays a bettor. Alan Bunce (Albert Arbuckle on The Kate Smith Evening Hour and Ethel and Albert) plays Weston's physician Dr. Seaton. 
Season 2, Episode 6, "Killer With a Kiss": Burt Brinckerhoff (Charles Shannon on Dr. Kildare and directed multiple episodes of Lou Grant, Nine to Five, Remington Steele, ALF, and 7th Heaven) plays disturbed young man Erwin Lovegod. Norma Connolly (Ruby Anderson on General Hospital) plays street mission leader Ruth Peters. Norman Rose (the voice of Mr. Mad on Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales) plays police officer Abe Ornitz. Bill Lazarus (Jack Woods on Calucci's Department and Frosty on The Bad News Bears) plays police consultant Dr. Arvid. Clifton James (appeared in Experiment in Terror, Cool Hand Luke, Live and Let Die, The Man With the Golden Gun, and Eight Men Out and played Silas Jones on Lewis & Clark and Duke Carlisle on Dallas) plays police officer Fenelli. 

Season 2, Episode 7, "Debt of Honor": Steve Cochran (starred in The Best Years of Our Lives, White Heat, and Private Hell 36) plays hustler Nick Mori. Lois Nettleton (Sue Kramer on Accidental Family and Joanne St. John on In the Heat of the Night) plays his wife Marisa. 

Season 2, Episode 8, "The Human Trap": Ruth Roman (shown on the right, starred in Jungle Queen, Always Leave Them Laughing, Strangers on a Train, The Far Country, and Maru Maru and played Minnie Littlejohn on The Long, Hot Summer and Sylvia Lean on Knots Landing) plays fashion designer Walda Price. Zina Bethune (Gail Lucas on The Doctors and the Nurses) plays her daughter Jessica Glennon. Jack Lord (Stoney Burke on Stoney Burke and Det. Steve McGarrett on Hawaii Five-O) plays her ex-husband Cary Glennon. Nicholas Saunders (Sgt. Ross on Martin Kane) plays her lawyer Holman. Elizabeth McRae (Lou-Ann Poovie on Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.) plays Libby's acting colleague Lorri.




Season 2, Episode 9, "The Man Who Bit a Diamond in Half": Walter Matthau (shown on the left, starred in A Face in the Crowd, Charade, The Fortune Cookie, The Odd Couple, Hello, Dolly!, The Front Page, The Sunshine Boys, The Bad News Bears, and Grumpy Old Men and played Lex Rogers on Tallahassee 7000) plays wealthy businessman Peter Kanopolis. Elizabeth Allen (Katherine West on Dr. Kildare, Laura Deane on Bracken's World, Martha Sims on The Paul Lynde Show, Capt. Quinlan on CPO Sharkey, and Victoria Bellman on Texas) plays his wife Emily. Michael Conrad (Lt. Macavan on Delvecchio and Sgt. Phil Esterhaus on Hill Street Blues) plays break-in specialist Pierce. James Tolkan (Lester Mintz on Mary, Norman Keyes on Remington Steele, Mike Ragland on The Hat Squad, and Dallas Cassel on Cobra) plays a mail clerk.