Friday, January 4, 2019

The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp (1961)


Today it is usually lumped in with the also-ran westerns of the 1950s and 1960s, behind such ratings leaders as Gunsmoke, Bonanza, and Have Gun--Will Travel, but as we touched on in our post about the 1960 episodes, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp was perhaps the more innovative series in its use of historical events and characters and its experimentation with story arc continuity. As we mentioned in our last post on this program, dramatic television series employed a strictly episodic structure in which each show was a self-contained narrative that rarely ever referred to events from earlier shows. But the producers of Wyatt Earp obviously had a more continuous structure in mind by setting the series' first four episodes in Ellsworth, Kansas before having Earp move on to his next stop in his law enforcement career in Wichita for the remainder of Season 1 and the first episode of Season 2. Starting with the second episode of Season 2 he advances to his next destination of Dodge City for three seasons and then finishes the series in Tombstone, Arizona over the final two seasons. While most of the episodes prior to Season 6 were unrelated, the overall progression of the series followed the geographical sequence of the real-life Earp's travels.

But the way the producers chose to end the series over the last half of Season 6 was perhaps the first instance of a continuous story arc in dramatic television history. To see how revolutionary this technique was, consider that authors David Marc & Robert J. Thompson in their book Prime Time Prime Movers credit producer Stephen J. Cannell with originating the concept of the story arc for prime-time dramas (as opposed to the drawn-out, glacially paced narrative arcs used in daytime soap operas) in his series Wiseguy 26 years after Wyatt Earp:

The obvious innovation of Wiseguy [in 1987] was Cannell's introduction of the "arc" structure to prime-time series television. This is a formatting hybrid that introduces elements of nighttime soap opera (e.g., Dallas, Hill Street Blues) into the content of the traditional action/adventure series. A Wiseguy story might extend for eight or ten weeks by making use of direct episode-to-episode narrative continuity. This "arc" would then come to a narrative climax.

Though his life had many twists and turns afterward, Earp is probably best remembered for his shoot-out with Clanton-gang-affiliated outlaws at the O.K. Corral in 1881. The series begins to hint that this will also be the defining event of the final season as a new opening credits sequence is used in most of the 1961 episodes featuring Wyatt stopping to pose with a sign for the O.K. Corral featured prominently in the background. Then in "Doc Holliday Faces Death" (February 28, 1961) we are introduced to the trope that Earp's staunchest supporter (though he often scoffs at his friend's upright defense of the law at his own peril) is in ill health and that he has a strong dislike for Frank and Tom McLowery, feared gunmen working for Old Man Clanton. In this episode, Holliday is literally drinking himself to death and Earp tries to intervene by conspiring with all the bartenders in town to serve Holliday only a watered-down version of his favorite brand of whiskey. Holliday's failing health is referred to several more times in the remaining episodes, and in the climactic penultimate episode "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" (June 20, 1961), he exits his hotel walking with a cane and is given a shotgun to use in the great gunfight because Earp's brother Virgil assumes that his aim is no longer what it once was due to his debilitated condition.

After several more unrelated episodes, the thread of the story is picked up again in "Until Proven Guilty" (April 11, 1961) where we first see the fissures beginning to form in the Clanton gang when Curly Bill Brocious and Johnny Ringo object to patriarch Old Man Clanton that their bought-and-paid-for sheriff Johnny Behan has taxed them for cattle stolen during a job in which Behan himself participated. Though they want to do him harm, Clanton tells them to leave him alone because he is too valuable to the organization due to his connections to the corrupt political hierarchy in Tucson. Knowing that Holliday hates Behan and will resort to tactics that Earp would reject, Brocious and Ringo persuade Holliday to help them frame Behan for a stage robbery their men commit by having an actress that Behan is courting (and over whom Holliday has leverage concerning her past) plant some of the stolen money on him. Earp sniffs out the frame-up but is almost hung by Brocious before Clanton is also tipped off and stops the hanging to avoid having the federal government on his neck, but the bad blood between Brocious and Ringo against Clanton and Earp has not abated.

After two more unrelated episodes, the plot picks up again in "The Law Must Be Fair" (May 2, 1961), which centers around the McLowerys, who wind up moving into Tombstone into a house owned by Clanton next to the O.K. Corral, which he also owns, to placate Tom McLowery's wife Aithra, a city girl from Chicago who can't stand living on a ranch. But Brocious and Ringo, in their quest to take over the Clanton gang operations, see this as an opportunity to get rid of Clanton's two best gunmen by planting a dead corpse in the corral's stable so that the McLowerys will be suspected of murder. Wyatt doesn't think the McLowerys killed the dead man because he was hanged and their modus operandi is typically shooting, but he is forced to arrest them until he can prove who the real killer was. The hanging looks like the typical fate out-of-town rancher Captain Roland reserves for cattle rustlers, so Earp sends Holliday out to Roland's ranch to see if he has hung anybody recently, while Clanton rounds up his gang, including Brocious, to try to break the McLowerys out of jail. Holliday gets back into town just in time to stop Clanton's gang from overpowering Earp and Shotgun Gibbs and brings news that Roland confirmed he gave the body of the dead rustler to Brocious and Ringo, who claimed the deceased was a friend of his that he wanted to give a proper burial. While they are talking Brocious sneaks off to his horse and rides off with Clanton cursing after him, but it won't be Brocious' last attempt against Clanton.

This episode is immediately followed by a rarity in early 1960s television--a well-orchestrated send-off for a long-time primary character in "A Papa for Butch and Ginger" (May 9, 1961). More common for the era was the disappearance of recurring characters with no explanation for their departure or a brief reference to where they went after they have already departed. But in the run-up to the fateful "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral," the producers began clearing the decks of characters who weren't around for the final melee. Earp's trusted deputy Shotgun Gibbs, a fictional creation rather than a historical figure, was the first to go. In this episode Gibbs meets a widow with two young children trying to make a wagon trip to Colorado while being taken advantage of by unscrupulous ruffians she has hired to accompany her. Her two young children, Butch and Ginger, take an immediate liking to Gibbs, who runs off one of her antagonists, and though he won't admit it at first, Gibbs takes a liking to the widow Byfield as well. Holliday is the first to sense Gibbs' attraction and knowing that Gibbs feels beholden to Earp and his duty as a deputy, Holliday begins working on Earp to convince him that it would be in Gibbs' best interests to marry the widow and accompany her to Colorado. Holliday even tells Earp that Gibbs will one day meet his death from a faster and heavier armed gunslinger since Gibbs only uses a double-barreled shotgun and has to reload after two shots. So Earp finds a flimsy excuse to fire Gibbs for not following orders but can't face him as he tells him he is dismissed. The final scene shows Gibbs driving the widow's wagon with her by his side trying to convince him that Earp fired him out of love not animosity, while Butch and Ginger ride behind the wagon on Gibbs' beloved mule Roscoe. This sort of farewell is today standard practice but in 1961 it was quite extraordinary.

However, finding a replacement for Gibbs proves to be a challenge for Earp as the next episode, "Hiding Behind a Star" (May 23, 1961), shows Earp hiring a deputy who proves to be a sadistic psychopath as well as a bigamist who is finally exposed and arrested. Gibbs' departure is also the driving force two episodes later in Mayor Clum summoning Earp's brothers Virgil and Morgan from Prescott, Arizona to help support Wyatt against an increasingly fractious Clanton gang, which is thrown into disarray by the next major character send-off depicted in "Requiem for Old Man Clanton" (May 30, 1961). Though Brocious and Ringo have attempted to undermine Clanton at least twice in previous episodes and he is aware of their machinations, he still does not take seriously enough the warning that they may try to ambush him when he goes below the Mexican border to bring back a herd of stolen cattle because the warning comes from Earp. He also reasons that Brocious and Ringo won't attack him because some of the cattle he is bringing back belong to them, but he doesn't realize that they have paid off a long-time nemesis of his, the Mexican bandit king Don Pedro, to ambush him. Though Earp and Holliday try to find Don Pedro and stop the attack, they are too late, and Clanton and his helpers are gunned down by the bandits. Clanton's killing is remarkably violent even for an era that loved The Untouchables and had seen some of Sam Peckinpaugh's early work on The Rifleman and The Westerner. But what makes Clanton's death more striking is that he is a major figure in the series, not some rent-a-thug who is brought in for a single episode for the express purpose of being cannon fodder. Major characters simply did not get killed off in early 1960s TV dramas, which is yet another reason why the final season of Wyatt Earp seems more akin to The Sopranos than it does to its contemporaries.

The next two episodes depict the ratcheting of tensions between the Clantons, Brocious and Ringo, and Earp, which will lead to the great gunfight. In "Wyatt's Brothers Join Up" (June 6, 1961), we see Clum secretly convince Earp's brothers to leave Prescott to come to his aid, but before they get to Tombstone, Holliday intercepts them and cajoles them into a conspiracy to kidnap corrupt sheriff Johnny Behan and hold him in a remote location in order to stoke animosity between the Clantons and Brocious and Ringo, each of whom considers Behan an essential ally due to his connections to the Tucson political machine. Holliday's plan is to incite the rival outlaw factions to kill each other off, but eventually Wyatt uncovers Holliday's conspiracy and releases Behan even though doing so allows one of his principal enemies to still work against him. Wyatt is the ultimate by-the-book lawman, and kidnapping another law officer is illegal, no matter how villainous that law officer may be. In "Just Before the Battle" (June 13, 1961) we are shown how a stage robbery perpetrated by Brocious and Ringo sets the stage for the gunfight because it raises the ire of Ike Clanton that the two gunmen who had previously worked for his father have cut him and his other two brothers out of the take from the robbery. Feeling that he has been disrespected and his authority challenged, Ike is willing to sell out Brocious and Ringo to Wyatt and pick up some reward money in the bargain. But Ringo figures out that someone must have tipped Wyatt off when he almost catches the robbers at their camp outside town, and Ringo's suspicions are confirmed when a telegraph boy working for him tells him he saw Holliday and Ike talking at the Alhambra saloon. Ringo then jokingly tells the McLowerys that he heard that Ike had ratted out the robbers to Earp, and despite his denials, Ike is given the assignment to kill Wyatt in order to prove that he isn't in cahoots with him. Since he also believes that Wyatt must have been the one to tell Ringo about his perfidy, Ike has even more incentive to carry out Frank McLowery's ultimatum. Being a coward, he has to get liquored up in Tombstone that evening to shout out to Earp as he rides into town that he is going to kill him tomorrow.

The footage of Ike threatening Wyatt at the end of "Just Before the Battle" is replayed at the beginning of "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" (June 20, 1961), a technique usually only reserved for 2-part episodes given the same title. But the technique is used again to stitch together the last two episodes--"Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" and the series finale "The Outlaws Cry Murder" (June 27, 1961) where a scene in the Earp brothers' hotel room in which Wyatt asks Holliday to go across the street to negotiate with Brocious and Ringo is replayed. These replays have the same effect as the technique employed by many story-arc-driven series today in which each successive episode begins with a "Previously on [insert series name here]" followed by a montage of short clips that set up the narrative about to unfold in this week's episode. But that type of linkage was virtually unheard of in 1961, except for the aforementioned 2-part episodes that were treated as long self-contained stories. The last two episodes of Wyatt Earp remain true to history in the characters killed during the great 30-second gunfight and in the Earps and Holliday being charged with murder despite, in this telling, acting in self-defense. But the series does not tie things up neatly at the end of the final episode--the Earps and Holliday still face charges, though they have managed to avoid spending the weekend in jail or being sent to Tucson as the result of a change of venue request orchestrated by Behan, and have therefore avoided being bushwhacked, as Behan intends, while in custody. The final episode ends with Wyatt telling his compatriots that they are not out of the woods yet, but that he would tell any inquiring newspaper reporter that he ain't dead yet. Wyatt himself would live many more years, though far away from Arizona; his brother Morgan would not be so lucky. But the series producers decided to end the story on a high note--the victory at the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. What would come afterward would be harder to render in such a positive light.

The complete series has been released on DVD by SFM Entertainment. It is also still in rotation on the Encore Westerns cable channel.

The Actors

For the biographies of Hugh O'Brian, Morgan Woodward, Douglas Fowley, Trevor Bardette, Stacy Harris, James Seay, Damian O'Flynn, Carol Thurston, Steve Rowland, William Phipps, Steve Brodie, Steve Pendleton, Rayford Barnes, Ralph Reed, John Anderson, Ray Boyle, and William Mims, see the 1960 post on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp.

George Wallace

George Dewey Wallace was  born in New York City on June 8, 1917, the great-great grandson of legendary U.S. Navy Admiral George Dewey, after whom he was named. When he was 13,his family moved to West Virginia, and Wallace worked in the coal mines there while still a teenager. He joined the Navy in 1936, was discharged in 1940, but rejoined during World War II, serving a total of 8 years, after which he worked a number of odd jobs from meat packer to lumberjack until he was spotted as a singing bartender in a Hollywood bar by gossip columnist Jimmy Fidler. After Fidler made some introductions into the film business, Wallace began attending drama school at night and working as a groundskeeper at MGM. He finally made his movie debut in 1950 in an uncredited part in The Sun Sets at Dawn and had his first credited part a year later in Submarine Command. But his big break came in 1952 when he was cast in the leading role as Commando Cody in the science fiction serial Radar Men From the Moon. He also broke into television that same year, appearing in episodes of Hopalong Cassidy, Dangerous Assignment, and Chevron Theatre. He would work steadily for the rest of his life. While acting in a supporting role in Forbidden Planet in 1955, he was introduced to the great composer Richard Rodgers by Walter Pidgeon and soon would add theatre work to his resume, debuting opposite opera soprano Helen Traubel in the 1955 production of Rodger and Hammerstein's Pipe Dream that same year. In 1957 he was nominated for a New York Drama Critics Circle Award for his work in New Girl in Town playing opposite Gwen Verdon. He was chosen to replace John Raitt in the Broadway production of The Pajama Game and starred with Mary Martin in the 1963 box office flop Jennie in 1963. 

He appeared four times as Frank McLowery on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp in 1961 but did not land a recurring role until being cast as Dr. Leo Gault on the daytime soap The Edge of Night in 1980. After four appearances as Judge Milton Cole on Hill Street Blues in 1983 and three turns as Arthur Nicholls on The Young and the Restless in 1986, he finally landed another recurring role as Grandpa Hank Hammersmith on Sons and Daughters in 1991. But he also continued to get dozens of guest spots on a variety of programs as well as occasional feature film parts such as in Postcards From the Edge. His last credits were episodes of The King of Queens in 2003 and Joan of Arcadia in 2004, but in the latter year he suffered a fall while vacationing in Pisa, Italy and died from complications after returning home on July 22, 2005 at the age of 88.

Gregg Palmer

Born Palmer Lee on January 25, 1927 in San Francisco, both of Palmer's parents had emigrated from Norway. He joined the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, serving as a cryptographer, and was discharged in 1946, after which he worked as a radio DJ, bouncer, truck driver, and construction worker. His deep voice reading the news on radio led to his first film role as an uncredited ambulance attendant in the Martin & Lewis comedy My Friend Irma Goes West in 1950. In 1951 he was signed to a 5-year contract with Universal and was billed under his birth name until 1954 when he appeared in Taza, Son of Cochise, Playgirl, and Magnificent Obsession. His work in TV began the same year with a guest appearance on The Lone Ranger. He auditioned for a TV version of Li'l Abner opposite Marilyn Monroe as Daisey Mae, but neither actor got the part. But Palmer's work continued to be steady and voluminous, particularly in western TV series such as The Restless Gun, 26 Men, and Gunsmoke, on which he guest starred 21 times between 1958 and 1975. He also appeared in 18 episodes of Death Valley Days between 1956 and 1969.

His four appearances as Tom McLowery on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp came the same year he appeared in the first of six John Wayne movies, The Comancheros. Though he never landed a recurring role lasting more than 4 episodes, he logged some 166 credits in a career spanning until 1982, at which point he retired from acting after a painful knee injury while working on The Blue and the Gray mini-series and settled in Encino, California to play golf and make appearances for charitable causes. He died October 31, 2015 at age 88.

Notable Guest Stars

Season 6, Episode 14, "Billy Buckett, Incorporated": Andy Clyde (shown on the left, see the biography section for the 1960 post on The Real McCoys) plays prospector Billy Buckett. Barney Phillips (Sgt. Ed Jacobs on the original Dragnet, Lt. Sam Geller on Johnny Midnight, Lt. Avery on The Brothers Brannagan, Doc Kaiser on 12 O'Clock High, Mike Golden on Dan August, and Fletcher Huff on The Betty White Show) plays saloon owner Lou Rickabaugh. Bartlett Robinson (Frank Caldwell on Mona McCluskey) plays banker Paul Scott. Dan Sheridan (see the biography section for the 1960 post on Lawman) plays investor Jack Morrow. Ann Robinson (starred in The War of the Worlds, Dragnet, and Midnight Movie Massacre and played Queen Juliandra on Rocky Jones, Space Ranger and Helen Watkins on Fury) plays widow Hetty Doane.
Season 6, Episode 15, "Horse Thief": Robert Bice (appeared in  Thirty Seconds over Tokyo, The Snow Creature, and It! The Terror From Beyond Space and played Police Capt. Jim Johnson on The Untouchables) plays Charleston roadhouse bartender J.B. Ayres. Herbert Rudley (shown on the right, played Sam Brennan on The Californians, Lt. Will Gentry on Michael Shayne, General Crone on Mona McCluskey, and Herb Hubbard on The Mothers-in-Law) plays Old Man Clanton's lawyer Sanders.
Season 6, Episode 16, "Terror in the Desert": Richard Crane (shown on the left, played Rocky Jones on Rocky Jones, Space Ranger, Dick Preston on Commando Cody, Sky Marshal of the Universe, and Lt. Gene Plehn on Surfside 6) plays freight operation owner Tom Grover. Jacqueline Scott (starred in House of Women, Empire of the Ants, and Telefon and played Donna Kimble Taft on The Fugitive) plays his wife Beth. Richard Reeves (Mr. Murphy on Date With the Angels) plays prison wagon driver Bucko. Stanley Clements (played Stanislaus "Duke" Coveleskie in 6 Bowery Boys feature films) plays his partner Dugan. David Fresco (Albert Wysong on Murder One) plays prisoner Moody. Peter Mamakos (Jean Lafitte on The Adventures of Jim Bowie) plays prisoner Baxter. Sam Flint (Mr. Armstead on Father Knows Best and earlier had played Judge Jewett on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp) plays a transport company worker.
Season 6, Episode 17, "Old Slanders": Tyler McVey (Gen. Maj. Norgath on Men Into Space) plays a corrupt Tuscon politician. Charles Watts (Judge Harvey Blandon on Bachelor Father) plays newspaper publisher Dameron. Anne Bellamy (Aunt Polly on The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn) plays saloon girl Audrey Johnson.
Season 6, Episode 18, "Loyalty": William Fawcett (Clayton on Duffy's Tavern, Marshal George Higgins on The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, and Pete Wilkey on Fury) plays an old prospector. Jan Arvan (shown on the far right, played Nacho Torres on Zorro and Paw Kadiddlehopper on The Red Skelton Hour) plays maitre 'd Emile. Paula Winslowe (shown on the near right, played Martha Conklin on Our Miss Brooks) plays housekeeper Ella Mae Stoney. Michael Hinn (George Haig on Johnny Ringo) plays cowhand Van Horn. Dennis Moore (Deputy Lee on Tombstone Territory) plays cowhand Dusty Claypool. Richard Benedict (appeared in A Walk in the Sun, Crossfire, and Ace in the Hole and directed multiple episodes of Hawaiian Eye, Run for Your Life, Ironside, Medical Center, Police Story, and Hawaii Five-O) plays crook Briscoe.
Season 6, Episode 19, "Johnny Behan Falls in Love": Andy Albin (Andy Gosden on Julia) plays Clanton man Limpy Davis.
Season 6, Episode 20, "Casey and the Clowns": L.Q. Jones (Beldon on The Virginian, Sheriff Lew Wallace on The Yellow Rose, and Nathan Wayne on Renegade) plays bank-robbing gang leader Tex. Ken Drake (Bragan on Not for Hire) plays gang member Tim Murdock. Kenneth MacDonald (shown on the left, played the judge 32 times on Perry Mason, played Col. Parker on Colt .45, and appeared in several Three Stooges shorts) plays Tombstone Bank manager Howard Stacey. Sam Flint (see "Terror in the Desert" above) plays Arizona Bank manager Mr. Borden.
Season 6, Episode 21, "Doc Holliday Faces Death": Dub Taylor (shown on the right, starred in You Can't Take It With You, Bonnie & Clyde, and The Wild Bunch, played Cannonball in 53 western films, and played Wallie Simms on Casey Jones, Mitch Brady on Hazel, and Ed Hewley on Please Don't Eat the Daisies) plays bartender Hogan. 

Season 6, Episode 22, "Apache Gold": Robert Cabal (shown on the left, see the biography section for the 1960 post on Rawhide) plays Apache brave Nulah.
Season 6, Episode 23, "The Good Mule and the Bad Mule": Stephen Wootton (Soapie Weaver on This Is Alice) plays young liar Ollie Burton. Clancy Cooper (see the biography section for the 1960 post on Lawman) plays mine foreman Morgan. Norman Leavitt (Ralph on Trackdown) plays livery man Phillips. Hal Needham (Hollywood's highest-paid stuntman who invented numerous stunt devices, was a double for Richard Boone and Burt Reynolds, and directed Smokey and the Bandit, Hooper, and Cannonball Run) plays one of Dameron's printers.
Season 6, Episode 24, "Clanton and Cupid": Harlan Warde (shown on the right, played John Hamilton on The Rifleman and Sheriff John Brannan on The Virginian) plays lawyer Tom Ware.
Season 6, Episode 25, "Wyatt Takes the Primrose Path": William Thourlby (the original Marlboro man, a friend of Jim Thorpe, and author of the best-selling book Passport to Power) plays Apache chief Nachez. X Brands (Pahoo-Ke-Ta-Wah on Yancy Derringer) plays one of his braves.
Season 6, Episode 26, "The Convict's Revenge": Robert Carson (Mr. Maddis on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show) plays ranch owner Sam Davies. Robert Harland (shown on the left, played Deputy Billy Lordan on Law of the Plainsman, Jack Flood on Target: The Corruptors, and Sgt. Older on The Rookies) plays his son Phil. Ken Mayer (Maj. Robbie Robertson on Space Patrol) plays gambler Dapper Courtney.
Season 6, Episode 27, "Until Proven Guilty": Britt Lomond (Captain Monastario on Zorro) plays gunman Johnny Ringo. Kasey Rogers (shown on the right, played Julie Anderson on Peyton Place and Louise Tate on Bewitched) plays actress Dora Madison. Jimmy Lydon (starred in Tom Brown's School Days, Little Men, Joan of Arc, and 9 Henry Aldrich features and played Biff Cardoza on Rocky Jones, Space Ranger, Andy Boone on So This Is Hollywood, and Richard on Love That Jill) plays prosecuting attorney Tom Fitch. Robert Bice (see "Horse Thief" above) returns as Charleston roadhouse owner J.B. Ayres.
Season 6, Episode 28, "The Shooting Starts": Barney Phillips (see "Billy Buckett, Incorporated" above) returns as saloon owner Lou Rickabaugh. Diane Jergens (shown on the left, appeared in Teenage Rebel, Desk Set, High School Confidential!, and Island of Lost Women and played Francine Williams on The Bob Cummings Show and Susie Jackson on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet) plays his niece Edith. Leo Gordon (Dr. Big Mike McComb on Maverick) plays rival saloon owner Miggles Hannegan. Steve Raines (see the biography section for the 1960 post on Rawhide) plays saloon owner Big Dora's henchman.
Season 6, Episode 29, "Wyatt Earp's Baby": Marie Windsor (shown on the right, starred in Outpost in Morocco, Dakota Lil, Cat-Women of the Moon, Swamp Women, and The Day Mars Invaded Earth) plays saloon owner Lily Henry. Sean McClory (Jack McGivern on The Californians and Myles Delaney on Bring 'Em Back Alive) plays blacksmith and freighter Edgar Boles. Frank Ferguson (Gus Broeberg on My Friend Flicka, Eli Carson on Peyton Place, and Dr. Barton Stuart on Petticoat Junction) plays Pima County Sheriff Slim Lydell.
Season 6, Episode 30, "The Law Must Be Fair": Louise Fletcher (shown on the left, starred in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Exorcist II, and The Cheap Detective and played Nora Bloom on VR.5 and Kai Winn on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) plays Tom McLowery's wife Aithra.
Season 6, Episode 31, "A Papa for Butch and Ginger": Dorothy Green (Lavinia Tate on Tammy) plays traveling widow Amy Byfield. Kevin Brodie (son of Steve Brodie, wrote and directed A Dog of Flanders) plays her young son Butch. Debbie Megowan (Dorine Peters on My Three Sons) plays her young daughter Ginger.
Season 6, Episode 32, "Hiding Behind a Star": James Griffith (Deputy Tom Ferguson on U.S. Marshal) plays Earp's new deputy Tim Connell. Gloria Talbott (shown on the right, starred in The Cyclops, Daughter of Dr. Jekyll,  and I Married a Monster From Outer Space and played Moneta on Zorro) plays his wife Martha. Roy Engel (Doc Martin on Bonanza, the police chief on My Favorite Martian, and President Ulysses S. Grant on The Wild, Wild West) plays rancher Zack Herrick. Paul McGuire (Phillip on The Living Bible) plays gunman Jack Renfro. Charles Wagenheim (Halligan on Gunsmoke) plays gunsmith Spangenberg.
Season 6, Episode 33, "Requiem for Old Man Clanton": Don Haggerty (shown on the left, played 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 earlier on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp) plays cattle drover Mort Herrick. Norman Alden (Grundy on Not for Hire, Captain Horton on Rango, Tom Williams on My Three Sons, Coach Leroy Fedders on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, and Al Cassidy on Fay) plays gunman Johnny Ringo. Robert Bice (see "Horse Thief" above) returns as Charleston roadhouse owner J.B. Ayres.
Season 6, Episode 34, "Wyatt's Brothers Join Up": Adele Mara (wife of Maverick producer Roy Huggins who appeared in Wake of the Red Witch, Sands of Iwo Jima, and The Big Circus) plays Behan's love interest Thelma Callum.
Season 6, Episode 35, "Just Before the Battle": Harry Harvey (Sheriff Tom Blodgett on The Roy Rogers Show and Mayor George Dixon on Man Without a Gun) plays the Tombstone telegrapher. Gene Collins (shown on the right, appeared in The Pride of the Yankees, The People's Choice, and Kelly's Heroes and played Willy Quill on Yancy Derringer) plays his young assistant.
Season 6, Episode 36, "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral": Terry Frost (Sgt. Moore/Morse/Morris on Highway Patrol) plays messenger Coleman.
Season 6, Episode 37, "The Outlaws Cry Murder": Jimmy Lydon (shown on the left, see "Until Proven Guilty" above) returns as lawyer Tom Fitch. Charles Watts (see "Old Slanders" above) returns as newspaper editor Dameron.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Leave It to Beaver (1961)


As mentioned in our post for the 1960 episodes of Leave It to Beaver, the show demonstrated a remarkable true-to-life depiction of children's perspective on growing up because series co-creator Joe Connelly carried around a notebook to capture what his own sons were going through. And while the series has more recently come in for criticism for dealing with seemingly trivial inconveniences rather than more serious problems such as drug use, teenage pregnancy, or juvenile delinquency, Connelly and partner Bob Mosher were spot on in portraying the root causes of many of these symptoms--peer pressure and the fear of embarrassment. The episodes airing in 1961 still touched on the parenting lessons of Ward and June Cleaver but began to focus more attention on Wally and Beaver's attempts to mature. Part of this shift was forced by actor Jerry Mathers' very noticeable drop in his voice at the beginning of Season 5, when he is a 12-year-old 6th grader. But the topic of maturation had already become a staple of stories in the latter half of Season 4.

Beaver begins to sense that things are changing for him in "Beaver's Old Buddy" (February 4, 1961) when he is excited at the prospect of having an old friend of his, Jackie Waters, spend the night at his house so that the two can relive all the fun things they used to do together, like swinging on a tire swing and hunting for pollywogs. But once Jackie arrives and he and Beaver have a chance to do all of their old favorites, they find that they aren't as fun as they used to be. And even Ward and June's attempts to find other activities that they will enjoy together don't work out so that Jackie winds up calling his parents to come pick him up early. Ward tries to explain to Beaver that this is all part of growing up, but Beaver later tells Wally the lesson he has learned is not to build up his hopes only to have them dashed. Instead, he says he plans to expect nothing special so that he won't be let down.

In "Junior Fire Chief" (May 20, 1961) Beaver gets to try out being an authority when he is elected class fire chief and is authorized to hand out citations to anyone he finds violating fire safety standards, but the ascension to power quickly goes to his head, and he is overzealous in handing out citations to his family and neighbors, irritating everyone. June tells Ward he should have a talk with Beaver about going overboard, but Ward counters that Beaver needs to learn for himself, which he does, but not in the way Ward imagines. Instead, he has a discussion with Gus the Fireman, who says he never handed out as many citations in his entire career as Beaver has given out in 1 week, and that he has always found it more effective to be nice to people and explain to them politely what they should do about fire safety rather than coming down hard on them. Beaver takes Gus' words to heart, tears up his citations, and is later commended by Miss Landers for learning such a valuable lesson when he is asked to give a report to his class at the end of the week.

However, Beaver is still susceptible to peer pressure, particularly from his friend Gilbert Bates, who grows more like Eddie Haskell in continuing to goad Beaver into foolish decisions, particularly in "The School Picture" (April 22, 1961) when he dares Beaver to make a goofy face when their school picture is being taken, leading Beaver to believe that Gilbert would also do it. But after the picture is taken with Beaver looking ridiculous, Gilbert tells him he didn't make a face because doing so would be stupid. In "Kite Day" (June 10, 1961) Gilbert badgers Beaver into taking his just-completed kite that he had worked on with Ward for a test run even though Ward had told him not to fly it until the glue had set. Of course, the kite crashes and splinters into a million pieces, prompting Gilbert to tell Beaver that his father is going to kill him before running off to leave him to face the problem alone. And in "In the Soup" (May 6, 1961), it's Whitey who calls Beaver chicken after daring him to climb a billboard with a steaming bowl of soup at the top to see if the bowl has real soup or not, resulting in Beaver falling into the bowl and having to be rescued by a fireman while the whole neighborhood watches. So while Beaver is trying on new levels of responsibility in "Junior Fire Chief" and "Beaver Goes Into Business" (June 3, 1961), in which he tries cutting lawns with Gilbert, he still hasn't learned how to be his own person and brush off peer pressure from "friends" like Gilbert and Whitey.

Nor is the older Wally totally immune from being set up, as shown in "Wally's Track Meet" (January 28, 1961). He winds up getting kicked off the track team for violating the coach's no horseplay rule after retaliating against Eddie and Lumpy who throw wet towels at him in the locker room just before the coach walks in. But most of his dilemmas revolve around girls, such as in "Teacher's Daughter" (January 7, 1961) in which he is spending considerable time with Julie Foster, whose father is his English teacher. Eddie considers this a smart move in getting a better grade, but Mr. Foster tells him his dating situation will have no effect on his grade. Yet strangely Ward advises him not to go steady with Julie because he may miss out on meeting someone who would be better suited for him and will deprive her of perhaps meeting a better match, too. And yet at no time is there any evidence that Wally and Julie are not suited to each other. In "Mother's Helper" (March 4, 1961) Wally's grades begin to suffer because he spends his afternoons after school helping June's teenage hired helper Margie Manners instead of doing his homework, a problem that June quickly rectifies by replacing the daughter with the mother to help with her chores. And in "Wally's Dream Girl" (April 15, 1961) June helps burst Wally's infatuation with the new girl in school, Ginny Townsend, by inviting Ginny on a family picnic, where Wally sees that Ginny is allergic to chicken and sunshine, as well as being so worried about her weight that she won't eat a hard-boiled egg. Yet he also shows his growing maturity in "Substitute Father" (June 24, 1961) when Ward tells him to fill his shoes while he is away on a business trip, and he has to have a parent-teacher conference with Beaver and Miss Landers after she catches Beaver yelling profanity at a bully who tripped him. Though Miss Landers is at first skeptical about Wally filling in, figuring that Beaver is just trying to get out of telling his real parents what he has done, Wally and Beaver manage to convince her that Wally has a history of steering Beaver's behavior in the right direction and correcting him when he goes astray. They finally let June know how Wally handled the situation without ever telling her exactly what Beaver said, so that she tells Ward on the phone that he should bring back something special for Wally as a sign of taking such a significant step in becoming an adult.

But the most surprising indication of coming maturation, if also the most brief, is from Eddie Haskell in "Eddie Spends the Night" (March 25, 1961) in which he cajoles Wally into asking his parents if Eddie can spend the night at the Cleaver's while not mentioning that his real motive is to avoid to spending the night alone at his own home with his parents out of town. After Eddie angers Wally by cheating at chess and then storms home, Ward gets a call from Eddie's father saying how much he appreciates the Cleavers taking Eddie in since he is uncomfortable being home alone. Ward is then obligated to go with Wally to Eddie's house to bring him back, though Eddie pretends that he isn't frightened and that his parents are actually home. Beaver lets Eddie know in a one-on-one conversation in the Cleaver's kitchen that he knows the real story and admits that he has the same fear, which prompts Eddie to admit that he puts on a show of fake confidence but deep down inside knows that he isn't fooling himself. But his vulnerability is short-lived because in the very next episode, "Beaver's Report Card" (April 1, 1961), he is back to his old tricks in changing a grade on Beaver's report card from a D- to a B+ just to get Beaver in trouble. And he gives Beaver bad advice in "Beaver Goes Into Business" by telling him he should mow people's lawns without checking with them first and then hold out his hand demanding payment, only to have Beaver and Gilbert ruin a man's well-manicured lawn that he had paid a professional gardener to maintain. However, in "Beaver's Doll Buggy" (June 17,1961) Eddie reveals that he is always pulling pranks on others because of a traumatic childhood experience in which his mother sent him to kindergarten one day with a home permanent that resulted in ridicule from his classmates. He explains that this incident prompted him to try to always get the jump on others and make them feel bad before they have the chance to do it to him. It's certainly not a mature approach to life or one that will make one very successful or well-liked, but it's one that rings true to life--victims of abusive or traumatic events tend to develop defense mechanisms to avoid being vulnerable again.

Season 3 kicks off not only with Beaver's suddenly deeper voice but a new introductory credit sequence that replaces Ward and June sending the boys off to school with a new sequence in which she brings out a tray of ice tea for Ward and the boys who are doing yard work. The first episode of the new season, Wally Goes Steady" (September 24, 1961), then dives right into the family's angst over Wally perhaps growing up too fast when Ward hears locker room chatter from Wally's girlfriend's father that they may soon be in-laws, given how much time their children are spending together. When Wally is then invited to dinner with girlfriend Evelyn's married sister and her husband, who are only three years older than Wally and Evelyn, June in particular is worried that Wally will get a glimpse of marital bliss and want to take the plunge himself, though the actual outcome is exactly the opposite--Wally sees the newlyweds arguing, unable to keep up with their finances without help from Evelyn's parents, and Wally's counterpart in the couple reminiscing about his earlier carefree life. Wally later tells June that as long as you're having a good time, there is no reason to get involved with marriage.

Beaver then takes his turn at wanting to be more grown-up in "No Time for Babysitters" (October 7, 1961) when he resists having to have a babysitter when his parents go out for the evening and Wally is also gone on a date. To make matters worse, Gilbert and Richard don't believe it when he tells them that he is going to spend the evening alone, so they come over just to see his babysitter and tease him, only they are foiled because Beaver's babysitter understands how he feels after going through something similar when she was younger and helps Beaver out by hiding so that Gilbert and Richard can't find her. Beaver also wants to appear more grown-up in "Beaver's Ice Skates" (December 2, 1961) when he decides to buy some new ice skates after seeing a sale ad in the newspaper but doesn't want June to go with him when he buys them. However, an unscrupulous salesman ends up selling him a pair that are far too big when he discovers they are out of Beaver's size, and rather than admit to his parents that he has been duped, he hides out in the library for a week while his parents think he is at the ice rink just to avoid the embarrassment of hearing them tell him about his error. However, when they finally do learn the truth and Ward lectures him that he should only take responsibility when he is ready to hold it, Wally counters with the question how can he know whether he is ready to hold it if he never takes it? Ward has to admit that it is a dilemma, one that gives many a parent gray hair. This is yet another example of how Leave It to Beaver was anything but a series of pat, black-and-white lessons. At other times, such as the aforementioned "Junior Fire Chief," Ward recognizes that in order for Beaver to grow he will have to sometimes experience failure, but in "Beaver's Ice Skates," Wally has to remind Ward of this essential lesson.

Other episode titles in Season 5 seem to suggest more dramatic growth experiences than they deliver--"Wally's Car" (October 14, 1961), "Beaver Takes a Drive" (November 18, 1961), and "Beaver's First Date" (December 30, 1961)--but they show that more adult-oriented opportunities are coming. Despite their growing familiarity with adult issues, Wally and Beaver in particular continue having a hard time imagining their parents ever being as young as they are, or of themselves ever being in a position that their parents are currently. In "Wally's Chauffeur" (December 23, 1961) Beaver says he can't imagine Ward ever being small enough to be have to be told to take a bath. In "Beaver Takes a Drive" Beaver thinks that Ward had it easier as a boy because there were fewer ways to get into trouble, even though Ward explained to him earlier that they, too, had automobiles in his day. And in "No Time for Babysitters" Beaver tells Wally that he is going to let his kids do whatever they want instead of feeling like he has to protect them, that is, until Wally asks if he is going to let his kids hang from a rickety bridge 200 feet in the air. Though he wants to be treated like an adult, until it results in dealing with a thorny problem, Beaver has a hard time seeing himself as ever being anything other than what he is at the present.

For Wally, his greatest fear is public humiliation, a fear he shares with Beaver. In "Wally's Big Date" (November 25, 1961) Eddie Haskell tricks Wally into switching the girls from another school they are assigned to take to a dance when Eddie at first gets stuck with a girl who is very tall. When Wally meets her at the malt shop to discuss details about their date and then notices when she gets up out of her booth and leaves to meet her mother that she is a good head taller than he is, he is thrown into a panic and is most concerned that the other boys at the dance will laugh at him. Ward forces him to go anyway, making him consider how his date would feel if he were to cancel on her, and Wally is surprised when she shows up appearing no taller than he is simply by not teasing her hair up and wearing flats instead of heels. But he faces the same predicament in "Wally's Chauffeur" when Ward forbids him from riding up to a dance at the lake in Lumpy's car with two other couples because of Lumpy's poor driving record. When his date Evelyn, who already has her driver's license while Wally has yet to get his, shows up driving her father's car, Wally at first refuses to come downstairs because he knows that he will be teased mercilessly for being driven to the dance by a girl. And this time he is correct as Lumpy makes a point of ribbing him as soon as he sees Evelyn drive up to the dance hall. Of course, Wally gets the last laugh when a traffic cop gives Lumpy a ticket for parking in a red zone and all the kids who had ridden up with Lumpy ask if they can ride back with Evelyn. Though things turn out fine in both situations, one has the feeling that it will take a few more incidents such as these for Wally to grow thick enough skin not to worry about how he will look in front of the other guys if he is forced to do something unconventional. The allure of fitting in exerts a strong pull well into adulthood, a point in the future beyond the scope of this series.

The Actors

For the biographies of Barbara Billingsley, Hugh Beaumont, Tony Dow, Jerry Mathers, Ken Osmond, Frank Bank, Stanley Fafara, and Sue Randall, see the 1960 post on Leave It to Beaver.

Stephen Talbot

Stephen Henderson Talbot, born February 28, 1949, was the son of veteran actor Lyle Talbot (profiled in the biography section of the 1960 post on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet) who years later said that he begged his parents to let him get into acting. He began appearing in guest spots on a variety of programs in 1959 including Lawman, Sugarfoot, and Wanted Dead or Alive. That year he would also make the first of 57 appearances as Beaver's friend Gilbert Bates (though he was actually Gilbert Gates in his first appearance) over the remainder of the series. His lone feature film appearance came in the 1960 teen drama Because They're Young, and his last acting credit came the same year that Leave It to Beaver ended in 1963. 

After graduating from Harvard High School in North Hollywood in 1966, he attended Wesleyan University in Connecticut and began making films against the Vietnam War. After graduating in 1970, he went to work for the State University of New York College at Old Westbury, first as an assistant to the university president and eventually as a lecturer in the American Studies program. In the 1980s he worked as a staff reporter and producer for PBS television affiliate KQED in San Francisco where he produced local documentaries as well as national documentaries that aired on PBS. His first such documentary Broken Arrow: Can a Nuclear Weapons Accident Happen Here? won him a Peabody Award in 1980, and he won a second Peabody two years later for a biography of crime fiction writer Dashiell Hammett. Beginning in 1992 he began producing documentaries for the PBS series Frontline and won a DuPont Award for his coverage of the 1992 U.S. Presidential election The Best Campaign Money Can Buy. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks he was tapped to be the series editor for a new series called Frontline World in the hopes of raising awareness about other countries. He produced 94 episodes for the series running through 2010. He has continued writing and producing documentaries up to the present day, producing The Kansas Experiment for Independent Lens and writing Moscone: A Legacy of Change about slain San Francisco mayor George Moscone both in 2018. He currently lives in San Francisco with his wife Pippa Gordon.

Karen Sue Trent

Born March 14, 1948, Karen Sue Trent made her film debut in the pro-nudist feature Garden of Eden playing the young daughter of a woman who unknowingly spends the night in a nudist camp after her car breaks down nearby. The film was the subject of a lawsuit whose verdict ruled that nudity on film was not inherently obscene. After appearing on Broadway in a production of Six Characters in Search of an Author in 1955, she made her television debut in an episode of Matinee Theater in 1957. After single appearances on Death Valley Days, Shirley Temple's Storybook, and Wagon Train in 1958-59, she was cast as Beaver antagonist Penny Woods in 1960 and appeared in the role 13 times between 1960-62. The following year she appeared in an episode of The Rifleman and reportedly was injured filming a scene in which her character was trapped in quicksand, which prompted her to quit her acting career. Her whereabouts and occupations since then have not been documented.

Richard Correll

Richard Thomas Correll was born in Los Angeles on May 14, 1948, the son of Charles J. Correll, who played Andy Brown on the long-running radio comedy Amos 'n' Andy. Correll's father was also a gag writer for silent comedy star Harold Lloyd near the end of Lloyd's career, a connection that would serve the younger Correll well: as a teenager he began helping Lloyd organize and preserve his extensive film library and would go on to be a significant contributor to the 1991 documentary about Lloyd The Third Genius. Today he is credited as the chief archivist by The Lloyd Trust. Jerry Mathers has named Correll as his best friend growing up, as indicated on Mathers' web site. Correll broke into TV acting on a 1955 episode of The Bob Cummings Show but didn't really gather steam until 1960, when he not only made the first of 31 appearances as Beaver's friend Richard Rickover but also had guest spots on The Betty Hutton Show, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, and Make Room for Daddy. Concurrent with his Leave It to Beaver appearances, he also appeared on National Velvet, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Hazel, and Lassie, which was the only TV show he appeared on after Leave It to Beaver was canceled. In 1973 in the film Showdown he played Dean Martin's character as a boy, but other than reprising Richard Rickover for Beaver reunion movies and the 1983-85 series reboot, Correll moved into TV producing, writing, and directing after attending film school at USC.

In the early 1980s he began writing for series such as Happy Days and moved into producing shows such as Valerie and Full House by 1987. In the 1990s he produced many more TV programs including 86 episodes of Family Matters, 50 episodes of Step by Step, and 14 episodes of Two of a Kind. After producing 8 episodes of The Jamie Foxx Show in 1999-2000, he moved into children's programming on channels such as the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon and produced multiple episodes of The Amanda Show starring Amanda Bynes, So Little Time starring the Olsen Twins, All That, That's So Raven, and The Suite Life of Zack and Cody before going on to create the Miley Cyrus series Hannah Montana. But in 2010 he sued Disney for unfair termination and failure to pay him creative royalties for the show. Since then he has continued producing a number of TV series, including some for Disney, as well as Are We There Yet?, See Dad Run, Jessie, Bunk'd, and the Full House reboot Fuller House.

Cheryl Holdridge

Born Cheryl Lynn Phelps in New Orleans on June 20, 1944, she was adopted by her step-father in 1953 after her mother had relocated to Burbank, California three years prior. Her birth father has never been identified. She took dance lessons from an early age and made her show business debut at age 9 while performing in a New York City Ballet performance of The Nutcracker in Los Angeles. After an uncredited appearance in the feature film Carousel  in 1956, she auditioned for and was selected for the original troupe of Mouseketeers on The Mickey Mouse Club beginning in 1956 and appeared in two of the program's serials Boys of the Western Sea and Annette in 1958. In 1959 she made the first of four appearances on Bachelor Father, the last 3 as Lila Meredith, and made her first of two appearances on Leave It to Beaver as Gloria Cusick. Beginning in 1961, she appeared 6 more times on the program as Wally's friend Julie Foster. 

During her years on Leave It to Beaver she also appeared on a number of other TV programs, such as The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, My Three Sons, Dennis the Menace, The Donna Reed Show, and The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. In 1964, the year after Beaver was canceled, she continued getting guest spots on shows such as Bewitched, Wagon Train, and The Dick Van Dyke Show, but she retired from acting when she married race car driver Lance Reventlow, the lone child of Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton. After Reventlow died in a plane crash in 1972, she married car rental owner Jim Skarda but returned to acting briefly to reprise her role as Julie Foster on two episodes of The New Leave It to Beaver in 1985 and 1987. She divorced Skarda in 1988 and married California political operative Manning J. Post in 1994, at which time she became active in philanthropic concerns such as serving on the council of the Children's Burn Foundation and supporting environmental causes. She made one last acting appearance in the feature film The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas  in 2000 and died from lung cancer on January 6, 2009 at the age of 64.

Pamela Baird

Born Pamela Beaird in Bexar County, Texas on April 6, 1945, she broke into acting playing Hildy Broberg on the TV series My Friend Flicka, on which she would appear 12 times from 1955-56. She appeared twice in 1956 on The Mickey Mouse Club as a singer, the first of these when she won the Talent Round-Up segment on the November 2 episode and then returned to sing again on the December 24 episode. She also appeared in a number of other drama anthology series and one-off guest spots on shows such as Our Miss Brooks, Fury, and The Adventures of Jim Bowie over the next two years before appearing 4 times as Nancy on Bachelor Father in 1958. That was the same year she made the first of her 6 appearances as Wally's love interest Mary Ellen Rogers on Leave It to Beaver. During this time she performed in the vocal trio The Holly-Tones with her two cousins Deanna and Joyce Beaird and also released a single as a solo artist "My Second Date" on Dynasty Records in 1960. 

Her last appearance on Beaver came in 1961 after which she appeared on only a half dozen shows between 1962-64 including Make Room for Daddy, Perry Mason, and two appearances on Mr. Novak. After graduating from Covina High School in 1963, Pamela left the acting profession a year later and attended Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, from which she graduated in 1968. In 1973 she married Robert H. Hensley, who had performed as a singer under the name Jericho Brown and as an actor under the name Bob Henry. Hensley had left the entertainment business for Christian ministry in 1970, and the couple settled in the Arlington, Texas area and had five children. She pursued a Masters Degree in Education at Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, Texas and graduated with a doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from Liberty University in 2015. Her husband passed away in 2016 at the age of 80.

Burt Mustin

Born in Pittsburgh on February 8, 1884, Burton Hill Mustin didn't take up acting until age 67. His father was a stockbroker, and Mustin graduated from Pennsylvania Military College in 1903 with a degree in civil engineering and experience as the school's goalie on its hockey team. After giving engineering a try, he gave it up and became an automobile salesman, first for Oakland, then Franklin, and finally for Lincoln and Mercury up until World War II, at which point he worked for the Better Business Bureau and Chamber of Commerce. Besides appearing in local productions of a Gilbert & Sullivan troupe and The Pittsburgh Opera, in 1921 Mustin became the announcer for a variety program on Pittsburgh's KDKA radio station. That same year he was one of the original founders of Pittsburgh's Lions Club. He also was a member of the Barbershop Harmony Society and traveled to San Francisco in 1925 to take part in a quartet competition. But his acting career didn't get started until he retired and moved with his wife to Tucson, Arizona where director William Wyler saw him in a theater production of Detective Story and told him to look him up if he wanted to pursue a film career. As a result, Mustin was cast in the film version of Detective Story in 1951 and from there had a long and prolific career. He made his television debut the same year in an episode of The Adventures of Kit Carson , and while his feature film credits outnumbered his TV guest appearances over the next several years, he made 5 appearances on Our Miss Brooks between 1952-55 before landing his first recurring role as Foley on The Great Gildersleeve in 1955-56. This was followed by a stint as Mr. Finley on Date With the Angels in 1957-58 and the first of 14 appearances as Gus the Fireman on Leave It to Beaver in 1957, continuing in the role until 1962.

Concurrent with his appearances on Beaver, he was cast as Jud Fletcher on The Andy Griffith Show, making 9 appearances as this character through 1966 as well as playing a few other characters during that span. He also continued getting guest spots on a number of other TV series including The Texan, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Dr. Kildare, and The Twilight Zone. At this point his TV work far outpaced his feature film roles, but he did appear in the Don Knotts comedies The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Reluctant Astronaut, and The Shakiest Gun in the West. In 1971 he was cast opposite Queenie Smith as part of an elderly couple in the sketch comedy series The Funny Side, which lasted less than 6 months, but he continued to find work on shows such as Love, American Style and Adam-12 before playing Justin Quigley on 4 episodes of All in the Family between 1973-76. In 1976 he also appeared 3 times on Phyllis as the suitor of Phyllis' cranky grandmother-in-law Mother Dexter. He passed away the next year on January 28, 1977 at the age of 92.

Notable Guest Stars

Season 4, Episode 15, "Teacher's Daughter": Ross Elliott (shown on the left, played Freddie the director on The Jack Benny Program and Sheriff Abbott on The Virginian) plays Wally's English teacher Mr. Foster.
Season 4, Episode 18, "Wally's Track Meet": John Close (Lt. John Jameson on Big Town) plays Wally's track coach Mr. Henderson. Richard Deacon (see the biography section for the 1961 post on The Dick Van Dyke Show) plays Lumpy's father Fred Rutherford.
Season 4, Episode 19, "Beaver's Old Buddy": Gary Hunley (Mickey on Sky King) plays Beaver's old friend Jackie Waters.
Season 4, Episode 20, "Beaver's Tonsils": John Gallaudet (Chamberlain on Mayor of the Town, Judge Penner on Perry Mason, and Bob Anderson on My Three Sons) plays physician Dr. Kirby.
Season 4, Episode 21, "The Big Fish Count": Jennie Lynn (Jennie Baker on Love and Marriage) plays little girl Sally Ann Maddox.
Season 4, Episode 23, "Mother's Helper": Candy Moore (shown on the right, played Angie on The Donna Reed Show, Chris Carmichael on The Lucy Show, and hosted The Dream Girl of 1967) plays June's helper Margie Manners.
Season 4, Episode 24, "The Dramatic Club": Katherine Warren (appeared in The Lady Pays Off, The Glenn Miller Story, and The Caine Mutiny) plays math teacher Mrs. Prescott.


Season 4, Episode 25, "Wally and Dudley": Jimmy Hawkins (shown on the left, see the biography section for the 1961 post on The Donna Reed Show) plays Wally's new classmate Dudley McMillan. Marta Kristen (Judy Robinson on Lost in Space)  plays Eddie Haskell's girlfriend Christine Staples.
Season 4, Episode 28, "Mistaken Identity": Alan Hewitt (starred in That Touch of Mink, Days of Wine and Roses, The Misadventures of Merlin Jones, and The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes and played Det. Bill Brennan on My Favorite Martian) plays police Lt. Barnes. Marvin Bryan (Lt. Bacon on Yancy Derringer) plays police Officer Medford.
Season 4, Episode 29, "Wally's Dream Girl": Linda Bennett (appeared in The Big Heat, Creature With the Atom Brain, and Queen Bee and was a recording artist whose credits include one of the worst Christmas singles of all time, "An Old Fashioned Christmas (Daddy's Home)") plays Wally's crush Ginny Townsend.
Season 4, Episode 30, "The School Picture": Gage Clarke (see the biography section for the 1961 post on Gunsmoke) plays school photographer Mr. Baxter. Doris Packer (see the biography section for the 1960 post on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis) plays school principal Mrs. Rayburn.
Season 4, Episode 31, "Beaver's Rat": Richard Deacon (shown on the far right, see "Wally's Track Meet" above) returns as Fred Rutherford. Veronica Cartwright (shown on the near right, starred in The Birds, The Children's Hour, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), Alien, The Right Stuff, and The Witches of Eastwick and played Jemima Boone on Daniel Boone, Molly Hark on Tanner '88, A.D.A. Margaret Flanagan on L.A. Law, Cassandra Spender on The X-Files, Valerie Shenkman on Invasion, and Bun Waverly on Eastwick) plays his daughter Violet.
Season 4, Episode 32, "In the Soup": Harry Holcombe (appeared in The Fortune Cookie, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Foxy Brown, Escape to Witch Mountain, and Empire of the Ants and played Frank Gardner on Search for Tomorrow, Doc Benson on My Mother the Car, Mr. Kendricks on Barefoot in the Park, and Dr. J.P. Martin on Bonanza) plays Whitey's father Frank Whitney.
Season 4, Episode 33, "Community Chest": Lee Meriwether (shown on the left, starred in Batman: The Movie, Angel in My Pocket, and The Undefeated and played Anne Reynolds on The Young Marrieds, Nurse Bonnie Tynes on Dr. Kildare, Dr. Ann MacGregor on The Time Tunnel, Tracey on Mission: Impossible, Lee Sawyer on The New Andy Griffith Show, Betty Jones on Barnaby Jones, Lily Munster on The Munsters Today, Ruth Martin on All My Children, and Birdie Spencer on Project: Phoenix) plays a young woman donating to the community chest.
Season 4, Episode 36, "Beaver Goes Into Business": Amzie Strickland (Mrs. Phillips on The Bill Dana Show and Julia Mobey on Carter Country) plays a woman whose lawn Beaver mows. William Stevens (Officer Jerry Walters on Adam-12) plays a man upset after Beaver cuts his lawn.
Season 4, Episode 37, "Kite Day": Jason Robards, Sr. (father of Jason Robards, Jr.) plays judge Mr. Henderson.
Season 4, Episode 38, "Beaver's Doll Buggy": Jean Vanderpyl (shown on the right, see the biography section for the 1960 post on The Flintstones) plays Penny Woods' mother Mrs. Woods. Jennie Lynn (see "The Big Fish Count" above) plays little girl Patty Ann Maddox.




Season 5, Episode 1, "Wally Goes Steady": Pat McCaffrie (Chuck Forrest on Bachelor Father and Dr. Edgar Harris on Outlaws) plays Ward's athletic club acquaintance Bill Boothby. Mary Mitchel (appeared in Twist Around the Clock, Panic in Year Zero, A Swingin' Summer, and Dementia 13) plays his daughter Evelyn. Ryan O'Neal (shown on the far left, starred in Love Story, What's Up, Doc?, Barry Lyndon, Paper Moon, A Bridge Too Far, and The Main Event and played Tal Garrett on Empire, Rodney Harrington on Peyton Place, Bobby Tannen on Good Sports, Robert Roberts, Jr. on Bull, Jerry Fox on Miss Match, and Max Keenen on Bones) plays his son-in-law Tom Henderson.
Season 5, Episode 2, "No Time for Babysitters": Barbara Parkins (shown on the right, starred in Valley of the Dolls, The Mephisto Waltz, and Puppet on a Chain and played Betty Anderson Harrington on Peyton Place) plays Beaver's babysitter Judy Walker.
Season 5, Episode 3, "Wally's Car": Ralph Sanford (Mayor Jim Kelley on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp) plays junkman Mr. Garvey.
Season 5, Episode 5, "Beaver's Cat Problem": Grace Wallis Huddle (mother of Sue Ane Langdon) plays cat owner Mrs. Prentiss.
Season 5, Episode 6, "Wally's Weekend Job": Tim Graham (Homer Ede on National Velvet) plays drugstore owner Mr. Gibson. Bill Baldwin (the narrator on Harbor Command and Bat Masterson and the announcer on The Bob Cummings Show) plays Mary Ellen Rogers' father Mr. Rogers.
Season 5, Episode 7, "Beaver Takes a Drive": Maurice Manson (shown on the left, played Frederick Timberlake on Dennis the Menace, Josh Egan on Hazel, and Hank Pinkham on General Hospital) plays traffic court Judge Morton. Gail Bonney (Goodwife Martin on Space Patrol and Madeline Schweitzer on December Bride) plays his clerk. Stuffy Singer (Donnie Henderson on Beulah and Alexander Bumstead on Blondie) plays Wally's friend Steve.
Season 5, Episode 8, "Wally's Big Date": Judee Morton (appeared in Zotz! and The Slime People and played Dr. Smithson on General Hospital) plays Wally's original dance date Marjorie Muller. Laraine Stephens (Susan Wentworth on O.K. Crackerby!, Diane Waring on Brackens World, and Claire Kronski on Matt Helm) plays Wally's new date Gail Preston.
Season 5, Episode 9, "Beaver's Ice Skates.": Stanley Clements (Stanislaus "Duke" Coveleskie in 6 Bowery Boys feature films) plays a shoe salesman.
Season 5, Episode 10, "Weekend Invitation": David Kent (later played Bill Scott on Leave It to Beaver) plays Wally's new classmate Scott. Richard Deacon (see "Wally's Track Meet" above) returns as Fred Rutherford.
Season 5, Episode 12, "Wally's Chauffeur": Mary Mitchel (see " Wally Goes Steady " above) returns as Wally's girlfriend Evelyn Boothby. James Seay (shown on the right, see the biography section for the 1960 post on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp) plays her father. Mark Allen (Matt Kissel on The Travels of Jamie McPheeters and Sam Evans on Dark Shadows) plays a policeman.