Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Riverboat (1960)

Billed as a Wagon Train on the water, Riverboat is often lumped in with other westerns of the era, and it did share some characteristics and a number of well-worn plots with other westerns, but unlike them it was set chronologically before the Civil War, in the 1840s. The series, which lasted a little less than a season and a half (44 episodes in all) depicts the adventures of captain Grey Holden, played by Darren McGavin, whose steam-powered, paddle-wheel boat named the Enterprise (Star Trek fans, take note) traversed the Mississippi River and its off-shoots hauling freight and passengers from New Orleans up to Illinois. The series was also the first regular role for a young Burt Reynolds, who played pilot Ben Frazer, but Reynolds' tenure lasted for only 20 episodes before he quit, reputedly because he didn't get along with McGavin. Though authors S.L. Kotar and J.E. Gessler promise to give all the details of the split in their book Riverboat: The Evolution of a Television Series, all they reveal sounds like speculation that McGavin and Reynolds were both alpha-male actors competing for screen time and Reynolds came up with the short end of the stick, understandable since McGavin was already an established star in the TV crime series Mike Hammer, which was still filming when filming began for Riverboat. By the time calendar year 1960 rolled around, Reynolds' role on the show was fairly minimal, and his character is given a curt farewell when he comments to crew member Joshua MacGregor in "Forbidden Island" (January 24, 1960) that he is thinking of giving up life on the river because his father died recently and his mother needs his help. Reynolds did not appear in the next episode, "The Salvage Pirates" (January 31, 1960), but he returned in the episode after that, "Path of the Eagle" (February 1, 1960), though there is no explanation for his return, likely because the episodes were not shown in the order in which they were written and filmed.

But despite Reynolds' later super-stardom, McGavin is clearly the superior talent at this time. His character is humorous, daring, stern when he needs to be, but also able to admit his mistakes. Though they have much negative to say about the series in terms of its unbelievable plots and historical inaccuracy, Kotar and Gessler are essentially correct in saying that whatever success Riverboat enjoyed was due to McGavin's acting and charm. 

Though their book suggests that the series followed some sort of evolution, it would be more accurate to say it was like a rudderless ship tossing chaotically on the seas, given the constant changes in cast and crew. Besides the departure of Reynolds, the character of Joe Travis, played by William D. Gordon in 15 episodes all airing in 1959, was killed off. Soon thereafter the characters of jack-of-all-trades Scottish seaman Joshua MacGregor (played by Jack Lambert), ship's cook and impromptu musician Pickalong (played by Robert Mitchum's brother John), and orphaned cabin boy Chip Kessler (played by Michael McGreevey) were added to the cast. Accompanying Pickalong was a pet monkey, and Chip brought along his dog Andy Jackson. Once Reynolds left, he was replaced by young river rat Terry Blake (Bart Patton), who was soon piloting the boat, but then unceremoniously vanished with no explanation after 6 episodes. Once Blake was gone, Joshua took over most of the piloting and had a fair amount of screen time in support of Captain Holden. Pickalong mysteriously disappeared after 10 episodes, Chip lasted through the end of season 1, and Joshua remained throughout the duration of the series, though his role was greatly diminished in season 2 when Noah Beery, Jr. was added as a co-star in the role of pilot Bill Blake, who becomes Holden's partner due to a financial arrangement necessitated by Holden's gambling debts. However, even this introduction was bungled, as the episode in which the partnership is explained, "That Taylor Affair" (September 26, 1960) aired after an episode, "End of the Dream" (September 19, 1960), in which Blake was already firmly entrenched as pilot and partner. Other than McGavin's Holden, the only character to make it through the entire series was hard-drinking chief engineer and sometime Irishman Carney Kohler (played by Dick Wessel). However, even Holden was absent for two episodes, replaced by Dan Duryea as Captain Turner, while McGavin fought with management over a new contract, though the official press release, as reported by TV Guide, said that he had been in an auto accident. Kotar and Gessler say that Duryea was offered the chance to permanently replace McGavin but declined. The series also used 13 different directors in season 1 (including McGavin for a single episode) and 9 directors in season 2, not to mention numerous teams of writers. Even the music changed from season 1 to season 2, with Elmer Bernstein scoring the theme (which bears a faint resemblance to that for the feature film The Magnificent Seven, which he scored around the same time) and several episodes in season 1, while Gerald Fried was hired to rework the theme into a jauntier banjo-strumming ditty and scored all but one episode in season 2. All this turmoil couldn't have helped in attracting and retaining viewers; Riverboat failed to crack the top 30 in the ratings for either its first or second season.

All the changes and turmoil made Riverboat one of the most frequently mentioned shows in weekly editions of TV Guide. In the January 2 edition, it was reported that the show would be moved from its original Sunday evening timeslot on NBC to Monday night. The next week curmudgeon reviewer Frank DeBlois bemoaned the show's "time-blistered plots, creaky characterizations and rusty dialog" and recommended that the show be shortened from an hour to 30 minutes. One week later the weekly reported on Reynolds' departure and claimed that the show "is sinking, will not be salvaged," though it actually wound up lasting another year. The February 27 edition included the spurious report of McGavin's "auto accident, but the actor then landed a front-cover feature story in the June 4 installment, detailing his rough childhood in various orphanages  and foster homes, his outspoken personality, and his belief that working in television is a kind of purgatory. In the August 27 edition, TV Guide mentions in passing that Duryea turned down a regular co-starring role, while the September 3 issue reported that Beery, Jr. would be joining the show in a similar capacity. However, as the year drew to a close, there is no mention of the show's actual cancellation. The final episode aired on January 2, 1961.

Despite the previously cited derivative plots and general chaos, Riverboat still managed to produce fairly entertaining TV fare and even occasionally touched on topics of general and historical interest. As documented in previous posts, many other shows of the era touched on the subject of women's rights, particularly their pursuit of their own careers outside the household. But when this subject is broached on shows like My Three Sons and The Donna Reed Show, a woman who has carved out a respectable career every bit as accomplished as a man's ultimately feels unfulfilled unless she is married and can tend to her own family. Meaning that, unlike a man, a woman cannot achieve fulfillment by career alone. On Riverboat, the episode "Three Graves" (March 14, 1960) features Nora James, daughter of a learned physician who believed that the plague was transmitted by fleas carried by rats, rather than from human to human contact. After her father is murdered, Nora continues his practice and his methods, having learned enough from a few years of study back east and observing her father though never herself licensed. However, her father's murder at the hands of nearby land-grabbers has turned her bitter and distrustful, though she continues to treat anyone who will submit to her care. Though Holden tries to soften her heart and quotes Longfellow to convince her that the love between a man and a woman is the way to achieve completeness, by episode's end he gives her a farewell present of a business shingle to hang outside what was once her father's office but is now hers. Holden's sermon seems to steer her in a more positive direction, but she isn't forced to choose between family life and a career.

On the subject of the rights of the oppressed, even though Riverboat is set in the 1840s and many episodes are set in southern cities like New Orleans and Vicksburg, there is no mention of slavery and very few African Americans seen anywhere. Only two episodes include African Americans, and both times they are depicted as house servants.  "Night of the Faceless Men" (March 28, 1960) features a gang of hooded vigilantes much like the Ku Klux Klan, but this is a group driven by greed--seizing land and robbing stagecoaches--rather than a racist ideology. The one episode that depicts the mistreatment of a non-white ethnic group is "The Long Trail" (April 4, 1960), which shows the U.S. Army, on orders from the government, forcing the Cherokee nation to surrender their land east of the Mississippi and move west to a reservation in Oklahoma. The Army, particularly ambitious Colonel Tryker, are depicted as villains, showing no compassion for the uprooted Native Americans, even forcing them to cross dangerous swampland that causes many additional casualties, simply to quicken the journey and earn kudos for Tryker with his superiors. Holden, as the moral compass for the series, opposes Tryker at every opportunity, but ultimately convinces young Cherokee activist James Evans to accept their new territory rather than waging war against the white man. Still, it is interesting to note how negatively the U.S. military is portrayed not only in this episode but also in "The Quota" (November 28, 1960) in which a 17-year Army veteran, Sgt. Danny Phillips, resorts to illegal kidnapping and mistreatment of civilians in order to meet his recruitment quotas. By the end of the episode, General Winfield Scott portrays Phillips as a bad apple who does not represent the ethics of the armed forces, but Holden curiously intervenes on his behalf and successfully pleads that his sins not be reflected in the final record of the late Sergeant. What is most striking in episodes such as these is the frequent depiction of military personnel as self-absorbed, unethical criminals at a time in history before national sentiment turned against the military as a result of the Vietnam War. And Riverboat was not alone in such depictions; many other westerns included an episode or two about a revenge-crazed or power-deranged commanding officer who leads his troops astray.

Riverboat also used its chronological setting as an opportunity to inject prominent historical figures into a few of its plots. Besides the aforementioned Gen. Winfield Scott, "That Taylor Affair" (September 26, 1960) centers around the inauguration of President-elect Zachary Taylor, played by Paul Fix. In a rather preposterous plot, Holden shanghais the President-elect, who was supposed to be transported to the inauguration in Washington by a rival steamboat, in order to settle a debt imposed by a politically ambitious local sheriff, who is brought along on the ride after his own townspeople had voted to send the town mortician instead of him as their official representative at the festivities. Rather than being outraged once he is apprised of what has happened and why, President-elect Taylor admires Holden's spunk in devising such a creative scheme to overcome his debt and save his business. In one of the series' best episodes, "No Bridge on the River" (October 17, 1960), we are shown a pre-political glimpse of Abraham Lincoln as a trial lawyer defending the interests of a railroad company that wants to build a bridge across the Mississippi, opposed by Holden and all riverboat workers as a threat to their livelihood. Lincoln is depicted as a studious, thoughtful, and humorous practitioner of the law, ultimately arguing that no one has the right to deny the railroad company from building a bridge across the river, though the riverboat industry does have a right to insist that it be built in a way that does not constrain their business. Besides its inclusion of a figure of Lincoln's historical magnitude, this episode is especially significant because it shows the clash that inevitably happens when an older way of doing business or thinking meets with a newer one destined to replace it. In this case, the riverboat industry can see the writing on the wall and will fight with all their might to resist it, but the march of "progress" or change is merciless and unstoppable. One has to wonder, given the rough journey Riverboat had traveled to this point, whether this episode also was a subtle indication that the producers knew the series would not survive much longer. A similar veiled reference to the series' demise appears in the last episode, "Listen to the Nightingale" (January 2, 1961) when Holden and Bill Blake hear a steam whistle blow while sitting in the pilot house bemoaning their lack of cargo to haul, and Blake wonders if that isn't Gabriel's horn blowing to signal the end for the Enterprise. Whether the producers, writers, and actors were aware of it at the time this episode was filmed, it would prove to be the last journey for Riverboat, a series that never seemed to know where it was going but often delivered the goods nevertheless.

As mentioned above, the show's original theme and several season 1 scores were composed by prolific Elmer Bernstein, whose biography was covered in the post for Johnny Staccato. Gerald Fried, who took over composing duties in season 2, was born and raised in the Bronx and was a childhood friend of Stanley Kubrick, for whose first four films Fried provided the soundtrack (Day of the Fight, Killer's Kiss, The Killing, and Paths to Glory). Fried had gotten into soundtrack scoring after studying at Julliard and serving as first oboist for the Dallas Symphony and the New York Little Orchestra from 1948-1956. Other than his work for Kubrick, his early scoring career consisted largely of B movies like The Return of Dracula, I, Mobster, and Machine-Gun Kelly before moving over to television with a few episodes of M Squad in 1958. He composed the jazzy theme and 16 episodes of Shotgun Slade in the first half of 1960, then took over principal duties on Riverboat later that fall. After Riverboat, he continued working on occasional feature films and single TV episodes until finding steady work on It's About Time (22 episodes), Gilligan's Island (39 episodes), and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (45 episodes). He also scored 4 episodes of Star Trek, including "Amok Time," which introduced the sequence now known as the Star Trek fight music. Besides scoring 6 episodes of Mission: Impossible!, his later work also included collaborating with Quincy Jones on the various Roots miniseries. His last TV credit was in 2004 for an episode of Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II.

The complete series has been released on DVD by Timeless Media Group.

The Actors

Darren McGavin

Born William Lyle Richardson in Spokane, Washington, McGavin endured a tumultuous childhood after his parents divorced and his father, a salesman and chemist, not knowing what to do with the boy, sent him to an orphanage. Bouncing around various orphanages and foster homes, McGavin eventually found one that suited him, the Dyslin Boys Ranch in Pierce County, Washington, whose owners, he later said, instilled a sense of pride in him that turned his life around. After high school and a year in college, McGavin learned the trade of sign painting and eventually found his way to working for Columbia Studios. He managed to talk himself into an unfilled part in the 1945 film A Song to Remember, which he claimed taught him how little he knew about acting. He eventually moved to New York and studied under Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse and the Actors Studio, resulting in stage appearances in productions such as The Rainmaker. Moving back to Hollywood, he landed the title role in the 1951-52 drama Crime Photographer, and after a series of single episode appearances on various TV shows gained notice for his supporting roles in the features Man With the Golden Arm and The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell. From there he was cast in the title role for the TV series Mike Hammer, based on the work of Mickey Spillane, and before that series ended, he was also given the lead role in Riverboat.

After Riverboat, he continued to work steadily in television and film throughout the 1960s, landing another lead role on the 1968-69 series The Outsider. In the 1970s his greatest success was in the two TV movies and subsequent TV series based on the character of investigative reporter Carl Kolchak. The Night Stalker appeared as a TV movie in 1972, followed by the sequel The Night Strangler in 1973 and the series Kolchak: The Night Stalker in 1974-75. Though the series lasted only a single season due to the network's lack of commitment in promoting it and taking it seriously (allowing the scripts and production values to descend into kitsch), it provided the inspiration for Chris Carter's late '90s series The X-Files on which McGavin made two appearances as Agent Arthur Dales. Steady work continued in the 1980s, most notably as irascible, clueless Old Man Parker in the Christmas classic A Christmas Story and the role of Nick Small on the short-lived TV series Small & Frye. In the late 80s and early 90s he played the character of Bill Brown, the father of Murphy Brown, for which he received an Emmy in 1990. He was married to actress Melanie York for 25 years and had four children, divorcing her in 1969 and marrying actress Kathie Browne, to whom he stayed married until her death in 2003. McGavin himself died from pneumonia at the age of 83 on February 25, 2006.

Burt Reynolds

Burton Leon Reynolds, Jr. was born and spent his early years in Lansing, Michigan before his family relocated to Riviera Beach, Florida, where his father became chief of police, after World War II. Reynolds was a star football player in high school and attended Florida State University on a football scholarship, but a knee injury and subsequent car accident ended his athletic career. He later attended Palm Beach Junior College to pursue a career as a parole officer when one of his teachers nudged him into acting, and he won the 1956 Florida State Drama Award in a play produced by the teacher, Watson B. Duncan III. The award included a scholarship to the Hyde Park Theatre in New York and once there his performance in a revival of Mister Roberts won him enough notice to be offered a movie audition, but he was not given a part in the film Sayonara because it was felt he looked too much like the movie's star Marlon Brando. He returned to New York and worked a number of odd jobs while appearing in various theatre productions. He finally broke into television work  in the late 1950s in guest appearances on shows such as Flight, M Squad, and The Lawless Years before being cast in his first regular role on Riverboat.

After leaving the show, he made a few more TV appearances before appearing in his first feature film Angel Baby in 1961. The following year he was cast as blacksmith and unofficial deputy Quint Asper on Gunsmoke, a role that featured him in 50 episodes over the next 3 years. In 1966 he was cast in the title role for the detective series Hawk, which lasted only for 17 episodes. Taking the advice of friend Clint Eastwood, he began appearing as the star in spaghetti westerns such as Navajo Joe and 100 Rifles to promote himself as a leading man. Another TV detective drama, Dan August, lasted a single season before he finally found his breakout role in the film Deliverance in 1972. That year he also posed nude for Cosmopolitan magazine, which further enhanced his image as a sex symbol, and movies like The Longest Yard and Shamus enhanced his acting image as well. He then hit it even bigger in Hal Needham's Smokey and the Bandit movies, but the films he starred in after that were hit and miss. He returned to television with B.L. Stryker in 1989 and won an Emmy for his performance on Evening Shade in 1991. By 1996 his extravagant lifestyle and messy divorce from actress Loni Anderson forced him to file for bankruptcy, but he began a comeback the following year with his Golden Globe-winning performance in the film Boogie Nights, though he reportedly hated the film when he finally saw it and wound up punching director Paul Thomas Anderson in the face because the latter wouldn't let him talk while they were out promoting the film. Despite all of his success, Reynolds could have been much bigger had he not turned down roles like Han Solo in Star Wars, John McClane in Diehard, and Garrett Breedlove in Terms of Endearment, which won an Oscar for Jack Nicholson.

Noah Beery, Jr.

Born in New York while his father was a stage actor, Beery, Jr. actually had a different middle name than his father, who moved the family to California in 1915 and began appearing in silent movies during a long and prolific career. His uncle Wallace Beery was an even more successful film actor with a career that lasted decades and saw him as the highest paid actor in Hollywood by 1932. Beery, Jr. made his first film appearance at age 7 with his father in The Mark of Zorro in 1920. His adult film career included playing John Wayne's buddy in The Trail Beyond and with Wayne again in Red River, and he had roles in notable movies such as Of Mice and Men, Sergeant York, and Inherit the Wind. He broke into television playing Joey the Clown on Circus Boy, which also starred a pre-Monkees Mickey Dolenz, then took over as Darren McGavin's partner on Riverboat in the fall of 1960.

After Riverboat's demise, he had steady film and TV work before landing another regular TV role on Hondo in 1967, playing Buffalo Barker, but is best remembered playing James Garner's father, Joseph "Rocky" Rockford, on 120 episodes of The Rockford Files. In the 1980s he had regular roles on the series The Quest and The Yellow Rose before dying from a cerebral thrombosis at the age of 81 on November 1, 1994.

Dick Wessel

Born in Milwaukee, WI, Wessel's burly build suited him perfectly to play any number of heavies, as well as policemen, bartenders, and the like. His career began on the stage but he had moved to films by the mid-1930s and appeared in over 200 of them, though uncredited in over half of them. His greatest role was playing villain Harry "Cueball" Lake in the 1946 crime drama Dick Tracy vs. Cueball, and as a contract actor for Columbia Pictures, he appeared in shorts by The Three Stooges, Andy Clyde, and others. His television work began with The Abbott and Costello Show in 1953, and he had a steady string of guest appearances on shows like It's a Great Life, The Life of Riley, and The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis before landing his one and only regular role as chief engineer Carney Kohler on Riverboat.

The steady work on TV continued after Riverboat ended, but his last appearance was released after he died of a heart attack at age 52 on his birthday, April 20, 1965. His role as Eddie the garbage man in The Ugly Dachshund was, naturally, uncredited.

Jack Lambert

Born in Yonkers, NY, Lambert had a career similar to, though not as prolific as, Dick Wessel. He started on Broadway but moved to Hollywood and began appearing in films in 1942, often playing minor roles as tough guys, not because of his build but due to his menacing facial features. Also like Wessel, his most recognized role was playing a villain opposite Dick Tracy as Steve "The Claw" Michel in Dick Tracy's Dilemma (1947). He also appeared in The Harvey Girls, The Killers, and Kiss Me Deadly as well as occasional TV appearances on drama anthology programs until he began landing guest spots in the late 1950s on shows such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Tales of Wells Fargo, and Lawman. Also like Wessel, playing Scotsman Joshua MacGregor on Riverboat was his only regular TV role, though he continued a steady stream of appearances on shows like Gunsmoke (7 appearances), Wagon Train (4 appearances), and Daniel Boone (4 appearances) after Riverboat ended. His last role was on an episode of Gunsmoke in 1970 at age 49, but he lived another 32 years, passing away due to natural causes at the age of 81 on February 18, 2002.

Michael McGreevey

A native of Phoenix, AZ, red-headed McGreevey began his acting career at age 7 and appeared in his first film at age 11 in The Man in the Net in 1959. That same year he began his stint on Riverboat as orphan and cabin boy Chip Kessler, first introduced in the December 27, 1959 episode "The Face of Courage" and continuing throughout the remainder of season 1. Concurrent with Riverboat he had guest appearances on shows like Black Saddle, The Donna Reed Show, and Lassie, and after the series ended he continued getting occasional parts on shows like Route 66, Wagon Train, and Naked City. He was a regular of sorts on various miniseries on Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color, and he appeared in a number of Disney feature films, many with Kurt Russell, including The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, Now You See Him Now You Don't, Snowball Express, and The Shaggy D.A. But after graduating from the UCLA Film School, he transitioned into writing on shows like The Waltons and Fame, a show on which he also served as story editor and eventually producer. He received an Emmy nomination for his work on the ABC Afterschool Special The Celebrity and the Arcade Kid in 1983 and continued working on various series and TV movies over the next decade, including the Bonanza reunion movie Bonanza: The Return. He is currently at work on several writing projects and most recently appeared in an acting role on Parks and Recreation in 2011.

John Mitchum

Younger brother of actor Robert Mitchum, John was born in Bridgeport, CT, his father dying the same year in a train yard accident. During the depths of the Depression, the family split up, with Robert and John hitch-hiking and riding trains across the country through many adventures, which John described in his autobiography Them Ornery Mitchum Boys. After stints as a seaman and a boxer, the younger Mitchum also took up acting, though relegated to supporting roles, often as heavies and tough guys beginning in the late 1940s. His uncredited roles included films such as Flying Leathernecks and Stalag 17  in the 1950s before he began getting television roles on shows like Judge Roy Bean, the original Dragnet, State Trooper, and Richard Diamond, Private Detective. His role as cook and musician Pickalong lasted for only 10 episodes on Riverboat, after which he appeared in a number of TV shows such as Perry Mason, Gunsmoke, and Have Gun, Will Travel. Perhaps his most famous role was playing opposite Clint Eastwood as Frank DiGiorgio in the first three Dirty Harry films. He also had regular roles as Trooper Hoffenmueller on F Troop and as Bucky the bartender on The Virginian.

Riverboat provided Mitchum the opportunity to show off his singing skills, as his character Pickalong is quick to pick up his guitar and burst out in song. In real life, Mitchum composed the words that John Wayne recorded on his popular album America -- Why I Love Her, for which Mitchum received a Grammy nomination in 1973. He also performed the musical numbers on the album Our Land, Our Heritage, which included narration by Dan Blocker of Bonanza fame. His acting work continued on a series of TV movies in the late 1980s, the last being A Family for Joe in 1990. He died of a stroke at age 82 on November 29, 2001.

Bart Patton

Born Phillip Bardwell in Culver City, CA, Patton was a classmate of Francis Ford Coppola and Mary Mitchel, whom he married, while attending UCLA Film School. This connection led Coppola to cast them both in his 1963 thriller Dementia 13. But before that, Patton appeared as Freddy in 4 episodes of Father Knows Best before landing his temporary role as Terry Blake in 6 episodes of Riverboat. He also appeared in teen-themed movies such as Because They're Young and Gidget Goes Hawaiian before producing a similar film Beach Ball in 1965, which led to a contract to produce more teen flicks for Universal Pictures. However, he and Lenny Weintraub produced only two films, Wild Wild Winter and Out of Sight, in connection with that contract. He then produced Coppola's The Rain People in 1969, but his credits in front or behind the camera have been sparse since then. His most recent credit is directing his first film, Unshackled, with Stacy Keach and Morgan Fairchild, in 2003.

Notable Guest Stars

Season 1, Episode 16, "Tampico Raid": Pat Crowley (shown on the left, played Joan Nash on Please Don't Eat the Daisies, Emily Fallmont on Dynasty, and Natalie DeWitt on The Bold and the Beautiful) plays Joan Marchand, daughter of an activist school teacher. 

Season 1, Episode 17, "The Landlubbers": 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 mail-order bride Nora Lanyard. Arthur Batanides (Sgt. Sam Olivera on Johnny Midnight) plays her abusive husband Shag Ryan. Richard Devon (Jody Barker on Yancy Derringer) plays double-crossing scout Barney Jones. Kay Kuter (Newt Kiley on Petticoat Junction and Green Acres) plays gullible crew member Hoskins.

Season 1, Episode 18, "The Blowup": Whitney Blake (Dorothy Baxter on Hazel) plays treasure-seeker Martha Crane. Dean Harens (SAC Bryan Durant on The F.B.I.) plays her assistant Simon. Mary Adams (Lavinia Webster on Window on Main Street) plays school teacher Mrs. Wilkins. Carlos Romero (Rico Rodriguez on Wichita Town, Romero Serrano on Zorro, and Carlo Agretti on Falcon Crest) plays renegade Juan Miguel. Roberto Contreras (Pedro on The High Chaparral) plays his assistant Gonzales.

Season 1, Episode 19, "Forbidden Island": Bruce Gordon (shown on the left, played Commander Matson on Behind Closed Doors, Frank Nitti on TheUntouchables, and Gus Chernak on Peyton Place) plays renegade Garnett. Patrick Westwood (Mian Rukn Din on The Indian Tales of Rudyard Kipling) plays Cajun liaison Pierre.
Season 1, Episode 20, "Salvage Pirates": Richard Garland (starred in Attack of the Crab Monsters and Mutiny in Outer Space, played Clay Horton on Lassie, and was once married to Beverly Garland) plays cargo ship pilot Jacques Tremain. Judi Meredith (Bonnie Sue McAfee on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show and The George Burns Show and Monique Devereaux on Hotel de Paree) plays his love interest Louise Harrison. Bern Hoffman (Sam the bartender on Bonanza) plays pirate leader Savage. Robert J. Wilke (appeared in Best of the Badmen, High Noon, The Far Country, and Night Passage and played Capt. Mendoza on Zorro) plays his second-in-command Bolesy. 

Season 1, Episode 21, "Path of the Eagle": Dayton Lummis (Marshal Andy Morrison on Law of the Plainsman) plays wealthy utopian Gideon Templeton. Dianne Foster (starred in Night Passage, The Last Hurrah, and The Deep Six) plays his daughter Marianne. Myron Healey (Doc Holliday on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp) plays his advisor Steven Barrows.

Season 1, Episode 22, "The Treasure of Hawk Hill": Kent Taylor (Carlos Murietta on Zorro and Capt. Jim Flagg on The Rough Riders) plays treasure hunter Morell. George Wallace (starred in Radar Men From the Moon, Destry, and Forbidden Planet and played Judge Milton Cole on Hill Street Blues and Grandpa Hank Hammersmith on Sons and Daughters) plays his henchman the Paymaster. Kenneth MacDonald (shown on the right, played the judge 32 times on Perry Mason, played Col. Parker on Colt .45, and appeared in several Three Stooges shorts) plays treasure-map holder George Dexter. Dennis Moore (Deputy Lee on Tombstone Territory) plays Headleyville Sheriff Bates. Richard Hale (starred in Abilene Town, Kim, San Antone, Red Garters, and To Kill a Mockingbird) plays Dexter's brother-in-law Uncle Arden. Virginia Christine (the Folger's Coffee woman in commercials and starred in The Mummy's Curse, The Killers, and Night Wind and who played Ovie Swenson on Tales of Wells Fargo) plays his wife Samantha.

Season 1, Episode 23, "The Fight at New Canal": Charles Aidman (narrator on the 1985-87 version of The Twilight Zone) plays canal engineer Frank Paxton. John Maxwell (Alex Gregory on The Court of Last Resort) plays stage-coach line operator Sam Harper. John Archer (starred in King of the Zombies, White Heat, Destination Moon, and Blue Hawaii) plays his partner Dunnigan. Steve Mitchell (Starkey on The New Phil Silvers Show) plays Dunnigan henchman Clint Bixby.

Season 1, Episode 24, "The Wichita Arrows": Dan Duryea (shown on the left, starred in The Little Foxes, The Pride of the Yankees, Scarlet Street, and Winchester '73 and played China Smith in China Smith and The New Adventures of China Smith and Eddie Jacks on Peyton Place) plays Holden's temporary replacement Captain Turner. Hank Patterson (Fred Ziffel on Green Acres and Petticoat Junction and Hank on Gunsmoke) plays wood station operator Johnny Mullins. 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, Cheyenne, The Texan, Maverick, and Rawhide) plays his brother Will. Betty Lou Keim (Peggy Allison on My Son Jeep and Fran McCord on The Deputy) plays worrying sister Holly Andrews. Eve McVeagh (starred in High Noon, The Glass Web, and Tight Spot and played Miss Hammond on Petticoat Junction) plays her sister Julie Scott. 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 Julie's husband Albert Scott. Victor Millan (Zahir on Ramar of the Jungle) plays Wichita horse-thief Rico. Robert Armstrong (starred in King Kong, The Son of Kong, Framed, Dive Bomber, Blood on the Sun, and Mighty Joe Young and played Sheriff Andy Anderson on State Trooper) plays the local sheriff. Roy Barcroft (played Col. Logan on The Adventures of Spin and Marty and Roy on Gunsmoke) plays lynch-happy townsman Carley. Slim Pickens (starred in The Story of Will Rogers, Dr. Strangelove, Blazing Saddles, The Apple Dumpling Gang, Beyond the Poseidon Adventure, and The Howling and played Slim on Outlaws, Slim Walker on The Wide Country, California Joe Milner on Custer, and Sgt. Beauregard Wiley on B.J. & the Bear) plays an unnamed trapper.

Season 1, Episode 25, "Fort Epitaph": Charles Cooper (the sheriff on Father Murphy and Judge Robert Boucher on The Practice) plays the fort commander Major Daniels. Stuart Randall (Sheriff Art Sampson on Cimarron City, Al Livermore on Lassie, and Sheriff Mort Corey on Laramie) plays Sioux Chief Running Bear. Ronnie Rondell, Jr. (stunt coordinator on Mod Squad, Charlie's Angels, Dynasty, and Hart to Hart) plays his son Kicking Bear. Mark Allen (Matt Kissel on The Travels of Jamie McPheeters and Sam Evans on Dark Shadows) plays sadistic Sgt. Matthews. Jon Locke (Officer Garvey on Highway Patrol and Sleestack Leader on Land of the Lost) plays an unnamed sleepy soldier. 

Season 1, Episode 26, "Three Graves": Beverly Garland (shown on the right, played Casey Jones on Decoy, Ellis Collins on The Bing Crosby Show, Barbara Harper Douglas on My Three Sons, Dorothy "Dotty" West on Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Ellen Lane on Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, and Ginger on 7th Heaven) plays doctor's daughter Nora James. Robert Bray (Simon Kane on Stagecoach West and Corey Stuart on Lassie) plays Exeter bully Tom Byson. 

Season 1, Episode 27, "Hang the Men High": Karen Steele (starred in Marty, Westbound, and The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond) plays murder accuser Sue Parker. Dallas Mitchell (Det. Fisher on The Asphalt Jungle) plays the accused Jerry Madden. Ray Hamilton (Al Casey on King of Diamonds) plays Jerry's friend Brad Phelan. Stephen McNally (starred in Johnny Belinda, Criss Cross, and Winchester '73 and played Paul Marino on Target: The Corrupters) plays Sue's defender Jeb Randell. Walter Sande (appeared in To Have and Have Not, A Place in the Sun, and Bad Day at Black Rock and played Capt. Horatio Bullwinkle on The Adventures of Tugboat Annie and Papa Holstrum on The Farmer's Daughter) plays sensible townsman Tom Feller.

Season 1, Episode 28, "Night of the Faceless Men": Charles H. Gray (Officer Edwards on Highway Patrol, Pico McGuire on Gunslinger, and Clay Forrester on Rawhide) plays card sharp Joe Oliver. Patricia Medina (shown on the left, played Margarita Cortazar on Zorro) plays his fiancee Eileen Mason. Frank Ferguson (Gus Broeberg on My Friend Flicka, Eli Carson on Peyton Place, and Dr. Barton Stuart on Petticoat Junction) plays town committee leader Rogers. Douglas Kennedy (starred in Adventures of Don Juan, I Was an American Spy, and Jack McCall, Desperado and played Marshal Steve Donovan on Steve Donovan, Western Marshal and Sheriff Fred Madden on The Big Valley) plays his second-in-command McLeigh. Hugh Downs (shown on the right, announcer on the Jack Paar Tonight Show and long-time news host on Over Easy, 20/20, Live From Lincoln Center, and Today) plays Enterprise crew member Dan Flynn. Jocelyn Brando (sister of Marlon Brando) plays school teacher Mrs. Pauley.
Season 1, Episode 29, "The Long Trail": Harry Lauter (Ranger Clay Morgan on Tales of the Texas Rangers, Atlasande on Rocky Jones, Space Ranger, and Jim Herrick on Waterfront) plays ambitious Army Colonel Tryker. Abraham Sofaer (starred in Christopher Columbus, Quo Vadis, and Elephant Walk) plays Cherokee newspaperman Mark Evans. Perry Lopez (starred in Mister Roberts, Taras Bulba, Kelly's Heroes, and Chinatown and played Joaquin Castaneda on Zorro) plays his son James. Dennis Cross (Cmdr. Arthur Richards on The Blue Angels) plays brave Running Wolf.

Season 1, Episode 30, "The Quick Noose": Willis Bouchey (Mayor Terwilliger on The Great Gildersleeve, Springer on Pete and Gladys, and the judge 23 times on PerryMason) plays plantation owner Judge Wingate. Nan Leslie (Martha McGivern on The Californians) plays the Judge's son's fiancee Amy Carson. Ed Nelson (Michael Rossi on Peyton Place and Ward Fuller on The Silent Force) plays Amy's defender Jim Tyler. William Hudson (Ranger Clark on Rocky Jones, Space Ranger and Special Agent Mike Andrews on I Led 3 Lives) plays bank teller Lon Ogden.  

Season 1, Episode 31, "The Sellout": Bartlett Robinson (Frank Caldwell on Mona McCluskey) plays banker George Channing. Barbara Stuart (shonw on the right, played Bessie on The Great Gildersleeve, Alice on Pete and Gladys, Bunny on Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., Peggy Ferguson on The McLean Stevenson Show, Marianne Danzig on Our Family Honor, and Alice on Huff) plays gold-digger Nanette Burns. 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 washed-up river captain Nick Logan.  

Season 2, Episode 1, "End of a Dream": Cliff Robertson (shown on the left, starred in Picnic, The Naked and the Dead, Gidget, PT 109, The Devil's Brigade, Charly, and Three Days of the Condor and played Rod Brown on Rod Brown of the Rocket Rangers, Shame on Batman, Dr. Michael Ranson on Falcon Crest, and Hal Malloy on The Lyon's Den) plays speculative shyster Martinus Van Der Brig. Susan Cummings (shown on the right, played Georgia on Union Pacific) plays skeptical Swedish immigrant Tekla Kronen. Adrienne Marden (Mary Breckenridge on The Waltons) plays Scottish dreamer Mrs. Shaftoe. Alice Backes (Vickie on Bachelor Father) plays farmer's wife Mrs. Gaines. Robert J. Wilke (see "Salvage Pirates" above) plays former miner Red Dog Hanlon. June Vincent (starred in Here Come the Co-Eds, The Creeper, and The WAC From Walla Walla) plays fake French noble woman Countess de Madrigal. Harry Swoger (Harry the bartender on The Big Valley) plays an unnamed horse trader. 

Season 2, Episode 2, "That Taylor Affair": Arlene Dahl (shown on the right, starred in Reign of Terror, Three Little Words, Woman's World, and Journey to the Center of the Earth and played Lucinda Schenk Wilson on One Life to Live) plays hotel hostess Lucy Belle. Robert Ellenstein (appeared in 3:10 to Yuma, Too Much Too Soon, and North by Northwest and played Legs Diamond on The Lawless Years) plays gullible sheriff Hezekiah Stone. Stanley Adams (Lt. Morse on Not for Hire) plays Holden's rival Captain Morgan. Paul Fix (appeared in Hondo, Blood Alley, The Bad Seed, and Giant, and played Marshal Micah Torrance on TheRifleman and D.A. Hale on Perry Mason) plays President-elect Zachary Taylor. Milton Frome (starred in Pardners, The Delicate Delinquent, and The Swinger and played Lawrence Chapman on The Beverly Hillbillies) plays Louisiana Governor DeWitt. 

Season 2, Episode 3, "The Two Faces of Grey Holden": 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 disturbed Cajun girl Marie Tourette. Herbert Ellis (Officer Frank Smith on Dragnet (1952-53), Frank LaValle on The D.A.'s Man, Wilbur on Peter Gunn, and Dr. Dan Wagner on Hennesey) plays her missing fiancee's brother Papite. 

Season 2, Episode 4, "River Champion": Dennis O'Keefe (starred in Topper Returns, The Leopard Man, The Fighting Seabees, Brewster's Millions, and Walk a Crooked Mile and played Hal Towne on The Dennis O'Keefe Show) plays retired boxer Dan Muldoon. Denny Miller (Duke Shannon on Wagon Train and Mike McCluskey on Mona McCluskey) plays Muldoon's boxing prodigy The Dublin Boy. George Kennedy (shown on the right, starred in Charade, The Sons of Katie Elder, The Dirty Dozen, Cool Hand Luke, and The Naked Gun and played MP Sgt. Kennedy on The Phil Silvers Show, Father Samuel Cavanuagh on Sarge, Bumper Morgan on The Blue Knight, and Carter McKay on Dallas) plays The Dublin Boy's opponent Gunnar Slagle.  Slim Pickens (shown on the left, see "The Wichita Arrows" above) plays Gunnar's promoter and brother Porter. Terry Frost (Sgt. Moore/Morse/Morris on Highway Patrol) plays the unnamed Glen City sheriff. Ralph Reed (Billy Clanton on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp) plays bank robber Bates. Jack Hogan (starred in The Bonnie Parker Story, Paratroop Command, and The Cat Burglar and played Kirby on Combat!, Sgt. Jerry Miller on Adam-12, Chief Ranger Jack Moore on Sierra, and Judge Smithwood on Jake and the Fatman) plays bank robber Fletcher. John Harmon (Eddie Halstead on TheRifleman and the fingerprint expert on PerryMason) plays bookmaker Gordon.

Season 2, Episode 5, "No Bridge on the River": Denver Pyle (Ben Thompson on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, Grandpa Tarleton on Tammy, Briscoe Darling on The Andy Griffith Show, Buck Webb on The Doris Day Show, Mad Jack on The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams, and Uncle Jesse on The Dukes of Hazzard) plays railroad company recruiter Jim Bledsoe. Bartlett Robinson (see "The Sellout" above) plays railroad company manager Grimes. Sandy Kenyon (Des Smith on Crunch and Des, Shep Baggott on The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters, and Reverend Kathrun on Knots Landing) plays railroad company attorney Abraham Lincoln. Hayden Rorke (Steve on Mr. Adams and Eve, Col. Farnsworth on No Time for Sergeants, Bishop on Dr. Kildare, and Dr. Alfred Bellows on I Dream of Jeannie) plays New Orleans attorney Ferdinand Maret. Olan Soule (Aristotle "Tut" Jones on Captain Midnight, Ray Pinker on Dragnet (1952-59), and Fred Springer on Arnie) plays the jury foreman. Dal McKennon (prolific voice actor on many cartoons, including the voices of Gumby and Pokey on The Gumby Show, Sinbad Jr. on Sinbad, Jr.,  and Archie Andrews on The Archie Show, Archie's Fun House, and The U.S. of Archie and played Dr. Blaney on 87th Precinct and Cincinnatus on Daniel Boone) plays the court reporter.

Season 2, Episode 6, "Trunk Full of Dreams": Raymond Massey (starred in The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Prisoner of Zenda, Abe Lincoln in Illinois, and East of Eden and played Dr. Leonard Gillespie on Dr. Kildare) plays over-the-hill actor Sir Oliver Garrett. Bethel Leslie (appeared in 15 episodes of The Richard Boone Show and played Claudia Conner on All My Children and Ethel Crawford on One Life to Live) plays his daughter Juliet. Robert Foulk (Ed Davis on Father Knows Best, Sheriff Miller on Lassie, Joe Kingston on Wichita Town, Phillip Toomey on The Rifleman, and Mr. Wheeler on Green Acres) plays show boat Captain Smiley. Willard Waterman (Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve on The Great Gildersleeve, Mac Maginnis on TheReal McCoys, and Mr. Quigley on Dennis the Menace) plays cotton farmer Mr. de Lesseps. Mary Tyler Moore (shown on the left, played Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show, Mary Richards on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mary Brenner on Mary, and Annie McGuire on Annie McGuire) plays his daughter Lily Belle. Hugh Sanders (starred in That's My Boy, The Pride of St. Louis, The Winning Team, and The Wild One) plays cotton farmer Beauregard. Richard Reeves (Mr. Murphy on Date With the Angels) plays the dock-side bartender.

Season 2, Episode 7, "The Water of Gorgeous Springs": Buddy Ebsen (shown on the right, played Sgt. Hunk Marriner on Northwest Passage, Jed Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies, Barnaby Jones on Barnaby Jones, and Roy Houston on Matt Houston) plays hillbilly patriarch Niles Cox. Sherry Jackson (Terry Williams on Make Room for Daddy) plays his daughter Inez. Gregory Walcott (starred in Badman's Country and Plan 9 From Outer Space and played Det. Roger Havilland on 87th Precinct) plays his son Salem.  Jocelyn Brando (see "Night of the Faceless Men" above) plays Charity Jennings, matriarch of the Cox's feuding enemies. 

Season 2, Episode 8, "Devil in Skirts": Frank Silvera (Don Sebastian Montoya on The High Chaparral) plays cotton plantation owner Colonel Ashley. Gloria Talbott (see "The Landlubbers" above) plays his son's girlfriend Lucinda Lee. Arthur Batanides (see "The Landlubbers" above) plays her brother Matt Jennings. 
Season 2, Episode 9, "The Quota": Gene Evans (starred in The Steel Helmet, Thunderbirds, Donovan's Brain, and Operation Petticoat and played Rob McLaughlin on My Friend Flicka and Spencer Parrish on Spencer's Pilots) plays Army recruiter Sgt. Danny Phillips. James Griffith (Aaron Adams on Trackdown and Deputy Tom Ferguson on U.S. Marshal) plays his assistant Cpl. Sam Giler. Ron Hagerthy (Clipper King on Sky King) plays Enterprise crew member Phelan. Stuart Randall (see "Fort Epitaph" above) plays Gen. Winfield Scott. Robin Blake (Nurse Jud Clampett on General Hospital) plays Mary Latimer, daughter of the general store proprietor. James Nusser (Louie Pheeters on Gunsmoke) plays a hotel clerk.

Season 2, Episode 10, "Chicota Landing": Richard Chamberlain (shown on the left, starred in Joy in the Morning, Julius Caesar, The Three Musketeers, and The Swarm and played Dr. James Kildare on Dr. Kildare and Dr. Daniel Kulani on Island Son) plays young Army Lt. Dave Winslow. Ted de Corsia (Police Chief Hagedorn on Steve Canyon) plays bandito The Butcher. 

Season 2, Episode 11, "Duel on the River": Claude Akins (Sonny Pruett on Movin' On and Sheriff Elroy P. Lobo on B.J and the Bear and on Lobo) plays cotton farmer Beaudry Rawlings. Fay Spain (starred in Dragstrip Girl, Al Capone, and The Gentle Rain) plays his wife Laurie. Edgar Buchanan (shown on the right, played Uncle Joe Carson on The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, and Petticoat Junction, Red Connors on Hopalong Cassidy, Judge Roy Bean on Judge Roy Bean, Bob/Doc Dawson on Tales of Wells Fargo, Doc Burrage on The Rifleman, and J.J. Jackson on Cade's County) plays her cousin Wingate Pardee. Robert Emhardt (Sgt. Vinton on The Kids From C.A.P.E.R.) plays cotton mogul Brian Cloud. Michael Greene (Deputy Vance Porter on The Dakotas) plays his henchman Job.  

Season 2, Episode 12, "Zigzag": Charles Bronson (shown on the left, starred in The Magnificent Seven, The Dirty Dozen, Once Upon a Time in the West, The Valachi Papers, and four Death Wish movies and played Mike Kovac on Man With a Camera, Paul Moreno on Empire, and Linc Murdock on The Travels of Jamie McPheeters) plays escaped convict Crowley. John Milford (Ike Clanton on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, Corporal Kagey on The Lieutenant, Lt. Paul Hewitt on The Bold Ones: The Lawyers, and Capt. Dempsey on Enos) plays fellow escapee Egan. Tom Fadden (Duffield on Broken Arrow, Silas Perry on Cimarron City, and Ben Miller on Green Acres and Petticoat Junction) plays fellow escapee Lear. William Fawcett (Clayton on Duffy's Tavern, Marshal George Higgins on The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, and Pete Wilkey on Fury) plays trapper Pinty Walters. Stella Stevens (shown on the right, starred in Girls! Girls! Girls!, The Nutty Professor, The Courtship of Eddie's Father, The Silencers, Where Angels Go Trouble Follows, and The Poseidon Adventure and played Lute-Mae Sanders on Flamingo Road) plays his daughter Lisa. Phil Tully (Charlie the bartender on TheDeputy) plays a bartender. Ray Teal (Jim Teal on Lassie and Sheriff Roy Coffee on Bonanza) plays Killian's Point Sheriff Clay. 

Season 2, Episode 13, "Listen to the Nightingale": Jack Albertson (starred in Days of Wine and Roses, Kissin' Cousins, The Flim-Flam Man, and Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and played Lt. Harry Evans on The Thin Man, Walter Burton on Room for One More, Lt. Cmdr. Virgil Stoner on Ensign O'Toole, Paul Fenton on Mister Ed, and Ed Brown on Chico and the Man) plays traveling show promoter Sampson J. Binton. Jeanne Bal (Pat Baker on Love and Marriage) plays opera singer Julie Lang. DeForest Kelley (shown on the right, played Dr. McCoy on Star Trek) plays clarinetist Alex Jeffords. Claire Carleton (Nell Mulligan on The Mickey Rooney Show and Alice Purdy on Cimarron City) plays the show's tatoo'd lady. 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 an unnamed street thug.

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