Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Lucy Show (1962)


Five years after their iconic sit-com classic I Love Lucy left the air on top of the ratings, Lucille Ball and her now ex-husband but still business partner Desi Arnaz, Jr. needed a leverage tool to save their flagging Desilu Studios. Several of their programs had recently been canceled, leaving them with only The Untouchables as a legitimate hit series. But they needed something else to coerce CBS to back some of their upcoming projects, so Arnaz persuaded Ball to return to television on what would become The Lucy Show in the fall of 1962. Despite CBS being initially uncertain that Ball could carry the show alone without Arnaz, all the parties eventually agreed to the new series, which would costar Ball's I Love Lucy friend Vivian Vance (who insisted that her character be named Vivian so that she could escape the shadow of Ethel Mertz), be aired on Monday evening (the same evening I Love Lucy ran), and would include four of the five scriptwriters from the old series, Bob Carroll, Jr., Madelyn Davis, Bob Schiller, and Bob Weiskopf. However, since Ball and Arnaz had sold all their rights to I Love Lucy back to CBS to fund the creation of Desilu Studios, they had to tread lightly to avoid infringing on CBS' purchase, so Arnaz bought the rights to Irene Krampen's novel Life Without George about two divorcees living together but decided to have Lucy's character be a widow rather than a divorcee to avoid offending puritanical American audiences. Vance's character, Vivian Bagley, thereby became the first divorced woman as a regular character on an American TV series. Both women came with children--Lucy has a teenage daughter Chris and elementary-school son Jerry, and Vivian has an elementary-school son Sherman. Lucy has inherited a trust fund from her late husband but is not given the power to use it as she pleased, instead having it managed by parsimonious banker Mr. Barnsdahl. Vivian pays room and board to live in Lucy's house, but sometimes has problems when her deadbeat ex-husband is late with the alimony payment. But despite the new wrinkles and window-dressing, the show essentially continues to mine the formula that made I Love Lucy so popular--Lucy repeatedly makes poor decisions and gets into ridiculous amounts of trouble, all played with lots of slapstick. This should not come as a surprise since the show was initially conceived as a stopgap intended to last only one season and had to bank on its biggest asset--America's past love of Lucy's absurd antics. There was no intention of breaking new ground, only borrowing time to get Desilu back on its feet again.

The series' first episode, "Lucy Waits Up for Chris" (October 1, 1962) sets the template for how each show telegraphs how Lucy will get into trouble and resorts to slapstick cornball humor depicting her attempt to get out of it. In this episode Lucy gives permission for Chris to go on a date with a 16-year-old boy who has his own car before remembering how irresponsible she was at that age in the same situation. This kicks in her overprotective mother-hen impulses, at first trying to persuade Chris and her date to stay home and watch a Greta Garbo movie on TV (the first of many such signals that Lucy and Vivian are square and totally out of it), and then embarrassing Chris by rushing out to her boyfriend's car the moment it returns at the end of the evening and dragging Chris inside, not realizing that the boyfriend's parents were chaperoning in the back seat. By the next morning mother and daughter have reconciled, but Lucy now has to prove to Chris that she trusts her by not staying up for her when goes out again that evening. Only, of course, Lucy blows it by dallying around downstairs that evening and then deciding to go into the kitchen for a bite before heading to bed. When Chris comes back with her boyfriend, Lucy panics at the prospect of Chris thinking she is checking up on her, forcing Lucy out the kitchen back door. Needing to get upstairs and into bed before Chris comes up to say goodnight after sending the boyfriend home, Lucy resorts to jumping on a trampoline that just happens to be under Vivian's window, finally vaulting into Vivian's room just before Chris shows up, then having to hide in the closet, pretend to have gone out since Chris didn't find her in her bedroom, having to jump back out the window, etc., all to maintain the pretence that she wasn't waiting up for Chris. It's not a stretch to say that the entirety of every episode is a setup for Lucy to get into a humiliating predicament that involves old-school slapstick absurdity.

In the second episode, "Lucy Digs Up a Date" (October 8, 1962), Lucy wants to go on a date with Jerry's substitute math teacher but is afraid to ask him until she is certain he is not married, so she and Vivian devise an elaborate ruse to get his driver's license away from him to check his marital status (apparently this was a category on 1960s California drivers licenses, but The Lucy Show is set in New York), then neglect to replace the license in his jacket before he leaves, which leads to another series of zany adventures trying to replace it in his room at the Y with Lucy finally putting on his fencing outfit to avoid being identified when she is caught in his room. Lucy follows this up in subsequent episodes by volunteering to referee her son's football game, though she knows nothing about football, buying a sheep because she is tired of mowing her lawn, accidentally volunteering herself and Vivian to participate in a NASA simulation of sending women into space, trying to install a new TV antenna on her roof because she is too cheap to pay a professional to do it, and trying to install wood paneling in the basement to convert it to a rumpus room only to get herself and Vivian stuck to the walls with the super-adhesive glue. All of these pratfalls hearken back to the days of silent comedy, a fact emphasized most blatantly in the final 1962 episode "Chris' New Year's Eve Party" (December 31, 1962) in which Chris insists on hosting her own New Year's Eve party for her friends without her mother's help to show that she is grown up. But when the party falls flat, next door neighbor Harry Conners sends Vivian's sometime boyfriend Eddie Collins to the restaurant where the mothers are spending the evening with their boys to summon them back to save the party. This provides Lucy with the chance she has been wanting all along to show off her Charlie Chaplin impression in a silent sketch in which Vivian also plays a broke flapper looking for someone to pick up her check. Dick Martin, who played Conners in 10 Season 1 episodes, commented in an interview years later that Ball and Vance were basically doing a female version of Laurel & Hardy, with Lucy continually getting Vivian into "another fine mess." Again, The Lucy Show was designed to exploit an older style of comedy that had proven effective in the past as the safest way to tap into a majority audience that preferred the familiar rather than anything new and challenging.

Not only is the brand of humor boldly "retro," but as mentioned earlier, the characters of Lucy and Vivian frequently comment on how behind the times they are, seeming to revel in their squareness. In "Lucy Is a Referee" Lucy teases Chris about her latest celebrity crush, Frankie Avalon, and points out that only a week ago it was Ricky Nelson, while Vivian comments that she has no idea who either of those two people are and sometimes thinks the world is just passing them by, though she then adds that most kids these days probably don't know who Skinnay Ennis was. In "Lucy the Music Lover" (November 19, 1962), Lucy is slightly embarrassed when Chris asks her to go to the record store to get her the latest Bobby Darin record after earlier admitting to Vivian that her musical tastes run more toward Benny Goodman and Frank Sinatra. In "Lucy Puts Up a TV Antenna" (November 26, 1962), Lucy and Vivian try to get the kids to sing songs with them when the TV goes on the fritz, but while the mothers suggest songs like "Down by the Old Mill Stream" and "Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie," the kids want to sing the latest pop hits "Ahab the Arab" and "Papa Oom Mow Mow." In other words, the show's writers are trying to play the developing "generation gap" for laughs. And finally in "Chris' New Year's Eve Party" when Lucy and Vivian take Jerry and Sherman out to dinner on New Year's Eve so that Chris has the house to herself for her party, the mothers try to get their young sons to dance with them after dinner, calling them to the floor during a foxtrot but then find themselves out of their element when the next number switches to The Watusi, with the younger boys having to show their mothers how it's done. While including the children characters on The Lucy Show seems a blatant attempt to rope in a younger demographic than was captured during the heyday of I Love Lucy, the star characters remain adamantly rooted in old-school entertainment. And given how popular the series turned out to be, finishing in the top 5 of the Nielsen ratings during its first season, it appears American audiences were more entertained by the old and familiar than the new and different, perhaps a key reason why the series eventually jettisoned the children characters and continued with the old reliables for 6 successful seasons, all of them top 10 rated. While Lucille Ball may have been a trailblazer in female comedy, part of the Desilu team that pioneered the use of the 3-camera setup in filming before a live studio audience, and the first female head of a major studio, when it came to the content of her comedies, she tacked hard to the old saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

The music for The Lucy Show was provided by Wilbur Hatch, a long-time Desilu contributor who first worked with Lucille Ball on radio. Hatch was born May 24,1902 in Mokena, Illinois and was considered something of a child prodigy encouraged by his musician father into giving his first recital at age 6. But he attended the University of Chicago as a chemical engineering student, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, though he considered the highpoint of his college career getting to compose the music for the annual Backfriar's theatrical production. After college Hatch led his own orchestra but after a year decided to pursue a career in radio, getting hired to play piano on KYW in Chicago. By 1930 he had relocated to Los Angeles, where he became director of music on KNX and worked for CBS Radio working his way up to musical director and working on such programs as The General Electric Theater, December Bride, Our Miss Brooks, The Whistler, Suspense, Broadway Is My Beat, and My Favorite Husband, which at the time starred Lucille Ball. From that time onward, Hatch would be the go-to music man for all of Ball's endeavors. However, it was not to be his only work: his tenure on The Whistler led to contributing to many of The Whistler feature films in the 1940s and the TV series that followed in 1954-55. Likewise, his work on the radio versions of Our Miss Brooks and December Bride (which both became Desilu TV productions) led to music director and conductor roles, respectively, on those two series as well. When I Love Lucy was launched in 1951, Hatch was on board as musical director and conductor, too,  which continued with The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour that followed. In the 5 year gap between the end of I Love Lucy and the start of The Lucy Show, Hatch did not rack up many credits except composing music for 7 episodes of The Twilight Zone from 1960-62. He was also conductor for the December Bride spinoff TV series Pete and Gladys from 1960-62, and served as musical supervisor on The Untouchables while Nelson Riddle provided the music itself. When The Lucy Show launched in fall 1962, Hatch was again musical director throughout the series duration and continued in that capacity to its successor Here's Lucy beginning in 1968.

He also found occasional work conducting on series such as Gunsmoke and Have Gun -- Will Travel, served as music supervisor occasionally on The Greatest Show on Earth and Vacation Playhouse, and was a music consultant on Desilu-funded Star Trek as well as Mission: Impossible during its first season. When The Mothers-in-Law launched in 1968, yet another Desilu production, he served as conductor and musical supervisor as usual. He died of unspecified causes on December 22, 1969 at the age of 67.

The complete series has been released on DVD by CBS/Paramount Home Video.

The Actors

For the biography of Candy Moore, see the 1962 post on The Donna Reed Show.

Lucille Ball

Lucille Desiree Ball was born August 6, 1911 in Jamestown, New York. Though her ancestors included some of the earliest colonists of this country, her father was a lineman for Bell Telephone whose job required the family to move often. He died from typhoid fever when she was only 3 years old, and her mother moved the family back to Celeron, New York where Lucy and her just-born brother Fred were raised by her mother's parents until her mother remarried and the young children were placed with her stepfather's puritanical Swedish parents, who scolded her for being vain when they caught her looking at herself in the bathroom mirror. But at age 12 her stepfather encouraged her to audition for a chorus girl part in a Shriner's production, where she learned for the first time that she enjoyed the attention given to entertainers. When she was 15 her mother enrolled her in the John Murray Anderson School for the Dramatic Arts in New York City as a way to get her away from her older hoodlum boyfriend. However, her instructors did not think highly of her prospects in entertainment, but Ball was determined to prove them wrong and supplemented what little acting work she could find by modeling for Hattie Carnegie. After a bout of rheumatic fever made her unable to work for two years, she returned to New York in 1932 to work again for Carnegie and Chesterfield cigarettes, but she had trouble keeping chorus girl parts on Broadway. Luckily, a poster of her modeling work caught the attention of Hollywood movie studios and she was brought west to appear in Roman Scandals in 1933. Though she found more work in Hollywood than she ever had on Broadway, her parts were small and uncredited in films such as Moulin Rouge, Roberta, and Top Hat until she finally scored her first credited part in 1935 in I Dream Too Much, starring Henry Fonda, whose daughter Jane years later said that he fell madly in love with Ball. Thereafter she began getting regular credited but minor supporting roles in notable films such as Follow the Fleet with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Stage Door again with Rogers and Katherine Hepburn, and Room Service  with the Marx Brothers. She augmented her film work by branching out into radio, first on The Phil Baker Show and then on The Wonder Show, where she first met future co-star Gale Gordon. In 1936 it was announced that she was engaged to fellow actor Broderick Crawford, but it is believed that this was an RKO Studios diversion to hide her alleged affair with married producer Pandro S. Berman. She began getting leading roles in B movies such as Go Chase Yourself and The Affairs of Annabel, but when she auditioned for the part of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind she lost out to Vivien Leigh. Then she was cast opposite Richard Carlson in 1940's Too Many Girls, where she first met Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz, Jr. who had a supporting role in the film. Though he reportedly was not too taken with her the first time he saw her as she was made up for a fight scene in another film, Dance, Girl, Dance, including a black eye, later in the day when he saw her in her normal makeup he is said to have remarked, "That's a hunk o' woman." They eloped and were married in November of that year. Lucy then moved over to MGM Studios and began getting more prominent roles in films such as Du Barry Was a Lady, Best Foot Forward, and Lover Come Back. But her marriage to Arnaz was rocky because of their disparate schedules with him always being on the road with his band while she was stuck in Hollywood working on her film career. Adding to her distress was his reputation as a womanizer. So when CBS approached her to adapt her successful radio program My Favorite Husband, in which she played a zany housewife, for television, she attempted to use her leverage to help save her marriage (she had initially filed for divorce in 1944 but then reconciled) by insisting that Arnaz be cast as her on-screen husband for the new TV series. CBS did not think the American viewing audience would accept a red-haired white woman married to a Cuban man, and they were not impressed with the pilot episode, so Lucy and Desi took their show on the road vaudeville style to prove that audiences would indeed accept their brand of comedy. CBS finally relented and put I Love Lucy on the air in 1951. Lucy and Desi also wisely stipulated in their initial deal that their production company Desilu would retain rights to all the episodes after their first airing. By the time the show went off the air six seasons later as the top-rated show in television, they were able to sell those rights back to CBS for $1million, which allowed them to buy the old RKO Studios lot and launch Desilu Studios, where many 1950s and 1960s TV shows were filmed. They also revisited their iconic series in the occasionally scheduled Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, which ran 13 episodes between 1957-60. But despite their great business success, their marriage could not endure, and Ball again filed for divorce and this time went through with it in 1960. After trying her hand at Broadway in the musical Wildcat in 1960, which had to close when she contracted a virus she could not seem to shake, and appearing with Bob Hope in the 1960 feature film The Facts of Life, Ball was willing to dive back into television by 1962 with The Lucy Show. That same year Arnaz decided he wanted to retire from the entertainment business and sold his interest in Desilu to Lucy, making her the first female head of a film studio. In the meantime, she had remarried to stand-up comedian Gary Morton, 13 years her junior. During this time she also befriended young comedienne Carol Burnett, whom she helped to mentor and always commemorated Burnett's birthday by sending her flowers, a tradition she kept until literally the day she died.

While her new series was an instant hit and ranked in the top 10 of the ratings for its entire 6-year run, the September 29, 1962 TV Guide cover story by Edith Efron depicts Lucy as still smarting from her marriage to Arnaz. Lucy tries to tell Efron she could have been happy as a homemaker and even says that women had it better when they weren't pursuing careers outside the home, but Efron then points out that this is Lucy's fantasy because she pursued a career in show business from the time she was 16 and by this point was wealthy enough that she could afford to retire to a home life if she really wanted it. Efron quotes one anonymous friend of Lucy's as saying that despite what she displays to the public she has hidden the warm part of herself very deep so that she can never be hurt again the way she was by Arnaz. While managing Desilu, Ball helped produce such popular TV programs as The Untouchables, Mission: Impossible, and Star Trek. She was advised not to produce the latter series because it would bankrupt Desilu, which it eventually did. She sold Desilu for $17 million in 1967, after which it was merged into Paramount Studios. After six seasons of The Lucy Show, Ball canceled it and immediately started yet another sit-com starring herself, Here's Lucy, still with good friend Gale Gordon, but this time co-starring her biological children Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr. The series was another top 10 hit for Ball and ran for the customary six seasons before ending in 1974, the same year she played the title role in the feature film musical Mame. She continued to work almost to the day she died, appearing mostly in TV movies in the 1980s, with one last attempt at a series in 1986's Life With Lucy in which she played a grandmother but which was canceled after just 13 episodes. Three years later she died of an aortic aneurysm at the age of 77. In her lifetime and posthumously she has received just about every type of award an entertainer could desire (except perhaps an Oscar): multiple Emmys, including a lifetime achievement Governors Award, the Kennedy Center Honors, two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and posthumously the Presidential Medal of Freedom and two postage stamps. She appeared on the cover of TV Guide a record 39 times, including the initial issue, and was voted by the magazine as The Greatest TV Star of All Time. Not bad for a woman whose first acting instructors told her she would never make it.

Vivian Vance

Vivian Roberta Jones was born July 26, 1909 in Cherryvale, Kansas, one of six children. When she was 6 years old, the family moved to Independence, Kansas where Vance developed a love of acting during high school while performing in dramatic productions. However, her strictly religious mother did not approve of her career ambition, but the rebellious Vance would sneak out of the family home and stay out after curfew to pursue her career. During this time she worked with future Pulitzer Prize winner William Inge. In 1925 she made her film debut in the silent boxing movie The Patent Leather Pug, though little is known about this film which has since been lost. She married for the first time to Joseph Shearer Danneck, Jr. in 1928 at age 19 but divorced him less than 3 years later. After high school, she changed her last name to Vance in honor of a supportive member of her Independence theatre circle and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico where she became a charter member of the Albuquerque Little Theatre in 1930. She was so highly regarded for her performances there that a benefit was held to fund her move to New York, where she studied under Eva Le Gallianne. However, her career in the New York theater world took some time to get off the ground. Initially she appeared only in choruses, including her 1932 Broadway debut in Music in the Air. She was the understudy for Ethel Merman in Anything Goes but years later complained that Merman was too healthy, never missing a show in 5 years. She married a second time to George Nathan Koch in 1933, divorcing him in 1940. She landed her first starring Broadway role as a last-minute replacement for Kay Thompson in Hooray for What! in 1937 playing opposite Ed Wynn. After appearing with Philip Ober in Kiss the Boys Goodbye, the two were married in 1941, the same year she appeared opposite Danny Kaye in Let's Face It, which she left to appear in a North African production of Over 21 put on in support of the troops stationed there during World War II. In 1945 while performing in a touring version of The Voice of the Turtle, she suffered a nervous breakdown that nearly ended her career. Thereafter she became a spokesperson for mental health issues and later served on the board of the National Mental Health Association. By 1947 she decided to leave New York and the stage for the west coast and work in film, but managed only two credits, in The Secret Fury in 1950 and The Blue Veil in 1951 before being cast in a Mel Ferrer production of The Voice of the Turtle at the La Jolla Playhouse that same year. At the same time Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Jr. were casting for their fall debut of I Love Lucy. Ball had initially wanted either of her friends Barbara Pepper or Bea Benaderet for the role of Ethel Mertz, but Arnaz ruled out Pepper because she was an alcoholic and he already had his hands full with William Frawley, and Benaderet was unavailable. So director Marc Daniels, who had worked with Vance in a previous theatrical production, took Arnaz to see Vance performing in The Voice of the Turtle, and Arnaz agreed that she would be perfect for the role of Ethel. Apparently Ball was not initially sold and reportedly treated Vance rudely at their first meeting, but Vance was afterward quoted as telling someone who witnessed the exchange, "If this show's a success, I'm going to learn to love that female dog." The show was not only a success, but the two women became the closest of friends for the rest of their lives. Such was not the case with Vance's on-screen husband Frawley, who was 22 years older than her. Vance reportedly was upset at being cast opposite such an old actor, saying she was young enough to be his daughter, which greatly offended Frawley, and the two, though always professional on the set, were sworn enemies from then on. When Arnaz floated the idea of a spinoff series for the Mertzes after I Love Lucy went off the air, Vance declined, not wanting to work with Frawley so closely, which again angered Frawley. When Vance received word of Frawley's death while dining at a restaurant in 1966, she reportedly exclaimed, "Champagne, for everyone!" For her work on I Love Lucy, Vance received the first-ever Emmy for Best Supporting Actor in 1953 and was nominated three more times. She continued playing Ethel in the Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour specials after I Love Lucy retired, and Arnaz tried creating a western sit-com Guestward, Ho! in 1958 starring Vance as a New York socialite who moves to New Mexico to run a hotel, but the series was rejected by CBS, though Arnaz was finally able to get it sold in 1960 with Joanne Dru in the starring role. Vance appeared in a supporting role in the show's first episode, and she had another guest appearance on the western series The Deputy in 1959. She also made occasional appearances as Clara Appleby on The Red Skelton Hour. Meanwhile, Vance divorced husband #3, Ober, in 1959, accusing him of physical abuse out of resentment for her more successful career. She returned to Broadway in 1960 to appear in Here Today, and in 1961 married her fourth and last husband, publisher John Dodds in 1961.

Vance wanted to leave Hollywood, so the couple settled in Stamford, Connecticut, though they would also spend time living in New York due to Dodds' work in the publishing business. When Ball decided to return to TV and sought out Vance as her co-star, Vance reluctantly agreed under two conditions: she would be allowed to dress more elegantly than the frumpy Ethel Mertz, and speaking of which, her character's first name would be Vivian, as Vance had grown weary of always being referred to, on and off set, as Ethel. She once quipped, "When I die, there will be people who send flowers to Ethel Mertz." But despite the show's success, by Season 3, Vance had grown tired of the commute between the east coast and Los Angeles, so she asked for a $500,000 advance, more creative control, and a raise in weekly pay. The show's producers led Ball to believe that Vance was asking for equal billing, so her demands were denied and Vance left the show with ill feeling on both sides. But once Ball and Vance were able to air things out and understand each other, they reconciled, with Ball regretting that Vance was ever let go and Vance returning for a few guest appearances near the end of the series' 6-year run. In the meantime, Vance appeared in Blake Edwards' feature comedy The Great Race in 1965 and returned to the theater to appear in productions of Over 21, The Time of the Cuckoo, Barefoot in the Park, and My Daughter, Your Son in the late 1960s. She made 6 appearances as Vivian Jones on Ball's next sit-com, Here's Lucy, played a medium in a 1969 episode of Love, American Style, and in the 1970s made several TV movies, appeared in more theatrical productions of The Marriage-Go-Round, Butterflies Are Free, Arsenic and Old Lace, and Harvey, and became the commercial spokesman for Maxwell House Coffee playing the character Maxine. In 1973 Vance contracted breast cancer and after a mastectomy and chemotherapy, Vance and Dodd relocated to Belvedere, California to be closer to her sister. Her last TV appearance came in a Ball TV movie Lucy Calls the President in 1977. Later that year she suffered a stroke that left her partially paralyzed. Her breast cancer returned and metastasized into bone cancer, which finally killed her after one last visit from Ball in August 1979 at the age of 70. She was posthumously given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1991, and the Albuquerque Little Theatre, to whom her family donated her Emmy Award, was renamed the Vivian Vance Playhouse.

Jimmy Garrett

James Coleman Garrett was born September 23, 1954 in Los Angeles, and while he has said that his parents never pushed him into show business, he appeared in his first commercial for Bell Telephone in 1956. His first film appearance was a 1959 episode of Playhouse 90, and the following year he played a boy asking Art Carney's Santa Claus for a Christmas turkey dinner on The Twilight Zone. In 1961 he had an uncredited role in the Debbie Reynolds and Andy Griffith feature film The Second Time Around, followed by an appearance in a 1962 episode of Mister Ed. Then he was selected to play the character of Henry in a Desilu pilot of the book Suzuki Beane, which aired on The Victor Borge Comedy Theatre in 1962. Since Garrett was a known quantity to Lucy Show producer Elliott Lewis and Desilu casting director Kerwin Coughlin, he was called in to audition for the part of Jerry Carmichael. When he passed the first round of auditions and was finally able to do a reading with Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance, Ball loved his voice and he was given the part. However, when Vance left the show in 1965, Garrett and the two other children on the series were written out, with his character being sent off to military school.

Garrett's acting career last only one year after leaving The Lucy Show, appearing in single episodes of Burke's Law and My Three Sons in 1965 as well as the feature film Munster, Go Home! in 1966. That same year he also appeared in another unsuccessful pilot for The Carol Channing Show before retiring from acting at age 12. However, he returned to show business as an adult, first as a talent agent for many years and then as a production coordinator, financial coordinator, and production accountant, eventually working for Dick Clark Productions. He has served as production accountant on such TV series as Rockin' New Years Eve, Celebrity Boxing, The Apprentice, America's Next Top Model, Bully Beatdown, and Shark Tank. He currently lives in Los Angeles.

Ralph Hart

Ralph William Hart was born May 27, 1952, but very little else is known about him, other than his filmography, which is quite brief. Before being cast as Vivian Vance's son Sherman Bagley on The Lucy Show, he had uncredited roles in the feature films The Music Man, Gypsy, and Two for the Seesaw, all in 1962, and Bye Bye Birdie in 1963. He appeared in 44 episode of The Lucy Show before his character was written out when the show was reformatted for Season 4. He appeared in one 1964 episode of The Outer Limits and two episodes of My Three Sons as Kerwin in 1966 and 1967. After that he left show business for good and as of 1999 was working as a hydro-geologist in California. He appeared once at Lucy Fest in Jamestown, New York in 2008 but otherwise has avoided participating in any Lucy-related events.

Dick Martin

Born in Battle Creek, Michigan on January 22, 1922, Thomas Richard Martin's father was a salesman and his mother was a homemaker. The family moved to Detroit when Martin was a child, and he contracted tuberculosis as a teenager, which resulted in the loss of one of his lungs and kept him out of military service during World War II. After graduating from Michigan State University, Martin and his brother Bob moved to Los Angeles to try to break into show business but met with little success other than an uncredited appearance in Father's Little Dividend in 1951 and writing for the radio comedy Duffy's Tavern. But in 1952 while Martin was working as a bartender, comedian Tommy Noonan introduced him to former used-car salesman Dan Rowan, and the two hit it off immediately and formed their now legendary comedy duo Rowan and Martin. They performed their stand-up routine throughout the nightclub circuit and developed a close relationship with Nat King Cole, opening for him in Lake Tahoe and New York. They made their first television appearance in 1956 on The Walter Winchell Show, and the next year made the first of 9 performances on the highly rated Dinah Shore Chevy Show. Martin married singer Peggy Connelly in 1957, and the couple had two sons before divorcing in 1965. In 1958 they starred in their own feature film Once Upon a Horse, and began appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1960. They crossed paths with Lucille Ball when they both appeared on Sullivan's show in February 1961. Years later in an interview for the Television Academy, Martin could not recall exactly when he had first met Lucy and Desi, only that he had golfed frequently with the latter, when he got a call in 1962 from Arnaz asking him to come audition for Ball's new sit-com The Lucy Show. Despite having just finished a nightclub performance at 2 a.m. and having to catch a private plane that Arnaz sent for him at 6 a.m., as well as continuing obligations as a nightclub performer with Rowan after the show launched, Martin was cast as Lucy's on-screen neighbor Harry Conners, who was made an airplane pilot to help explain his occasional absences, just as the real-life Martin had to shoot his occasional appearances in bunches, sometimes up to 3 episodes per day, so that he could return to his real job as a comedian. In the above-mentioned interview, Martin says that he wasn't paid much for his role on The Lucy Show but the real payoff was the exposure of a nationwide audience for a top 10-rated program. Martin appeared in only 10 Season 1 episodes of the show before leaving, and an 11th episode was never aired because it depicted Conners and Lucy having a closer relationship than Ball or the producers were comfortable with.

Rowan and Martin continued their nightclub work with occasional TV appearances on The Hollywood Palace until 1966 (the same year Martin appeared in Doris Day's film The Glass Bottom Boat), when they were tabbed as fill-in hosts on  The Dean Martin Summer Show after appearing on the program as performers earlier that year. NBC was so pleased with their tenure on the program that they offered them a special that became the pilot for Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, which aired September 9, 1967. That single program garnered 4 Primetime Emmys, and when Man From U.N.C.L.E. began dropping in the ratings that Fall, NBC decided to replace it with Laugh-In, scheduled opposite The Lucy Show, in January 1968. The program's innovative chaotic format was perfectly suited for the late 1960s, and the program shot to the top of the ratings and became a cultural icon, as well as launching the careers of such future stars as Goldie Hawn and Lily Tomlin. It won 3 more Emmys and was nominated for many more. It also opened numerous other opportunities for the comedy duo, who were suddenly in demand on other variety show as well as appearing in their own feature film The Maltese Bippy, which flopped miserably in 1969. In 1971 Martin remarried to British model and Playboy Playmate Dolly Read, and though they divorced in 1974, they ended up remarrying again in 1978 and stayed married until Martin's death. By 1973 Laugh-In's novelty had worn off and the series was canceled. Though the duo returned as performers during numerous celebrity roasts on The Dean Martin Show in 1974, Rowan, suffering from type II diabetes, essentially retired to Florida, breaking up the comedy duo and leaving Martin searching for other work. Although he occasionally had acting guest spots on late 1970s programs such as The Love Boat and Fantasy Island, most of his work consisted of appearing on game shows such as Match Game, Celebrity Sweepstakes, Celebrity Bowling, Liar's Club, and Tattletales (with wife Dolly). In fact, Martin was doing so much game-show work that he complained to friend Bob Newhart that it was becoming tedious, so Newhart offered him the opportunity to move into directing on his hit series The Bob Newhart Show during its 5th season in 1977, thereby opening up a whole new career for Martin. Not only did Martin direct 33 episodes of Newhart's next series, Newhart, and 3 more of his third series, Bob, on which Martin also appeared 5 times as character Buzz Lowdermilk, but Martin would direct multiple episodes of The Waverly Wonders, Archie Bunker's Place, Flo, Mama's Family, and Brothers. In the 1990s he also had occasional guest acting spots on Coach, 3rd Rock From the Sun, Baywatch, The Nanny, and Diagnosis Murder. in 1998 he appeared in his director son Richard Martin's feature film Air Bud: Golden Receiver. His last screen credit came in the 2001 feature film version of Herman Melville's classic short story Bartleby, though he contributed to several TV specials and documentaries such as Biography from 2000-2007. In 2002, he and Rowan were given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (for Rowan the honor was postuhumous). Late in life Martin developed respiratory problems that could be traced back to his teenage bout with tuberculosis, and he passed away on May 24, 2008 at the age of 86.

Donald Briggs

Donald Preston Briggs was born in Chicago on January 28, 1911, attending Senn High School and working at radio station KYW in 1928. He began his entertainment career as a radio actor, appearing in a plethora of programs beginning in the 1930s, including Death Valley Days, The Guiding Light, The First Nighter Program, The Sheriff, The FBI in Peace and War, and the title role in Adventures of Frank Merriwell, which launched his film career when the series was adapted to a film serial in 1936. Thereafter Briggs had a steady and prolific film career while also continuing in radio. But whilst he was a leading man on radio and in Frank Merriwell, his subsequent film roles tended to be lesser supporting roles, beginning with uncredited work in Sutter's Gold, Show Boat, and After the Thin Man before moving up to credited appearances in Captains Courageous, The First Hundred Years, The Hardys Ride High, and Dr. Kildare Goes Home. In 1942 he married fellow Chicago actor Audrey Christie, better known as a Broadway performer, and oddly both Briggs and Christie have a gap in their filmography from 1942-49. During that time, one of Briggs' jobs was taking over for Santos Ortega in the title role of the radio version of Perry Mason in 1946-47. During this time Christie appeared in the Broadway production of The Voice of the Turtle, the production during which Vivian Vance suffered a nervous breakdown, as mentioned above. But in 1949 Briggs returned to filmed acting, though this time on television, beginning with an appearance on Volume One. His work in the early 1950s consisted mostly of drama anthology series such as Suspense, Tales of Tomorrow, and The Web. Though anthology work continued throughout the rest of the decade, as well as radio programs like Circumstantial Evidence, he also began landing an occasional supporting guest spot on series such as Ethel and Albert, Martin Kane, and Decoy. In the 1960s his roles were less frequent on series such as Naked City and I'm Dickens, He's Fenster before being cast as Vivian Vance's sometime on-screen boyfriend Eddie Collins on The Lucy Show. But as with Dick Martin's Harry Conners, Briggs' character was short-lived, appearing only 7 times over the first two seasons.

Now in his 50s, Briggs found less work but still showed up occasionally on programs such as Gunsmoke, Hazel, and Batman, while also supporting James Garner in The Wheeler Dealers in 1963. He worked with Lucille Ball again in a 1970 episode of Here's Lucy, but by that time was averaging only about 1 TV appearance per year, the last being Police Story in 1975, followed by an uncredited appearance in the feature film W.C. Fields and Me in 1976. He died a decade later on February 3, 1986 in Woodland Hills, California.

Notable Guest Stars

Season 1, Episode 1, "Lucy Waits Up for Chris": Tom Lowell  (shown on the left, appeared in That Darn Cat!, The Gnome-Mobile, and The Boatniks and played Billy Nelson on Combat!) plays Chris' date Alan Harper.

Season 1, Episode 2, "Lucy Digs Up a Date": William Windom  (shown on the right, appeared in To Kill a Mockingbird, The Americanization of Emily, and Escape From the Planet of the Apes and played Congressman Glen Morley on The Farmer's Daughter, John Monroe on My World and Welcome to It, Larry Krandall on Brothers and Sisters, Frank Buckman on Parenthood, and Dr. Seth Hazlitt on Murder, She Wrote) plays Jerry's math teacher Henry Taylor. Robert Rockwell (Phillip Boynton on Our Miss Brooks, Sam Logan on The Man From Blackhawk, Dean Chalmers and Will Thorne on Lassie, Tom Bishop on Diff'rent Strokes, Dr. Simon Hopkins on Days of Our Lives, and Wally Overmier on Growing Pains) plays YMCA resident Tom Bennett. Vito Scotti (Jose on The Deputy, Capt. Gaspar Fomento on The Flying Nun, Gino on To Rome With Love, and Mr. Velasquez on Barefoot in the Park) plays the YMCA fencing instructor. Gene O'Donnell (Judge Charles E. Webber on Peyton Place) plays Eddie Collins' friend Charley Graham.

Season 1, Episode 3, "Lucy Is a Referee": Dennis Rush (Howie Pruitt on The Andy Griffith Show) plays opposing football player Tony Lawrence. Roy Rowan (announcer for I Love Lucy, The Lucy Show, Here's Lucy, Falcon Crest, and Dallas) plays the pro football game TV announcer.

Season 1, Episode 4, "Lucy Misplaces $2000": Charles Lane (shown on the left, played Fosdick on Dear Phoebe, Lawrence Finch on Dennis the Menace, Homer Bedloe on Petticoat Junction, Foster Phinney on The Beverly Hillbillies, Dale Busch on Karen, and Judge Anthony Petrillo on Soap) plays banker Mrs. Barnsdahl. Sandra Gould (played Mildred Webster on I Married Joan and Gladys Kravitz on Bewitched) plays his secretary Miss Thomas. Reta Shaw (Flora McCauley on The Ann Sothern Show, Thelma on The Tab Hunter Show, Mrs. Stanfield on Oh, Those Bells, and Martha Grant on The Ghost and Mrs. Muir) plays a grandmother at the carnival. Katie Sweet (Peggy Dayton on Bonanza and Tina Dearborn on Hank) plays her granddaughter Katie. Murvyn Vye (Lionel on The Bob Cummings Show) plays a carnival janitor.

Season 1, Episode 5, "Lucy Buys a Sheep": Parley Baer (shown on the right, see the biography section for the 1961 post on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet) plays sheep seller Mr. Evans. Charles Lane (see "Lucy Misplaces $2,000" above) returns as banker Mr. Barnsdahl. Eddie Quillan (starred in The Grapes of Wrath, Mandarin Mystery, Mutiny on the Bounty, and Hi, Good Lookin'! and played Eddie Edson on Julia and Poco Loco on Hell Town) plays photographer Mr. Vincent.

Season 1, Episode 6, "Lucy Becomes an Astronaut": Nancy Kulp (shown on the left, see the biography section for the 1962 post on The Beverly Hillbillies) plays NASA commander Jane Corey.

Season 1, Episode 7, "Lucy Is a Kangaroo for a Day": John McGiver (shown on the far right, appeared in Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Manchurian Candidate, The Glass Bottom Boat, Midnight Cowboy, The Apple Dumpling Gang and played J.R. Castle on The Patty Duke Show, Walter Burnley on Many Happy Returns, Barton J. Reed on Mr. Terrific, and Dr. Luther Quince on The Jimmy Stewart Show) plays attorney Mr. Irwin. Majel Barrett (shown on the near right, played Nurse Christine Chapel on Star Trek, was the voice of the computer on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager, and played Julianne Belman on Earth: The Final Conflict) plays his secretary Miss Massey. Charles Lane (see "Lucy Misplaces $2,000" above) returns as banker Mr. Barnsdahl.

Season 1, Episode 8, "Lucy the Music Lover": Frank Aletter (shown on the left, husband of actress Lee Meriwether, played Buddy Flower on Bringing Up Buddy, Frank Bridges on The Cara Williams Show, Mac on It's About Time, Prof. Irwin Hayden on The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, and Mayor Richmond on General Hospital) plays Lucy's date Dr. Sam Eastman. Mary Jane Croft (see the biography section for the 1960 post on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet) plays her friend Audrey Simmons. Richard Gittings (Bob Anderson on Days of Our Lives) plays the benefit concert M.C.

Season 1, Episode 9, "Lucy Puts Up a TV Antenna": Del Moore (shown on the right, played Alvin on Life With Elizabeth and Cal Mitchell on Bachelor Father) plays TV repairman Herb. Lloyd Corrigan (starred in A Girl, a Guy, and a Gob, Hitler's Children, Captive Wild Woman, The Bandit of Sherwood Forest, and Son of Paleface and played Papa Dodger on Willy, Wally Dipple on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Ned Buntline on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, Uncle Charlie on Happy, and Professor McKillup on Hank) plays dry cleaner Mr. Holly.

Season 1, Episode 10, "Vivian Sues Lucy": Charles Lane (see "Lucy Misplaces $2,000" above) returns as banker Mr. Barnsdahl.

Season 1, Episode 11, "Lucy Builds a Rumpus Room": Chris Warfield (shown on the left, played Rev. Dr. Frank Thornton on Going My Way) plays dentist Dr. Rudy Warren. Jim Boles (appeared in The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Trouble With Angels, Angel in My Pocket, The Love God?, and The Apple Dumpling Gang and  played Joe on One Man's Family) plays a catering delivery man.

Season 1, Episode 13, "Together for Christmas": Joseph Mell (shown on the right, played Bill Pence on Gunsmoke) plays butcher Ernie. Tom Lowell (see "Lucy Waits Up for Chris" above) returns as Chris' boyfriend Alan Harper.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Stoney Burke (1962)


Even though TV westerns were declining in popularity by 1962, the genre was still considered attractive enough that while older series such as The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, Lawman, and Sugarfoot were being put out to pasture, new series were still being developed to take their place. For a glimpse at the changing landscape for westerns, one need only compare the Nielsen viewership ratings for 1961-62 with those for 1962-63: in 1961-62, the top three programs were Wagon Train, Bonanza, and Gunsmoke; for 1962-63, they were The Beverly Hillbillies, Candid Camera, and The Red Skelton Show, with Bonanza dropping to 4th, Gunsmoke to 10th, and Wagon Train to 25th. Another former top 3 program, Have Gun--Will Travel--dropped all the way to 29th, and the lavishly produced and much-publicized new western epic, The Virginian, debuted only at number 26, all of which demonstrates that the old west series was fading. (Bonanza proved to be the exception, topping the ratings for three straight seasons from 1964-67.) Enter the contemporary western, and in particular Stoney Burke, which was one of two modern-setting westerns based on the rodeo circuit (the other being The Wide Country) to debut in the fall of 1962. Rodeo was on the upswing in popularity as a sport. The first National Finals Rodeo was held in Dallas, Texas in 1959. The following year CBS broadcast the event on television. In 1961 the National High School Rodeo Association was formed to extend rodeo interest and participation to a younger demographic. In 1962, the National Finals Rodeo was moved to Los Angeles, placing the event and its fans smack in the middle of the film community, and the College Finals Rodeo was broadcast that year on ABC's Wild World of Sports. The sport was also the subject of 1962 episodes of Dr. Kildare in "The Bronc-Buster" (March 1, 1962) in which Kildare meets and tries to help his rodeo rider cousin, and Route 66 in "A Long Piece of Mischief" (January 19, 1962) in which Tod and Buz come to the aid of a rodeo clown being tormented by a pair of cruel rodeo riders. Given this environment, it was perhaps inevitable that someone, or multiple someones, would decide to create an entire series on the rodeo.

Enter Leslie Stevens, a relatively young and hot scriptwriter (The Left Handed Gun) who had broken into the business writing for drama anthology TV series before moving into feature films in 1960 with Private Property, developed to showcase his actress wife Kate Manx (and which co-starred Stoney Burke regular Warren Oates), followed by the Susan Hayward vehicle The Marriage-Go-Round in 1961. Stevens launched his own production company, Daystar, and set about developing his first TV series, which would become Stoney Burke with veteran but not yet a star Jack Lord in the lead role supported by young up-and-coming actors Oates, Bruce Dern, and Robert Dowdell. Stevens recruited 6-time bronc riding national champion Casey Tibbs as his technical advisor and Lord's stunt double on the most demanding rides, though Lord could handle himself on a horse that wasn't trying to throw him. The rodeo scenes were filmed at Bonelli Stadium, aka Saugus Speedway, and according to an interview with Dowdell in the May 1963 issue of TV Star Parade Magazine the animals used in the filming were just as dangerous as depicted in the scripts. Dowdell recounts one incident in which Lord was mounted aboard a bucking bronc in the chute when the horse smashed him against the fence and nearly killed him, just as depicted for another character in the pilot episode "The Contender' (October 1, 1962). Speaking of that pilot episode, it follows an odd trajectory in which Dowdell's character, Cody Bristol, serves as Burke's adversary after his brother is killed aboard his horse in the chute, and he accuses Burke of being responsible for not restraining the animal properly and then being slow to extract his injured brother from the chute. Yet by episode's end, Bristol changes his opinion of Burke and the two become close friends, with Bristol serving as part of Burke's entourage for the rest of the series. The pilot also includes an extraneous flirtation between Burke and Stevens' wife Kate Manx. But the real drama of the episode centers around Burke being signed by a promoter who is happy to set him up with fancy duds and a gaudy Cadillac convertible with tooled leather seats and longhorns on the hood until he breaks his collarbone when a vicious horse lands on him, after which the promoter abandons him. The episode also introduces Oates as Burke's boyhood friend Ves Painter, a duplicitous, mercenary wag willing to sell anyone out for a buck but whom the stalwart Burke never completely dismisses.( In fact, Oates as Painter provides the most colorful aspect of the program, much more so than Lord as the bolt upright Burke.) But while this and the other 12 episodes that aired in 1962 have their fair share of stock rodeo footage, staged, unconvincing simulated scenes of Lord supposedly atop a bucking bronc (which are as real as Frankie Avalon surfing in his beach party movies), and authentic, newly shot footage of the principals participating in the chutes before and after Casey Tibbs' rides, the program isn't really about the rodeo, which in and of itself consists of similar-looking 8- to 12-second rides atop an animal that doesn't like what is being done to it. As TV Guide critic Gilbert Seldes observes in his review of the program in the November 10, 1962 issue, "I have come up with the not exactly startling conclusion that the horses and the steers and the bow-legged men who ride the one and wrestle the other are all background for what's generally known as the Human Drama." And in the case of Stoney Burke, that drama consists of the title character remaining steadfastly pure of morals despite all the falls and double dealings of those around him, because at its heart the program is like a modern-day rodeo version of The Pilgrim's Progress. Burke's destination and ultimate salvation is the Golden Buckle awarded to the top bronc rider each season. In his pursuit of his goal, he is tempted by many people and circumstances that threaten his quest.

Early obstacles in the series consist of competing sports that vie for the public's attention or the same arena. In the second episode, "Fight Night" (October 8, 1962), boxing heavies attempt to sabotage the rodeo scheduled to take place on the same night in Kade City. Televised boxing was a very popular sport at the time, as often depicted on other series either with a fist fight between the hero and his adversary, or in the sit-com realm with wives bemoaning or struggling to get the attention of their husbands glued to the boob tube while a fight is on. So this second Stoney Burke sets up boxing, long known for its corruption, as the bad guys and the pure rodeo hero Stoney Burke as the good guy, with Ves Painter playing both sides for maximum advantage. The story ends with Stoney giving a lecture to the Police Commissioner (pro-boxing) and Health Commissioner (pro-rodeo) to settle their differences rather than drawing everyone else into their petty squabbles in which someone is bound to get hurt. In the series' fifth episode, "The Mob Riders" (October 29, 1962), the rodeo men have to battle stock car drivers for use of the same arena, only this time Stoney winds up siding with the renegade wheel jockeys who are being shut out by corrupt city officials over a pending real estate deal. To Gilbert Seldes' point, there never is a rodeo staged in this episode; it's only purpose is to depict Stoney as a crusader for the downtrodden.

The other episodes recycle shopworn plots and tread on other genres' turf but fail to provide much in the way of originality. "Child of Luxury" (October 15, 1962) depicts a spoiled rich girl who thinks she can own Stoney just be snapping her fingers, while "Point of Honor" (October 22, 1962) gives us a warped southern "gentleman" with a distorted grasp of family honor. "Sidewinder" (November 12, 1962) and "The Scavenger" (November 19, 1962) are murder mysteries that trample into Perry Mason territory when Stoney has to exonerate himself and then Ves Painter from charges of murder. In "Spin a Golden Web" (November 26, 1962) Stoney has to resist the temptation of easy wealth and a life of leisure when an uber-wealthy financier tries to make him part of his collection, the same temptation Buz Murdock of Route 66 has to resist in the 1962 episode "You Never Had It So Good" (February 23, 1962). "Five by Eight by Eight" (December 10, 1962) is your typical desperate convict takes hostages thriller also seen on Route 66 in 1962 in "Welcome to the Wedding" (November 8, 1962). "Cousin Eunice" (December 24, 1962) borrows the chauvinistic, worn-out story of a tomboy who has to be shown how to be a feminine woman by a man--see, for example, Frontier Circus, "Stopover in Paradise" (February 22, 1962). And "The Wanderer" (December 3, 1962) plays like an episode of Dr. Kildare when Stoney gets embroiled in helping an old friend who is pregnant and about to deliver while her self-absorbed husband has gone AWOL, similar in tone and subject matter to the Dr. Kildare episode "Gravida One" (September 27, 1962). In short, for a hot young writer like Leslie Stevens, who rose to fame on his scripts, the series is lacking in original plot development, trying to rely perhaps too heavily on the novelty of its rodeo trappings or on Jack Lord's charismatic good looks and Stoney Burke's moral purity. The series is still well regarded by its ardent fans, and Stevens would find greater success with his next series, The Outer Limits (despite its similarity to The Twilight Zone), while Lord finally became the big star he had always wanted to be on Hawaii Five-O. And Bruce Dern, who left the series after the first 17 episodes, and Warren Oates didn't fare too badly either. Stoney Burke, however, left the arena after only a single season of 32 episodes.

The main theme and individual episode scores were composed, arranged, and conducted by Dominic Carmen Frontiere, born in New Haven, Connecticut on June 17, 1931. A child prodigy, Frontiere played multiple instruments before choosing the accordion, studying under virtuoso Joseph Biviano at age 7 and performing a solo recital at Carnegie Hall by age 12. At age 18 he succeeded Dick Contino as accordionist in Horace Heidt's big band but left after 3 years to enroll at UCLA in 1952, studying composing and arranging under Mario Castelnuevo-Tedesco and Felix Slatkin. During this time he also connected with screen composer Alfred Newman, then head of the music department at 20th Century Fox, and his brother composer Lionel Newman, who both served as his mentors and provided entry into composing for and performing in feature films. Besides providing uncredited arranging for High Noon, Frontiere played accordion (also uncredited) for Niagra, River of No Return, Many Rivers to Cross, Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, Around the World in 80 Days, High Time, Days of Wine and Roses, and Charade. He was one of the first artists signed to Liberty Records, home to such 1950s stars as Julie London and Martin Denny, and released a series of accordion- and jazz-based albums including a couple in the exotica genre, most notably Pagan Festival. Frontiere first met Leslie Stevens when working on his 1961 feature film The Marriage-Go-Round, and after composing the theme for the 1961 Leslie Nielsen TV cop drama The New Breed, Frontiere was the natural choice for Stevens to hire to compose the music for Stoney Burke.

But Frontiere really struck it big composing and scoring for Stevens' next series, The Outer Limits. His combination of music and sound effects was considered innovative and ahead of its time, paving the way for a long career composing and scoring for television and feature films. He would go on to compose the themes for Branded, The Rat Patrol, 12 O'Clock High, Iron Horse, The Invaders, The Flying Nun, Search, Chopper One, Vega$, Matt Houston, and Trade Winds. In feature films he worked again for Stevens on Hero's Island but had his greatest success with Clint Eastwood's Hang 'Em High, whose theme became a top 10 hit when covered by Booker T & the MGs. Among his many film credits are Chisum, Freebie and the Bean, Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold, The Gumball Rally, and The Stunt Man, for which he received a Golden Globe. In the 1970s he was head of the music department for Paramount Pictures and composed and/or orchestrated for Dan Fogelberg and Chicago, as well as writing the title theme for the film Modern Problems that was performed by The Tubes. In 1980 he married Georgia Frontiere, owner of the Los Angeles Rams NFL team which she inherited from her previous husband Carroll Rosenbloom when he died in 1979. But in 1986 Dominic was convicted of tax evasion for scalping some 16,000 tickets to the 1980 Super Bowl, which he had acquired through his wife, to gross half a million dollars, which he failed to report as income on his taxes. He served 9 months in prison and paid a fine of $15,000. Upon his release, Georgia filed for divorce, which was finalized in 1988. Other than composing the theme music for Trade Winds in 1993 and composing and conducting for the 1994 Bruce Willis feature film Color of Night, Frontiere's career in Hollywood was largely finished. He retired to New Mexico, reportedly worked on electronic computer-generated music, and died at age 86 on December 21, 2017.

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

The Actors

Jack Lord

Born John Joseph Patrick Ryan in Brooklyn in 1920, Lord grew up in Queens, New York City, the son of a steamship company executive. As a boy he learned to ride horses at his mother's fruit farm in the Hudson River Valley, a skill that would serve him well in filming Stoney Burke years later. During his high school years, he pursued interests in painting and athletics while spending his summers working aboard cargo ships sailing the world, providing him with the opportunity to sketch and paint the various landscapes he saw on his travels. At the age of 18 he sold two lithographs to the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and would have his work hung in prestigious galleries such as the Tate in London and the Corcoran in Washington, D.C. After high school he attended the Unites States Merchant Marine Academy and graduated as an ensign with a Third Mates license. During World War II he served 14 months with the Army Corps of Engineers building bridges in Persia before switching back to the Merchant Marines. While enrolled in the deck officer course at Fort Trumbull he took part in making maritime training films, which is when he began thinking about working as an actor. He married his first wife Ann Cicily Ward in 1944 and they had a son, whom he saw only once as a baby, before the couple divorced in 1947 and the son died in 1955 at the age of 12. He attended New York University on a football scholarship and graduated with a degree in fine arts, after which he ran an art school in Greenwich Village before deciding to pursue acting as a way to gain exposure that would help sell his artwork. He studied under Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse while working days as a car salesman. In a November 17, 1962 TV Guide cover story Meisner remembered Lord as a very intense pupil who stuck by his own set of principles, while Lord remembered Meisner as having opened him up as an actor and teaching him how to relax during his performances. The article also describes Lord's second wife Marie De Narde as a "young" fashion designer, but she was actually 15 years his senior. According to Lord's secretary Margaret Doversola, Lord met her when he was house hunting in upstate New York. He found a house that he wanted to purchase which belonged to De Narde, who invited him in. They wound up getting married in 1948 and remained married until his death 50 years later. But by the time of the 1962 TV Guide article, his views on making it as an artist had changed significantly: "Art is a sucker's game. A man has to have a fantastic ability for survival." After studying at the Actors Studio along such notables as Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, and Marilyn Monroe, Lord launched his film career in the anti-Communist propaganda movie Project X (aka The Red Menace) in 1949. The following year he starred in and served as associate producer in Cry Murder and had an uncredited appearance in The Tattooed Stranger. He made his television debut in a 1952 episode of The Hunter billed as Jack Ryan. But his stage career began drawing more attention when he made his Broadway debut in 1954 appearing in Horton Foote's The Traveling Lady, for which he won a Theatre World Award. He then replaced Ben Gazzara as Brick in the 1955-56 Broadway production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Meanwhile he supplemented his stage work with guest spots on a variety of TV series such as Man Against Crime, Suspense, and Appointment With Adventure. In 1955 he had a supporting role in the Gary Cooper drama The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell, and in his 1962 TV Guide interview he cited Cooper as the actor he most sought to emulate--stoic, strong, and humble. But despite the lofty goal of becoming the next Gary Cooper, Lord struggled to break out as a star for several more years despite guest star appearances on popular programs such as Gunsmoke, Have Gun---Will Travel, and The Untouchables along with supporting roles in feature films such as God's Little Acre, Man of the West (again with Gary Cooper), and The Hangman. He finally got his first starring role in a feature film in the 1960 James Clavell-based old western Walk Like a Dragon and was the first to play James Bond ally Felix Leiter in the original bond film Dr. No in 1962. But when Lord then demanded a co-star credit, more screen time, and more money to return as Leiter in Goldfinger, director Guy Hamilton replaced him with Cec Linder. Turns out Lord got his star vehicle on television when creator, writer, and director Leslie Stevens plucked him to play the title character in his new 1962 rodeo western Stoney Burke.

The 1962 TV Guide cover story by Alan Gill portrays Lord as a perhaps overly ambitious go-getter who wants to be "big, big, big!" like his idol Gary Cooper. Gill comments that Lord is Stoney Burke's star--"the only star, at his own insistence"--and quotes an unnamed actor who had worked with Lord as saying, "He could be real good if he wanted to portray a real person instead of a great big star." This same unnamed actor also knocked Lord for trying to be a Renaissance man as an athlete, TV writer, photographer, seafarer, etc. instead of focusing solely on acting: "If he'd concentrate on one thing--and heaven knows he's throwing everything into Stoney--and if he did it with complete honesty, he'd be great. Real bronc riders are mangy, rough, sincere people, not stars." The article also gives Lord's age at the time as 34 when he was really 41, no doubt to avoid diminishing his star appeal to younger demographics. But Stoney Burke did not make Lord a big star, as the show was canceled after a single 32-episode season. One reason Lord dove head first into Stoney Burke after turning down leading roles on Wagon Train and Ben Casey was that he was given 25% ownership of the series, and in a 1969 interview by Jack Major for the Providence Sunday Journal, Lord still bragged about how quickly the show went into syndication after its cancellation and that he was still receiving royalties for it. Even as late as 1975 when Lord had finally become the big star he had always wanted to be on Hawaii Five-O he was a little bitter about ABC canceling Stoney Burke, as Major quotes him from a later interview: "If ABC had had more guts at the time, that show would still be on the air," said Lord. "Stoney was a peaceful hero in a violent setting, a man way ahead of his time on television. And look at the other actors on that series – Warren Oates and Bruce Dern. Look at how far they've come since then."  Meanwhile, Lord turned down the role of Napoleon Solo on Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Capt. James Kirk on Star Trek after demanding 50% ownership of the series, according to William Shatner. He limited himself to 10 guest star spots a year, remarking that more than that would have been overexposure and that the limitation also gave him time to travel and paint. He filmed a pilot for a western-themed series called Cutter's Trail for CBS in 1967, but the network decided to pick up Cimarron Strip instead. Lord eventually got his true star vehicle with Hawaii Five-O beginning in 1968. Again, according to Major, it's first season was a bit rough with poor ratings and complaints from Hawaiian locals about its depiction of their state as a source of crime. The series appeared to be headed for cancellation when a time-slot change and the success of the theme song on the record charts resuscitated it. Lord also ingratiated himself with the locals by insisting on casting native Hawaiian actors in supporting roles instead of the usual Hollywood crowd. Lord and his wife also settled in Hawaii, living in a condo in Kahala. The show ran for 12 seasons, and when producer Leonard Freeman, with whom Lord battled frequently over scripts and other production details, died in 1974, Lord took on the role of executive producer, giving him greater control over content, though he refused to be credited on screen. During the series' final season, Lord filmed a pilot for another Hawaii-based drama, M Station: Hawaii, but the series was not picked up for production and was aired only as a TV movie, the last film credit of Lord's career. He and Marie lived out the rest of their lives in Hawaii, and in 1990 Lord was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and became something of an invalid. He passed away from congestive heart failure on January 21, 1998 at the age of 77. When Marie died in 2005 at the age of 100, their estate, valued at $40 million, was bequeathed to the Hawaii Community Foundation.

Warren Oates

Born in the coal-mining town of Depoy, Kentucky on July 5, 1928, Warren Mercer Oates was the son of a general store owner. Oates dropped out of high school in Louisville to join the Marine Corps, where he served as an aircraft mechanic, reaching the rank of corporal. He would eventually earn his high school equivalency degree and attended the University of Louisville, where he first developed an interest in acting. He moved to New York in 1954, working as a hat-check man at nightclub 21 and testing contest gags for Beat the Clock, and by 1956 began appearing in television drama anthology programs such as Studio One, The United States Steel Hour, and Kraft Theatre. Given his southern accent and offbeat appearance, Oates was a natural in supporting roles on westerns, which dominated the TV landscape in the late 1950s, so he moved to Hollywood and began getting scores of roles on shows such as Have Gun--Will Travel, Gunsmoke, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Tombstone Territory, and Trackdown with friend Robert Culp. While working on his first episode of The Rifleman in 1958 Oates first met director and screenwriter Sam Peckinpah, who would have a profound influence on Oates' career. Though his first feature film appearance was an uncredited role in the James Garner army yarn Up Periscope in 1959, Oates then met director, screenwriter, and Stoney Burke creator Leslie Stevens while working on the 1960 feature film Private Property. After appearing in one episode of Peckinpah's short-lived TV series The Westerner, Oates found a supporting role in Peckinpah's first feature masterpiece Ride the High Country in 1962. Just as Stoney Burke was debuting on television, Oates appeared in another Stevens feature Hero's Island, which also featured Stevens' wife Kate Manx and future Stoney guest actors James Mason and Harry Dean Stanton, another Kentucky native who would be a lifelong friend of Oates.

After Stoney Burke was canceled after a single season, Oates continued occasional TV guest spots on programs such as The Travels of Jamie McPheeters, Combat!, The Twilight Zone, and Stevens' next creation The Outer Limits, but his work began to transition more to feature films in the later 1960s. He worked with Peckinpah again on Major Dundee in 1965 and first worked with another cult director Monte Hellman on The Shooting, starring Jack Nicholson, in 1966. In 1967 he had his first truly iconic role as voyeuristic deputy Sam Wood in In the Heat of the Night, a role for which he was disappointed that he did not receive an Oscar nomination. Oates recognized that he did not have the looks or demeanor of a Hollywood leading man, which may have contributed to his decision to decline the leading role in Support Your Local Sheriff!, which eventually went to James Garner, and instead went with Peckinpah to Mexico to film The Wild Bunch despite the fact that, as his wife later commented, he had gotten very sick the last time he shot on location there. But besides assuaging some of the pain from his Oscar snub, the film allowed him to work alongside his acting idol Ben Johnson. In 1970 he-costarred with Lee Van Cleef as a psychotic villain in Barquero, followed the next year by Hellman's cult classic Two-Lane Blacktop, Peter Fonda's The Hired Hand, and the lead role in a private eye thriller Chandler opposite Leslie Caron. In 1973 he appeared in five features: supporting Ryan O'Neal and Jacqueline Bisset in The Thief Who Came to Dinner, his first and only musical Tom Sawyer, alongside Dennis Hopper and Peter Boyle in Kid Blue, playing the title role in Dillinger again with Harry Dean Stanton supporting, and in Terrence Malick's Badlands. The following year had him lead again in what some consider to be his and Peckinpah's crowning achievement, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. He continued getting lead roles or sharing them with Peter Fonda in films such as Cockfighter, Race With the Devil, 92 in the Shade, and Dixie Dynamite during an era when character actors shone as leading men. He would reprise Humphrey Bogart's role in a TV movie version of The African Queen in 1977 and then do the same for John Wayne's role in the 1978 TV movie True Grit: A Further Adventure. He worked with Steven Spielberg in the 1979 John Belushi vehicle 1941 and supported another Saturday Night Live alumnus, Bill Murray, two years later in Stripes. But despite more success than most character actors ever see in a lifetime, Oates eventually fell prey to hard living, in particular heavy drinking and chain smoking. His womanizing led to three failed marriages, and he eventually had a falling out with Peckinpah such that his fourth wife Judy Jones tried to keep him away from the volatile director when the two were neighbors in Montana. Oates died of a heart attack while taking a nap at home on April 3, 1982 at the age of 53. Two more feature films, Blue Thunder and Tough Enough, which were filmed in 1981, were released posthumously and dedicated to him in 1983. In 1993 a documentary about his life, Warren Oates: Across the Border, was released with interview snippets from Culp, Fonda, Hellman, Johnson, Stanton, and Oates' children. In 2009 author Susan Compo, whose father had met Oates when he was working at the club 21 in New York in 1954, published a biography about Oates titled Warren Oates: A Wild Life.

Bruce Dern

Bruce MacLeish Dern was born in Chicago on June 4, 1936. His father John was a utility chief and lawyer whose law partner was Adlai Stevenson, the two-time Democratic nominee for President, who was also his godfather. His grandfather George was the Governor of Utah and FDR's first Secretary of War, during which time Eleanor Roosevelt would sometimes babysit baby Bruce. His grand uncle was Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Archibald MacLeish. He attended New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois, whose alumni include Charlton Heston, Rock Hudson, Ralph Bellamy, Ann-Margaret, Hugh O'Brian, Virginia Madsen, and Rainn Wilson. In high school, he first developed his love of running and has since then run many ultramarathon races. He then attended the University of Pennsylvania and tried to qualify for the Olympic trials in 1956 but left school before graduating to pursue an acting degree. He moved to New York to study at the Actors Studio with Elia Kazan and Lee Strasburg, driving a cab to make ends meet. When he was finally accepted into the Actors Studio, one of his fellow students, none other than Marilyn Monroe, told him that Kazan had said he had something they had never seen before but that no one would recognize it until he was in his sixties, which largely proved to be prophetic. He had a small role in the 1959 original Broadway production of Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth. The following year he made his feature film debut in an uncredited part in Kazan's Wild River and his television debut in an episode of Route 66. In 1961 he began getting more TV guest spots on series such as Naked City, Sea Hunt, Thriller, and Cain's Hundred before landing his first recurring role as chute boss E.J. Stocker on Stoney Burke.

After leaving Stoney, Dern had a smattering of TV guest spots, including an episode of Leslie Stevens' Outer Limits in 1963, and the following year had his first connection with Alfred Hitchcock when he was cast for the role of Sailor in Marnie. He would later that year appear twice on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and 12 years later appear in Hitchcock's last film Family Plot. In addition to appearing in Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte also in 1964, Dern made multiple appearances during the mid-1960s on WagonTrain, The Virginian, The Fugitive, and 12 O'Clock High in addition to single appearances on several other programs. But like Warren Oates, as the 60s wore on, Dern began getting more work in feature films. He did his first work for low-budget exploitation director Roger Corman in the 1966 Peter Fonda biker flick The Wild Angels and the following year The Trip, written by longtime Dern friend Jack Nicholson. In fact, it was Nicholson who coined the phrase used to describe Dern's trademark ad-libs as "Dernsies" which Dern would later describe as essential to his approach to acting. He prefers to call his craft "behaving" because he wants as little separation as possible between himself and his character, and having lived as that character, he feels he sometimes comes up with better dialogue and behavior than a screenwriter who hasn't inhabited that character. Dern became the go-to for psychos and weirdos and has been much in demand ever since, racking up credits for over 100 films, including Hang 'Em High, They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, The Cowboy (in which he got to kill John Wayne), Silent Running, The Great Gatsby, Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood, Black Sunday, Coming Home (for which he received his first Oscar nomination), That Championship Season, The 'Burbs, Django Unchained, Nebraska (for which he received his second Oscar nomination), The Hateful Eight, and Once Upon a Hollywood. Late in his career he also returned to television, playing Frank Harlow on Big Love from 2006-2011, John Rothstein on Mister Mercedes in 2019, and Frank on Goliath in 2021. According to, as of this writing he has one feature completed but not yet released, five films in post-production, another one currently filming, and four more in pre-production. He has said that he plans to continue acting, or behaving, until he is 100 because there is nothing else he can do. His daughter Laura Dern, from his marriage to actress Diane Ladd, is an Oscar winner and been nominated two additional times.

Robert Dowdell

Born in Park Ridge, Illinois on March 10, 1932, Dowdell attended Parker High School in Chicago, where he said he first contracted the acting bug while performing in a senior class theatrical production. Upon graduation from high school, he attended Wesleyan University in Connecticut on scholarship for a year and a half but then transferred to the University of Chicago before leaving to join the U.S. Army where he served in the Army Corps of Engineers. After being discharged from the service, Dowdell decided to pursue his passion for acting and moved to New York. At various points before becoming an established actor, Dowdell worked as a railroad brakeman, a hunting guide in Mexico, a washer of airplanes, a pin setter at a bowling alley, and a mail carrier for the ABC network. In New York he helped construct the seating and sets for David Ross' new Fourth Street Theatre and was rewarded with the romantic lead in an English version of The Dybbuk. Years later he said the experience taught him a valuable lesson: he didn't know how to act and was replaced one month into the production. He then spent what he could scrape together on acting lessons from noted coach Wynn Handman, which eventually landed him a role in a production of a play titled Time Limit. He then met Leslie Stevens, who cast him in his production of his own work The Lovers in an ensemle that included Joanne Woodward and Hurt Hatfield. The second director for this production was Arthur Penn, who got Dowdell spots on a pair of episodes of drama anthology Studio One in 1956. This TV debut led to other New York-based anthology series such as Hallmark Hall of Fame, Kraft Television Theatre, and Goodyear Television Playhouse. Meanwhile, he continued his work on the stage, appearing on Broadway in Love Me a Little, and in John Frankenheimer's then off-Broadway production of The Midnight Sun, which also landed him in the TV version on Buick-Electra Playhouse in 1960. After appearing with Buddy Hackett in the Broadway production of Viva Madison Avenue, Dowdell was cast in a traveling production of Five Finger Exercise which eventually made its way to Los Angeles, where he was once again contacted by Stevens and encouraged to audition for a part on his new TV series Stoney Burke.

After Stoney's cancellation in 1963, Dowdell was plucked by producer Irwin Allen to play the role of Lt. Commander Chip Morton on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea in 1964. Dowdell stayed with the program during its entire 4-year run, appearing in 109 episodes. In 1965 he married actress Sheila Connolly, and the two remained married for 14 years before divorcing in 1979. Dowdell would continue to find work with both Leslie Stevens and Irwin Allen, appearing in an episode of the latter's Land of the Giants, 1971 TV movie City Beneath the Sea, and 1986 TV movie Outrage. For Stevens, Dowdell would appear in a 1979 episode of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. He also landed occasional guest spots on shows such as The F.B.I., Adam-12, CHiPs, Dynasty, and Hotel. He appeared three times as Senator Joshua Harrington on Capitol in 1984-86 and had a few feature film roles in The Initiation, Assassination, and Skin Deep in the 1980s. After appearing in episodes of Freddy's Nightmares and Hunter in the early 1990s, Dowdell essentially retired from acting, except for playing a minister in an episode about Edgar Allan Poe for the series American Masters in 1995. He retired to the small community of Coldwater, Michigan after inheriting a house from a cousin. He lived a low-profile existence, rarely talking about his acting career, and secretly feeding and helping get spayed a colony of feral cats even after developing serious health issues late in life. He passed away from natural causes at the age of 85 on January 23, 2018.

Bill Hart

Born in Red Oak, Texas on July 28, 1934 as Billy Gene Welch, his parents died when he was young, and he was adopted and moved to Edinburgh, Texas where he played football and basketball in high school, graduating at the top of his class. After graduating he joined the Marine Corps and served in the Korean War. Upon being discharged, he moved to Hollywood to work as a stunt man. He was taken under the wing of veteran stunt man Chuck Roberson, whose daughter Charlene, a makeup artist, married Hart in 1959. They would have two sons, Chuck and Jimmy, both of whom also became stuntmen. Bill Hart began his career as a stuntman in John Wayne's 1960 feature film The Alamo as well as serving as stunt coordinator for western TV series Stagecoach West the same year. He would go on to work on two more Wayne films The Comancheros and McLintock! Meanwhile, he began getting uncredited acting parts on TV series such as The Deputy, Death Valley Days, and Wanted: Dead or Alive. His first credited part came in a 1961 episode of the latter series. He first worked with Leslie Stevens on his 1962 feature film Hero's Island and was then hired as stunt coordinator and cast member for Stevens' TV series Stoney Burke.

The connections Hart made in playing Red Smith on Stoney would serve him well later in his career, particularly serving as Warren Oates' stunt double, which helped land him the role of Jess in The Wild Bunch in which he gets blown off a bridge in a scene that used real dynamite. He would also appear in three acting roles in Stevens' next series, The Outer Limits, but his filmography included many other credits from the 1960s through the 1990s. In 1968 with Day of the Evil Gun, Hart began serving as Glenn Ford's stunt double, a role he would continue for 20 years, including on Ford's 1971-72 TV series Cade's County, for which Hart was also stunt coordinator. His connection with Sam Peckinpah on The Wild Bunch led to another role for him in Peckinpah's 1972 feature The Getaway. Hart and Charlene Roberson divorced in the late 1960s and he remarried to Rina Solowitz in 1976. The couple had four children and maintained homes both in Texas and California. Hart worked steadily through the 1990s and thereafter had a single appearance in the Roy Clark and Mel Tillis western feature film Palo Pinto Gold in 2009. Six years later after a long bout with cancer, he passed away on January 2, 2015 at the age of 80.

George Mitchell

Born in Larchmont, upstate New York on February 21, 1905, Mitchell's early life appears to be undocumented. According to Wikipedia, he decided to become an actor after marrying actress Katherine Squire in 1940, but says that he started his career in stock theater companies and joined the theatre guild in 1935, the same year he appeared in the feature film Once in a Blue Moon, reportedly due to the assistance of theatrical director Clifford Odets. He did not return to feature films until 1941 with an uncredited part in Virginia and his first credited role 4 years later in Captain Eddie, both films starring Fred MacMurray. Meanwhile, his theatrical career led to a Broadway debut at least by 1942 with appearances in The Merry Widow and The New Moon. According to the Internet Broadway Database, he appeared in three more productions in 1943-44 before a gap of 5 years until his next role. During that gap Mitchell and Squire spent 1947-48 acting in a series of productions at Theatre '48 in Dallas, Texas. Mitchell made his television debut in a 1952 episode of Mr. Black, which was filmed in Chicago, but spent most of 1949-53 on Broadway, appearing in productions of Goodbye, My Fancy, The Day After Tomorrow, Desire Under the Elms, and The Crucible. By 1954 Mitchell began getting regular supporting-role work on TV series such as Man Behind the Badge, Suspense, Inner Sanctum, and You Are There. He returned to feature films in 1955 in The Phenix City Story, but most of his work continued to be on television, particularly anthology series such as The United States Steel Hour, Studio One, and The Big Story. Drama series and westerns dominated his late 1950s credits, including Gunsmoke, Have Gun--Will Travel, and Riverboat, before finally landing his first recurring role as rodeo stock manager Cal Bristol on Stoney Burke. During this period he also had occasional feature roles, including The Wild and the Innocent, Kid Galahad with Elvis Presley, and the uncredited part of Father Matthieu in Birdman of Alcatraz.

Mitchell appeared only 6 times as Cal Bristol on Stoney Burke but was much in demand on other series thereafter, including The Twilight Zone, Death Valley Days, The Fugitive, and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. He also had significant roles in the features Twilight of Honor and The Unsinkable Molly Brown. In 1966 he originated the role of Matthew Morgan on the horror-themed soap opera Dark Shadows but was replaced by Thayer David after only three appearances. It would be his last recurring television role, though he continued getting guest spots on Bonanza, The Time Tunnel, Daktari, and The Virginian. His later feature film credits included Jack Nicholson's Ride the Whirlwind with wife Katherine Squire, The Flim-Flam Man, The Learning Tree, and The Andromeda Strain. He returned to Broadway in 1970 to star in Indians. At the time of his death he was in Washington, D.C. to play the role of Senator Strom Thurmond in Conflict of Interest when he died in his sleep at the age of 66 on January 18, 1972. He appeared posthumously in the 1973 TV movie Honor Thy Father. His obituary in The New York Times mentioned that he was a contributor to their paper as well as Life magazine and Vanity Fair, without specifying in what capacity, and that he was an editor for the humor magazine Judge. He was an honorary member of Actors Equity and a member of the Screen Actors Guild, served as chairman for his local branches of the American Red Cross and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and was an instructor at the Pasadena Playhouse.

With a common name like George Mitchell, he has been mistaken for others of the same name on various web sites. For example, in researching this biography I found that had attributed work from the 1990s and as recently as 2015 to this actor George Mitchell, who died in 1972. Likewise, the Rotten Tomatoes web site illustrates his biography with a photo of the politician George Mitchell.

Notable Guest Stars

Season 1, Episode 1, "The Contender": Philip Abbott  (shown on the left, starred in Sweet Bird of Youth and played Arthur Ward on The F.B.I., Dr. Alex Baker on General Hospital, and Grant Stevens on The Young and the Restless) plays bronco rider Royce Hamilton. Carl Benton Reid (starred in The Little Foxes, In a Lonely Place, Lorna Doone, and The Left Hand of God and played The Man on Burke's Law) plays wealthy ranch owner Clay Bristol. Kate Manx (wife of series creator, producer, director, and writer Leslie Stevens, appeared in Private Property and Hero's Island) plays his daughter Erlie. Bartlett Robinson (Willard Norton on Wendy and Me and Frank Caldwell on Mona McCluskey) plays talent promoter Everett B. Fields.

Season 1, Episode 2, "Fight Night": Leonard Nimoy  (Mr. Spock on Star Trek, Paris on Mission: Impossible, and Dr. William Bell on Fringe) plays boxer Art Paxton. Michael Fox (Sig Levy on The Clear Horizon, Coroner George McLeod on Burke's Law, Amos Fedders on Falcon Crest, Saul Feinberg on The Bold and the Beautiful, and appeared 25 times as autopsy surgeons and various other medical witnesses on Perry Mason) plays his bodyguard Moore. Bill Zuckert (Arthur Bradwell on Mr. Novak and Chief Segal on Captain Nice) plays the Kade City sheriff. 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, Doc Burrage on The Rifleman, and J.J. Jackson on Cade's County) plays Health Commissioner Vernon Dawes. Alan Bunce (Albert Arbuckle on The Kate Smith Evening Hour and Ethel and Albert) plays Police Commissioner Turk Willard. Paul Birch (Erle Stanley Gardner on The Court of Last Resort, Mike Malone on Cannonball, and Capt. Carpenter on The Fugitive) plays rodeo arena manager Del McAllister.

Season 1, Episode 3, "Child of Luxury": Ina Balin  (shown on the left, starred in From the Terrace, The Young Doctors, The Patsy, The Greatest Story Ever Told, and Charro! and played Rosalind Hatchley on As the World Turns) plays spoiled rich daughter Sutton Meade. Eduard Franz (starred in The Thing From Another World, Lady Godiva of Coventry, The Jazz Singer (1952), Sins of Jezebel, and The Indian Fighter and played Gregorio Verdugo on Zorro and Dr. Edward Raymer on Breaking Point) plays her financier father Terry. Judson Laire (Lars Hanson on Mama, Thomas Henry on The Doctors and the Nurses, Judge Burton Henshaw on The Defenders, and Dr. Will Donnelly on Love Is a Many Splendored Thing) plays Terry's employee Charley Fitch. Dee J. Thompson (Agnes on Grindl) plays rodeo secretary Lorraine.

Season 1, Episode 4, "Point of Honor": Scott Marlowe  (Nick Koslo on Executive Suite, Eric Brady on Days of Our Lives, and Michael Burke on Valley of the Dolls) plays southern judge's son Soames Hewitt. Ian Wolfe (starred in The Barretts of Wimpole Street, The Magnificent Yankee, and Seven brides for Seven Brothers and played Hirsch the Butler on WKRP in Cincinnati and Wizard Traquil on Wizards and Warriors) plays his father. Patricia Breslin (Amanda Peoples Miller on The People's Choice, Laura Brooks on Peyton Place, and Meg Bentley on General Hospital) plays his sister Lee Anne. Harry Dean Stanton (shown on the right, appeared in Kelly's Heroes, Dillinger, Cool Hand Luke, Repo Man, Pretty in Pink, Alien, Paris, Texas and played Jake Walters on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman) plays his friend Dell Tindall. Ben Johnson (starred in Shane, The Wild Bunch, Chisum, and The Getaway and played Sleeve on The Monroes) plays arena director Rex Donally. Lew Brown (SAC Allen Bennett on The F.B.I. and Shawn Brady on Days of Our Lives) plays a state trooper.

Season 1, Episode 5, "The Mob Riders": Michael Parks (starred in Bus Riley's Back in Town, The Bible: In the Beginning, The Return of Josey Wales, From Dusk Till Dawn, Kill Bill, and Argo, and played Jim Bronson on Then Came Bronson, Phillip Colby on The Colbys, and Jean Renault on Twin Peaks) plays renegade stock car driver Tack Reynolds. Denise Alexander (shown on the left, played Susan Hunter Martin on Days of Our Lives, Mary McKinnon on Another World, Sister Beatrice on Sunset Beach, Lola on The Inn, Dr. Lesley Webber on General Hospital, and Louise Fitzpatrick on Pretty the Series) plays his girlfriend Arlette Hughes. Ford Rainey (see the biography section for the 1961 post on Window on Main Street) plays her father Frank. Gene Lyons (Steve Rockwell on Woman With a Past and Commander Dennis Randall on Ironside) plays Frank's business associate Clyde Lampert. Curt Conway (appeared in Raw Deal, Hud, and Invitation to a Gunfighter and played Judge Irwin A. Jessup on Peyton Place) plays the drivers' physician Dr. Glen Elden. Buck Taylor (Newly O'Brien on Gunsmoke and Det. Bussey on Dallas) plays another stock car driver. Kim Hamilton (Dr. Tracy Adams on General Hospital) plays Tack's mechanic's wife Beth Ann. Barry Russo (Roy Gilroy on The Young Marrieds) plays a police sergeant.

Season 1, Episode 6, "A Matter of Pride": William Windom (shown on the right, appeared in To Kill a Mockingbird, The Americanization of Emily, and Escape From the Planet of the Apes and played Congressman Glen Morley on The Farmer's Daughter, John Monroe on My World and Welcome to It, Larry Krandall on Brothers and Sisters, Frank Buckman on Parenthood, and Dr. Seth Hazlitt on Murder, She Wrote) plays furniture salesman Reese Ludlow. Conrad Janis (Palindrome on Quark and Frederick McConnell on Mork & Mindy) plays his repo man Penn Hudson. Michael Hinn (George Haig on Johnny Ringo) plays bull rider Miller Hill. Ben Piazza (Jonas Falk on Love of Life, George Benton on The Waverly Wonders, Walt Driscoll on Dallas, Dr. Rawlings on Santa Barbara, and Dr. Charles Hampton on Dynasty) plays his son Dayton. Jena Engstrom (daughter of actress Jean Engstrom) plays his daughter Meryle. Virginia Christine (see the biography section for the 1961 post on Tales of Wells Fargo) plays his wife Flora. Edith Atwater (appeared in The Body Snatcher, Sweet Smell of Success, It Happened at the World's Fair, and True Grit and played Grace Morton on Peyton Place, Phyllis Hammond on Love on a Rooftop, Gertrude Hardy on The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, and Illsa Fogel on Kaz) plays town committee chairwoman Ruth Coles. Robert Brubaker (Deputy Ed Blake on U.S. Marshal and Floyd on Gunsmoke) plays politician Senator Dean Guttman.

Season 1, Episode 7, "Sidewinder": Edward Binns (shown on the left, see the biography section for the 1961 post on Brenner) plays attorney Joe Gullion. Mark Miller (Bill Hooten on Guestward Ho!, Jim Nash on Please Don't Eat the Daisies, Howard Jones on Bright Promise, and Ross Craig on The Name of the Game) plays his client Morgan Julian. David White (Larry Tate on Bewitched) plays Julian's cousin Mr. Holland. Gail Kobe (Penny Adams on Trackdown, Doris Schuster on Peyton Place, and Dean Ann Boyd Jones on Bright Promise and produced over 200 episodes of The Bold and the Beautiful) plays Julian's sister Cele Cowan. Strother Martin (appeared in Kiss Me Deadly, The Shaggy Dog, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Cool Hand Luke, True Grit, The Wild Bunch, Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, and Slap Shot and played Aaron Donager on Hotel de Paree and R.J. Hawkins on Hawkins) plays "accident" witness Buck Buckley. Helen Gurley Brown (longtime editor of Cosmopolitan magazine and author of Sex and the Single Girl) plays waitress Maxine. Shirley O'Hara (Debbie Flett on The Bob Newhart Show) plays a nurse.

Season 1, Episode 8, "The Scavenger": James Mason (shown on the right, starred in Madame Bovary, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, A Star Is Born (1954), North by Northwest, Lolita, Georgy Girl, and Heaven Can Wait (1978) and played Dr. Maxwell Becker on Dr. Kildare) plays an old panhandler. John Kellogg (Jack Chandler on Peyton Place) plays police detective Lt. Voight. Roy Glenn (appeared in Carmen Jones, Written on the Wind, Porgy and Bess, and A Raisin in the Sun and played Roy on The Jack Benny Program) plays police Sgt. Tate. Shirley Ballard (Miss California 1944, wife of actor Jason Evers, script supervisor on Mad Max and continuity supervisor on Water Under the Bridge and The Sullivans) plays murder victim's wife Suzan Foley. Paul Comi (see the biography section for the 1961 post on Ripcord) plays her brother Frank.

Season 1, Episode 9, "Spin a Golden Web": Robert Webber (shown on the left, appeared in The Sandpiper, The Silencers, The Dirty Dozen, 10, Private Benjamin, and S.O.B. and played Alexander Hayes on Moonlighting) plays wealthy financier Roy Hazleton. Salome Jens (starred in Angel Baby, Seconds, and Harry's War and played Mae Olinski on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Claudia Chadway on Falcon Crest, Martha Kent on Super Boy, Joan Campbell on Melrose Place, and the Female Shapeshifter on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) plays his wife Mavis. Ken Lynch (see the biography section for the 1961 post on Checkmate) plays his rival Lyle Sweet. John Anderson (see the biography section for the 1960 post on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp) plays veteran bronc rider Bruce Austin. James T. Callahan (see the biography section for the 1961 post on Dr. Kildare) plays Hazleton assistant Bert.

Season 1, Episode 10, "The Wanderer": Albert Salmi (Yadkin on Daniel Boone and Pete Ritter on Petrocelli) plays inexperienced drifter Larry Dawson. Jacqueline Scott (shown on the right, starred in House of Women, Empire of the Ants, and Telefon and played Donna Kimble Taft on The Fugitive) plays his abandoned wife Leora. Milton Selzer (Parker on Get Smart, Jake Winkelman on The Harvey Korman Show, Abe Werkfinder on The Famous Teddy Z, and Manny Henry on Valley of the Dolls) plays hospital physician Dr. Laird. Roy Engel (Doc Martin on Bonanza, the police chief on My Favorite Martian, and President Ulysses S. Grant on The Wild, Wild West) plays rode arena manager Sam Farley. Nora Marlowe (Martha Commager on Law of the Plainsman, Sara Andrews on The Governor and J.J., and Mrs. Flossie Brimmer on The Waltons) plays Laird's nurse. Bill Erwin (Joe Walters on My Three Sons and Glenn Diamond on Struck by Lightning) plays a rodeo stadium doctor. Betty Harford (Mrs. Nottingham on The Paper Chase and Mrs. Gunnerson on Dynasty) plays hospital Nurse Barton. Lex Connelly (technical adviser on Stoney Burke) plays bull rider Gilligan.

Season 1, Episode 11, "Five by Eight by Eight": Ed Nelson (Michael Rossi on Peyton Place, Ward Fuller on The Silent Force, and Sen. Mark Denning on Capitol) plays prison convict Nick Martin. William Schallert (shown on the left, see the biography section for the 1960 post on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis) plays prison Warden Harper. Bettye Gatteys (Judith Potter on The Brighter Day) plays rodeo fan Joyce Carol. John McLiam (appeared in Cool Hand Luke, In Cold Blood, Sleeper, The Missouri Breaks, and First Blood) plays her father. Mary Jackson (Emily Baldwin on The Waltons, Sarah Wicks on Hardcastle and McCormick, and Great Grandma Greenwell on Parenthood) plays her mother. Arthur Malet (appeared in Mary Poppins, In the Heat of the Night, and Heaven Can Wait and played Carl on Casablanca, Bobby on Easy Street, Nigel Peabody on Days of Our Lives, and Ryan on Dallas) plays inmate Curley Bradfield. Joseph V. Perry (Nemo  on Everybody Loves Raymond) plays prison guard Capt. Bender. Garry Walberg (Police Sgt. Sullivan on Johnny Staccato, Sgt. Edward Goddard on Peyton Place, Speed on The Odd Couple, and Lt. Frank Monahan on Quincy M.E.) plays Martin's friend on the outside, Cookie.

Season 1, Episode 12, "Band Wagon": Larry Gates (starred in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Some Came Running, and The Young Savages and played H.B. Lewis on Guiding Light) plays incumbent Senator Tom Lockridge. Warren Stevens (starred in The Frogmen, The Barefoot Contessa, Deadline U.S.A., and Forbidden Planet, played Lt. William Storm on Tales of the 77th Bengal Lancers, and was the voice of John Bracken on Bracken's World) plays his chief of staff Walter Sloan. Addison Richards (starred in Boys Town, They Made Her a Spy, Flying Tigers, and The Deerslayer and played Doc Calhoun on Trackdown and Doc Landy on The Deputy) plays construction business owner Grayson. Mariette Hartley (shownon the right, starred in Ride the High Country, Marnie, and Encino Man and played Claire Morton on Peyton Place, Ruth Garret on The Hero, Jennifer Barnes on Goodnight, Beantown, Liz McVay on WIOU, Ellen Cornell on To Have & to Hold, Sister Mary Daniel on One Life to Live, Lorna Scarry on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and Patricia Clark on 9-1-1) plays his daughter Laura. Len Lesser (Uncle Leo on Seinfeld and Garvin on Everybody Loves Ray) plays pool player Leo. Jean Carson (Rosemary on The Betty Hutton Show) plays waitress Merle Rogers. Bill Quinn (see the biography section for the 1961 post on The Rifleman) plays hospital physician Dr. Connors.

Season 1, Episode 13, "Cousin Eunice": Cloris Leachman (shown on the left, starred in The Last Picture Show, Charley and the Angel, Dillinger, and Young Frankenstein and played Effie Perrine on Charlie Wild, Private Detective, Ruth Martin on Lassie, Rhoda Kirsh on Dr. Kildare, Phyllis Lindstrom on Mary Tyler Moore, Rhoda, and Phyllis, Beverly Ann Stickle on The Facts of Life, Mrs. Frick on The Nutt House, Emily Collins on Walter & Emily, Grammy Winthrop on Thanks, Dot Richmond on The Ellen Show, Ida on Malcolm in the Middle, Maw Maw on Raising Hope, and Mrs. Mandelbaum on Mad About You) plays E.J. Stocker's tomboy cousin Eunice. Jim Davis (Matt Clark on Stories of the Century, Wes Cameron on Rescue 8, Marshal Bill Winter on The Cowboys, and Jock Ewing on Dallas) plays trick-riding troupe leader Shep Winters. John Newton (Bill Paley on Search for Tomorrow and Judge Eric Caffey on Law & Order) plays a hotel clerk.