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Tales of the Texas Rangers


Texas Rangers 26 Men

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506px-Willard_Parker_Harry_Lauter_Tale_of_the_Texas_Rangers_1957Willard Parker (left) and Harry Lauter in 1957

Tales of the Texas Rangers is a western old-time radio drama, which aired on NBC from July 8, 1950 to September 14, 1952, and thereafter a 52-episode CBS television seriesbroadcast on Saturday mornings from 1955 to 1958. Film star Joel McCrea voiced the radio version as the fictitious Texas Ranger Jayce Pearson, who uses the latest scientific techniques to identify criminals. His faithful horse, Charcoal (or “Charky”), helps Pearson to track down the culprits. The radio shows, some of which are available on the Internet, are reenactments of actual Texas Ranger cases.

The television version was produced and also directed for several episodes by Stacy Keach, Sr. It was sponsored for part of its run by Wheaties cereal. Captain Manuel T. “Lone Wolf” Gonzaullas, who was said to have killed thirty-one men during his 30-year career as a Texas Ranger, was the consultant for the television series, filmed by Screen Gems.

On radio, Joel McCrea’s Pearson often worked by request with a local sheriff’s office or police department, but in the television version, Willard Parker assumed the role of Jace Pearson and had a regular partner, Ranger Clay Morgan, who had been an occasional character on the radio show. Morgan was portrayed in the television version by Harry LauterWilliam Boyett appeared five times on the television series, including the role of Wade Crowell in the 1955 premiere episode, “Ransom Flight.”

During the opening and closing credits of the television series, the actors march toward the camera as an off-screen men’s chorus sings the theme song, “These Are Tales of Texas Rangers,” to the tune of “The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You” and “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” The radio series used contemporary cases and modern detective methods to solve crimes; it was a procedural drama, in many ways Jack Webb‘s Dragnet with a western flavor. The television version had some episodes set in the 1950s, comparable in some ways to Rod Cameron‘s syndicated series, State Trooper. Other episodes were set in the 19th century in a traditional western genre. In each case, Parker and Lauter were involved with chases and shoot-outs. The weaponry varied greatly between the modern and older stories.

Irving J. Moore, later with Gunsmoke, began his career as a director on two episodes of Tales of the Texas Rangers. Besides Keach and Moore, the other directors included Lew LandersGeorge Blair, and Earl Bellamy.

Guest stars (TV series)

  • 469px-Joel_McCrea_Tales_of_the_Texas_Rangers_1950Joel McRae in publicity still issued for radio series (but actually in costume for the 1950 film The Outriders).
  • Chris Alcaide, as Clint Hollister in “Uranium Pete”, as Slade in “Hail to the Rangers” (both 1955), and as Ben Thomas in “Trail Herd” (1957)
  • Stanley Andrews, four episodes, mainly as Marshal MacDonald
  • Morris Ankrum, as Colonel Cole Bryson in “Trail Herd” (1957)
  • Gregg Barton, as George Webster in “Horseman of the Sierras” (1956) and as Quiqley in “Double Reward” (1957)
  • Lane Bradford, as Asa Brockway in “Blazing Across the Pecos” and as Big Jack in “The Rough Tough West” (both 1955)
  • X Brands, as Johnnie Tyce in “Whirlwind Raiders” (1957)
  • Paul Brinegar, as the lead guest star in “The Hobo” (1956)
  • Andy Clyde in “Hardrock’s Dilemma” and “Double Reward” (both 1957)
  • Michael Dante, as Alfred in “Edge of Danger” (1958)
  • Anthony Eisley, as Jack Carr in “Kickback” (1958)
  • Dick Elliott, as prospector Pete Cooper in “Uranium Pete” (1955) and as Sheriff Tiny Morris in “Both Barrels Blazine” (1957)
  • Frank Ferguson, as Dembrow in “Deadfall” (1958)
  • Leo Gordon, as Joe Brock in “Desert Fury” (1958)
  • Ron Hagerthy, as Jim Hartley in “The Devil’s Deputy” (1956)
  • Don C. Harvey, as Milo Paxin in “Return of the Rough Riders” (1955)
  • Harry Harvey, Jr., as Jeff Thorpe in “Traitor’s Gold” (1958)
  • Ed Hinton, as Matt Carter in “Blazing Across the Pecos” and as Walker in “The Rough, Tough West” (both 1955)
  • I. Stanford Jolley, as Sheriff Clinton in “West of Sonora;” the sheriff fights a former outlaw for custody of a little girl.
  • James Lydon, as Lt. Jared Evans in “Warpath” (1958)
  • Ewing Mitchell, as Tom Weldon in “Whirlwind Raiders” (1957)
  • Dennis Moore, as Jim Webb in “Panhandle” (1956)
  • Burt Mustin, as Ned Watkins in “Home in San Antone” (1955)
  • Gregg Palmer, as Pete Hackett in “Panhandle” (1956)
  • Eddie Parker, three times and as stuntman
  • John M. Pickard, as Frank Warren in “Ransom Flight”, the series premiere
  • Paul Picerni, as Philip Conzog in “Gypsy Boy” (1957)
  • Denver Pyle, as Noah Reed in “Texas Flyer” (1958)
  • Rhodes Reason, as Sheriff Tom Keever in “Uranium Pete” and as Dave in “Hail to the Rangers” (both 1955)
  • Olan Soule, as Bill Peters in “Steel Trap” (1958)
  • Marjorie Stapp, as Stacey Walker in “Ambush” (1958, series finale)
  • Dub Taylor, as Jack Geyer in “The Fifth Plague” (1958)
  • Pierre Watkin, as Ross Oliver in “Jace and Clay” (1958)
  • Grant Withers, as Ramrod Johnson in “Cattle Drive” (1958)

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