The New Shows: Part1 – Cops & Westerns 1959
New series that made their debut in the fall of 1959. Mr. Lucky, Staccato, Philip Marlowe, Bourbon Street Beat, Hawaiian Eye, Tightrope, Untouchables, Detectives, Five Fingers, Hotel de Paree, Man from Blackhawk, Wichita Town, Deputy, Rebel, Johnny Ringo, Black Saddle, Law of the Plainsman, Alaskans, Riverboat, Laramie, Bonanza. Captain of Detectives is the syndicated title for the original network-titled The Detectives series, all others are original theme intros of that fall. Part 2 on another video includes the sitcoms, dramas and others to complete the 34 out of 41 shows that premiered in 1959. Missing are the sitcom Love and Marriage, the comedy Hobby Lobby, the action series The Troubleshooters, the travelogue John Gunther’s High, the specials anthologies Sunday Showcase and Bell Telephone Hour, and the variety show Dick Clark’s World of Talent.
Joel McCrea played Marshal Mike Dunbar, in charge of keeping the peace the booming cowtown of Wichita, Kansas. His deputies were Ben Matheson, played by McCrea’s real life son, Jody, and Rico Rodriquez, portrayed by Carlos Romero. Making occasional appearances were the town doctor, Nat Wyndham (played by George Neise), the blacksmith, Aeneas MacLinahan (played by Robert Anderson), and the bartender in the local saloon, Joe Kingston, played in six episodes by Robert Foulk.
The model for shows such as these had already been laid out by other western programs such as Gunsmoke, Lawman, and The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, so Wichita Townmay not have been unique in its plotting and structure. The two most unusual features about the series were the presence of Joel McCrea, a favorite of Western movie audiences for his performance in such films as Union Pacific, Buffalo Bill, and Ramrod, and the fact that his real life son was in Wichita Town, but did not play his son. Wichita Town was produced by Mirisch Company and Joel McCrea’s Production company for Four Star Television and aired for a single season.
- Joel McCrea as Mike Dunbar
- Richard Coogan, formerly of NBC’s The Californians, was cast as the Reverend Nichols in “The Devil’s Choice” (1959).
- Ben Cooper, as Tom Warren in “Passage to the Enemy”
- Dennis Cross, as Fred Keever in “Second Chance” (1960)
- Yvonne Lime Fedderson, as Fran in “Biggest Man in Town” (1959)
- Frank Ferguson, as Mayor Eric Holbein in “The Night the Cowboys Roared” (1959) and “The Frontiersman (1960)
- Jock Gaynor‘s first acting appearance was as Joe Malone in Wichita Town. Later that year he landed a supporting role on another NBC western, Outlaws.
- Ron Hayes, as Scotty in the episode “Sidekicks”
- I. Stanford Jolley, as Smokey, and John McIntire, as Frank Matheson prior to his Chris Hale starring role in Wagon Train, were cast together in the episode “Paid in Full”.
- Keith Larsen, star of NBC’s Northwest Passage, appeared on Wichita Town in the role of the Indian, Blue Raven, in “Seed of Hate” (1960).
- Suzanne Lloyd, as Laura in “Afternoon in Town” and “Sidekicks” (1960)
- Mort Mills, as Pete Bennett in “Man on the Hill” (1959)
- John M. Pickard, formerly of Boots and Saddles, appeared twice in episodes “Wyndham’s Way” and as a character named Bain in the episode “Second Chance”.
- Robert F. Simon, as Walt McCloud in “Second Chance”