THE CHRISTMAS ROUND-UP
(Updated Thursday 12/30/2010 -- See Ty Hardin, Geoff Meed Birthdays)
(just a quick note: I've been having some trouble with the links in this post, especially the Gunsmoke episode. If they don't work for you, go to Youtube and search for 'Gunsmoke In Magnus')
I’m getting this week’s post up a little earlier than usual because, just like everyone else, I’ve still got Christmas shopping and wrapping to do. The Round-up’s first year is rapidly drawing to a close, and I want to take a moment to thank everyone who’s stopped by to take a look at the site, and a very special thank-you to all the folks that have emailed me or left comments, whether to tell me about something they particularly liked, or disagreed with, or to correct one of my numerous errors. Your feedback is crucial.
I’m delighted to say that I’ll be starting the New Year with a pair of interviews from a couple of great Western stars, Earl Holliman and Ty Hardin.
TY HARDIN TURNS 80 ON NEW YEARS DAY!
Happy Birthday wishes go out to BRONCO star Ty Hardin, who is as suave and handsome as ever! I got to interview Ty this summer, and you'll be reading it here in the next month or so. The colorful picture of Ty, between the Christmas picture and the Indian Chiefs, is from a Swedish candy-card.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY GEOFF MEED
Friday, December 31st is the birthday of the villainous actor and Western screenwriter of 6 GUNS. He's just back from scaring people in Brazil in FAST FIVE -- that's Geoff glaring under Ty. If you'd like to read my interview with Geoff, CLICK HERE.
ROY ROGERS LINE-UP FROM RFD-TV
On Christmas Day, The Happy Trails Theatre will be showing Robin Hood Of the Pecos, a 1941 post-Civil War story set in Texas, starring Roy, Gabby Hayes, Marjorie Reynolds, and Sally Payne as Belle Starr. It’s directed by the great Joe Kane, and written by Western pros Hal Long and Olive Cooper. It plays at 9:00 a.m. in the west, noon in the east, and there are a couple of repeats during the week – in case you’re busy trying out your new Red Ryder BB-Gun.
And here’s the line-up for the first couple of months of 2011: January 1st, In Old Cheyenne (1941); January 8th, Young Bill Hickok (1940); January 15t, Sheriff of Tombstone (1941); January 22nd, Bad Man of Deadwood (1941); January 29th, Jesse James At Bay (1941); February 5th, Under California Skies (1948); February 12th, Heart Of The Rockies (1951); February 19th, Sons Of The Pioneers (1942); February 26th, Sunset In El Dorado (1945); and March 5th, Don’t Fence Me In (1945) – the only Republic Western with a Cole Porter score!
AUTRY DOUBLE-BILLS AT – WHERE ELSE? – THE AUTRY!
Saturday, January 1st, 2011, New Years Day, admission to the Autry Museum will be free. But better news still, a double-feature of Gene’s films will be shown in the Imagination Gallery’s Western Legacy Theatre. And henceforth, the first Saturday every month will feature a different Gene Autry double bill. January 1st, at 2 p.m., it’s Tumbling Tumbleweeds (1935) and Last Round-up (1947). February 1st will feature Shooting High (1940) and Sioux City Sue (1946).
In a recent letter to members, Museum President John L. Gray touted the wide range of events featured at the Autry this year, including events as far out of the mainstream as George Takei’s discussion about being a gay Asian in the American West, but concluded by noting that their best-attended event overwhelmingly was their first Annual Celebration of the American Cowboy. I’ve heard from a number of western enthusiasts who felt that the Autry had been taking them for granted. If it was true, it sounds like it’s no longer the case.
GENE AUTRY’S CHRISTMAS SONGS
It wouldn’t be Christmas without the man who sang ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ and ‘Here Comes Santa Claus.’ To learn the story behind both songs, and here Gene sing ‘em, CLICK HERE.
DATES SET FOR SANTA CLARITA COWBOY FESTIVAL
The 18th Annual Cowboy Festival will take place April 27th through May 1st, at the historic Melody Ranch, courtesy of the Veluzat family. I attended this event for the first time last year, and it was just wonderful, not only for the event and the entertainment, but for the experience of wandering through the Western streets. The Cowboy Festival will feature the best in Western gear, food, clothing, and living history exhibits as well as performers like Hot Club of Cowtown, Wylie and the Wild West, Don Edwards, and The Sons of the San Joaquin. Returning are past festival favorites Waddie Mitchell, Sourdough Slim, Belinda Gail and Larry Maurice as well as award winning songwriters, Andy Wilkinson and Andy Hedges. Poet Chris Isaacs will spin tales of the West and the Battalion Band of California will make their Main Stage debut. Making his first appearance at the Cowboy Festival is renowned Colorado songwriter Chuck Pyle, “The Zen Cowboy.” Also returning are saloon pianist David Bourne, master magician Whit Haydn and banjo master John Reynolds, as well as Western, Native American and Hispanic song and dance.
This year they’re going paperless, which I frankly think is nuts. While there are a lot of Western fans who are on-line (otherwise I’d be writing the Round-up to myself), a lot of Westerners are hold-outs against technology, and I foresee a lot of fans falling through the cracks. So spread the word, and visit www.cowboyfestival.org or call (661) 286-4021 for details.
FRED FOY – ‘LONE RANGER’ ANNOUNCER -- DIES AT 89
The man who so spiritedly introduced the adventures of the masked man and Tonto, first on radio, then in television, died in his home in Woburn, Mass. He also announced for The Green Hornet and Sgt. Preston Of The Yukon on radio, and The Dick Cavett Show on TV, but is best remembered for these words: “ A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty "Hi-Yo Silver"... The Lone Ranger! With his faithful Indian companion, Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains led the fight for law and order in the early Western United States. Nowhere in the pages of history can one find a greater champion of justice. Return with
us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. From out of the past come the
thundering hoof-beats of the great horse Silver. The Lone Ranger rides
Foy is survived by his wife of 63 years, Frances Foy, their three children and three grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the USO in honor of Mr. Foy's military service in WW II. And in case you haven’t heard his work in some time, HERE’S A SPECIAL CHRISTMAS TREAT: CLICK HERE to watch a Christmas episode of The Lone Ranger.
WRITER-DIRECTOR BLAKE EDWARDS DIES AT 88
The writer-director who was best known for broad sight-gag comedies like the Pink Panther series, as well ultra-sophisticated comedy and dramas like Breakfast at Tiffany’s and The Days Of Wine and Roses, started out on radio, writing for Dick Powell, who was playing Richard Diamond. Edwards wrote the show on television as well, and also Mr. Lucky, and he created Peter Gunn. But his first work on film was writing a pair of Westerns for Rod Cameron, Panhandle (1948) and Stampede (1949) for Allied Artists. He went on to write and direct the excellent The Wild Rovers (1971), starring William Holden and Ryan O’Neal. It was released at a chopped 106 minutes, but was re-released in the 1980s at its full 136 minute length. In 1988 he directed his last Western, appropriately titled Sunset. Set in the Hollywood of 1929, it starred James Garner as an aging Wyatt Earp, teaching cocky young Tom Mix (Bruce Willis) the ropes.
THE AUTRY NATIONAL CENTER
Built by cowboy actor, singer, baseball and TV entrepeneur Gene Autry, and designed by the Disney Imagineering team, the Autry is a world-class museum housing a fascinating collection of items related to the fact, fiction, film, history and art of the American West. In addition to their permenant galleries (to which new items are frequently added), they have temporary shows. The Autry has many special programs every week -- sometimes several in a day. To check their daily calendar, CLICK HERE. And they always have gold panning for kids every weekend. For directions, hours, admission prices, and all other information, CLICK HERE.
HOLLYWOOD HERITAGE MUSEUM
Across the street from the Hollywood Bowl, this building, once the headquarters of Lasky-Famous Players (later Paramount Pictures) was the original DeMille Barn, where Cecil B. DeMille made the first Hollywood western, The Squaw Man. They have a permanent display of movie props, documents and other items related to early, especially silent, film production. They also have occasional special programs. 2100 Highland Ave., L.A. CA 323-874-2276. Thursday – Sunday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. $5 for adults, $3 for senior, $1 for children.
WELLS FARGO HISTORY MUSEUM
This small but entertaining museum gives a detailed history of Wells Fargo when the name suggested stage-coaches rather than ATMS. There’s a historically accurate reproduction of an agent’s office, an original Concord Coach, and other historical displays. Open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. Admission is free. 213-253-7166. 333 S. Grand Street, L.A. CA.
FREE WESTERNS ON YOUR COMPUTER AT HULU
A staggering number of western TV episodes and movies are available, entirely free, for viewing on your computer at HULU. You do have to sit through the commercials, but that seems like a small price to pay. The series available -- often several entire seasons to choose from -- include THE RIFLEMAN, THE CISCO KID, THE LONE RANGER, BAT MASTERSON, THE BIG VALLEY, ALIAS SMITH AND JONES, and one I missed from 2003 called PEACEMAKERS starring Tom Berenger. Because they are linked up with the TV LAND website, you can also see BONANZA and GUNSMOKE episodes, but only the ones that are running on the network that week.
The features include a dozen Zane Grey adaptations, and many or most of the others are public domain features. To visit HULU on their western page, CLICK HERE.
TV LAND - BONANZA and GUNSMOKE
Every weekday, TV LAND airs a three-hour block of BONANZA episodes from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. They run a GUNSMOKE Monday through Thursday at 10:00 a.m., and on Friday they show two, from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m.. They're not currently running either series on weekends, but that could change at any time.
NEED YOUR BLACK & WHITE TV FIX?
Check out your cable system for WHT, which stands for World Harvest Television. It's a religious network that runs a lot of good western programming. Your times may vary, depending on where you live, but weekdays in Los Angeles they run DANIEL BOONE at 1:00 p.m., and two episodes of THE RIFLEMAN from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.. On Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. it's THE RIFLEMAN again, followed at 2:30 by BAT MASTERSON. And unlike many stations in the re-run business, they run the shows in the original airing order. There's an afternoon movie on weekdays at noon, often a western, and they show western films on the weekend, but the schedule is sporadic.
AND I’LL LEAVE YOU WITH A ‘GUNSMOKE’ CHRISTMAS
Here, in three parts, is the Christmas show from the first season of Gunsmoke, when it was black and white, and half an hour. Entitled Magnus, it features Robert Easton as Chester’s brother Magnus. Robert Easton has long been known as Hollywood’s Henry Higgins, and can claim the perhaps unique distinction of having played the same character, Magnus, in both the Gunsmoke radio series and television series. I had the pleasure of chatting with him after the Republic 75th Anniversary celebration (CLICK HERE to read what he had to say there), and hope to have an interview about his work in Westerns later this year. CLICK HERE for part 1.
CLICK HERE for part 2.
CLICK HERE for part 3.
MERRY CHRISTMAS AMIGOS!
Henry C. Parke
All Contents Copyright December 2010 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved