Monday, May 26, 2014

Oh, Those Cowboy Heroes!


This blog post was swimming around in my subconscious yesterday morning as I woke up.  I don't know where the thoughts came from, they were just there, and they seemed perfect.

I grew up back in the 50s and 60s, when television was still black and white for anyone who wasn't filthy rich.  An only child in a middle income family, with two working parents--something of an oddity at the time--and an imagination that bubbled over would be a good description of me.  I grew up watching cowboy shows, because those were the shows, in addition to the Mickey Mouse Club and Captain Kangaroo, that were available the most.  

Howdy Doody, up there, with Buffalo Bob Smith, along with Clarabell the Clown, Mayor Phineas T. Bluster, Flub-a-Dub and more, kept kids in the Peanut Gallery entertained with puppetry and silliness.  (For those who don't know, Clarabell was played by Bob Keeshan aka Captain Kangaroo.)  To be honest, when thinking of all those Westerns I watched as a little girl, Howdy didn't even come to mind.  GASP!
I knew I'd forgotten many of the shows I watched, so it was Wikipedia to the rescue!  There were adult Westerns and kid Westerns.  Of course I was drawn to the kid ones at an early age.  I did a quick count of the early shows and came up with some thirty-five Westerns I watched on a regular basis from the early 1950s to the early 1960s.  Keep in mind that back in the olden days, we had THREE channels.

So here we go with a list: (Most watched in bold)
The Adventures of Jim Bowie     The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin     
The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok      Annie Oakley     Bat Masterson  
Broken Arrow     Bronco     Cheyenne     Circus Boy     Davy Crockett      Death Valley Days    
Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre     Fury     The Gabby Hayes Show      The Gene Autry Show    Gunsmoke     Have Gun Will Travel     Hopalong Cassidy     Laramie     Lawman     The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp   The Lone Ranger     Maverick     My Friend Flicka      Rawhide  
 The Rebel     The Rifleman    The Roy Rogers Show     The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Show   
Sky King     Sugarfoot     Texas John Slaughter     The Virginian    Wagon Train     Wanted: Dead or Alive   Zorro

Annie Oakley was one of my favorites.  She could ride and shoot like any cowboy.  Rin Tin Tin was a beautiful German Shepherd dog that saved Rusty, the little boy who was a part of the cavalry, and anyone else who needed saving. (Think Lassie.)  Fury and My Friend Flicka were all about a boy and his horse.  Or two boys and their horses, as it was.  Hopalong Cassidy was just, well, Hoppy, and I rarely missed it.  I still remember that big ol' white hat he wore.  The Lone Ranger?  What female's heart didn't pound at the sight of that masked man.  And Tonto, played by Jay Silverheels, wasn't all that bad, either.  Which brings us to Maverick, and I still adore James Garner and always will.  Sky King flew a plane and had a neice named Penny.  I was envious.  Zorro, too, had a mask, and was a part of Disney.

Fess Parker played both Davy Crocket and, later, Daniel Boone.  Circus Boy starred a little boy named Mickey Braddock, who later became Micky Dolenz of The Monkees (1960s music group, for all you youngsters).  Stars were born.  Stars faded, and some went on to other things.  Tom Tryon (Texas John Slaughter), became a author, writing Harvest Home, The Other, and Lady.  The first of those was a terrific horror book, similar to Stephen King's writing.  Bronco actor Ty Hardin's real name is Orison Whipple Hungerford Jr..  I learned that when I was 10 and he was a teen heartthrob.

Those were the good old days.  The good guys won, the bad guys lost, and the cowboy always got his girl.

Yes, there are many later TV Westerns not on the list.  Bonanza, The Big Valley, The High Chaparell, Here Come the Brides (considered a Western, but set in post-Civil War Seattle), Lonesome Dove, and many more.

How many did you watch?  If you're too young for many of these, ask your parents if they watched.  And head on over to Wikipedia for a full list of TV Westerns.

It's fun to take a look back at the things we enjoyed, long ago.  There's a lot of difference between then and now, and we don't see nearly the Westerns on TV or in the movies as we once did.  But we do see a lot of Cowboy Heroes in romance books.  I wonder how many romance authors were raised on the Code of the West as I was?  Is it any wonder I have a soft spot for a soft-spoken, well-mannered cowboy?
The good old days are now. ~ Tom Clancy

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