Monday, October 24, 2005


When I questioned the fate of Noble Willingham's character in 'Walker, Texas Ranger', my tele-bloggin' ally in the Great White North, Brent McKee, gave me most of the details:

Noble Willingham's character died two or three years before the series ended, for an interesting reason. Willingham tried running for Congress in Texas, so of course he couldn't be on the show. I don't think he made it past the primaries but they wrote him off permanently.

He also added that the character of CD Parker was a recastaway:

Incidentally, the pilot for Walker had C.D. played by an actor who deserves Toobworld status of some sort, Mr. Gailard Sartain.

(You can find the link to Brent's blog there to the left.)

My knee-jerk splainin for the change in C.D.'s appearance was to label it a 'Quantum Leap' case from beyond Dr. Beckett's own future. Gailard Sartain has the look of a researcher. And a well-fed one at that - probably got a lot of grant money to use on dinner.

But I wasn't happy with my splainin; too much of a quick fix, and not in keeping with the general tone of the show. (In Toobworld, all shows may be in the same universe, but that doesn't mean I expect to see the Muppets guest star on 'Killer Instinct' anytime soon!)

So after giving it as little thought as possible (precious few brain cells to spare as it is!), I've decided to go with an established splainin for recasting - medical deterioration of the character.

We've seen various reasons for this in the past; Captain Christopher Pike on 'Star Trek' (radiation poisoning) Is a famous example. For C.D. Parker's reason, we have a precedent seen on 'All In The Family' - Tommy Kelsey, owner of Kelsey's Bar.

From 1973 to 1977, Bob Hastings had recurring status as Kelsey (and in Toobworld genealogy, he may be a nephew to Elroy Carpenter of 'McHale's Navy'.)

For the first two seasons of 'All In The Family', Brendan Dillon was tending bar, but I don't think he should be considered as Kelsey. Now I don't always hold with what I read in the, but as they list Brendan Dillon only as "Bartender" for three episodes of 'All In The Family', I'll cite them for my theory.

"Bartender" in episode: "Mike's Problem" (episode # 2.9) 20 November 1971
"Bartender" in episode: "Archie Is Jealous" (episode # 2.23) 4 March 1972
"Bartender" in episode: "Gloria and the Riddle" (episode # 3.3) 7 October 1972

If Mr. Dillon was ever addressed as Kelsey in the show, then he could be a brother or some other relative. But it's not believable that there would be only one publican at Kelsey's.

(Brendan Dillon showed up in a later episode - "Boy's Night Out", 2/13/83 - as a customer at another bar and could conceivably be the same guy.)

When it came time to change direction for 'All In The Family', it was decided that Kelsey should have a stroke and end up selling the bar to Archie. And to best illustrate that Tommy Kelsey was too incapacitated by the stroke to continue, the show-runners decided to recast. Frank Maxwell was brought in to play the hospitalized Kelsey for that last performance.

(I don't know why, but my memory for all these years had the role played by Bert Remsen. But the research - including a picture from the episode - makes it clear that it was indeed Maxwell.)

So that's what I think happened in the case of C.D. Parker. Remember C.D. Parker? This is a post about C.D. Parker.

At some point after the pilot for 'Walker, Texas Ranger', but before the regular series began, Parker suffered a stroke. He was able to recover from it for the most part, but it left him looking older, more lined with care, a bit wan and drawn; and although it might be debatable that he lost weight, C.D. was a bit thinner in the face.

Brent also wrote:

The nature of his death was even part of the series finale - let's just say it looked natural.

Write back and give us the details, Brent. I'm keen to hear!


"Showing respect for the Dead is important,
Because the Dead have an image problem."
Alex Keaton
'Family Ties'

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