Tuesday, August 17, 2010



'The Life And Legend of Wyatt Earp'

Denver Pyle

'Bat Masterson'

Robert Swan

From Wikipedia:
Ben Thompson was a gunman, gambler, and sometime lawman of the Old West. He was one of the most spectacular gunmen of the Old West, and his skill with a pistol is considered to be among the finest there was. Many of his most famous contemporaries — including Wyatt Earp, Buffalo Bill Cody, Doc Holliday, John Wesley Hardin and James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickock — knew Ben personally, some considering him a trusted friend, others a lethal enemy.
Ben Thompson had a colorful career as a private in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War, and subsequently fought in Mexico before being imprisoned for murder. After his release from prison, Ben made his name as a gunman and a gambler before being offered the job as Marshal in Austin during which time he slashed the crime rate.

I've only had the chance to see "Wyatt Earp Becomes A Mashall" of the seven episodes in which Denver Pyle played the outlaw Ben Thompson from 1955 - 1958 on 'The Life And Legend Of Wyatt Earp'. So I don't really know if any sort of reformation is seen for the character. (Eventually Ben did become a lawman himself.)

The same can't be said for Billy in the context of this series. In real life, Billy Thompson accidentally shot Sheriff Whitney, (according to good ol' trusty Wikipedia), but in this introductory episode for the Thompson boys (and for Wyatt as well, pretty much), Billy Thompson guns down Sheriff Whitney deliberately. (Hal Baylor played Billy Thompson in this series.)

But with the 'Bat Masterson' episode "A Noose Fits Anybody", an actual event in History is played out, even if it is fictionalized. And Billy does seem capable of redemption for himself. (This was covered in greater detail in the "As Seen On TV" showcase during my vacation with
the entry on Bill Thompson.)

But there is an easy splainin for the difference in the appearances of the Thompson boys between both series. In real world history, everything ascribed to Billy or Ben Thompson happened to only two men. But in Toobworld, there were two sets of brothers who shared the same, somewhat common names. And between them, they could divvy up the facts and legends about the Thompsons.
One theory of relateeveety about the Thompsons who appeared in 'The Life And Legend Of Wyatt Earp': it's pozz'ble, just pozz'ble, that this Thompson family originated in North Carolina. And they could have been off-shoots of the Darling Clan from the Mayberry environs. This is based on the similarity in appearance between Ben Thompson and Briscoe Darling, who would be born in the 20th Century.

There was an eighth appearance by Ben Thompson in 'The Life And Legend Of Wyatt Earp', and he was now played by Walter Coy. And he looked nothing like either of those first two incarnations of the gunman; in fact, he was something of a dandy, closer in temperament to Nobby Ned Wingate of 'Maverick'. This Ben Thompson could have been a time traveler or a quantum leaper, but I'll invoke Occam's Razor and say that he was yet a third man by the name of Ben Thompson. And to him we could carve out another slice of the legend since it doesn't seem to be addressed with either Pyle's or Swan's interpretation:

born in Knottingley, West Yorkshire, England on November 2, 1843

With this Ben Thompson, you can believe he came from Jolly Olde.....

How about that? Two for Tuesday and you get an extra one free!


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