Thursday, August 4, 2011


"End Of A Young Gun"
When Mark gets caught on a mountain ledge, a young outlaw risks his life to rescue him and breaks his leg doing so.

"The Mind Reader"
A young man accused of a murder he didn’t commit is finally cleared by the accidental discovery of a “mind reader.”

We met two of Little Joe Cartwright's children in the 'Bonanza' TV movie sequels - Benj and Sara. But he may have had at least one other son many years earlier, when he was practically still a boy himself.
"Hello, Darlin'...."
At some point in 1861, when he was 19 years old, Little Joe could have had an affair with a married homesteader named Mrs. Fulton. (She may even have been his first.) Mrs. Fulton already had a son Henry (known by the nickname "Hank") by her husband; but for whatever reason, she felt the need to stray outside her marriage. And from that affair (which was more than likely just a one-night stand), she became pregnant by Little Joe but passed the child off as her husband's. (The virility of TV characters being akin to that of the Greek gods, a child would naturally have resulted from the one-night stand.)
Little Joe Cartwright (left) and Will Fulton (right)
As he got older, it would eventually become evident by his physical features that William "Will" Fulton was the son of Little Joe Cartwright. But the buffalo chips never hit the fan with any revelation of the scandal, however. When Will was still young, probably no more than fifteen, he and his half-brother Hank were left orphans after their parents were killed by a man named Carson who stole their land.
The Fulton boys turned to crime in their grief, but Will's heart was never into it. The outlaw life may have eventually led to his death, had his path never crossed with Mark McCain and his father Lucas (who was also known as 'The Rifleman'.)
(Both Lucas and Mark McCain kept journals of their life in Northfork, New Mexico, which are available on line where you can read Lucas' account of their encounter with Will Fulton.)

That episode of 'The Rifleman', "End Of A Young Gun", took place from August through September of 1881, not long after the McCains bought the Dunlap ranch. So if Will Fulton was nineteen years old as the Marshal figured, then he was born in 1862. And if he was the son of Little Joe Cartwright, he was probably conceived in 1861, when Little Joe was only nineteen himself. (Little Joe was born in 1842.)

I've looked through the 'Bonanza' episode guide to see if there was any place in which an off-screen "adventure" could have taken place in which Little Joe was able to conceive a son by Mrs. Fulton. The easiest answer would be during the show's hiatus between the second and third season, at some point between "Sam Hill" [June 3, 1961] and "The Smiler" [September 24, 1961.]

Why 1961? A prominent 'Bonanza' fan-site says that the common thinking in establishing the dateline for the show is that each season was broadcast 100 years after the "actual" events took place. So if we're looking for something that happened in 1861, it had to be found in (or between) the episodes shown in 1961. I tend to agree with that thinking.

But I did find an actual episode which definitely had pozz'bilities to be the framework in which Little Joe met and impregnated Mrs. Fulton......

From "Bonanza: Scenery Of The Ponderosa":
59.) The Gift
April 1, 1961
While crossing the desert to Yuma, Arizona, with a white stallion intended as a birthday present for Ben, Joe runs into a pack of merciless comancheros. His companion, a former comanchero, Emiliano, who raised the horse, must get he and Joe through safely. A season two highlight of the series.
While he was on the way to Yuma to make the purchase of the horse, Little Joe may have spent the night with Mr. and Mrs. Fulton and their son Hank.

(In my imagination, I see the situation develop along the same lines as seen in the movie "The Missouri Breaks" when John P. Ryan's character of Cy was going to sleep in the barn of another homesteader family, and the wife showed him out to the barn......)
Since Will Fulton voluntarily turned himself in and returned the loot stolen by Hank and his gang, he may have been given a much-reduced sentence by Judge Hanavan (perhaps influenced by Lucas McCain's testimony.) I don't think he would have been sent away to prison for any longer a time than six months. After he paid his debt to society, Fulton returned to North Fork, but he had changed his name to William "Billy" Mathis because he wanted a fresh start in life.
(I'm not sure if the shocking conditions we see in today's prisons - as depicted in a show like 'Oz' - existed back then, but a pretty boy like Will......? It must have been uncomfortable in the saddle on the ride back to North Fork.......)
Unfortunately for Will, it looks as though the lovely young Ann Bard who met him while he was recuperating at the McCain ranch couldn't wait for him to serve out his sentence. By the time we meet up with him again - as I said, now with the moniker of Billy Mathis - he was seeing the daughter of another rancher, Lucy Hallager.
Billy ended up being framed for the murder of Lucy's father, who told Billy publicly to stay away from his daughter. (Probably because of Billy's time spent in prison and riding with Hank Fulton's gang.) Things were going so badly for Billy during the trial that Lucy broke him out of the jail. (Because of incidents like this, Marshal Micah Torrance now has a bad reputation among many televisiologists. But if he was better at his job, there wouldn't have been that much for "the Rifleman" to do.)
Luckily, North Fork was visited by a traveling "mind reader" named John Barrow McBride whose "powers" were used to flush out the real killer. Billy and Lucy were then free to start new lives; and since they were never seen again in North Fork, it's pozz'ble, just pozz'ble, that Lucy sold the family ranch to finance their future together.
I was tempted to say that Billy pursued a career in the cavalry - as seen with an unnamed Michael Landon character in an episode of 'Cheyenne', but the Toobworld timeline prohibits that. "Decision" took place back in the 1870's, as did the 'Cheyenne' series in general.

On second thought, that's probably a good thing, considering.....
One last thing:

One thing I always enjoy about the Toobworld timeline is how sometimes events are broadcast out of order. We got to meet Michael Landon's character(s) of Will Fulton/Billy Mathis a few years before he finally hit the big time with his signature role of Little Joe Cartwright on 'Bonanza'......

1 comment:

Watch TV Shows said...

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