Friday, August 19, 2011


'THE RIFLEMAN'"The Prodigal"
A bank robber forces Mark and Lucas in his scheme after he tells his mother he has an eleven year old son and she comes for a surprise visit, but the robber’s ex-partners are after him.
From "The Rifleman Episode Guide List"

One of the bank robbers out to kill their ex-partner may have been the same cowboy who bet a hired gun named Corey Miller that he couldn't plunge a knife into "The Grave" of a man who swore to reach up and grab Miller should he ever visit the plot.

(Lee Van Cleef played both roles.)

Van Cleef was in several episodes of 'The Rifleman', but "The Prodigal" is the most likely candidate for this connection. In that episode, his character was known as "Stinger", which was an obvious alias. In that episode of 'The Twilight Zone', he was known as "Steinhart" and it's not so far-fetched to think that his nickname was a corruption of his real name. Steinhart -> Stinger.

As for the other three characters who looked like him - Dan Mary of "The Deadly Wait", Wicks of "The Clarence Bibb Story", and Johnny Drago of "Death Never Rides Alone" - those rat-faced villains may have all been sired by the same saddle-tramp who fathered Stinger.....
TOP: Dan Maury & Johnny Drago

1 comment:

PDXWiz said...

Possible candidate for the father of these guys: Burt Tanner, whom LVC played on 6 episodes of the 1951-55 series, The Adventures of Kit Carson. (OMG! The 60th anniversary was August 11... where the heck was a dvd or TV Land special???)

Kit was born in 1809, 11th of 15 kids, and began roaming the West at 16, when he joined a merchant caravan as a tender of the horses, mules and oxen...which was headed towards Santa Fe; he spent the winter of 1826-27 in Taos, New Mexico.

The actor who played Carson, Bill Williams, was in his mid- to late- 30s during the series. Now, chronologically, this links to Kit's career at a point when he was working with John C. Fremont exploring the West, creating the Bear Republic and fighting in the Mexican War, and some adventures then. (In fact, Carson was also the hero of various novels starting in that era, too, before the dime novels really began!)

Carson did a lot of traveling back and forth between California and the Trans-Mississippi West, so that's a good setting for the series. I don't know the specifics for LVC's episodes as Tanner, but he'd be the right age to father these dudes that plagued North Fork. (Even if Tanner was a good guy, who knows how his kids would have turned out, without him bringing them up?)

I'm also suspecting that Tanner is probably related to Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen from the film Back to the Future III and the animated tv series (which established the bad Tannens go back to Roman times, at least). There was a General Bugamel Tanner in the Confederate Army at the Battle of Chattanooga, on Feb. 11, 1864. Will Bill Tannen (Buford Mad Dog's father) was on the Oregon Trail in 1850. Another gang was led by Thaddeus Tannen who seems to have been Buford's son, and Buford definitely had a son named PT Tannen. Hill Valley was founded in 1850, so that would be approximately in the time frame of the Kit Carson series as well as the geographical area.

Even if 'Bill Tanner' was portrayed as a good guy in the Kit Carson show, we can probably conflate him to an alter ego of Wild Bill Tannen, and we all know how bad the Tannens are.

Stinger is right in the line of nicknames like Will Bill and Mad Dog...

All research on Kit Carson, the series The Adventures of Kit Carson, Lee Van Cleef, and the Back to the Future topics are from Wikipedia.

Hope this helps!

Gordon Long