Friday, August 1, 2014


August is the month in which we traditionally induct a TV character from one of the Westerns.  And I wouldn't want to break with Tradition.

The 2014 TV Western character who's being inducted into the Hall is U.S. Marshal Sam Buckhart, in memory of Michael Ansara who died last Summer.  

Sam Buckhart was the main character of 'Law Of The Plainsman'.  But he was introduced in two episodes of 'The Rifleman'.

His appearance in 'The Rifleman' took place at some time in the 1880s, since the McCains didn't come to North Fork and buy their ranch until 1881.

As seen in 'The Rifleman'

The TV series began in 1878 at least, determined by the proclamation of "amnesty" declared by New Mexco governor Lew Wallace for gunfighters involved in the Lincoln County War.  (Historically, this happened in the Autumn of 1878 and it was news to Marshal Buckhart.)

So here we have a TV character whose life didn't begin with his introduction into the inner history of Toobworld.

But that still leaves us one shy of the required three appearances in three different TV venues.  And with my nominee for the third attribute of eligibility, I had to engage in conjecture based on the Game of the Name.

I'm going to claim that U.S. Marshal Sam Buckhart died while using the alias of "Reynolds" when he later became a special agent for the Overland Express.

As "Reynolds", Buckhart was in charge of an Overland Express shipment of $200,000.  He and his deputies were ambushed and he was the only one to survive - at least long enough to reach Opportunity, Arizona, and deposit the money in safe to be found in that one-dog town's only bank.

("Reynolds" had taken the Southern route and then headed north through the desert.  That probably means he began his journey in his native New Mexico and came through the Chihuahuan Desert.  The Chihuahuan Desert is the easternmost and southernmost of the four North American deserts.  So if we're looking for Opportunity, Arizona, on a Toobworld map, we'd probably find it at the northernmost tip of the Chihuahuan Desert.)

Before he had the chance to get horse doctor Henry Gill to cut the bullet out of him, "Reynolds" keeled over and died outside the saloon.  He was buried just outside of Opportunity, with no one in town knowing that his real name was Sam Buckhart.

The splainin is simple enough - At least a decade after being a U.S. Marshal in New Mexico, Sam Buckhart finally decided to take a new job that paid better: workng for the Overland Express.  But with this one last job (not that he knew it), Buckhart decided that his reputation might precede him and there could be outlaws ready to steal the money if they knew Sam Buckhart was hired to escort the shipment.  

So he chose the name of "Reynolds".  I'm not sure what led him to that choice.  Perhaps it was the name of someone he knew when he was a U.S. Marshal.  (However, I checked the cast lists for the episodes of 'Law Of The Plainsman' and no Reynolds showed up.)

There was a Jack and Clara Reynolds who took the 'Wagon Train' west.  A riverboat passenger named Harvey Reynolds whom 'Cheyenne' Bodie encountered.  And a Sarah Reynolds who was accused of being a witch in an episode of 'Bonanza'.

Also in an episode of 'Bonanza', there was another Reynolds who was a major at a fort in Arizona and who bore an uncanny resemblance to Deputy Sheriff Clem (a recurring character on 'Bonanza'.)  Major Reynolds disobeyed a direct order and tried to wipe out Cochise, so I don't think he was the inspiration for the name.  Especially since Sam Buckhart must have known how much he himself resembled Cochise.

But wherever he got the name, Sam Buckhart took it with him to his grave, never revealing his true identity to the people of Opportunity, Arizona.

At least that's my story and I'm sticking with it.

So here's to you, Sam Buckhart.  Apache.  U.S. Marshal.  Harvard-educated.  Special Agent for the Overland Express.

And now, a member of the TV Crossover Hall of Fame!

  • 'Law Of The Plainsman'
  • 'The Rifleman' - "The Indian"
  • 'The Rifleman' - "The Raid"
  • "Shootout In A One-Dog Town" (TV movie)

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