Friday, August 4, 2017


For our next look at an historical Western figure as seen on 'Death Valley Days', we have notorious outlaw Bob Dalton.....

From Wikipedia:

Robert Rennick Dalton (May 13, 1869 – October 5, 1892), better known as Bob Dalton, was an American outlaw in the American Old West. He led the ill-fated Dalton Gang raid on two banks in Coffeyville, Kansas. Ambushed by town citizens, Bob, Bill Power, Grat Dalton and Richard L. "Dick" Broadwell were all killed.

The gang split to pursue their own goals after the Adair raid. Bob and his brothers were deeply concerned with the pressure put upon them by the law. They decided to make one last robbery to earn enough money to leave the country. Their plan was to rob two banks in the same town at the same time to get the money and to also make history for accomplishing something that no other outlaw gang had even attempted. Their target was their old hometown of Coffeyville, Kansas.

Early on Oct. 5 1892, Bob, Grat, Emmett, Powers and Broadwell entered Coffeyville. Tying up their horses in the alley across from the banks, they walked across the street dividing into two groups before entering the Condon National Bank and First National Bank. Well known by the townspeople they were recognized and an alarm was given. Townsmen quickly armed themselves with guns from the local hardware stores and took positions to defend their town. 

As the Dalton Gang began their escape a gun battle erupted that killed gang members and four town citizens. The lone survivor among the gang, Emmett, was seriously wounded receiving 23 gunshot wounds[4] and he stood trial for the bank robberies after recovering. Sentenced to life in prison, he was granted a pardon by the governor after 14 years.

Deputy Marshal Heck Thomas remembered Bob Dalton as the most accurate shot he had ever seen. Dalton is buried at the Coffeyville, Kansas Cemetery under a group marker for himself, his brother Grat, and Bill Power.

At the time of his death, Bob Dalton was only 23 years old.  (This could be an example of that number from the Valenzetti Equation exuding its influence.)  None of the actors who portrayed him was anywhere near in age to him, all being older.  The closest in age to Dalton was Ron Hargrave - 28 when he played the role.

Our spotlight here is on Forrest Tucker as Bob Dalton, since the month's theme is 'Death Valley Days'.  But this member of the triumvirate of Hollywood's greatest "swordsmen" (the other two being Gary Cooper and Milton Berle) was also the oldest actor in the role.  He was 45 years old at the time.  

Bob Dalton was not played on a continuing basis in any TV series, but only appeared in single episodes of either anthology series or in shows which featured at least one regular character.  The final three appearances of Bob Dalton's televersion in the greater TV Universe were all in TV movies.  As such, they can each be relegated to alternate Toobworlds, including one for Toobworld-MOTW.  (As "The Last Day" was the first of these TV movies, then Robert Conrad's portrayal of Bob Dalton gets the "honor" of being the official "portrait" in the "Movie Of The Week Toobworld".

The Last Day (1975) 
Played by Robert Conrad 
(43 years old)

The Last Ride of the Dalton Gang (1979) 
Played by Cliff Potts
(37 years old)

Belle Starr (1980) 
Played by Jesse Vint 
(approximately mid to late thirties)

As for his other incarnations in TV series, I would like to keep all of these in the main Toobworld, despite the recastaway factor.  But I think we can splain that away by claiming that the physical differences were due to Bob Dalton as seen from the point of view of some other character in the story (usually the main character of the show.)

    - The Daltons Must Die: Part 1 (1961) 
Deputy Marshal Frank Dalton and three of his brothers trail a trio of young murderous outlaws. But Frank's brothers are starting to wonder whether their meager pay as lawmen is worth it all.

    - The Daltons Must Die: Part 2 (1961)
After taking the law into their own hands to avenge the killing of their brother, the four remaining Dalton brothers have turned outlaw, and plan the robbery of an Army payroll.
Played by Larry Pennell in both
(33 years old)

Larry Pennell had the most appearances as Bob Dalton but that was only in a two-part story for the series 'Outlaws', so it might as well be considered as one appearance.  I have not seen these two episodes, so I don't know which of the main characters had the most interaction with Bob Dalton.  But the P.O,V, was most likely either Marshal Frank Caine's or his deputy, Will Foreman's.  

"Tales of Wells Fargo"
    - The Daltons (1959)
Jim Hardie has been sent to capture the Dalton gang by Wells Fargo after several railroad express shipments are hit. Jim wanted the job as he worked with Bob Dalton who was a U.S. Deputy Marshal a couple of years earlier. Knowing the family Jim decides to start with the family homestead where Ma Dalton lives. When she recognizes Jim, she invites him inside where she learns why he is there which disappoints her. Although not expected, Bob and Emmett Dalton along with gang member Turk Cowley show up hoping to see their mother. They spot Jim's horse so they approach the house quietly until one of their horses gives them away. Jim tries to capture them but instead finds himself their prisoner with Turk wanting to kill him.
Played by Don Kelly
(35 years old)

Wells Fargo agent Jim Hardie should be considered as having the most accurate perception of Bob Dalton and the whole Dalton family since he worked with Bob when the outlaw was still a lawman.  (Turk Cowley could be the gunman who kept getting revived after death in North Fork, New Mexico.....)

"Death Valley Days"
    - Three Minutes to Eternity (1963)
The Dalton Brothers try to rob two banks at the same time.
Played by Forrest Tucker
(45 years old)

With the account told to the audience of the Trueniverse by the immortal serlinguist the Old Ranger, Bob Dalton is probably more in line with a fictional version dreamed up to look more like Colonel William Quantrill of Earth Prime-Time.  (At least as how Hondo Lane remembered the former soldier and now outlaw raider.)  At 45, Forrest Tucker was way too old to play Bob Dalton, but he was always fun to watch on the screen.....

"You Are There" 
    - The End of the Dalton Gang (October 5, 1892) (1957)
CBS reporters "go back in Time" to interview participants in various historical events.  This time it was the Daltons in Coffeyville.

Played by Ron Hargrave
(28 years old)

I'm still undecided on how to treat this series.  If I accept it as a Toobworld reality, then the historical figures who are interviewed would trump any other portrayal.  If they're presenting the "news", it has to be real, right?  I mean, it's CBS, not FOX.  And at least Hargrave comes closest in age to that of the real Bob Dalton.

"Stories of the Century"
    - The Dalton Gang (1954) 
Matt and Frankie head to Coffeyville in 1892 when they hear that the Dalton brothers and their gang are planning something big. They arrive in time to thwart the double bank robbery with the help of the stalwart citizens of the town.
Played by Myron Healey
(31 years old)

And that leaves us with Bob Dalton in 'Stories of the Century'.  As far as I'm concerned, in the Toobworld timeline Matt Clark is the biggest liar since Jack Styles, the early American spy posted to the South Seas by President Thomas Jefferson.  No matter who the legendary outlaw was, Matt Clark claimed to have been involved in either their capture or their death.  And Matt Clark claimed that he was present in Coffeyville, Kansas, when the Dalton gang was brought to its ignominious end.  

It's a neat trick that Matt Clark never seemed to age, despite his tall tales being historically set from the 1850s to the 1900s.  So his account of the Coffeyville job should be discounted entirely.  But it could be that his recollections of Bob Dalton are probably based more on what Doc Holliday looked like in Toobworld.

All in all, I guess I'll just leave it up in the air as to who would be the Bob Dalton of Earth Prime-Time... for now.  I'm sure one day the Dalton Boys and the Coffeyville Bank Robberies will be incorporated into another TV Western......

But if I had to pick, I'd go with Don Kelly just on the merits that Jim Hardie actually knew him.  But that "historical" Bob Dalton played by Ron Hargrave......

Happy Trails To You!

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