Tuesday, August 14, 2018


From Wikipedia:
Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia June 18, 1901 – July 17, 1918) was the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, the last sovereign of Imperial Russia, and his wife, Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna.

Anastasia was the younger sister of Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, and Maria, and was the elder sister of Alexei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia. She was murdered with her family by members of the Cheka, the Bolshevik secret police, at Yekaterinburg on July 17, 1918.

Persistent rumors of her possible escape circulated after her death, fuelled by the fact that the location of her burial was unknown during the decades of Communist rule. The mass grave near Yekaterinburg which held the remains of the Tsar, his wife, and three of their daughters was revealed in 1991, and the bodies of Alexei Nikolaevich and the remaining daughter—either Anastasia or her older sister Maria—were discovered in 2007. Her possible survival has been conclusively disproved. Scientific analysis including DNA testing confirmed that the remains are those of the imperial family, showing that all four grand duchesses were killed in 1918.

Several women falsely claimed to have been Anastasia; the best known impostor is Anna Anderson. Anderson's body was cremated upon her death in 1984, but DNA testing in 1994 on available pieces of Anderson's tissue and hair showed no relation to the Romanov family.

A 1956 movie starring Ingrid Bergman, Yul Brynner, and Helen Hayes fictionalized an attempt to pass off a suicidal young woman as Anastasia to get the frozen assets of the Romanovs out of the Bank of England.

Four years later, that story was the inspiration for two Western tales in Toobworld...


From the IMDb:
Having won a saloon, Bart arrives in town to find it closed because of a competing claim of ownership by the Marquessa, the alleged heir to the land grant on which the saloon and the town sits. Bart suspects that the Marquessa is a fraud, but is she?

From tv.com:
Bart Maverick wins big, when he wins the "Lucky Lady" saloon in a card game. When Bart goes to Santa Leora to stake his claim, a beautiful Marquesa refuses to relinquish the property to him. Maverick
 encounters hurling knives, flurry of bullets and pounding fists when he tries to hold onto his newly acquired saloon.

Again from the IMDb:
"The Marquesa" has a familiar theme. Bart wins a cantina called the Lucky Lady when his four treys beat a full house. He travels to the New Mexico territory only to learn the cantina has been closed due to a dispute over ownership. Nevertheless, he reopens it with drinks on the house. This was the last of Adele Mara's three appearances in 'Maverick', and she plays the Marquesa. She believes she is an impostor, a saloon girl, until it turns out that she really is the Marquesa and heir to the land. 


The Cartwrights try to disprove the validity of a Spanish land grant to stop the De La Cuesta family from seizing part of the Ponderosa and all of the Carson Valley settlers' homestead lands.

Film fans will no doubt recognize the plot of the classic "Anastasia" in this episode of 'Bonanza'. Playing the heiress is the beautiful Patricia Medina who is of unknown origins and who adventurer Sebastian Cabot is trying to pass off as the heir to an old Spanish land grant. If successful they're going to rip off a whole big hunk of the territory of Nevada. The land grant that Cabot is claiming would also include most of the Ponderosa, something that Lorne Greene and his sons aren't about to tolerate.

As in the movie "Anastasia" the climax comes with the meeting of the grande dame of the DeLa Cuesta family played by Celia Lovsky with her alleged great niece Medina. Abbreviated though it is for television the scene is still well played.

A classic film adapted to the small screen setting of Bonanza, nicely done.

Both of these 1960 episodes were written by different men here in the Real World.  James Gunn came up with the 'Maverick' story but it was Leonard Praskins who wrote the teleplay.  The 'Bonanza' tale was a story by Morris Lee Green which was then adapted by Lawrence Heath, working under the pseudonym Leonard Heideman.

The movie was mentioned in an episode of 'Northern Exposure' which would mean that it was based on the "true" story as seen in a 1986 TV movie.  (That same "true" story played out in the German Toobworld as seen in 1966.)

But none of it could have any effect on those two land-grab attempts within the Toobworld West.  They both occurred nearly half a century before the Russian Revolution. 

('Maverick' episodes are generally accepted as having occurred in the 1870s.  As for 'Bonanza', the rule of thumb was that the episodes took place 100 years before the episode aired.  So that places "The Spanish Grant" in the year 1860.)

We can't claim that the same plotters were involved - besides the difference in names, there's no way to confuse Sebastian Cabot for Carlos Romero.  And it's not like he would have gotten younger in the passing years.  But for my own part I would have found that a tough sell for a recastaway.  (The difference in names doesn't worry me - "Don Antonio Luga" was probably an alias and "Manuel Ortiz" was either his real name or just another alias.  I just can't buy the "Benjamin Button" theory.)

As for the young women involved, Luisa and Isabella, they would definitely be two different senoritas.

Manuel Ortiz was working with his brother who was hiding in plain sight at Judge Paynter in Santa Leora.  He uncovered by Nobby Ned Wingate as a forger and he had forged that land grant.  He apparently discovered the attempt by "Don Antonio" to wrest ownership of the Ponderosa  from the Cartwrights.  Inspired, he decided he would make such an attempt himself for the Santa Leora property detailed in the grant.

And the girl hired to play the role of the Marquesa actually turned out to be the Marquesa!  Unfortunately it was a title without wealth to support it.
And Rosalita Morales, who was being presented as Madam de la Questa, could have been the actual grand-niece of the last surviving member of the family.  But she took the high road and returned to who she was and diminished into the West.  Well, to San Francisco anyway.

And so there you have it for this Two for Tuesday - two stories, practically identical, and both can co-exist in the same TV dimension.

Happy trails!

This is another post meant to celebrate the centennial of Sebastian Cabot's birth which we officially celebrated last month with the induction of Giles French into the Television Crossover Hall of Fame.

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