Saturday, August 25, 2018


For this last Video Saturday during our TV Western showcase month, we're going to celebrate the theme songs from many TV Westerns.  (And this collection kicks off with my favorite Western series!)

Happy Trails!

Friday, August 24, 2018


Three years ago, Inner Toob looked at the missing link who connected 'Family Affair' to 'F Troop' with a theory of relateeveety, and 'Family Affair' to 'The Hero' as a "wish-craft" - the former cowboy actor Chaps Callahan.

'Family Affair'
"The Old Cowhand"

And now we can add another theoretical connection for Chaps Callahan.

"How To Dial A Murder"

Lt. Columbo was investigating a murder (Well, duh!) in which his chief suspect was a psychologist who was a fanatical movie buff.  He even used his fixation in creating what he thought was the perfect murder.  (No spoilers, Sweetie!)

At one point, the young woman who was living in the guest house showed Columbo an old "baby spot" covered in dirt which Dr. Mason had apparently picked up at an old ranch which had once been used for making movies.  

Lieutenant Columbo:
There's a lot of rust on this, 
but you can still make it out.
It says, 
"Property of Callahan Film Ranch, 
Peach Tree, California." 

Columbo goes out to that old movie ranch and he finds a lot of evidence for his case.

Lt. Columbo:
I found it out at the old Callahan Movie Ranch, where you got this baby spot, sir.
Dr. Eric Mason:
Yes, I've visited Callahan's.

Here's my candidate for a missing link, and you're probably way ahead of me on this.....

First, let's revisit this segment from my original story about Chaps Callahan:

Chaps Callahan had been a cowboy movie star in the early days of the talkies.  His films (which looked a lot like old Bob Steele movies from the Real World) would later enjoy a resurgence of popularity in the 1960's among young boys when they were shown in the afternoons on TV.  (But for little girls, like Buffy Davis, the appeal was lost.)

By that time, Callahan was the manager of a large ranch in Pennsylvania, having retired from making movies in 1939.  

But did he go straight from making movies to working that Pennsylvania ranch?  No.  Chaps tells Bill Davis that he started working as the foreman at the B-Bar Ranch in Pennsylvania ten years earlier.  That would be in 1959, so for twenty years Callahan had time on his hands.

There are a lot of actors who found other ways to supplement their income either while they were just starting out, or to keep them occupied between gigs.

For instance, when I had my first head shots done when I moved to New York, I recognized the photographer right away from a soap opera I got hooked on while at UConn - 'Somerset', which got cancelled before I graduated.

That could be the situation in this case.  Perhaps Chaps Callaghan saw the writing on the wall, that the leading roles in the Westerns would not last forever as he got older.  And so he invested in that property and dubbed it "Callahan's Movie Ranch".  He leased it out to the studios as a place to film the outdoor location shots.  It would be perfect for fake frontier town scenes as we saw during that 'Columbo' episode.  Eventually the property fell into disuse but Callahan still owned it.  (And would continue to do so until he either sold it to one of the studios (perhaps Mammoth?) or until he died (in 1988.)

And now let's move on to some even stranger and yes, more tenuous connections for Mr. Callahan.

We saw that a scene from one of Bob Steele's old Westerns was shown in that 'Family Affair' episode as though it was now a movie which starred Chaps Callahan.

We've seen this happen before in Toobworld.  In an episode of the revised 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents', Martin Sheen played another actor in the episode "Method Actor".  But when they showed an example of his work during a seminar, it was Martin Sheen in "The Execution Of Private Slovik".  Movie clips from the careers of Ricardo Montalban and Janet Leight were shown in episodes of 'Columbo' but as though they were movies about Luis Montoyo and Grace Wheeler respectively.

That's the situation we have here.  Both Bob Steele's televersion and Chaps Callahan exist in Toobworld and both had careers in the movies.  Steele was best known for several movie franchises in which he played Billy the Kid and more often, Tuscon Smith (about fifty films!)  He also played himself in a few movies with Ken Maynard and Hoot Gibson also playing themselves.

So we have these several movies on Chaps' resume:
  • "Last Chance For Donovan"
  • "Stranger In Twin Creeks"
  • "Headed For Danger"
  • "Six Guns For Pecos"
  • "No Love For Tombstone"
(I'm not exactly sure about that last title.  I listened to it three times and I still can't make out what Johnny Whitaker was saying.)

I don't want to take anything away from the lengthy career of Bob Steele, but there should be a lot more movies which could be ascribed to Chaps Callahan.  

I suppose any fictional movie Westerns in TV shows from before 1939 but without any cast members listed could be oaters in which Callahan starred.

Also, I think when Chaps said that he stopped making "his" movies in 1939, he meant movies in which he was the star.  I think it's pozz'ble, just pozz'ble, that over the next twenty years he made appearances in other movies in smaller roles.  He did this so that he could keep his union membership up-to-date for its medical coverage and with an eye towards his old age.

As such, I think there are a few of Bob Steele's movies, those in which he was uncredited, could just as easily be movies in which the actor we were seeing was actually Chaps Callahan.  And best of all, many of those real-world movies were referenced in TV shows.  Claiming those uncredited roles were actually Chaps Callahan would then provide a theoretical link between all of those shows through Chaps.

Chaps started work as the foreman/manager of the B-Bar Ranch in 1959.  But that didn't stop his periodic acting in the televersions of movies to maintain his status in the actors' union.  On his vacations he'd squeeze in acting roles; those will be the movies Bob Steele made after 1959 for which he received no credit.

Here's the list of those movies, with the TV shows who can lay claim to a connection...

Rio Bravo 
Matt Harris (uncredited)

Sabrina, the Teenage Witch:
Ice Station Sabrina
Salem plans to watch the film.

Wesley imagines himself as John Wayne in Rio Bravo. 

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, He Loves Me, Oops He's Dead
Henry mentions it to Shawn.

Martin tells Davis he should watch classics like "Rio Bravo" and "Network".

The Task:
It Ends (Here?)
"Rio Bravo my ass!"

Tote Taube in der Beethovenstra├če
movie theater scene [from the movie]

Hap and Leonard:
Monsoon Mambo
Leonard says he heard Hap was surrounded like  Dean Martin in this movie

The Sopranos:
For All Debts Public and Private
Tony watches the movie on TV

Shenandoah 1965
Union Train Guard (uncredited)

Married with Children:
The Gas Station Show
Al watches it, crying at its theme. It makes him want to go on a family trip.

No Name on the Bullet 1959
Poker Player (uncredited)

77 Sunset Strip:
Penthouse on Skid Row
title seen on theater marquee

The following movies have no connections to other TV shows, but Bob Steele appeared in them uncredited.  So we're declaring them as movies featuring Chaps Callahan.

Rio Lobo 1974
Rio Lobo Deputy (uncredited) 

Taggart 1964

Earl (uncredited)

The Comancheros

Pa Schofield (uncredited)

Showdown 1963
Poker Player (uncredited)

Bullet for a Badman 1964
Sheriff (uncredited)

Ride A Crooked Trail 1958
Jud Blunt (uncredited)

Bugles in the Afternoon 1952
Horseman (uncredited)

Decision at Sundown 1957
Irv (uncredited)

One last movie of note....

City for Conquest 1940Kid Callahan (uncredited)

(Being an uncredited role for Bob Steele, I'm giving it to Chaps Callahan instead.  And it looks like he got to play a character who had the same last name.  It doesn't happen often in the real world movies, but it's not a rare occurrence.)

Perhaps one day some TV show will mention those movies and thus add even more shows to the theoretical credit of Chaps Callahan.

In the meantime, he gains an honorary membership in the Television Crossover Hall of Fame which is focused on the TV Western this month.

Happy trails, Chaps!

Thursday, August 23, 2018


As I've mentioned in the past, a lot of present day citizens of Toobworld can trace their lineage back to the wild, wild West.  There, their grandfathers or great-grandfathers found themselves passing along their bloodlines thanks to overly-friendly saloon girls.

One such example was one Charles Jensen, known by the nickname of Chuck, who sold RVs for a living.  And a little bit more....


It will be my theory of relateeveety that Chuck Jensen was the great-grandson of an old West historical figure on his mother's side of the family:

"Smitty" Smith.
U.S. Army Cartographer

From the "Cheyenne" wiki:
When he's along for the ride with Cheyenne, Smitty has got his big friend's big back. Smitty was a talented artist and was using his skills as an Army mapmaker. While Cheyenne usually let his fists do most of his talking, Smitty had enough chatter and wit for the two of them combined.

On one of their adventures, Smitty had to pretend to be a gun drummer....


From the IMDb:
Cheyenne and Smitty encounter settlers headed to Wyoming who lost their guide. On the way to Fort Laramie, a group of rustlers steal their cattle and a boy's brother is killed. The two head to a nearby to try to recover the stolen cattle.

From the "Cheyenne" wiki:
Smitty and Cheyenne found a lost wagon train and offered to lead them to the nearest fort. During the night, rustlers stole the settlers' cattle and one of the settlers, Morton Scott was killed. Smitty and Cheyenne hatched a plan to get the cattle back, with Smitty impersonating Scott in the nearby town of Julesburg. Smitty had to pretend to be both a gun salesman and big brother to Scott's relative Tommy. Smitty and Cheyenne discovered that the cattle were in the hands of a dangerous criminal, McCanles, and challenged him. The confrontation ended in a rip-roaring fist fight that Smitty said was the best fight he'd been in since he left Texas.

Julesburg was in Colorado, but I think Smitty finally put down roots in California when he left the Army.  And there he had children (whether by a saloon gal or not, I cannot say) whom he regaled with the tales of his cross-country journeys with Cheyenne Bodie.

When those children grew up and had children of their own, the stories were again recounted for their own offspring.  And those tales grew in the telling.

One of Smitty's granddaughters, born at the end of the 19th Century, married a man named Charles Jensen in 1926.  She gave birth to his son the following year and they named him Charles Jensen, Jr. but everybody would come to know him as Chuck.  (At that point in time, Chuck's grandfather was fifty years of age and it's pozz'ble, just pozz'ble that Smitty was still alive as he would have been 80 years of age.)

Mrs. Jensen carried on her family's tradition with her bedtimes stories for young Chuck about his great-grandfather the map-maker in the Old West.

But it was that one story about Grampa Smitty being a gun runner (or at least pretending to be) in Julesburg, Colorado, which really captured his imagination.  And as he got older, Chuck became fixated on the financial gains aspect of a life as an arms dealer.

So remember when I said at the beginning that Chuck Jensen was an RV salesman?  That was his cover line of work.  Even with the largest inventory west of Chicago, he actually found a more lucrative line - Jensen had become a dealer in illegal weapons over the years and now, about the same age as his own grandfather was when he was born, this fourth generation of that family tree of Smiths was about to close a deal on the biggest transaction of his life....

Chuck Jensen was going to sell a ton of mercenary merchandise to the IRA in order to foment the "Troubles" over in Ireland.

Originally he was going to do business with an intermediary by the name of Vincent Pauli, but Pauli met with an unfortunate... accident.  So Chuck had to deal directly with the buyer, an Irish poet named Joseph "Joe" Devlin.  (Known in some circles as "the Floof".)

It was supposed to be the biggest arms deal he had ever arranged.  Chuck Jensen might very well have retired from the profit he would garner. Unfortunately, a rumpled, New York-born detective from the homicide division of the LAPD, one Lieutenant Frank Columbo, put a kibosh on that deal.  

I've been talking about Chuck Jensen in the past tense, but that was in conjunction with his former life.  Columbo, being in Homicide, brought that aspect of his case to the attention of his superiors and they brought Jensen down in collaboration with the ATF.

Chuck Jensen probably served at least twenty years, perhaps more since there was an international element to the case and he had such a voluminous cache of weapons.

I'm going to assume he served time in prison until the turn of the century and has been living the last 18 years back in the Los Angeles area.  He's no longer involved in gun sales; too many eyes on him even now with him being about ninety years old. 

But he did get back into the other line of work he knew - the RV business.  It was only meant to be a small enterprise; but when Chuck made a few cheap-jack commercials to air on a local cable station, he became something of a pop culture sensation.  (Not an uncommon situation in the Los Angeles area over the years.)

Chuck Jensen in one of low-cost commercials

And he found his niche in the trade dealing with senior citizens interested in the RV lifestyle in their retirement and who could relate to a fellow old codger.

And that's my TV Western theory of relateeveety for the week.....

Happy trails to you!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018


When I wrote up the similarities between episodes of 'Maverick' ("The Marquesa") and 'Bonanza' ("The Spanish Grant"), I claimed the story of "Anastasia" was the inspiration for both script writers.  However, I remembered seeing the story of James Addison Reavis dramatized in two unconnected episodes of 'Death Valley Days' and I think now that this was the original influence, but influenced by the movie.


[Season 4, Episode 11]

From the IMDb:
Two Arizona newspaper men have doubts when a Spanish gentleman claims to own millions of acres in the territory. His papers date to colonial times appearing authentic but Tom is determined to prove fraud.

IMDb trivia: Based on the true life exploits of adventurer, forger, and convicted swindler, James Addison Reavis, this subject would be revisited in the 1968 episode "The Pieces of the Puzzle", with Robert Taylor playing the Reavis role.


[Season 16, Episode 25]

From the IMDb:
"The Baron of Arizona," James Reavis, files a claim against the government.

IMDb trivia: This subject was also covered some twelve years previous in this series, in the February 6, 1956 episode, "The Baron of Arizona".

O'BSERVATION 1: Robert Taylor, who was hosting 'Death Valley Days' at the time, played the role of Reavis in this second episode.

O'BSERVATION 2: 'Death Valley Days', like 'The Twilight Zone' in being an anthology series which isn't always taking place in the dimension of Earth Prime-Time.  These two episodes are a good example.  The first one, "The Baron of Arizona", takes place in the main Toobworld.  "The Pieces of the Puzzle" takes place in Toobworld2, the Land O' Remakes.

Here's more about Reavis from Wikipedia:

James Addison Reavis (May 10, 1843 – November 27, 1914), later using the name James Addison Peralta-Reavis, the so-called Baron of Arizona, was an American forger and fraudster. He is best known in association with the Peralta land grant, also known as the Barony of Arizona, a pair of fraudulent land claims which, if certified, would have granted him ownership over 18,600 square miles (48,200 km2) of land in central Arizona Territory and western New Mexico Territory. During the course of the fraud, Reavis collected an estimated USD 5.3 million in cash and promissory notes ($156 million in present-day terms) through the sale of quitclaims and proposed investment plans.

Under the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Gadsden Purchase, the United States was required to recognize and honor existing land grants made by either the Spanish or Mexican governments. Reavis utilized this provision by manufacturing a fictional claim and then generating a collection of documents demonstrating how the claim came into his possession. The documents were then covertly inserted into various records archives. In his initial claim, Reavis claimed title to the grant via a series of conveyances. When serious challenges to this claim developed, Reavis developed a second claim by marrying the purported last surviving lineal descendant of the original claim recipient.

During the course of his deception, Reavis managed to convince a number of prominent persons to support his efforts. He obtained legal and political support from Roscoe Conkling, Robert G. Ingersoll and James Broadhead. Business leaders such as Charles Crocker and John W. Mackay in turn provided financial support. Initial exposure of the fraud occurred when an unfavorable Surveyor General report caused the claim to be summarily dismissed. In response to this action, Reavis sued the U.S. government for US$11 million in damages ($324 million in present-day terms). The suit in turn prompted the U.S. government to perform a detailed investigation that fully exposed the forgeries Reavis had planted in a variety of locations.

Reavis' exploits have been dramatized, and highly fictionalized, in motion pictures and on television. A fraudulent land claim similar to the one created by Reavis was used as a plot device in the 1939 film The Night Riders.  Reavis' life served as the basis for "The Baron of Arizona", a 1950 movie in which Vincent Price played the title role. 

For more on Reavis, click here.

Happy trails!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018




I've always been a fan of names.  I think it began with a fascination with my own name and how it was adapted to a nickname even before I was born.  And that fascination came in handy with all of the fantasy novels I've read over the years.

Westerns have always been a great source for interesting and unique names; so much so that I couldn't limit myself to a Super Six List.  


My all-time favorite TV character.


A name worthy of a dime novel protagonist.  A bit of a letdown he had to spend most of the series as "Joshua Smith".

Bleek was a rain-maker out West and as played by Denver Pyle, he looked like a Fenimore Bleek.


Pitkin was an undertaker and he had the perfect name for the occupation - "R.I.P.".

Here we have another Old West undertaker, but one who was on the wrong side of the law.  Still, it was a velvety-sounding name that would be comforting to the mourners if he really put his mind to the job as it should have been carried out.


There were a lot of great names among the Mavericks' fellow con artists - Gentleman Jack Darby, Dandy Jim Buckley, Big Mike McComb.  But I like this one best; a shame the character didn't catch on.


This Western sitcom always had fun with the names of their Indian characters - Bald Eagle (played by Don Rickles) and Wise Owl, a Sherlock Holmesian Indian version of a consulting detective.  Here, the show's creators paid homage to a comic strip character who was already archaic by the time of the series.  And he was a bit of a hat tip caricature of the spaced-out counter-culture types coming into their own at the time.


Played by MISTER John Dehner, you can just tell by the name that he was a rascal who should not be entirely trusted.  (And we have a theory of relateeveety that he was the grandfather of Dr. Zachary Smith from the original 'Lost In Space'.  And probably the identical cousin of Jared Garrity.)


Michener came up with a lot of great names for his rich panorama of the people who tamed the West.  With "Skimmerhorn" (at least in the book), Michener even gave us the etymology of the name - from the Dutch "Schermerhorn". (Clay Basket, Levi Zendt, and Hans "Potato" Brumbaugh were also favorites.)


Nothing I hate more than common, generic last names for characters.  Distinctive names help make characters even more memorable.  Major Vanscoy is a great example.


I said earlier that "Hannibal Heyes" would have been a great name for a dime novel character.  Well, here we have the name of an "actual" dime novelist.  It may have been a pen name, but so what?  I think it stirs the imagination of those buying such publications.


Several factors make this a favorite - it flows nicely; it's distinctive; Ray Bolger played the role; and yes, it is my first name. (Unfortunately, the combination I heard often enough at the end of a date.....)

Do you have any favorite names for TV Western characters?  Let me know!

Happy trails!

Monday, August 20, 2018


Here is the penultimate entry in "My Favorite TV Western Episodes From TV Shows Which Aren't TV Westerns".

For a TV series which most people pigeon-hole as being sci-fi, there were a number of episodes which had Western motifs in them.  Most of them still had that twist at the end which Rod Serling made famous, many had a supernatural aura about them, but only one had an alien from outer space.

In no particular order, here are TV Western episodes of 'The Twilight Zone'....

(All descriptions are from the IMDb.)

"Showdown With Rance McGrew"

Rance McGrew is the star of a weekly TV western where he plays the town Marshal. He is, to say the least, difficult to deal with. He is frequently late on the set, arrives unprepared and often requests script changes just as they are about to shoot a scene. To top it off, he's quite inept at handling his gun which he inadvertently tosses into the saloon mirror on more than one occasion. He's given a dose of reality however when he inexplicably finds himself back in time, coming face to face with the real Jesse James.

"Mr. Denton on Doomsday"

In the Far West, the drunkard Al Denton is bullied by the gunman Dan Hotaling to get some booze. The mysterious Henry J. Fate observes the humiliation and Al Denton finds a revolver on the street. When Dan sees Al Denton with a revolver on his hand, he challenges the drunk for a gunfighter. Fate observes again and makes a movement with his hand that will change the life of Al Denton.

"The Grave"

Lawman Conny Miller rides into a small dusty town not long after the townsfolk have gunned down the man he's been tracking for four months. He feels like he's wasted that four months and someone bets him $20 he hasn't the nerve to visit the dead man's grave. He takes that bet and has little difficulty going to the grave. Leaving it however proves to be another matter however. 

"Mr. Garritty & The Graves"

In the early 1890s Mr. Garrity arrives in Happiness, Arizona, apparently knowing a great deal about some of the people who live there. He knows that Jensen the bartender's brother died and that Gooberman the town drunk lost his wife. Garrity also reveals that he has a very peculiar gift - he can bring back the dead. When a dog is run down by a wagon in the street he resurrects it without any difficulty. When he offers to do the same for the town's loved ones, they realize they would rather he not bring back the dearly departed, something they are quite happy to pay him for. Garrity, a charlatan if ever there was one, is glad to accept their money - though he does seem to leave something behind. 

(O'Bservation - that was my favorite of this sub-genre from the series.  And Mr. Garrity will be appearing again before the month is over.)

"The 7th Is Made Up Of Phantoms"

A National Guard tank crew on war games suddenly find themselves back in time to June 25, 1876 the day General Custer fought and lost to the Sioux at the battle of the Little Big Horn. They report what they've seen and heard but the officer-in-charge is more than a little dubious about what they claim. They return to the area and when the attack begins they join the fight. When the commander goes to locate them, they find something else entirely.


In the late 19th century, Joe Caswell is about to be hanged for murder, when he vanishes into thin air. He's been snatched by Prof. Manion's time machine and brought 80 years into the future. Caswell was selected at random and Manion can see the rope marks on his neck. Caswell is eager to see his new world but Manion wants to send him back. When Caswell runs off into the night, his new world proves to be too much for him. Justice is served in the end and a murderer hangs.


Luis Gallegos is scheduled to be hanged in a dusty western town after he was found guilty of killing a child while drunk. Gallegos' father begs everyone for mercy but the Marshal, who doesn't think the prisoner is a bad sort, has little choice but to proceed with the sentence. Unscrupulous salesman Peter Sykes decides to take advantage of the situation by selling the father his 'magic dust' that will make the townsfolk take pity on his son. Events provide for an unexpected conclusion. 

"A Hundred Yards Over The Rim"

Christian Horn is member of an 1847 wagon train headed west. They are 1500 miles from St. Louis and are now in the New Mexico desert. Many in the wagon train are ready to turn back but Chris wants everyone to persevere. His son has had a fever for 11 days now and Chris goes off looking for water, only 100 yards or so from the others and suddenly finds himself in the present day. He can't quite bring himself to believe what he sees or where he is but those he meets believe he's a man from the past. The trip in time does have one positive outcome.

"The Gift"

The residents of a small Mexican village, just 40 miles or so south of the Rio Grande, panic when they learn a being from another planet may have crashed near by. As the result of an altercation with local police, one policeman is dead and the alien is severely wounded. A young boy, Pedro, quickly forms a friendship with the alien who says he has come in peace. He also says he has a gift for the people of the Earth, but the villagers fear means that mankind will never benefit from the alien's generosity. 

In case you were wondering, I excluded those episodes which dealt with the American Civil War.  I don't consider them to be Westerns; they're set along the Eastern seaboard, usually connected to famous battles from the war.  ("The Passers-By" is set in a whole 'nother location entirely!)

Okay!  One more week to go with this theme!

Happy Trails!

Sunday, August 19, 2018


From Wikipedia:
"The Over-the-Hill Gang" is a 1969 TV-movie Western comedy about aging Texas Rangers starring Walter Brennan and Pat O'Brien. Chill Wills, Edgar Buchanan, Andy Devine, and Jack Elam play supporting roles. The film was written by Richard Carr and directed by Jean Yarbrough.

For more about the movie, click here.

Happy trails!