In August, the Television Crossover Hall of Fame celebrates the TV Western, so the Addams Family theme is on hiatus for this month.
The TVXOHOF has had Bronco Layne in its sights for awhile, especially since he was involved in the first two most populated TV crossovers. [More on that later.]
But interest in Bronco’s membership ramped up with the passing of Ty Hardin on August 3, 2017. Even that date seemed like Destiny. But for one reason or another, he kept missing the cut in the following years. We’re not holding off any longer, however. (It was tempting to wait another year to mark the 5th anniversary of his passing. But the 4th anniversary works as a connection to The Numbers of ‘Lost’.)
And so, today the TVXOHOF welcomes its latest inductee…
When Clint Walker walked out on his ABC series ‘Cheyenne’ in 1958 during a contract dispute with Warner Bros., Hardin got his big break. Warner bought out Hardin's contract from Paramount Studios and installed him into ‘Cheyenne’ for the remainder of the season, as the country cousin "Bronco Layne".
Walker and Warner Bros. came to terms after the season ended, but Hardin had made such a big hit on the show that Jack L. Warner gave him his own series, ‘Bronco’, under the ‘Cheyenne’ title. ‘Bronco’ alternated weeks with ‘Sugarfoot’ starring Will Hutchins, and ‘Cheyenne’ for four years. The series ran from 1958 to 1962.
‘Bronco’ is a Western series on ABC from 1958 through 1962. It was shown by the BBC in the United Kingdom. The program starred Ty Hardin as Bronco Layne, a former Confederate officer who wandered the Old West, meeting such well-known individuals as Wild Bill Hickok, Billy the Kid, Jesse James, Theodore Roosevelt, Belle Starr, Cole Younger, [General William Tecumseh Sherman], and John Wesley Hardin.
At one point, Bronco & The SugarfootAccording to the theme song, Bronco came from the Texas Panhandle, but episodes of the series are set throughout the West.
even met Wyatt Earp!
(I’m assuming his actual first name was never revealed. If anyone in Team Toobworld knows otherwise, let me in on the secret.)
Apparently, Bronco Layne is the one cowpoke in the WB stable who had the most episodes in which he was shirtless. I read through the IMDb episode summaries and somebody was keeping a tally of those episodes!
Here are the appearance which qualified Bronco Layne for membership in the Television Crossover Hall of Fame:
[Officially entitled ‘Cheyenne: Bronco’ or ‘The Cheyenne Show: Bronco.’ Only season 2 was called ‘Bronco’.]
- Trial of the Canary Kid (1959)
Bronco Layne, Captain Christopher Colt,
and Tom Brewster's identical cousin, The Canary Kid
Tom's Aunt Nancy begs him to defend his cousin---Abram Thomas, aka The Canary Kid, who's been charged with murder. Tom is reluctant, considering his past experiences with the Canary, until Aunt Nancy tells him that Canary's gang is holding a judge hostage and threatening to kill him if their leader isn't freed. Tom agrees to defend Canary, despite the judge's bias---and Canary's further shenanigans.
Warner Brothers loved doing crossovers between their shows. In addition to Hutchins, also appearing were Ty Hardin from 'Bronco' (1958), Peter Brown from 'Lawman' (1958), and Wayde Preston from 'Colt .45' (1957). This was second only to the "Hadley's Hunters" episode of 'Maverick' (1957) for most crossovers at one time.
O'Bservation - They even worked in a crossover with 'Maverick', when the Sheriff of Blanchard was seen putting up this Wanted poster....
O'Bservation - Also appearing in this episode was Adam West as Doc Holliday. He played Holliday in episodes of two other WB TV series, 'Lawman' and 'Colt .45'. Connecting three different TV series in the role should make Adam West's visage the official face of Doc Holliday in Toobworld. This helps with a casting conundrum which I'll get to soon.
- Hadley's Hunters (1960)
A vainglorious sheriff gives Bart five days to track down a supposed stagecoach robber, Cherokee Dan Evans. Evans is innocent, and Bart has to figure out a way to avoid the bounty on his head if he fails.
Bart runs into nearly every major star on the Warner Brothers lot. He meets Will Hutchins from 'Sugarfoot' (1957), Clint Walker from 'Cheyenne' (1955), John Russell and Peter Brown from 'Lawman' (1958), Ty Hardin from 'Bronco' (1958) and Edd Byrnes from '77 Sunset Strip' (1958) (under a sign at the livery stable reading 77 Cherokee Strip). There is also a scene where Bart walks into an office. He finds a satchel on the desk, and a gunbelt hanging on the wall. This was a reference to 'Colt .45' (1957), which had just recently been canceled. Bits of their own TV themes play as they're shown on screen.
- Angel (1961)
Riding through Leadville, where a ruthless group of thugs has been forcing out or killing anyone who stakes out rival mine claims, Tom comes across a deaf-mute girl who's father has just been murdered by them. The killers think she can't identify them, but Toothy Thompson, who knows sign language, can communicate with her and finds out she can. Toothy and Tom are both deputized by the local sheriff, and Bronco Layne also arrives in town to help out.
- Duel at Judas Basin (1961)
Cheyenne, Bronco Layne and Sugarfoot battle a trader suspected of selling guns to the Indians. Cheyenne and Sugarfoot work for Ian Stewart who buys an option for 10,000 acres but the trader wants to kill the sale due to its location.
Bronco Layne met plenty of historical figures, many of whom appeared in other TV shows. This creates degrees of separation to connect Bronco to those other series. Many of them were played by other actors in those other shows, especially Jesse James, Belle Starr, General Wallace, and even Edwin Booth. The difference in their physical appearances could be attributed to a change in perspective, as they were being seen by other characters than Bronco Layne.
Among the historical characters he met:
BRONCO WITH EDWIN BOOTH
GENERAL WILLIAM TECUMSEH SHERMANSITTING BULL
With Billy the Kid and Wild Bill, the perspective of how they looked remained Bronco’s, but with them both being recastaways, another reason must be found to splain away why they looked so different from one episode to the next. (ESPECIALLY with Wild Bill Hickock!)
- Belle Starr in “Shadow of Jesse James” (Jeanne Cooper)
- Jesse James in “Shadow of Jesse James” (James Coburn)
- Cole Younger in “Shadow of Jesse James” (Richard Coogan)
- Jim Younger in “Shadow of Jesse James” (James Westmoreland)
- Bob Younger in “Shadow of Jesse James” (Bill Tennant)
- John Wesley Hardin in “The Turning Point” (Scott Marlowe)
- Edwin Booth in “Prince of Darkness” (Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.)
- Butch Cassidy in “The Equalizer” (Steve Brodie)
- Billy Doolin in “The Equalizer” (Sheldon Allman)
- General William Tecumseh Sherman (Frank Ferguson)
- General George Meade in “Burning Springs” (Morris Ankrum)
- Sitting Bull in “Payroll of the Dead” (Francis MacDonald)
- John Tunstall in “Death of an Outlaw” (Alan Caillou)
- Pat Garrett in “Death of an Outlaw” (Rhodes Reason)
- General Lew Wallace in “Death of an Outlaw” (Forrest Lewis)
- Billy the Kid in “Death of an Outlaw” (Stephen Joyce)
- Billy the Kid in “The Soft Answer” (Ray Stricklyn)
- Wild Bill Hickock in “Montana Passage” (Charles Cooper)
- Wild Bill Hickock in “One Evening in Abilene” (Jack Cassidy)
For Hickock, it has to be that Bronco’s opinion of the man changed since the last time they met. After the legendary lawman saved Bronco’s life, Bronco’s estimation of him improved significantly.
As for Billy the Kid, it could be that enough time had passed so that Bronco was hazy on precise details as to what he looked like. (Not that there was much difference between the two actors playing the role. It could be a matter of weight gain....)
Here’s another historical figure with some Toobworldian questions about him due to the actor cast:
1] Breck also played Teddy Roosevelt in an episode of ‘Sugarfoot’. Tom “Sugarfoot” Brewster is also in this episode. I’m tempted to claim that both men were snookered by a man who made a living in impersonating famous people. (He also passed himself off several times to Bart Maverick as Doc Holliday.)
But I would have to see both of these Teddy episodes first, just in case there are other factors (aides from Washington, etc.) which confirm that he really was Roosevelt. If that is the case, then this could be another case in which an historical figure’s appearance depends on the point of view of whoever is looking at him. In which case, Bronco and the Sugarfoot were in agreement as to what Teddy Roosevelt looked like. (I think it would be pushing credulity to claim that if Peter Breck was an imposter in all three shows, then he could have actually been Nick Barkley of ‘The Big Valley’.)
2] In “The Immovable Object”, Bronco is taking two wagons of Army supplies to the U.S. Army Engineering camp plus transporting the reporter Emmett Dawson, from the New York Chronicle. As the New York Chronicle is in the TVXOHOF, that leads to a lot of other connections to Bronco Layne, with a few degrees of separation.
3] Gary Vinson played Jamie Ringgold in “Four Guns and a Prayer” and claimed that he was the son of Johnny Ringo. I’ve read that in the Trueniverse, Ringo had no offspring. But things can always be different in Toobworld regarding theories of relateeveety. At any rate, more degrees of separation connect Bronco to other shows which featured Ringo.
4] Speaking of theories of relateeveety, it could be that Bronco was related to fellow Confederate veteran ‘Hondo’ Lane, despite the difference in the spellings of their surnames.
5] If Bronco Layne's age was comparable to Ty Hardin's, the actor who played him, then he must have been one of those teen boys who joined up with the Confederacy when they were underage. Bronco was probably at best 21 years of age when the war ended in 1865. That means that when the Northfield, Minnesota, bank robbery attempt took place, Bronco was about thirty. If he lived as long as Ty Hardin himself, he died anywhere between 1929 and 1933....
At any rate, welcome to the Hall, Bronco Layne. Try to keep your shirt on....
Whoa! Just kidding!