Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


When I was first dating Kitty, she had this huge monster of a German Shepherd named Yancy.  Yancy loved Kitty and disliked men, especially men who came a-courtin' and a-sparkin'.  The dog was named in honor of Yancy Derringer, the Jock Mahoney character from the 1958 television series.

Mahoney was a former marine pilot who settled in Los Angeles and became a horse breeder and Hollywood stuntman.  He was Charles Starrett's stunt double in a number of Durango Kid movies and was known for performing especially dangerous stunts.  He soon moved into acting with bit parts in numerous Three Stooges comedies where ability to take a pratfall came in handy.  In 1951 Mahoney was tapped to star in a one-season, Gene Autry-produced television series, Range Rider.  Here, he (obviously) rode the range, fighting the bad guys and bringing law and order to the Old West, along with his young companion Dick West (Dick Jones).  In 1958 he was the title character in television's Yancy Derringer.

Derringer was a gentleman gambler/adventurer in Reconstruction New Orleans.  Although vain and a bit of a dandy, Derringer was good in a fight.  He had been a confederate officer and was now a special (which means secret) agent for the city.  His constant companion was the imposing Pahoo-Ka-Te-Wah (X Brand, a German actor who often played Indians), a Pawnee Indian fast with a shotgun and a knife.  Pahoo-Ka-Te-Wah never spoke in the series.  Derringer's love interest, Madame Francine, owner of a gambling house, was played by Frances Bergen (wife of Edgar and mother of Candice).

In the episode linked below, A Bullet for Bridget, Madame Francine's Irish cousin decides that she is going to marry Derringer.  Bridget is played by Margeret Field, Mahoney's real-life wife.  It first aired on CBS on November 6, 1958.

After Yancy Derringer, Mahoney went on to play Tarzan in two movies. (He had auditioned to replace Johnny Weismuller in the role in 1948 but lost to Lex Barker.)  His other claim to fame was as the step-father of actress Sally Field.  I had heard that the title character in Hooper, a Burt Reynolds movie about a stuntman, had been based in part on Mahoney (Reynolds was dating Sally Field at the time and she co-starred in the film), but conventional wisdom has it that the character was based on Reynolds' friend Hal Needham.

Yancy Derringer was an enjoyable series for the kid in me.  Yancy was cool (he had a derringer hidden in his hat) but Pahoo-Ka-Te-Wah was even cooler.  You just didn't mess with the Pahoo.   But then again, you just didn't mess with Yancy, Kitty's monster dog.

P.S.  Yancy Derringer was based on a story by Richard Sale, pulpmaster extraordinaire.  The lead character was Derringer, no first name.  Sale added the Yancy for the show, for which he and his wife helped produce.


Todd Mason is rounding the obsolete wagons over at Sweet Freedom.  Mosey on over there for links to other great, albeit, obsolete, film and/or A/V.


  1. I seem to remember reading way back when that the guys Pahoo shot with his shotgun had a harness rig attached to wires that jerked them backward when Pahoo fired. Loved that show.

  2. I was always a big Jock Mahoney fan from all the way back to the Range Rider days. I was especially excited when he was tabbed to play Tarzan. I only saw a few episodes of Yancy Derringer but remember liking it well enough, although not quite as much as Range Rider. And yeah, Pahoo (sort of a forerunner to Spenser's Hawk, it occurs to me) was the coolest!

  3. Oh, boy, did I have a crush on him. Elegant.

  4. My stepfather(though they didn't marry for another ten years, a whole other story) brought us our first television when I was a kid and this was one of the first shows I remember seeing.