Tuesday, January 29, 2013
FORGOTTEN TELEVISION: SHOTGUN SLADE
Shotgun Slade was the third western television series that pulp legend Frank Gruber created, following Tales of Wells Fargo and The Texan. Gruber was well-known for his mystery and western novels and Shotgun Slade played to both of those strengths. At a time when television western heroes were lawmen, gunfighters, ranchers, or wandering do-gooders, the title character in Shotgun Slade was a private detective. His weapon of choice (of course) was a shotgun. His backgound music was jazz (!). Here was a character who was different on a number of levels from other western heroes.
Shotgun Slade (did he ever have a first name, or did his parents name him so he could fit in with his brothers Rifle, Howitzer, and Uzi?) was played by Scott Brady, a ruggedly handsome man whose bread and butter was in western and crime films, both on the big screen and on television. Slade wandered the West for 78 syndicated episodes before fading away.
Given the format of the show, Slade had no regular sidekicks; according to IMDB, the most times any other individual actor appeared in the series was ten (Chick Hannan as a "Barfly"), followed by Kermit Maynard (five times as "Coonskin"). A number of actors guested, though, including Jeanne Cooper, Andy Clyde, Allison Hayes (yes, the 50-Foot Woman), Roscoe Ates, Ernie Kovacs, Brad johnson (Lofty Craig on Annie Oakley), and Tex Ritter (as a marchall in the first episode of the series).
The episode on hand, A Flower on Boot Hill, (Season One, Episode 36, June 11, 1960) was written by John Bernadino, Martin Berkeley, and Charissa Hughes. Beradino was a major league baseball player, a shortstop and second baseman for the Cleveland Indians, the St. Louis Browns, and the Pittsburg Pirates; as an actor, he appeared in many television shows and had recurring stints in I led Three Lives and (as Dr. Steve Hardy) General Hospital; as a writer, this is the only credit IMDB gives him. IMDB is even less generous with Martin Berkeley, while listing over forty writing titles, it names him as an informer before the House Unamerican Activities Committee and effectively a ruiner of some 155 careers. This episode was evidently Charissa Hughes' only writing credit, but as an actress she did have an uncredited role as a tavern maid in 1955's The Virgin Queen.
A Flower on Boot Hill was directed by Sidney Salkow, who helmed eight episodes of Shotgun Slade. Salkow directed over a hundred movies and television shows in a thirty-one year career, icluding four of the Lone Wolf movies. He also had sixteen writing credits.
This episode also features William Roerick, Paul Langton, Shirley Ballard, Kathie Browne, Sandra Rogers, Frank Richards, and Sherman Sanders I've never heard of any of them, although Kathie Browne appeared (as Angie Dow) in 16 of the 17 episodes of Hondo in 1967, and Frank Richards has credits in two of the minor Davy Crockett episodes (River Pirates and Keelboat Race) in Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color in 1955. While not well-known, most of these actors were familiar faces in Fifties and Sixties television.
Here's Shotgun Slade investigating a "baffling" bank robbery: