Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Hard to believe, but this little gal is 153 years old today:

(Even harder to believe is that this footage is 120 years old!)

For people of my generation, though, Annie looks exactly like pig-tailed and fringed-clothed actress Gail Davis.  The syndicated television show Annie Oakley ran for 81 episodes from 1954 to 1957.  Annie and her little brother Tagg live in the small western town of Diablo, where in between platonic courtin' and sparkin' with deputy Lofty Craig she scares off all sorts of owlhoots with her shootin'.

Annie's horse is Target; her brother's horse is Pixie -- which raises serious questions about Tagg.  (And who the heck names a kid Tagg, anyway?  It's not like he was a Palin.)  Tagg is played by Jimmy Hawkins who was George Bailey's young child Tommy in It's a Wonderful Life and had a fairly active career as a child actor.  He was about twelve years old when he began hanging out around Diablo; the series ended when Hawkins had a growth spurt.  Annie's boyfriend Lofty Craig has one of those truly inspired geological names like Boggy Marsh or Stony Creek.  Lofty was played by Brad Johnson, who played "Student" in 1951's Bedtime for Bonzo and went on to appear in a swarth of television westerns in the 50s and early 60s.  Stuntman Bob (not the reporter) Woodward appeared in over half the episodes, usually as Stagecoach Driver/Townsman/Lynch Mob Member/Henchman/Posse Member/somebody typically named Ed or Pete or Bill or Woody or Jim or Hank or Vic or Al or Joey or Bart.  I wonder if kids watching ever got confused with this dude who seemed to have so many names?  Probably not.

Quite a few well-known actors appeared on the show, including Slim Pickens, X Brands, Roscoe Ates, Alan Hale, Jr., Fess Parker, Denver Pyle, L. Q. Jones, James Best, Lyle Talbot, and Lee van Cleef.

Gail Davis began her career when she was 22 and soon graduated to westerns starring such icons of the oater as Roy Rogers, Rocky Lane, Monte Hall, Jimmy Wakely, Charles Starrett, and Johnny Mack Brown.  Her super-big break, however, came when she starred with Gene Autry in 1949's Sons of New Mexico.  She and Autry became long-time lovers and he placed her in a number of his movies and television projects, including Annie Oakley, which he produced.  She appeared in multiple episodes of The Range Rider, The Cisco Kid, The Lone Ranger, The Adventures of Kit Carson, Death Valley Days, and (naturally) The Gene Autry ShowIn 1959 she had an uncredited appearance as Annie Oakley in the Bob Hope vehicle Alias Jesse James.   She was posthumously inducted into the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame.

The clip below is episode three of the show's first season and aired on January 23, 1954.  It was directed by Frank McDonald and written by Jack Townley.  And, yes, Bob Woodward was credited as "Posse Member."

Oh.  By the way, the real Annie never slept with Gene Autry.

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