This episode of Robert Culp's late 1950s western television show has received its share of notoriety in recent months after it was noticed that it featured a conman named Trump who wanted gullible townspeople to pay for a wall which would stave off the end of the world: "I am the only one. Trust me! I can build a wall around your homes that nothing can penetrate." When Culp's character called Trump a phony, Trump threatened (no kidding) to sue. Snippets of this episode have been aired on various news programs but this is your opportunity to watch the full episode.
Trackdown aired on CBS for two seasons, 1957-1959. Culp played Texas Ranger Hoby Gilman, who hunted down various robbers and murderers in the Old West shortly after the Civil War. The pilot episode, "Badge of Honor," aired on Dick Powell's Zane Gray Theater on May 3, 1957. In that episode Gilman, a former Confederate cavalry officer and a former Texas Ranger, has to once again take up the Ranger badge to clean up his hometown. The first episode of the new series, "The Marple Brothers," aired on October 4, 1957. Halfway through the first season, Culp's character became the de facto sheriff of the small Texas town of Porter, allowing Ellen Corby to become a regular while still allowing Gilman to occasionally travel outside of Porter to track down neer-do-wells. Others added to the cast during the second season were Peter Leeds, Norman Leavitt, James Griffith, Gail kobe, and Addison Richards. It should be noted that the March 7, 1958, episode, "The Bounty Hunter," served as a pilot for Steve McQueen's western series Wanted: Dead or Alive. (McQueen returned in an episode several months later but this time did not play bounty hunter Josh Randall.)
"The End of the World" aired on May 8, 1958. It was written by John Robinson, who wrote 18 episodes of the series. Robinson went on to produce 68 episodes of Wanted: Dead or Alive and had a number of other writing and producing credits. Donald McDougall directed this episode as well as 38 others in the series. McDougall had a prolific career in television from the Fifties through the Seventies, directing episodes of many of television's standby western and crime dramas of the time. The character of Trump was portrayed by Lawrence Dobkin, whose many credits include three seasons as the narrator of Naked City; he was also the original narrator of Walt Disney World's Hall of presidents when it opened in 1971. Also in this episode was Dabbs Greer as Sheriff Farrow.
Enjoy this blast from the past...or was it an eerie premonition of things to come?