Tales of Wells Fargo was one of three western television series (the others were The Texan and Shotgun Slade) created by legendary pulp writer Frank Gruber. (Also credited with creating the show were James Brooks and Gene Reynolds; Reynolds went on to produce such hits as M*A*S*H*, Lou Grant, and Blossom.) Dale Robertson starred as agent Jim Hardie, back in the days when the now-global company provided express and banking services to California. (Wells Fargo was created by Henry Wells and William Fargo, the founders of American Express. in 1852.) The show ran for six seasons -- from 1957 to 1962 -- although in later episodes Hardie owns a ranch near San Francisco while still occasionally working for Wells Fargo.
'The Hasty Gun" was the second episode in the series, airing on March 25, 1957. When a violent robbery of a Wells Fargo bank in Antioch takes place, aging Marshall Tom Ogburn shoots and kills an unarmed suspect who happened to be the son of a prominent citizen. Ogburn is fired and the city council replaces him with the bouncer of a local casino. Jim Hardie is called in to investigate the robbery and to try to recover the stolen money.
Character actor Rusty Lane played Tom Ogburn; among Lane's many credits were as Sam Adams in Disney's Johnny Tremain. Ogburn's replacement, Nick Breeze, was played by screen and television heavy Leo Gordon, a very recognizable face perhaps best remembered for his continuing role as Big Mike McComb in Maverick. John Frederick (as "John Merrick") played a shady businessman, one of four roles he would play in Tales of Wells Fargo in 1957 and 1958. Rounding out the credited cast were Jack Lambert (The Killers, Kiss Me Deadly, and 26 episodes of Riverboat), Gilman Rankin (Tombstone Territory, Assault on Precinct 13, Midnight Cowboy). James Bell (I Walked with a Zombie, The Leopard Man, My Friend Flicka), and Charles Seel (The Road West, Dennis the Menace, Gunsmoke).
Leslie H. Martinson directed this episode, as well as the show's premiere episode. A veteran television director (Maverick, Cheyenne, Hawaiian Eye, and a gazillion more), he died at the ripe age of 101. This episode was scripted by Dwight Newton, also known as D. B. Newton, a prolific writer of western novels. Among his novels was Range Boss (Pocket Books, 1949), which had the distinction of being the first original novel to be issued in paperback. He also wrote as "Ford Logan," "Dan Temple," "Clement Harding," and under the house names "Hank Mitchell" and "Jackson Cole." Newton wrote 25 episodes for television, including 19 episodes for Tales of Wells Fargo. He was one of the six founders of The Western Writers of America, and died at the ripe age of 97.
Enjoy this episode.
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