Rawhide (TV series)
Raymond St. Jacques
|Theme music composer||Dimitri Tiomkin (Music)|
Ned Washington (Lyrics)
|Opening theme||“Rawhide” performed by Frankie Laine|
Don B. Ray
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||8|
|No. of episodes||217 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer||Ben Brady|
Vincent M. Fennelly
Bernard L. Kowalski
Charles Marquis Warren
Robert E. Thompson
Tucumcari, New Mexico
Philip H. Lathrop
John M. Nickolaus Jr.
Gene Fowler Jr.
George A. Gittens
|Running time||50 min.|
|Production company||CBS Television Network Productions|
|Picture format||Black-and-white 4:3|
|Original release||January 9, 1959 –|
December 7, 1965
Eric Fleming postcard
Rawhide is an American Western TV series starring Eric Fleming and Clint Eastwood. The show aired for eight seasons on the CBS network on Friday nights, from January 9, 1959, to September 3, 1965, before moving to Tuesday nights from September 14, 1965, until January 4, 1966, with a total of 217 black-and-white episodes. The series was produced and sometimes directed by Charles Marquis Warren, who also produced early episodes of Gunsmoke. The show is fondly remembered by many for its theme, “Rawhide“.
Spanning 7-1/2 years, Rawhide was the sixth-longest running American television Western, exceeded only by 8 years of Wagon Train, 9 years of The Virginian, 14 years of Bonanza, 18 years of Death Valley Days, and 20 years of Gunsmoke.
- 2Cast members
- 4Background and production
- 9External links
Set in the 1860s, Rawhide portrays the challenges faced by the drovers of a cattle drive. Most episodes are introduced with a monologue by Gil Favor (Eric Fleming), trail boss. In a typical Rawhide story, the drovers come upon people on the trail and involve themselves in other people’s affairs, usually encountering various and sundry corrupt individuals. Many times, one or more of the crew venture into a nearby town and encounter some trouble from crooked townspeople or lawless politicians from which they need to be rescued. Rowdy Yates (Clint Eastwood) was young and at times impetuous in the earliest episodes, and Favor had to keep a tight rein on him.
Favor is a savvy and strong leader, who always plays “square” with his fellow men – a tough customer who can handle the challenges and get the job done. (Producer Charles Warren called on the diary written in 1866 by trail boss George C. Duffield to shape the character of Favor.) Although Favor had the respect and loyalty of the men who worked for him, the people, including Yates, are insubordinate to him a few times, after working too hard or after receiving a tongue lashing. Favor has to fight at times and usually wins.
Some Rawhide stories were easy in production terms, but the peak form of the show was convincing and naturalistic, and sometimes brutal. Its story lines ranged from parched plains to anthrax, ghostly riders to wolves, cattle raiding, bandits, murderers, and others. A frequent story line was the constant need to find water for the cattle. The scout spent much of his time looking for water, sometimes finding that water holes and even rivers had dried up. In some ways, the show was similar to the TV series Wagon Train, which had debuted on NBC on September 18, 1957. For example, neither the wagon train nor the herd moved very much.
Rawhide frequently dealt with controversial topics. Robert Culp played an ex-soldier on the drive who had become dangerously addicted to morphine. Mexican drover Jesús faced racism at times from outside of the crew.
Several shows deal with the aftermath of the American Civil War, which ended four years earlier. The “Poco Tiempo” episode reveals that Yates’ father’s name was Dan, that Yates came from Southwestern Texas, that he joined the Confederate States Army at 16, and that he was later held in a federal prison camp.
Favor also served in the CSA as a captain. “Incident on the Edge of Madness” in season one, guest-starring Lon Chaney Jr., had Favor’s old commanding officer attempting to enlist the aid of Favor and his men to start the “New Confederacy of Panama” much to Favor’s dismay. In that same episode, Favor and Nolan were revealed to have been in the Confederate forces up on Marye’s Heights at the Battle of Fredericksburg, and they “felt shamed” at killing so many Union soldiers.
Some American Indians demanded cattle as payment for going through their land. Rough characters were in the shows, and in one episode, Gil Favor is tortured by having his face held near a fire. In “Incident of the Town in Terror”, people think that a sick Yates has “the plague” (anthrax), and they enforce at gunpoint a quarantine of the cattle drovers outside the town. Also, cattle rustlers were around, including Commancheros.
On occasions, Rawhide was eerily atmospheric. “Incident with an Executioner” featured a mysterious dark rider (Dan Duryea) seen on the hillside following the herd, “Incident of the Haunted Hills” featured a sacred Indian burial ground, “Incident of the Druid Curse” and season two’s “Incident of the Murder Steer” (where anyone sighting a rogue steer with “Murder” carved on its side soon after dies, based on an actual legend of the Old West). The series also featured episodes with ghost towns, cattle with horns lit up by St. Elmo’s fire at dusk, cowboys struck by lightning, plus a strange, totally enclosed gypsy wagon, apparently steering itself, repeatedly turning up, all stand out as curiously “spooky” tales for a bustling dusty cattle drive; the show’s often stark incidental music suited these stories perfectly.
In episode 67, “Incident Near the Promised Land” (most episode titles began with “Incident” until Bruce Geller and Bernard L. Kowalski became the producers for season six), the cattle drive finally reached Sedalia for the first time in the series. Unusually, episode 68 continues on from that, where the cattle have been sold and the men celebrate in town and decide on their futures with even Favor thinking of leaving the business. Instead of the usual ending, wherein Favor gives the command “Head ’em up! Move ’em out!” and the cattle move off, this episode had the end titles over a view of a Sedalia street.
Episode 69 has Favor visiting his two daughters, Gillian and Maggie, who live with their aunt Eleanor Bradley in Philadelphia. In episode 70, a number of the men are back together and heading back to San Antonio about 650 miles away, with a herd of horses (used in the titles) instead of cattle. Episode 71 has a new cattle drive ready to go, but the owner of 1600 of the cattle wants to be in charge, so Favor reluctantly signs on as a ramrod, but after problems, Favor becomes boss again at the end of the show. These five episodes made up one storyline instead of the usual single-episode stories, which could have been set anywhere in the West.
Favor had many bad moments in the series, but none worse than the “Lost Herd” episode. Close to drive’s finish, Favor wants to beat another herd to town to get the best prices. He takes a narrow shortcut; due to thunder and lightning, the herd stampedes over the cliffs, leaving him just 9 out of 3000 cattle when the drive reaches town. He does not have the money to pay the drovers and has to face the owner (Royal Dano) whose cattle he has lost, knowing that he might never work in the business again.
From the second season, episodes began to feature individual cast members, notably Clint Eastwood’s Yates (sole star in “Incident on the Day of the Dead”, which opens season two); later, both Scout Pete Nolan (Sheb Wooley) and even cook G. W. Wishbone (Paul Brinegar) were featured as leads, while Fleming’s Gil Favor remained in overall charge.
Pete Nolan (Wooley), the scout, departs as a regular cast member after “The Deserter’s Patrol” (season four, episode 18, 9 Feb 1962), but returns for a single episode “Reunion” (episode 26, 6 April 1962), and for a further nine episodes in season seven from “Texas Fever” (episode 18, 5 February 1965).
Charles H. Gray‘s character Clay Forester, having played a villain in three episodes of season four (from “The Inside Man”, episode six), then reforms and replaces Nolan as scout from “The Greedy Town” (season four, episode 19). Gray remained in the regular cast for the rest of seasons four and five (though in a number of later episodes, he is credited but not seen). Forrester reappeared later in “Incident of El Toro” in season six (episode 26, 9 April 1964).John Ireland and Raymond St. Jacques, 1965
In the eighth and final season of Rawhide, Fleming left the series after an apparent disagreement with the producers. Rawhide had fallen in the ratings, from sixth in 1960-61 to 13th, 22nd, then 44th. Eric Fleming, who played Favor, was let go. “They fired me because they were paying me a million dollars a year” (actually $220,000), Fleming told TV Guide in 1965. Cast members Sheb Wooley, James Murdock, Rocky Shahan, and Robert Cabal were also let go. Eastwood was promoted to series star as Yates finally becomes the trail boss. This outcome was hinted at in earlier episodes when Favor indicates he is training Yates to replace him as trail boss. The impression given is this was a later cattle drive with Yates now in charge, at a time after Favor had either “retired” or given up as boss, presumably having made his money or opted for a career change, since no mention is ever made onscreen of him or the reason for his absence in the final season’s episodes.
John Ireland as Jed Colby and Raymond St Jacques as Simon Blake also joined the Rawhide cast at this time, plus semiregular minor cast member David Watson as Ian Cabot. With Fleming gone, ratings plunged and the revised format only lasted 13 episodes before Rawhide was suddenly cancelled in midseason.Rawhide cast
- Margaret O’Brien and Clint Eastwood (1959)
- Clint Eastwood and Nina Foch (1959)
- Fleming and Linda Cristal (1959)
- Nan Grey and Frankie Laine (1960)
- Fleming, Lola Albright, Allyn Joslyn (1964)
- Eastwood, Brinegar, Fleming (1959)
- Laura Devon and Dean Martin (1964)
- Sheb Wooley and Brinegar (1962)
Regular cast members included:
- Eric Fleming as trailboss Gil Favor (seasons 1 to 7)
- Clint Eastwood as ramrod Rowdy Yates (seasons 1 to 7) (and trailboss in season 8)
- Sheb Wooley as scout Pete Nolan (seasons 1 to 4, later season 7 nine episodes)
- Paul Brinegar as the cantankerous cook, George Washington Wishbone (seasons 1 through 8)
- Robert Cabal as the wrangler, Jesús “Hey Soos” Patines (seasons 1 to 7)
- James Murdock as Wishbone’s assistant, Harkness “Mushy” Mushgrove III (seasons 1 to 7)
- Steve Raines as drover Jim Quince (seasons 1 to 7, ramrod in season 8)
- Rocky Shahan as drover Joe Scarlet (seasons 1 to 7)
- Don C. Harvey as drover Collins (seasons 1 to 4)
- John Erwin as drover Teddy (seasons 1 to 4, 6 to 7)
- John Hart as drover Narbo (season 4, two appearances in season 7)
- William R. Thompkins as drover Toothless (season 2 to 7)
- John Cole as drover Bailey (season 1 to 5, one appearance in season 6)
- Milan Smith as drover Kyle (season 1 to 2)
- Charles H. Gray as Clay Forrester (seasons 4 and 5 only, one appearance in season 6)
- Paul Comi as Yo Yo (season 7 only)
- John Ireland as Jed Colby (season 8 only)
- Raymond St. Jacques as rider Simon Blake (season 8 only)
- David Watson as Ian Cabot (season 8 only)
Notable guest stars
- Nick Adams
- Claude Akins
- Eddie Albert
- Tod Andrews
- Michael Ansara
- Mary Astor
- Frankie Avalon
- Martin Balsam
- John Drew Barrymore
- Richard Basehart
- Charles Bateman
- Ralph Bellamy
- Shelley Berman
- Robert Blake
- Neville Brand
- Beau Bridges
- Charles Bronson
- Rory Calhoun
- Macdonald Carey
- John Cassavetes
- Lon Chaney Jr.
- James Coburn
- Pat Conway
- Elisha Cook Jr.
- Jeff Corey
- Broderick Crawford
- Robert L. Crawford Jr.
- Linda Cristal
- Robert Culp
- Royal Dano
- Albert Dekker
- John Dehner
- Bruce Dern
- Troy Donahue
- Bobby Driscoll
- James Drury
- Brian Donlevy
- Dan Duryea
- Buddy Ebsen
- Barbara Eden
- Jack Elam
- Leif Erickson
- Bill Erwin
- Gene Evans
- Nina Foch
- Sally Forrest
- Steve Forrest
- Anne Francis
- James Franciscus
- Beverly Garland
- Alan Hale Jr.
- Julie Harris