If "Cheyenne" is one of the most fondly-remembered shows from TV's "Golden Age of Westerns," it probably isn't due to such factors as writing or direction, since these elements were probably no better than those found on a number of other TV westerns. What set "Cheyenne" apart and a bit above most of its competition lay in the casting of Clint Walker as its title character.
While Clint was a good-looking fellow with a 48-inch chest, (which seemed to get bared at least once on every episode), he didn't succeed just on his physical appearance or on his acting ability which, while passable, didn't qualify for any awards. No, what probably made Clint such an enduring icon of the 1950's was his surprisingly quiet, mild-mannered personality which at first seemed at odds with his massive size. This personality gave Clint an approachable, almost vulnerable quality which lent him the aura of a "gentle giant."
Even his "beefcake" scenes had a wholesome, non-threatening quality about them as opposed to, say, the sly sexuality of Robert Conrad's frequent bare-chest poses in "The Wild Wild West."
Perhaps the episode best reflecting Clint's unique qualities aired on 12-18-56. Titled "The Trap," this episode had Clint unjustly sentenced to work in a silver mine. Having Clint push those loaded mine-cars out of the mine and along a track under a blistering-hot desert sun not only gave ample opportunities to display that hairy chest gleaming with sweat, but the atmosphere of cruelty and bondage effectively played on the notion that audiences like to see the masochistic sufferings of an uncomplaining strongman.
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