28 December 2015 | raysond
The best of the Desilu produced Westerns..Commemorating the original Wyatt Earp television series on it's 60th anniversary
This prime-time Emmy nominated series along with "Gunsmoke", and "Cheyenne" set the stage that launched a great era of television Westerns. "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp" was one of the tremendously popular half-hour shows that featured changes in locate while adding characters and changes of the actors playing the parts. Originally offer to George Montgomery, the title part went to lean and athletic actor Hugh O'Brien who remained with the series throughout it's entire six-year run who appeared in all 229 episodes. This was one of the great Desilu produced Westerns to come out of the mid-1950's with big name guest stars and superb writing and direction in all episodes. "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp" premiered on ABC's prime-time schedule on September 6, 1955 premiering exactly four days before "Gunsmoke"(which aired on a rival television network) and produced by Robert Sisk, Louis F. Edelman, and Roy Rowland(who served as the executive producers of this series). "Wyatt Earp" was placed on ABC's Tuesday night schedule in prime-time for the remainder of it's run which aired at 8:30pm eastern/7:30pm central. The series was produced by Desilu Productions(the production company founded by Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball)and was filmed at the Desilu-Cahuenga Studios. The show's sponsors throughout it's run were The General Mills Corporation, Proctor & Gamble, and The Parker Pen Company. A total of 229 episodes were produced in black and white from September 6, 1955 until the final episode of the series on June 27,1961. Interesting note about this show. An off-camera barbershop quartet(The Ken Darby Singers)sang the theme song and hummed the background music during the first two seasons.
Hugh O'Brien was the perfect choice as Wyatt Earp,the fictional character whose reign of law and order in the Old West set the stage for what was to come. During the series six-year run, it started with Wyatt's experiences as the deputy town marshal for the first four episodes in Ellsworth, Kansas and then moving towards Wichita,Kansas. There the show shifted from his stint in Dodge City, Kansas to Tombstone,Arizona Territory(toward the show's final two seasons). This brilliantly produced and intelligent writing of this series brought on board great guest stars as well as keeping TV-Viewers tuned in for some great action sequences that made this show stand out from all the other Westerns that came during the mid-1950's. Some of the best writers lend themselves to some of the great episodes ranging from John Dunkel to Wells Root, Frederick Hazlitt-Brennan, Buck Houghton, Dan Ullman, to Michael Fessier, Thomas Reed, Richard Sanville, and Celeste Plank. Big name directors like Frank McDonald, Roy Rowland, Paul Landres, Sidney Salkow and Lewis R. Foster contribute to some of the episodes.
Several big name guest stars appeared on this series ranging from newcomers like Angie Dickinson, Ed Nelson, James Coburn, Stacy Harris, Mike Connors(the future "Mannix"), Ron Ely(the future "Tarzan"),and James Best, Robert Fuller(the future "Laramie"), along with Steve Brodie to seasoned actors like Morgan Woodward, Paul Brinegar, Ray Kellogg, Denver Pyle, Lash La Rue, to Glenn Strange, John Anderson, John Dehner, Gloria Talbott, Gregory Walcott, Jean Allison, Harold J. Stone, along with Barney Phillips, Adele Mara, Whit Bissell, Sheb Wooley, Eddy Waller, John Carradine, Patricia Donahue, Frank Ferguson, Ellen Corby, and Marie Windsor. After "The Life and Times of Wyatt Earp" was canceled on June 27, 1961 after six seasons and 229 episodes, the show that replaced it in the fall of 1961 was the short-lived situation comedy series "Calvin and the Colonel"