7 May 2006 | sataft-2
A Departure for American Television Westerns of the Late 1950's
This show's character was a major departure for standard western characterizations of the late 1950's. And the individual solely responsible for that swing in characterization was the series star, Robert Culp.
Culp played the show's lead character, Texas Ranger Hobey Gillman, as a hip, cool dude; somewhat reminiscent of the then running top rated detective series, Peter Gunn.
Culp gave the character a cool walk 'hip-diddy' walk, and spoke his lines as though he'd taken his responses off the top of his head and, basically, without any thought whatsoever before doing so. He was even cool when someone had the drop on him, or when he outdrew the bad guy. He was just plain 'cool'.
Robert Culp sharpened this image during his tenure in his first television starring role and vehicle. He then deftly transferred it, intact, to the character Kelly Robinson in the 1965 TV espionage hit, "I Spy."
In that top rated series in which he starred with acting newcomer Bill Cosby, to this day, many fans of the show felt that it was Culp's acting demeanor that gave the show it's real appeal.
Unfortunately, Cosby's being the first Black in a television series in a lead role, stole the show from him. Cosby became the viewer draw.
Culp was initially hired to be the 'lead' star in the series, but in the last three years of its run, Cosby was the everyone talked about even though, clearly, he was not the veteran or polished actor Cosby was.
In the final two years, Cosby was even paid more for his participation than Culp was, which did not come out until some ten or more years after the series ended.
Regardless, the series was a good one for its time, even though now quite dated to a younger generation who know little of and care less about the 'Cold War' period of history.