30 June 2015 | raysond
The very best of the Revue Studios produced Westerns that introduce audiences to Robert Fuller who became a huge star in the series Laramie
Out of all the great TV Westerns that were all over the place during the late-1950's and early-1960's,"Laramie" turned out to be one of the very best of the Revue Studios produced Westerns,the same production company behind "Wagon Train". When "Laramie" first premiered in 1959, the series had potential but was shaping up to be something a bit different from the monotonous world of TV Westerns that were popping up during that period. In that same year, 28 different Western-based prime-time shows premiered on all three major television networks with the exception of "Bonanza" which was the first prime-time adult Western that was produced and filmed in color. The other Westerns that premiered that same year were produced and filmed in classic black and white ranging from "Riverboat", "The Rebel","The Alaskans","Wichita Town","The Law of the Plainsman",along with "Johnny Ringo","Shotgun Slade","The Deputy starring Henry Fonda",and "The Man From Blackhawk" just to name a few. Most of these Westerns that premiered in 1959 had more or less degenerated into endless shows about either a loner or a couple of buddies shooting it out with bad guys and riding off into the West. Most of these shows lasted a mere two or more seasons with the exception of "Bonanza" which lasted an astounding 14-seasons on the air at NBC.
"Laramie" when it premiered in 1959 attempted to do something far more intriguing: the series focus on two brothers in the Wyoming territory in the mid-1800's that consisted of young Slim (John Smith)who was the lead,and his confused kid brother(Robert Crawford,Jr. whose younger brother Johnny Crawford played Chuck Connors son Mark on "The Rifleman"). Their relationship was unheard of and not quite like anything else on a Western series at that time with lead to many unexpected and intriguing plots throughout the series entire run. Also that made this show stand out was the two other main characters one of them was Jess Harper(Robert Fuller)who was the unpleasant loner that wanders in the area and was accepted,with qualifications,as part of the group even though the brothers couldn't quite understand his personality whom they first thought of him as a notorious gunslinger at first,but came to accept him as part of the family. Also added in was the secondhand assistant(Hoagy Carmichael)who was part of the operations. During its first season the show didn't quite take off,but only had mediocre ratings as NBC had the decision to either canceled it or "reimagine" it. If they have done this the other way, the overall status of "Laramie" would have not survived due to competition from the other networks. Instead, NBC kept it on the air but made major changes that included everything that made this show special. By the show's third season,the overall changes were done and this time around the series would be produced and filmed in color. Gone were Robert Crawford,Jr. and Hoagy Carmichael but kept John Smith and Robert Fuller as the two leads. Added to the cast were Spring Byington and Dennis Holmes. Byington's character was portrayed as the sweet old lady who cared for them and Holmes was added in as the young orphan permitted to live with them on the Sherman Ranch.
"Laramie" premiered on NBC's prime-time schedule on September 15, 1959 and lasted four seasons on the network until the final episode on May 21, 1963. Out of the 124 episodes that this series produced, a total of 64 episodes of the series were in black and white from September 15, 1959 until June 13, 1961. A total of 60 episodes were produced and filmed in color for its final two seasons from September 26, 1961 until May 21, 1963. "Laramie" was Robert Fuller's first foray into series television and this was the series that made him a major star. Out of all the cast members that were associated with this series, only two actors Robert Fuller and John Smith were the only two cast members that stayed on throughout its entire run. Robert Crawford was in Season 1 and midway through Season 3(as a guest star). Spring Byington and Dennis Holmes were with the series through Seasons 3 and 4 only. Hoagy Carmichael appeared in Season 1 of the series while actors Stuart Randall and Eddy Waller(who was the stagecoach driver in 19 episodes)appeared during Seasons 1 thru 3 only. The guest star roster who appeared on "Laramie" consisted of some Hollywood heavyweights and newcomers ranging from Brian Keith, Dan Duryea, Adam West, Everett Sloane, Anita Sands, Warren Stevens, Thomas Mitchell, Arthur Hunnicutt, to Harry Dean Stanton, R.G. Armstrong, L.Q Jones, Morgan Woodward, to Claude Akins(who appeared four times in various episodes), Julie London, Vera Miles, Ernest Borgnine, John Anderson, James Coburn, Charles Bronson, Denny Miller, Rod Cameron(who appeared six times in various episodes),Ron Harper, Jan Merlin, John Lupton, Gregory Walcott, Edgar Buchanan, Dennis Patrick, Lee Van Cleef, Russell Johnson, Gary Clarke, Harry Lauter, George Macready, Alex Cord, Joanne Linville, Lloyd Nolan, Ellen Burstyn, Parley Baer, Ray Danton, Carolyn Jones, Richard Devon, to future Star Trek DeForest Kelley, Lottie Harris, Ed Nelson, to also another future Star Trek Leonard Nimoy, and future Hogan's Heroes Ivan Dixon,and future Green Acres Eddie Albert not to mention future Dallas star Jim Davis and future Dukes of Hazzard Denver Pyle not to mention future Tarzan Jock Mahoney along with future teen heartthrob Tommy Sands.
After the success of "Laramie" actor Robert Fuller went on to star in "Wagon Train",but his biggest success was yet to come in 1972 when he starred opposite Julie London, Randolph Mantooth and Kevin Tighe in one of the most successful television dramas of the 1970's "Emergency!" that was produced by Jack Webb.