13 February 2007 | Cheyenne-Bodie
Peter Graves could have been Hondo
John Wayne played Hondo in the 1953 movie. Wayne's production company Batjac produced this series. Wayne and company may have been hoping for another "Gunsmoke".
James Arness had once been under contract to John Wayne, and he even had a role in the movie "Hondo". Arness became a legend as Matt Dillon. Peter Graves, brother of James Arness, was first offered the lead in "Hondo". But Graves turned it down. Graves had already starred in "Fury", "Whiplash" and "Court Martial". Instead of taking the role of Hondo, Graves signed on to replace Steven Hill in "Mission Impossible". Graves started "Mission Impossible" in 1967, the year "Hondo" was on.
Ralph Taeger had starred with James Coburn in "Klondike" in 1960. "Klondike" didn't catch on, but NBC liked the two stars well enough to immediately give them a new show called "Acapulco". Telly Savalas also starred in "Acapulco". The show lasted only eight episodes, despite three marvelous leads and a glamorous setting.
Ralph Taeger got one final chance at series stardom six year later. Taeger made a fine Hondo Lane. Gary Clarke ("Michael Shayne", "The Virginian") was also good as a calvary officer. Delightful Kathie Browne ("Slattery's People") played Hondo's love interest. Movie great Robert Taylor ("The Detectives") guest starred in the pilot.
The producer of this series was Andrew Fenady, who had done a fine job with "The Rebel". Peter Graves had previously played a private detective in an unsold pilot for Fenady called "Las Vegas Beat".
"Hondo" was a big budget, ambitious effort. Like the TV version of "Shane" with David Carradine, "Hondo" was a near miss that had considerable charm.
Many years later, the seventeen episodes of "Hondo" were played over and over on cable. It was such a cult phenomenon that the Wall Street Journal did an article about "Hondo" and Ralph Taeger.