Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Tuesday's Overlooked TV: Death Valley Days
When I was a kid there was a regular TV routine in our house on Saturday night: Lawrence Welk, HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL, GUNSMOKE, the 10 o'clock news, and then finally an episode of DEATH VALLEY DAYS, usually hosted and introduced by The Old Ranger, played by actor Stanley Andrews. DEATH VALLEY DAYS was a syndicated half-hour Western anthology series that originated on radio and then ran for more than twenty years on TV. A lot of the stories were based on historical incidents, and I remember it being fairly low-key and realistic most of the time, hardly the stereotypical shoot-em-up. Practically every character actor in the business appeared on the show sooner or later, as well as some young actors who went on to be stars, like James Caan and Angie Dickinson. Ronald Reagan, Robert Taylor, and Dale Robertson appeared as hosts for the program in its later years. The stable of writers included some familiar names, too, such as pulpsters Robert Leslie Bellem and John K. Butler, as well as the wonderfully-named Sloan Nibley, who wrote some good Roy Rogers movies and was married to the beautiful actress Linda Stirling. This was one of my dad's favorite series. As a kid, and a fairly bloodthirsty one at that, I tend to prefer the more action-packed shows, but I remember watching and enjoying a lot of episodes of DEATH VALLEY DAYS, too. There are quite a few complete episodes available on YouTube if you're interested in checking them out.