The Crime Readers' Association

How Crime in the Wild West Pays Off for Author Everett

11th July 2017

During 1989-1991 I was hired to write profiles of famous film/ television personalities for TV Scene magazine which mostly contained photographs and interviews with then current American television stars. When this ceased publication in the early nineties, I circulated a manuscript of some of my profiles to various British publishers who rejected it, although I did receive personal rejections rather than the standard ones. I could not land a publishing deal in this country. I had several McFarland (leading American independent reference book publisher) books in my collection. I sent a letter and sample profiles to them with a proposed list of American television stars for a general book. Although McFarland rejected this, they liked my writing style and wrote that they would be interested in a book of television players linked to a specific genre. I picked the Western genre and sent a list of names of television cowboy stars to be included. They loved this idea, but then dropped the bombshell that what they really wanted was a definitive reference guide to Western television stars covering all players in regular and semi-regular roles in Western series from 1950 through 1959. Thus the idea of the book came from the publisher. I signed a contract in 1993.

Through TV Scene I already knew some of the cowboy stars who featured in the book. I wrote to or conducted live telephone interviews or met in person at a Western convention many of the cowboy players who are contained in the book. Some like Al “Lash” LaRue became legends in their own lifetime. Allegedly LaRue’s normal driving vehicle was a hearse! Oddly although some players are still world famous, there is no other show business encyclopedia which contains any information about them. One example that springs to mind is Paul Brinegar who played the cook Wishbone throughout all eight seasons of Rawhide and Jelly Hoskins in Lancer, both highly successful television series. My book Television Western Players of the Fifties was originally published in 1997 to glowing critical reviews and brisk sales. Twenty years later it is still in print and still sells copies regularly – my most successful book to date. I didn’t do the follow up volume covering the period from 1960 through 1975 immediately afterwards because I was not all that familiar with some of the later hour length Western series. Many of the half hour television Westerns were simple morality tales of good v. evil, with the white hat v. the black hat. In the later hour length Western series the relationships were more complex between the characters. Some of the main regular characters were also flawed and troubled by incidents in their past. Some of the villains nevertheless had a redeeming feature. Therefore it was impossible to do a further book at the time without watching multiple episodes of some of these later Westerns. What changed all that was the DVD revolution and satellite television which brought back to television many of these Western series digitally restored and in all their glory. It was a feast for a glutton! After writing a couple of other books for McFarland, in 2015 I signed a contract to write Television Western Players, 1960 – 1975 which has just been published and I hope will repeat the success of the original.

There was an enormous amount of crime in the Old West. Some of the crimes such as stagecoach robberies and cattle rustling were indigenous to the American West, while other crimes such as murder and scams were universal. Some of the leading characters in these television series were legendary real life lawmen and outlaws and my book examines whether the character as depicted in the television series was accurate or whether liberties had been taken. There is also the question of how correct the facts are relating to these Western crimes. For instance in the film  My Darling Clementine (1946) director John Ford’s splendid Western of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral Old Man Clanton (Walter Brennan) led the villains. In real life he was not present because he had been killed a couple of months earlier rustling cattle in Mexico. The television series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp starring Hugh O’Brian showed the accurate version. In this series Old Man Clanton (Trevor Bardette) was frequently shown having arguments with his daughter Emma (Carol Thurston) about her love for Wyatt Earp. In real life Old Man Clanton had two daughters, but neither of them was called Emma. Although my books are in alphabetical order by actor/ actress many of the entries contain an analysis of the character whether good or bad or somewhere in between. There is also a very strong real life crime element in this book in that there are at least four actors covered (Nick Adams, David Carradine, Pete Duel and Albert Salmi) who died mysterious and violent deaths.

Everett’s Television Western Players, 1960 – 1975 is a biographical encyclopedia of every actor and actress who had a regular role in a Western television series on American television from 1960 through 1975. The entries include birth and death dates (where deceased); family information; and an account of each leading player’s career. Each entry is supported by a filmography and list of regular television series roles. There is also an appendix which gives details of all Western series, whether network or syndicated, shown on American television between 1960 and 1975. The book has an index. It runs to 478 pages. One of the main themes throughout the book is references to real life crimes in the Old West, brave lawmen and notorious bad men (of which there were many). It is published by McFarland in America and available via their official distributor, Eurospan, in the United Kingdom. It is also available through Amazon.

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