Category: TV Cowboys

HEROES ARE FOREVER by Patti Shene

Today’s blogger Patti Shene

Sharene James bookWe all have a hero, someone we’d like to meet in person someday. I met mine for the first time on our grainy black and white TV in our Long Island home when I was all of four years old. The first episode of Gunsmoke aired on September 10, 1955. That evening, Marshal Matt Dillon, played by the 6’7” blue-eyed Minnesotan, James Arness, was introduced into our living rooms. He stayed there for twenty years.

Throughout my teen years in the sixties, my admiration for James Arness remained steadfast. I lived for Saturday nights and my weekly dose of Gunsmoke. Tuesday and Thursday evenings were also special, the evenings the half hour reruns, renamed Marshal Dillon, aired.

Even though raised on the east coast, I’d been in love with westerns and the west all of my life. I moved to Colorado in my early twenties, ironically, to a small town on the eastern plains where another Gunsmoke main character, Ken Curtis, had grown up.

Gunsmoke went off the air in 1975 and those shows became only memories. That following year, I heard portions of the movie How the West was Won would be filmed at Bent’s Old Fort, a historic site a mere ten miles from my home. Jim Arness starred in that movie, playing the part of rugged mountain man Zeb Macahan. Oh, man, I was finally going to get to see my lifelong hero!

It was thrilling to stand on the balcony of the fort, look down on the courtyard and observe the big man in action. Still, there was no opportunity to speak to him, shake his ham-sized hand, or smile into those huge blue eyes.

When Gunsmoke came back on the air in this area on TVLand, I invested in a new VCR and a multitude of video tapes. One night I was checking the internet for anything Gunsmoke and came across the Delphi Gunsmoke message board, an internet group that shared about everything Gunsmoke. It was there that I learned that James Arness had written his autobiography and was hosting a bookSharene my autographed booksigning at the Autry Museum of Western Heritage in Los Angeles. Now was my chance to meet my hero in person, face to face!

Even Sharene Jim Arness & Patti 2001 booksigningthough I was fifty years old at the time, I tingled with the excitement of a kid on Christmas morning as I walked into the auditorium and saw Jim sitting on the stage, dressed as Marshal Matt Dillon, waiting to greet his fans. We had each been assigned a number, and mine was thirteen. I had to wait for twelve people to have their turn before I got mine! There were a hundred and fifty people in line behind me, so I carefully planned the words I would say in the thirty seconds I would probably get with him.

When it was my turn to speak to Mr. Arness, he and his lovely wife, Janet, made me feel like I was the most important fan in the whole room. We visited about the town where I live and the fact that I know many people who were personal friends with Ken Curtis. He loved to joke, and his blue eyes sparkled with laughter.

Our day didn’t end with the booksigning. Jim, Buck Taylor, who also starred in Gunsmoke as gunsmith Newly O’Brien, Bruce Boxleitner, star in How the West was Won, and Jim Byrnes, who Sharene My numberwrote some of the Gunsmoke episodes, held a question and answer panel. It was such fun to listen to the actors answer questions from the audience and share stories of their acting experiences together.

I had the privilege of returning to LA in 2003 to celebrate Jim’s 80th birthday along with other fans. Our Delphi Gunsmoke group presented Jim with a statue of a horse and rider, which one of our members carried all the way from Massachusetts on the Amtrak! I compiled a book of birthday cards and letters from those who were unable to attend, but wanted to send their greetings. I was honored to present that to him. We had planned to present the gift and book during the event, but his PR manager arranged for our group to meet with him privately in a small room away from the crowd.

JSharene Bruce Boxleitner, Buck Taylor, Patti, Jim Arness 2001 booksigningames Arness passed in 2011, but his name lives on in television history, representing justice, patriotism, self-respect, and worthy of the highest admiration. In all the parts he has played, he has portrayed characters that emulate our basic American principles and values. I am so blessed that one of my prayers was answered, to meet my lifelong hero in person!

I would like to offer a $10.00 Amazon gift card as a giveaway. Hopefully, the winner will use it to enjoy a 19th century historical novel set in the American west. There is plenty of wonderful work by talented authors out there to choose from!

Patti still loves Gunsmoke and likes to write Gunsmoke fan fiction. She plans to complete her contemporary and historical western novels in progress and pursue publication someday. Currently, she hosts Step Into the Light, a blog talk radio interview format show that serves to help people out of darkness into the light of God’s love, grace, and faithfulness. Connect with Patti on her website (www.pattishene.com), her personal Facebook page, http://ow.ly/T2uyj and her Step Into the Light Facebook page at http://ow.ly/T2uSx or on Twitter http://ow.ly/T2v7o.

Welcome Guest – Mona Hodgson!!!

Convenient Bride BannerKeeper of My Heart Wagon Train Trivia

Just about any Western movie or TV show captured my attention, pulling me into the adventure and possibilities. Shows like Wagon Train led to my fascination with wagon train travel, which inspired Prairie Song and Keeper of My Heart.

While researching wagon train history, I found some fun tidbits.

Ready for a wagon train trivia quiz?

  1.  Horses were the preferred animal for pulling a covered wagon across the prairie. True or false?

False. While some folks did have horses pull their covered wagon, more chose burros or mules for the job. Most pioneers, however, yoked four or more oxen steer to their wagons because of the superior strength and stamina that allowed the oxen to pull the 2500 pounds or more. Besides, horses are more skittish and easily spooked. Which animal would you prefer to trust to ford a stream or descend a mountain with all of your earthly possessions?The Convenient Bride Collection--Lrg

  1.  TV shows and movies correctly depicted covered wagon overlanders riding on the wagon seat.

False. That was something that seldom happened. Would you want to sit on a narrow, hardwood seat suspended between side rails with no springs? Most trail conveyances were simple farm wagons with no thought given to comfort. The wagon beds rode on steel tires mounted on wooden wheels, on solid wood axles, for fifteen or so miles on a rutted road. That’d be quite the bone rattling ride. I’d rather walk, thank you.

Most healthy travelers walked alongside the team of oxen or took shifts riding a horse.

  1. Need some butter for the biscuits you plan to cook over the supper campfire? Just hang the milk on the wagon.

True. Milk the cow first thing in the morning then, before you set out for the day, secure the crock of milk to a hook on the side of the wagon. All the jostling over rocks and through ruts will churn the butter for you.

  1.  The TV screen and paintings of the period got it right when they showed wagons circled for defense against hostile Indians.   

False. The wagon companies didn’t typically circle their wagons. When they did, it was usually to corral the livestock. Most wagon train roads led through safe territory, and hostilities were rare. But if a caravan of wagons was attacked, they didn’t have time to find an area big enough to arrange the wagons.

  1.   Wagons were covered, which made them into a 19th century recreational vehicle.Wagon with women and children

False. Ready to curl up for a night of sweet dreams in the covered wagon? We’re talking about an eleven foot long by four foot wide, ten foot tall space crammed full of barrels, casks, trunks, and miscellaneous household items. Things the pioneers would need for the journey as well as items and heirlooms packed for their new home.

Most overlanders slept outdoors, on the ground, with or without a tent overhead, or in a hammock suspended between trees or between a tree and the wagon. Exceptions to that rule included travelers who were sick and sometimes children. Excessive rain might have warranted taking shelter inside of the wagon, but it would’ve been an uncomfortable night.

Woman ShootistReading Prairie Song and Keeper of My Heart, you’ll discover that I busted many of the perpetuated myths in my telling of two 1866 wagon train stories.

Neelie “Shott”, the heroine in Keeper of My Heart, is headed for San Francisco, where she’s been promised a job in a Wild West Show. When Neelie set out on the road going West, she thought she knew where she was going. That was before she encountered The Boone’s Lick Wagon Train Company and the widowed, spine-stiffening wheelwright named Ian Kamden.

Nor had she met his five children. As it turns out, Maisie, the youngest, is fond of picking black-eyed Susans and awarding the bouquets to those she loves.

I can’t wait for you to meet Neelie, Ian, and the others on their quest for a fresh beginning in Keeper of My Heart, one of nine novellas in The Convenient Bride Collection.

Thanks so much to the Petticoats & Pistols fillies for the invitation to come by and many thanks to you for joining me here. I hope you’ll stop by and chat with me. Do you have a favorite wagon train novel, nonfiction, or movie?

I’m excited to give away a copy of The Convenient Bride Collection, which includes Neelie’s story in Keeper of My Heart. I’d love to hear from everyone, but can only mail the book to a USA address.

 

Please find me online and join the conversation: Mona Hodgson chin on hands

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Mona Hodgson is the author of 40 books, historical novels and novellas for adults and children’s books, including her popular Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series, The Quilted Heart novellas, and Prairie Song. Her children’s books include Bedtime in the Southwest, Real Girls of the Bible: A 31-Day Devotional, six Zonderkidz I Can Read books, and more.

Is There a Doctor in the House?

newsletter_headerjpg - 2Back in February, my e-novella Love on the Mend debuted, featuring Dr. Jacob Sadler as my male lead. He was my first doctor character, though Crockett from Stealing the Preacher came close. Crockett was self-taught, however. Jacob actually completed medical school and worked as an army surgeon during the War Between the States. Just last week, I was honored to see the first print version of the story. In Dutch. Yes, still no plans for a print  version in the US, but if you travel to the Netherlands, you can find one. Ha!

Although, the translated title look like it reads “Life of the Receipt.” A scintillating tale of a girl trying to return the doctor’s bag she purchased accidentally only to realize she’s stuck with it unless she can find the receipt. Did the dog eat it? Did her next door rival steal it? Or did the matchmaking store clerk purposely send it home with the handsome doctor from the next county hoping to bring the unlikely pair together in an adventure neither saw coming? Find out in Life of the Receipt.

Well, back to doctors. I’ve always been fascinated by these courageous men and women who dedicate their lives to helping others. Some of my favorite western doctors have been:

Dr Quinn Medicine Woman

 

Dr. Michaela Quinn – One of my favorite shows from the 80s. A strong female lead proving herself in a rugged land. A love story between the reclusive frontiersman and the educated woman. Plenty of medical drama, frontier drama, and family drama. I watched every episode without fail.

 

 

 

 

Little House Dr Baker

 

 

 

And who could forget Dr. Hiram Baker from Little House on the Prairie? He was one of those rare characters that you could always trust to do the right thing. He never lost his temper. Never got flustered. Just treated everyone with the same calm, soothing, competent manner that instantly put people at ease. I wish we still had doctors like him today, making house calls in his black buggy.

 

 

 

 

This next one is a bit of a stretch. Robert Fuller started off as one of my favorite TV cowboys – Cooper Smith, the scout from the series Wagon Train. Later he took on the role of Dr. Kelly Brackett on one of the first TV medical dramas I remember from my youth in the 70s – Emergency.

Robert-Fuller as Cooper Smith in Wagon Train

Robert-Fuller as Cooper Smith in Wagon Train

Robert Fuller as Dr. Kelly Brackett on Emergency

Robert Fuller as Dr. Kelly Brackett on Emergency

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last western doctor is one I just discovered. How did I never know this show existed? I guess it was never one of the westerns that reran its episodes in the 70s when I was around to catch them on Frontier Doctor TV ShowSaturday afternoons. Do any of you remember Frontier Doctor from 1958? It starred Rex Allen as small town doctor Bill Baxter in the Arizona Territory in the early 1900s. It was only in syndication for a year, which explains why it never made it to rerun status in the 70s. Sounds like a show that would have been up my alley, though.

  • How about you? Who are are some of your favorite TV/movie doctors?

Any Dr. House fans? I can’t believe how much I enjoy that show when the lead character is such a horrible human being, but I do. It’s definitely unique and I love the medical mystery aspect of it.

Oh, and for anyone who’s interested, the English version of Love on the Mend is available for all e-readers for around $1.99. You can purchase the Kindle version here.

Sometimes Only a Cowboy Will Do

 quotescover-JPG-98 cowboy 2

If you’re like me, you love to watch historical shows and movies, but really crave anything with a western flair.  There have too little of them lately, too few and far between.  My latest fan crush is OUTLANDER (Scottish–not western but wonderful) and my biggest gripe is that there were only 7 made for Showtime and the next full season doesn’t start until April 2015!  That’s a long time for an avid fan!  

Here’s a list of IMDb’s (Internet Movie Database) Highest Rated Western Television Shows.  I think you’d be surprised with some of them.  

1.    Deadwood   2004

deadwood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.    The Adventures of Brisco County   1993

3.    Trigun  1998 Animated

4.    Have Gun Will Travel  1957

5.     Saber Rider and The Star Sheriffs  1987 Animated 

6.      Hell on Wheels   2011

7.      Zorro  1957

8.    The Rifleman   1958

9.    Maverick    1959

10.   The Wild Wild West  1965

11.   Rawhide   1959

12.   Longmire   2012

13.   Gunsmoke  1955

14.   The Big Valley   1965

15.   King Fu   1972

Hell on Wheels

 

 

 

 

I was surprised Bonanza wasn’t in the top 15.  It came in at  #17, while Little House of the Prairie was #19 and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, was 20th. Looks like westerns rocked the television screens in the 1950’s.   Now, occasionally a good western will come our way, but not often enough if you ask me.

Is your favorite on this list?  What are your top 5 westerns, movies or television series?  

I have a great two-in-one Desire to give away to one blogger today!  (Suddenly Expecting and The Texas Renegade Returns)

 

LOOK FOR MY NEW HARLEQUIN ONLINE READ coming in January to kick off my Moonlight Beach Bachelors series! TITLE TBA

HER FORBIDDEN COWBOY coming in February!

 

 

 

 

Updated: October 15, 2014 — 12:58 pm

A HORSE OF ANOTHER COLOR by Laurie Kingery

It’s always a pleasure when I get to pay a visit to the fillies and readers at Petticoats and Pistols, since it’s the best western blog out there!

Like most of us of a certain age <ahem!> I spent my Saturday mornings watching the cowboys on TV, and I noticed something about most of them—they had horses that weren’t just…brown. No, the Lone Ranger had his white horse, Silver, Hopalong Cassidy had Topper, another white horse, Roy Rogers had his beautiful palomino, Trigger, the Cisco Kid had his splashy black and white pinto, Diablo. The Lone Ranger’s sidekick Tonto also had a brown and white pinto, Scout.
Going back further in western lore, Zorro had his dramatic black stallion, Tornado. Even Gene Autry’s horse Champion had a lovely flaxen mane and tail.

 

And what did the outlaws ride? Brown, nondescript horses, almost always.

Horse color is fascinating to me, and it’s important to get it right. Nothing knocks me out of a story faster than to read that a horse is “brown” but has a black mane and tail. No, that’s a bay. Neither can a golden-colored horse with a black mane and tail be considered a palomino—that’s a dun, or as some would call it, a buckskin. (There is some disagreement over whether yellow horses without black manes and tails are duns or buckskins.) Among duns there are zebra duns (with a dark stripe going across the shoulders and down the back, yellow duns, claybank duns, red duns, lilac and more. Gray isn’t merely gray, but can be dappled, flea-bitten (with tiny dark spots), or grullo. And it makes a difference what part of the country or world you’re in, too. A chestnut (light brown, sometimes with a lighter mane and tail) would likely be called a sorrel out west, and there are a myriad of specific variations according to how dark the brown is on the body and mane and tail. A paint or pinto would be a piebald or skewbald in England, depending on whether it’s black and white or brown and white. A paint horse can be an overo or a tobiano, depending on the pattern of the white. Roans can be blue, strawberry, seal and more.

Bewildering, yes, and I can’t begin to cover the subject completely. A discussion of breeds is a subject for another blog, if that hasn’t already been done. I’d like to share a book that helped me make sense of it all—HORSE COLOR, A COMPLETE GUIDE TO HORSE COAT COLORS, by D. Phillip Sponenberg and Bonnie V. Beaver. It’s available on Amazon if you’re interested.

Ever since I’ve started writing historicals, it’s been very clear to me that a particular horse figured in my hero’s story, it had to be some special color. In my May Love Inspired Historical, HILL COUNTRY CATTLEMAN, sixth in the “Brides of Simpson Creek” series, horses are featured very prominently in the book. My hero, Raleigh Masterson, first catches my aristocratic English heroine Violet Brookfield’s eye riding on the back of a beautiful blue roan stallion on Main Street of Simpson Creek. Learning that the lovely woman is an accomplished equestrienne and is in need of a mount during her visit to the Texas Hill Country, he loans her a pinto mare, Lady.

Naturally, during the course of the story, Raleigh and Violet fall in love—but how can a Texas cowboy and former trail boss hope to be worthy of the daughter of an viscount, especially when she’s got a beau back home in jolly old England who’s promised to give her her own hunter and start a stud of racehorses? Raleigh’s got nothing, not even his own ranch. But then an endurance race is proposed to put Simpson Creek on the map for horse racing. Contestants are to change horses halfway through the demanding course over hilly terrain. The prize will be a prime piece of San Saba County ranchland. Voilà—the chance for Raleigh to feel worthy of his English lady. You’ll have to read the book to find out how the race went, as one lucky commenter will do, for I’m giving away a copy of the book, of course. And for those who’d like to read the prologue to this story that didn’t make it into the book because of word count restrictions, please visit my website at www.lauriekingery.com

My thanks to Wikimediacommons.org for the horse pictures, and again to the fillies for letting me come visit.

Blessings,
Laurie Kingery

Updated: April 21, 2013 — 1:25 pm

It All Started With A Wagon Train . . .

Readers and interviewers often ask about what got me interested in writing western romances. Well, there’s a reason my logo features a wagon wheel. It all started with a wagon train.

The early seeds were planted with Laura Ingalls and Little House on the Prairie, both the books and the television series. But it wasn’t until the late 80’s when I was a senior in high school that the love affair truly began. I can still recall standing in a bookstore  during one of those high school band trip time killers – you know, the ones where the bus pulls up to the local mall and lets the kids loose on the food court and shops with the only perameter being, “Meet back here by 5:30.” Well, where else would I spend time but in a bookstore? Besides, I needed something to read on the bus ride home.

I sat staring at the shelves, picking up book after book but not realy finding anything I liked. Then a friend (a boy, no less!) suggested I try Dana Fuller Ross’s Wagon’s West Series. Apparently his sister liked them. I picked up Independence!, the first in the series, and was instantly hooked. I can’t remember how many I ended up reading, but I think I read at least the first 8, up through Nevada! There were 24 total in the series.

Now that my appetite for romance and adventure on the western trail had been whetted, I sought more. Imagine my delight when I stumbled across Saturday reruns of the old westerns from the 50’s and 60’s. Bonanza. The Big Valley. The Rifleman. I loved them all.

Yet when I saw a promo for Wagon Train, teenage heart palpitations nearly sent me into a swoon. I’d thought Pernell Roberts was to-die-for as Adam Cartwright, but when I caught a glimpse of Robert Fuller as the trail scout, Cooper Smith, I was in love. And the fact that the channel only showed Wagon Train for a short time before discontinuing it, only made my heart grow fonder. We were star-crossed lovers, Cooper and I, held apart by a tragic whim of fate.

About this same time, my best friend got me hooked on old movies. We’d go to the video store and try out everything from Audrey Hepburn to Fred Astaire. I started watching the classic movie channel on TV as well. And that’s where I found it. My favorite western movie of all time. Westward the Women.

Never heard of it? Don’t feel bad. Most haven’t. It doesn’t star John Wayne or Gary Cooper. In fact, nearly the entire cast is female. Odd for a western, right? But that’s part of the reason I loved it. That and the fact that it all takes place on a . . . you guessed it . . . wagon train.

In the story, a land developer arranges for the transport of moral, able-bodied women to travel from Chicago to his settlement in California to become wives to the frontiersmen there. The women have a variety of motivations for joining the train. Some are in financial straits. Some have lost husbands and have no where else to go. Some are simply looking to make a new start. The wagon master has serious doubts about their ability to cope with the arduous demands of the journey and tries to convince the land developer to give up on the scheme. The women prove tougher than he expects, though, and with a little training on firearms and team driving, they set out. As the wagon master’s respect for the women in his care grows so do the women’s respect for themselves. The film destroys sterotypes of women as the weaker sex. And the central love story between the wagon master and the French saloon dancer who is looking to leave her past behind demonstrates that love really does conquor all.

Westward the Women came out in 1951 and was based on a concept idealized by Hollywood legend, Frank Capra, after he read an article in a 1940’s magazine about a group of South American women who crossed the Isthmus to become brides for a group of male settlers. It was filmed the Utah mountains and California desert and all the actresses were given extensive training in handling frontier weapons, bullwhip cracking, blacksmithing, horseback riding, mule driving, and assembling and disassembling covered wagons. My writer’s research heart is drooling in envy.

Alas, Netflix doesn’t carry it, so I might have to find a copy I can purchase. Because even though I haven’t seen it in probably 20 years or more, I still remember it in vivid detail. I still want to be like those women–tough, determined, and ready to take on any challenge this journey of life throws at me.

So what about you? What got you started on western romances? Books, movies, television, growing up on a ranch? I’d love to hear your story!

Hell On Wheels

How much do I love SuperChannel?

A friend mentioned that I would probably like a new series called Hell On Wheels. I checked it out (On Demand) and the husband and I watched the first episode and LOVED it.

 

 

It all starts with a Union Soldier in a confessional, seeking absolution for things he did during the war. In particular, what happened to a woman. When the confessional is over, both man and priest emerge, but it’s not a priest at all. It’s Cullen Bohannon – the woman’s husband. And he’s out to get every man that brutalized and then murdered his wife.

It takes a cold dude to kill a man in a church and then walk out with his greatcoat flapping.

His search takes him to Hell on Wheels – the travelling camp of the men building the Union Pacific railroad. As you can imagine, it’s rough. A good portion of the workforce is freed slaves, and as we all know the term free was a formality more than anything else. He’s hired as a supervisor to the crews, and strikes up an unlikely friendship with Elam Ferguson (played by Common).

The whole thing is ruled by Thomas Durant, who’s a bit greasy and not above manipulating senators and stocks to see that the railroad gets built. Durant’s chief surveyor, Bell, is killed in an Indian attack but his wife, Lily, survives – and it’s Bohannon who brings her back to camp. And all the while Bohannon is trying to find the last of the men responsible for the death of his wife.

It’s a great story, a fantastic setting, wonderful, complex characters (The Swede as Durant’s “muscle” is deliciously creepy). Of course the cast isn’t hard to look at either. My husband is rather partial to Lily Bell.  I, of course, adore Bohannon (played by Anson Mount). In fact, there may be a reclusive rancher in a story soon that bears a striking resemblance.

And I’ll admit it – best of all was the night Bohannon and Elam had to fight each OTHER. I looked at my husband and said, “I hope they fight with their shirts off.” Yes, I’m just that shallow.

The result?

A bit of history, a bit of romance, a lot of action. Can anyone say “All aboard!”

Cowboy Crushes

Why do I write western romances? Even more telling—why do I read western romances? There are many reasons, but the most compelling one is simple. I do it for the cowboys.

Those rugged, hard-working men, so capable, so honorable, so devoted to the women who capture their hearts. I can see the silhouette of a man on horseback, sitting straight in the saddle, and my heart starts fluttering before I even see his face. Crazy, huh? But the image stirs the romantic in me like nothing else. After all, if you’re going to ride off into the sunset with a hunky hero, he needs to have a horse.

It probably started back in my early teen years. I’d outgrown Saturday morning cartoons, so I turned instead to the Saturday westerns. It was the 80’s, the decade that introduced MTV and video games. Westerns were the last thing on anyone’s mind. Well, except for me. I found channels that aired re-runs of wonderful shows like Bonanza, Wagon Train, and The Big Valley. I couldn’t get enough. I started daydreaming my own episodes, writing myself into the script so that I could win the heart of the cowboys I fancied. I had desperate crushes on Adam Cartwright (Pernell Roberts, at left) from Bonanza and Cooper Smith (Robert Fuller, at right) from Wagon Train. I guess I have a thing for dark-haired men in black hats.

That theme continued into the 90’s when the western made a slight comeback in the television world with shows like Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, The Young Riders, and The Magnificent Seven. I’ve been re-watching The Young Riders on Netflix with my 13 year-old daughter. We both agree that Josh Brolin makes a very dreamy Jimmy Hickok. Although I think the beautiful Palomino he rode played a role in the attraction, too. I haven’t introduced her to Eric Close in The Magnificent Seven yet, but he was another cowboy who made my heart pitter-patter.

                          

Then we could talk about those cowboys from down under. Tom Selleck is now a western icon, but I first discovered him in chaps and hat in Quigley Down Under. I had never been that impressed with him when he was driving around Hawaii in a red sports car, but give him a western makeover and stick him atop a horse, and I couldn’t resist. A man that impresses me in any setting is Hugh Jackman. And he made me sigh mightily when he donned western garb for the movie Australia. Hugh proved to me that you’re never too old for a new cowboy crush.                  

                        

And of course, with the release of Cowboys and Aliens, I would be remiss if I failed to mention my latest crush. Daniel Craig makes a fabulous James Bond, but there’s no comparing 007 to Jake Lonergan to my way of thinking. The cowboy’s gonna win every time.

So what about you?

Who are some of your cowboy crushes?

Deadwood and Forgiving

Deadwood was on several years ago and I didn’t watch, but we discovered Season 1 because we watch a lot of On Demand series and, well, I put the first epi on just to see Tim Olyphant. Yes, I’m that shallow. I became a huge Olyphant fan from watching Justified.

By the way, Justified isn’t family viewing, but Deadwood has it beat by a country mile on the curse per minutes ratio. If you don’t like profanity, stay far, far away. I don’t mind it and even so it is pretty over the top. It isn’t sprinkled with it, it’s SATURATED.

BUT I love it just the same. It has complex characters who aren’t completely good and aren’t completely bad either. It is very wild west, dirty, corrupt, resilient, generous…

Part of the reason why I am so taken with it is because I began watching with a built-in…well, knowledge doesn’t sound quite right but maybe “impression” fits because of a very different fictional accounting of the town – the novel FORGIVING by LaVyrle Spencer.

I can’t imagine LaVyrle would have soaked her prose in f-bombs, but there are things she had in common with the series.

1) Painting a picture of a rough, lawless town where the only women were the whores in the brothels.

2) One man who stands out as the good guy, yum yum! (And yes, I mean Tim as Seth Bullock)

3) A spunky, well-spoken, classy heroine. While Deadwood is populated with several characters and storylines, Alma Garrett (Molly Parker) truly stands out.

4) The addition of the story of Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane. I love this part. Jane was such a rough character with such a big heart.

5) The addition of a small pox outbreak and pestilence tents

6) A good, upright man in love with a prostitute.

If you haven’t read Forgiving, see if you can find a copy. It’s a wonderful read. Especially a particular scene at midnight on Christmas Eve. Deadwood’s coarseness might not be for everyone, but Forgiving is a beautiful story that will still manage to give you the flavour of this gold rush town.

 

And if you can’t find Forgiving, my newest release, A Family For The Rugged Rancher, is out in the UK this month. You can find out more on my website: http://www.donnaalward.com .

The OTHER Stars Of Bonanza

One of the great TV Westerns of the 60s, perhaps of all time, was Bonanza.  I remember it being a must-see at our house on Sunday evenings.  And my parents enjoyed it as much as me and my siblings.  I learned a lot over the years about the stars who played those larger-than-life Cartwright men, but it was only recently, when I stumbled across an article on the topic, that I learned about the other, less celebrated stars – namely the horses.  I thought I’d share some of what I learned with you all.

First of all, none of the actors owned their horses – at least not while the show was filming.  They weren’t owned by the studio either.  They were owned by Fat Jones Stables, an operation that had a long history – all the way back to 1912! –  of providing horses to movie and television productions.

Because Bonanza was the first TV Western to be filmed in color, the mounts for the Cartwright family were chosen with an eye to how they would stand out in this new medium.  But each actor also had considerable input into the selection of his horse.

Let’s take the horses in the order of their rider’s family position:

Ben Cartwright:  His horse was named Buck, logical since he was a Buckskin.  The horse was 12 years old at the start of the series, weighed in at about 1100 pounds and stood a little over 15 hands tall.   It was said that Lorne Greene did not care much for horses, but when the series ended its 14 year run, he purchased Buck from the stable because he was concerned with what might happen to the animal otherwise.  That same year, Lorne turned around and donated Buck to a therapeutic riding facility that worked with mentally and physically challenged children and youth.  Buck spent his remaining years there and by all accounts was a big hit.  Buck lived to the ripe old age of 45.

Adam Cartwright:  Adam’s horse in the show was named Scout.  But Scout was not the original horse selected for the role.  In fact the first two horses, Candy and Beauty, both proved to be fractious in front of the cameras and had to be sent back to the stables as not right for the part.  When Scout was brought in, he proved to be not only well behaved but a good match for actor Pernell Roberts.  Scout was a gelded 7/8 thoroughbred who weighed in at 1100 pounds.  Roberts rode Scout for three seasons.  Near the close of that third season, Scout and Dan Blocker’s horse  got mired in the mud during filming, causing an accident.  Whether related to the accident or not, within a month Scout was acting up, tossing his head around and generally refusing to behave during filming as he had before.  By the start of the fourth season, Scout had been sent back to the stables and replaced with a horse that was almost identical in appearance.  The only difference was that the new horse had four white socks as opposed to the three sported by the original Scout.

Hoss Cartwright:  I had trouble finding much information on Chub, the horse Dan Blocker rode.  Chub was a half quarter horse, half thoroughbred horse who was selected not only for his temperament but for his ability to carry a man of Dan Blocker’s imposing size.  Chub stood 15.3 hands tall and weighed a sturdy 1250 pounds.  The horse’s most distinctive feature was the crooked blaze down his face.   Chub remained with the series during its entire run and outlived Blocker.

Joe Cartwright:  Michael Landon selected a Paint named Tomahawk to be his mount on the show.  The horse’s ‘character name’ was Cochise.  Standing 15.3 hands tall and weighing in at 1150 pounds, it was second in size only to Hoss’s mount.  Tomahawk was with the show for more than five seasons.  During the sixth season tragedy struck in a truly terrible incident.  A demented intruder broke into the Fat Jones Stables and stabbed several of the horses, among them Tomahawk.  The vet was able to save some of the victims but several of the injured animals had to be euthanized, including Tomahawk.  Landon was both saddened and outraged by what happened and offered a sizable reward for the capture of the responsible party, but the perpetrator was never identified.  In subsequent episodes a number of Paints were used to play the role of Joe’s horse Cochise.

 

So there you have it – some trivia about the four horses who carried the Cartwrights.  Did any of this surprise you?  Do you have any particular memories of the show and did you have a favorite from among the animals?

Updated: January 5, 2018 — 2:30 am