I’m late to the party, but I finally signed up for Facebook. Somewhere in my travels to Walls and Like buttons, I ended up on a Fan Page for my all-time favorite TV series. Did anyone else watch Paradise? It was also called Guns of Paradise. It starred Lee Horsley as Ethan Allen Cord, a gunfighter who becomes responsible for his sister’s four children, and Sigrid Thornton as Amelia Lawson, a lady banker with smarts and great clothes.
I’m a total sucker when it comes to redeemed outlaws, and Ethan was classic. He gets in plenty of trouble, but mostly because his past keeps catching up with him. He has no idea how to raise his orphaned niece and nephews, but he does his best. And the romance! The sparks that fly between Ethan and Amelia nearly caught the TV on fire. Without a doubt, Ethan Allen Cord is my favorite TV western hero.
No. 2 on the list would be Johnny Madrid from Lancer. The show was set in the San Joaquin Valley in the 1870s. It’s definitely an oldie, but it sure caught my little-girl imagination. The premise of the show involved two brothers returning to their father’s ranch. Scott Lancer was blond, a Harvard graduate and a Boston gentleman. Johnny Madrid was a rebel, drifter and gunslinger. The actor who played Johnny Madrid was James Stacy. His life changed dramatically in 1973 when he was struck by a drunk driver while on his motorcycle. Tragically he lost his left arm and leg and his girlfriend was killed. He continued to act and was twice nominated for Emmy awards.
My No. 3 TV cowboy is from High Chaparral. Manolito was played by Henry Darrow. He was the brother-in-law of John Cannon, the owner of a ranch called the High Chaparral. The series was set in Arizona Territory in the 1870s. What I remember most is that Manolito had a bit of rebel in him. I’m detecting a pattern here . . . my favorite TV cowboys are all bad boys, rebels, gunfighters, etc..
There’s a tie for the No. 4 slot on my list. Does anyone remember The Quest with Kurt Russell and Tim Matheson as brothers looking for their sister? The series only ran for 15 episodes, but I didn’t miss a single one. Kurt and Tim played Morgan and Quentin Beaudine. Morgan had lived with the Cheyenne for eight years and was also called Two Persons. Quentin was a physician from San Francisco. Together they were searching for their sister. The series ended in part because interest in westerns faded in the 1970s, but it also had the bad luck to run opposite Charlie’s Angels.
I’m giving the No. 5 slot to . . . Decisions! Decisions! My first thought was Little Joe Cartwright from Bonanza. It just doesn’t seem right to leave him off the list, but my real choice is Tom Hart from Broken Trail. He’s not as retro as the first four picks, which is one of the things that appeals to me. Broken Trail proved that westerns are still relevant. Honor, independence, courage and loyalty never go out of style.
I can think of a lot of shows I didn’t mention. Dr. Quinn is at the top of the list. Then there’s The Virginian and Gunsmoke and The Rifleman. I also loved pioneer-themed shows like The Monroes.
What shows would you add to the list? Which characters were your favorites? Westerns may be more retro than trendy, but I will always love them.