Bruce Yarnell

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Bruce Yarnell
Born Bruce Yarnell
(1935-12-28)December 28, 1935
Los Angeles, California, USA
Died November 30, 1973(1973-11-30) (aged 37)
Los Angeles, California
Cause of death
Airplane crash
Resting place
San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Los Angeles
Occupation Actor: Deputy Marshal Chalk Breeson on Outlaws
Height 6'5"
Spouse(s) Joan Patenaude-Yarnell

Bruce Yarnell (December 28, 1935 – November 30, 1973)[1] was an American actor who co-starred in the second season (1961-1962) of NBC's Western television series Outlaws, set in the lawless Oklahoma Territory. He was also a noted Broadway and opera baritone.

Yarnell played Deputy U.S. Marshal Chalk Breeson, having replaced Jock Gaynor (1929-1998) in the role of deputy Heck Martin. Yarnell's principal co-star, Don Collier (born 1928), played Marshal Will Foreman. Slim Pickens played the role of "Slim". In the first season, Barton MacLane (1902-1969) had appeared as Marshal Frank Caine, and the episodes had been related from the outlaws' viewpoint. In the second season, the narrative reflected the judgment of the lawmen.[2]

Among the segments in which Yarnell appeared were "Horse of a Similar Color", "The Outlaw Marshals", "Masterpiece", "The Cutups", "Chalk's Lot" and "The Connie Masters Story".[3] Connie Masters, the proprietess of a restaurant, was played by Judy Lewis, daughter of Loretta Young and Clark Gable.[4]

The character Chalk Breeson was the then 25-year-old Yarnell's first recurring television role. He subsequently appeared in 1963 as Tom Kidwell in the NBC rodeo drama The Wide Country, starring Earl Holliman and Andrew Prine, and in 1964-1965 as Muley Jones in two episodes of NBC's powerhouse western Bonanza. In 1965, he appeared as Captain Jeb Winslow in one episode of CBS's Hogan's Heroes military comedy with Bob Crane. He also guest starred in CBS's The Smothers Brothers Show. His last television role was as Little John in the 1968 series The Legend of Robin Hood, not to be confused with a British series of the same name seven years thereafter.[5]

Prior to his television career, Yarnell made his 1960 Broadway debut as Sir Lionel in the original cast of Camelot and soon left that show to star opposite Cyril Ritchard in The Happiest Girl in the World. He returned to Broadway in the 1966 Lincoln Center revival of Annie Get Your Gun, in which he played the marksman Frank E. Butler, husband and manager of Annie Oakley, opposite Ethel Merman, who was twenty-seven years Yarnell's senior, in the starring role. Yarnell's rich, burnished baritone may be heard on the original cast recordings of those three shows.

Yarnell was born in Los Angeles and graduated from Hollywood High School there. A week after finishing an engagement as Marcello in La Boheme at the San Francisco Opera, he and two passengers, David and Teri Wirsching, were killed when the small-craft airplane that Yarnell was piloting went down over Los Angeles. Yarnell had radioed prior to the crash that he had lost electrical power and was disoriented.[6]

Yarnell's widow, the singer and voice instructor Joan Patenaude-Yarnell (born in Ottawa, Canada, on September 12, 1941), instituted the Bruce Yarnell Scholarship to honor young baritones. As stated above, Yarnell made a successful transition from Broadway to opera and sang principal roles at the San Francisco Opera from 1971 until his death. His interpretations of Dr. Falke in SFO's Die Fledermaus and Sharpless in SFO's Madama Butterfly are preserved on rare recordings.[7] Yarnell also produced two solo albums, House of the Lord and Bruce Yarnell Sings.[4] Joan Yarnell has been a faculty member at the Manhattan School of Music since 1997.[8]

Yarnell is interred at the Roman Catholic-affiliated San Fernando Mission Cemetery north of Los Angeles.


  1. ^ Social Security Death Index
  2. ^ Google Books, Ronald Jackson and Doub Abbott, Fifty Years of the Television Western, "Outlaws" (1960-1962):
  3. ^ IMDB, Outlaws, Title page:
  4. ^ a b "Don Collier: Outlaws from Television Star Book" website:
  5. ^ IMDB, Bruce Yarnell, acting roles:
  6. ^ The New York Times, December 3, 1973, p. 42
  7. ^ IMDB, Bruce Yarnell, biography:
  8. ^ Joan Patenaude-Yarnell, Faculty of Manhattan School of Music:

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