Action in the Afternoon

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Action in the Afternoon
Created byCharles Vanda
Written byLeslie Urbach
William R. Cox
Dean Owens
John Fleming
Don Prindle
Clair Roskam
Richard Strome
Directed byBill Bode
John Ullrich
StarringJack Valentine
Barry Cassell
Jean Corbett
Harriss Forrest
Blake Ritter
Mary Elaine Watts
Sam Kressen
Chris Keegan
Creighton Stewart
Marvin Stephens
Norman Garfield
Walt Barnes
John Zacherle
David Soren
Narrated byBlake Ritter
Opening themeAaron Copland, Billy the Kid (Ballet Suite)
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
Executive producer(s)Hubbell Robinson
Harry Omerle
Producer(s)Don Lenox
Production location(s)Philadelphia
CinematographyDan Falzani
Ed Harper
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time30 minutes
Original networkCBS
Picture formatBlack-and-white
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseFebruary 2, 1953 –
January 29, 1954

Action in the Afternoon is an American western television series that aired live on CBS from February 2, 1953, to January 29, 1954. The series originated from the studios and back lot of WCAU, Channel 10 in Philadelphia, and was broadcast Monday through Friday regardless of the weather. The half-hour series aired variously at 3:30 pm or 4:00 pm, throughout its run.


While ad-libbing his pitch for the series to the executives at CBS, Charles Vanda set the story in the fictional town of Huberle, Montana, a name derived from CBS executives Hubbell Robinson and Harry Omerle.[1]

Action in the Afternoon is the only live outdoor western ever to appear on network television in the United States. Other live westerns existed, however Action in the Afternoon was the only one that did not include prerecorded film segments in the program.[2] If things moved along too fast, or actors needed time to move between the indoor and outdoor sets, the time would be filled by Jack Valentine singing with The Tommy Ferguson Trio playing along.

Because the program was live and outdoors, music director Richard Lester (later to direct two Beatles movies) made every effort to hide the sounds of the world beyond the back lot. The sounds of airplanes overhead and trucks backfiring as they drove past the studio were covered with appropriate music. However, during one particular broadcast a very loud unscripted sound was heard, and was soon discovered to be a horse biting one of the many microphones hidden around the outdoor set.[1][2]

Only a few video episodes of Action in the Afternoon remain. They can be viewed at The Paley Center for Media in New York City. One episode can be streamed or downloaded at the Internet Archive.

John Zacherle, who appeared on the show, described it in an interview: "It was a half-hour every afternoon, five days a week. It was really very exciting. The show was set in, I seem to recall, Hubberly [sic], Montana, in the 1880s. They built a lot of outdoor scenery, just false-front buildings, so you could ride in on a horse, and it looked like a town. They'd ride horses outside the studio, and then if there was a shootout, they'd scramble to get inside the studio. There was a barroom, a doctor's office. They had a horseshoe man, a newspaper man, a lady who ran the bar. They were the regulars. But every week, some stranger would come to town -- mostly nasty people who were trying to steal something. By Friday, the stranger would either end up in jail or chased out of town... or married. Ha ha! Then on Monday, another stranger would come into town, and they'd start all over again."[3]


Three weeks into the broadcast, Time wrote that the "dialogue limps even more obviously than the camera" and that the series is "an experiment that needs a lot more work."[4]


  1. ^ a b "Action in the Afternoon". Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia. 2005. Archived from the original on 5 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-10.
  2. ^ a b "The Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia". Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia. 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-10.
  3. ^ Vogel, Mark (2016). Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze in America 1957-1972. Raleigh, NC: TwoMorrows Publishing. pp. 17–18. ISBN 1-60549-064-4.
  4. ^ "The New Shows". Time. 1953-02-23. Retrieved 2008-08-10.

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