Buffalo Bill, Jr.
|Buffalo Bill, Jr.|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||42|
|Executive producer(s)||Gene Autry
|Running time||30 mins.|
|Production company(s)||Flying A Productions|
|Original release||March 1, 1955 – September 21, 1956|
Buffalo Bill, Jr. is an American western television series with Dick Jones (1927-2014) in the title role of a young fictional marshal in West Texas. The series aired in syndication from March 1, 1955, until September 21, 1956.
Jones was a native of Snyder in Scurry County south of Lubbock on the Texas South Plains; the series, however, is set in southwestern Texas near the Rio Grande River, the boundary with Mexico. In the series format, he is cast as Buffalo Bill, Jr., with Nancy Gilbert as his younger sister, Calamity, who at the age of twelve is training to be a telegraph operator at the station at nearby Wiley Junction. The two were orphaned years earlier in the Black Hills of South Dakota following a massacre of their wagon train. The children were rescued and adopted by Judge Ben "Fair and Square" Wiley, played by Harry V. Cheshire, whom they often called "Uncle Ben". Cheshire was an older character actor originally from Emporia, Kansas. With a raspy voice, he frequently played the parts of bankers and western townsmen but occasionally outlaws too. Judge Wiley is also a diversified frontier businessman. The sign on his shop reads, "Wileyville General Store / Groceries - Hardware - Dry Goods / Judge Ben 'Fair 'n' Square' Wiley, Prop. / Justice of the Peace / Town Marshal / Physician & Surgeon / Blacksmith / Haircuts - Legal Advice / By Appointment Only". Wiley brings Bill and Calamity to fictional Wileyville, a Texas town which he founded himself.
The children were renamed for Buffalo Bill Cody and Calamity Jane, respectively. In reality, there was no Buffalo Bill, Jr.; William Frederick Cody had four children, two of whom died young, including Kit Carson Cody. In the script, Bill is twenty-eight and the Wileyville marshal committed to upholding the law and the pursuit of justice. An athlete and an equestrian in real life, even a trick roper as a small child, Jones did most of his stunts for the series on his horse, Chief.
Bob Woodward appeared in twenty episodes as a stagecoach driver. The program was among the creations of Gene Autry's Flying A Productions. All episodes of Buffalo Bill, Jr. were filmed at the Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth in the San Fernando Valley of southern California.
In the series debut, "Fight for Geronimo", Chief Thundercloud portrays the Apache Geronimo. In the story line, Bill and Calamity uncover a plot to release Geronimo from the custody of the United States Army so that the culprits can capture him and obtain reward money.
In "Red Hawk", Michael Hall plays the title role, the adopted Indian son of Jess Sundy, portrayed by Stanley Andrews, the host of Death Valley Days who appeared in different roles in six episodes of Buffalo Bill, Jr. In the story line, Sundy seeks a freight contract with a mining company to fulfill his life dream that he enter into business with his son, Red Hawk. One of Sundy's rivals tries to gain the contract himself by using racial prejudice to frighten the company owner into avoiding Sundy. Hall subsequently appears as another Indian, Running Deer, in the episode "Rails Westward". Stanley Andrews appears in this episode as businessman Silas Greeley, who purchases a stagecoach line soon to become worthless with the progress of the extension of the railroad to Wileyville.
In "The Black Ghost" a masked outlaw seeks to steal the land of a prosperous rancher. Other episodes feature some of the best-known names of the Old West who just happen to pass through Wileyville. In " Trail of Killer", an affable Billy the Kid (Chuck Courtney) visits the town while eluding a posse led by Sheriff Pat Garrett of Lincoln County, New Mexico Territory. At least two episodes, including "Runaway Renegade", focus on former members of the Jesse James gang. In "First Posse", Buffalo Bill, Jr. meets Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday as they pursue an outlaw gang in southwest Texas. Other segments introduce the outlaws Kid Curry, Johnny Ringo, Butch Cassidy, and the Wild Bunch, long before the television series Alias Smith and Jones and Johnny Ringo and the 1969 film, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
The Dell Comics' series Buffalo Bill Jr. (given no comma on the cover treatment, though commas appear in most issue's copyright indicia) ran 13 issues (cover-dated Jan. 1956 – Aug. 1959). The first six issues appeared under Dell's umbrella Four Color Comics as #673, 742, 766, 798, 828, and 856. It appeared under its own numbering for issues #7-13 (Feb. 1858 – Aug. 1959), with most issues' art by Mike Sekowsky. Paul S. Newman scripted all but the final issue, written by Gaylord Du Bois. Jones was featured on the photo covers of the comic books.
- Billy Hathorn, "Roy Bean, Temple Houston, Bill Longley, Ranald Mackenzie. "Buffalo Bill, Jr., and the Texas Rangers: Depictions of West Texans in Series Television, 1955 to 1967", West Texas Historical Review, Vol. 89 (2013), pp. 113-114
- Stephen Lodge (October 13, 2003). "Buffalo Bill, Jr. & Me: a day with Dick Jones". authorsden.com. Archived from the original on August 6, 2014. Retrieved July 30, 2014.
- Four Color Comics #s 673 (Jan. 1956), 742, 766, 798, 828 and 828 (Nov. 1957) at the Grand Comics Database. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
- Buffalo Bill Jr. at the Grand Comics Database. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
- McNeil, Alex. Total Television (1996). New York: Penguin Books ISBN 0-14-024916-8
- Brooks, Tim and Marsh, Earle, The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows (1999). New York: Ballantine Books ISBN 0-345-42923-0