Colt .45 (TV series)
Wayde Preston as Christopher Colt, 1959
|Also known as||The Colt Cousins|
|Created by||Based on the film by
Thomas W. Blackburn
|Developed by||Roy Huggins|
|Theme music composer||Mack David
|Opening theme||Performed by Hal Hopper|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||67|
|Executive producer(s)||William T. Orr|
|Producer(s)||Gordon Bau (make-up)|
|Running time||24 mins|
|Original release||October 18, 1957– September 27, 1960|
|Preceded by||Colt .45|
The half-hour program is loosely based on the 1950 Warner Bros. film of the same name, starring Randolph Scott. Colt .45 was part of the William T. Orr-produced array of westerns which Warner produced for ABC in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Roy Huggins developed the series with Wayde Preston in the part of undercover government agent Christopher Colt, who takes the cover of a traveling Old West pistol salesman, hence the title of the series. Colt .45 also featured fictionalizations of actual historical characters including Edwin Booth (brother of John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln), Sam Bass, Billy the Kid, Lew Wallace, Judge Roy Bean, Buffalo Bill Cody, Ned Buntline, and Calamity Jane.
During this period of time, Colt .45 was one of several ABC/WB western productions, along with Cheyenne, Sugarfoot, Lawman, Maverick and Bronco. Various series leads occasionally did crossover episodes on some of the other WB programs. One of the most imaginative was the "Hadley's Hunters" episode of Maverick, in which Bart Maverick (Jack Kelly) comes upon Christopher Colt's sales satchel, abandoned in a room and covered with dust since the series had been cancelled the previous season.
In 1958, series star Wayde Preston left the series because he claimed he was made to do stunts that required a stunt man. Preston was also reportedly unhappy with the show's low budget which caused other problems. Because of Preston's departure, producers were forced to air repeats of the series along with a few new episodes to complete the 1958-1959 season.
In 1959, Donald May assumed the lead role as Sam Colt, Jr., the cousin of Christopher Colt. After leaving the series, Warner Bros. prevented Preston from obtaining other acting jobs. He eventually returned briefly to the series but was demoted to a co-starring role with May.
Reception and cancellation
By season two, however, behind the scenes problems caused a dip in viewership. After series star Wayde Preston left the series due his dissatisfaction with working conditions, producers were forced to repeat episodes to fill out the second season. There were also problems with the show's sponsorship which changed repeatedly. According to author Alvin H. Marill, the choice to cast Donald May in the lead role after Preston's departure was not explained in the storyline. Wayde Preston eventually returned to the series but by then, ratings had dropped off and ABC canceled the series in 1960. The final episode aired on September 27, 1960.
- Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle F. (2007-10-17). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present (9 ed.). Ballantine Books. p. 273. ISBN 0-345-49773-2.
- Abbott, Doug; Jackson, Ronald (2009). 50 Years of the Television Western: A Pictorial History. AuthorHouse. p. 80. ISBN 1-434-35925-5.
- Moore, Barbara A.; Bensman, Marvin R.; Van Dyke, Jim (2006). Prime-Time Television: A Concise History. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 146. ISBN 0-275-98142-8.
- "Sunset Trailblazer in All-Out Race to Grab Adult Western Pull". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc.: 2 October 28, 1957. ISSN 0006-2510.
- Marill, Alvin H. (2011). Television Westerns: Six Decades of Sagebrush Sheriffs, Scalawags, and Sidewinders. Scarecrow Press. p. 46. ISBN 0-810-88132-2.
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