Death Valley Days

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For the radio program of the same name, see Death Valley Days (radio program).
Death Valley Days
Stanley Andrews 1953.JPG
Stanley Andrews, the first host of Death Valley Days (1953)
Genre Anthology/Western
Presented by Stanley Andrews (1952-1963)
Ronald Reagan (1964-1965)
Robert Taylor (1966-1969)
Dale Robertson (1969-1970)
Narrated by Merle Haggard (1975 rebroadcasts)
Theme music composer Herbert Taylor
Country of origin USA
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 18
No. of episodes 452
Production
Executive producer(s) Gene Autry
Louis Gray
Producer(s) Dorrell McGowan
Nat Perrin
Armand Schaefer
Robert Stabler
Editor(s) Jack Wheeler
Anthony Wollner
Cinematography William Bradford
Richard E. Cunha
Running time 25 min.
Production company(s) McGowan Productions
Flying A Productions
Filmaster Productions
Release
Original channel Syndication
Original release March 1, 1952 – 1970
External links
Website

Death Valley Days is an American radio and television anthology series featuring true stories of the old American West, particularly the Death Valley area. Created in 1930 by Ruth Woodman, the program was broadcast on radio until 1945 and continued from 1952 to 1970 as a syndicated television series, with reruns (updated with new narrations) continuing through August 1, 1975. The radio and TV versions combined to make the show "one of the longest-running western programs in broadcast history."[1]

The series was sponsored by the Pacific Coast Borax Company (20 Mule Team Borax, Boraxo) and hosted by Stanley Andrews (1952–1963), Ronald Reagan (1964–1965), Robert Taylor (1966–1969), and Dale Robertson (1969–1970). With the passing of Dale Robertson in 2013, all the former Death Valley Days hosts are now deceased. Hosting the series was Reagan's final work as an actor; he was cast in eight episodes of the series.

Hosts[edit]

The 452 television episodes were introduced by a host. The longest-running was "The Old Ranger" from 1952 to 1965, played by Stanley Andrews. For the first two years the series was produced by Gene Autry's Flying A Productions; then from 1954 to 1956, it was handled by McGowan Productions, also known for the Sky King series.[2] Filmaster Productions Inc., which produced the first several seasons of Gunsmoke for CBS Television, took over production of the series after 1956. Later a Madison Productions was also involved.

Following the departure of Andrews, Ronald Reagan, former host of General Electric Theater, became the host of Death Valley Days. Reagan acted in twenty-one episodes, including the 1965 segment, "A City Is Born". He played mining developer Charles Poston, the founder of Arizona. When Reagan entered the race for governor of California, his Death Valley Day hosting position went to his friend, Robert Taylor, who appeared in some segments too, including "The Day All Marriages Were Cancelled" (1966), also based on the career of Charles Poston.

Taylor was cast in the 1967 episode "Halo for a Badman" as Porter Stockman, an ex-convict hired by the mayor (Roy Barcroft) of Las Animas, Colorado, to be the town marshal. Stockman must stand up to an outlaw gang which has robbed every gold shipment coming into town.[3] He played Horace Bell in another 1967 episode, "Major Horace Bell." In the story line, Major Bell, an early settler of Los Angeles, defends a man whom he believes has been framed for murder.[4] That same year in the episode "Shanghai Kelly's Birthday Party", Taylor played James Kelly of San Francisco, who shanghaiied sailors onto ships bound to the Far East, with the expectation that none would return to accuse Kelly of a crime.[5]

When Taylor became gravely ill in 1969, he was succeeded by Dale Robertson, former star of two other western series, Tales of Wells Fargo and The Iron Horse. Production of new episodes ceased in 1970.

Merle Haggard in 1975 provided narration for some previously-made episodes. While original episodes were still being made, older episodes were already in syndication under a different series title with other hosts; the series could even be in competition with itself in syndication. This practice made it easier for viewers to distinguish the new episodes from the older ones. (This was common practice through the early 1980s among syndicated series.) The hosting segment at the beginning and the end was easily re-shot with another performer having no effect on the story. Alternate hosts and titles included Frontier Adventure (Dale Robertson), The Pioneers (Will Rogers, Jr.), Trails West (Ray Milland), Western Star Theater (Rory Calhoun), and Call of the West (John Payne). The last title was also often applied to the series' memorable, haunting theme music.

Borax[edit]

Under the Death Valley Days title, the program was sponsored by Pacific Coast Borax Company, which during the program's run changed its name to U.S. Borax Company following a merger. Advertisements for the company's best-known products, 20 Mule Team Borax, a laundry additive, Borateem, a laundry detergent, and Boraxo, a powdered hand soap, were often done by the program's host. Death Valley was the scene of much of the company's borax mining operations. The "20-Mule Team Borax" consumer products division of U.S. Borax was eventually bought out by the Dial Corporation, which as of 2014, as a division of the German consumer products concern Henkel, still manufactures and markets them.

Death Valley Days is by far the most successful syndicated television western series, the most successful television western ever in the half-hour format, and one of the longest-running and most successful of all scripted syndicated series. The end of the series, coupled with the concurrent end of Gunsmoke, marked the demise of the traditional Western era in American television; by the middle 1970s, although western elements were still fairly common in modern series, such as Little House on the Prairie, pure western series were a thing of the past.

The stories used in the series were based on actual events. The episode titled "Death Valley Scotty" was based on the record-breaking run of the 1905 Scott Special, chartered by Walter E. Scott, a.k.a. "Death Valley Scotty".

Guest stars[edit]

A to B[edit]

  • R. G. Armstrong and Jason Evers appear as Bundage and Dan Hardy, respectively, in the 1965 episode "Birthright". In the story line, U.S. President Zachary Taylor pushed for a tax on mines in California. Opponents led by Bundage declare "taxation without representation" and secede temporarily from the United States as the independent town of Rough and Ready, California.[6]
  • Tol Avery appeared three times, as Frank Brenner in "The Resurrection of Deadwood Dick", as Walter Benson in "Doc Holliday's Gold Bars" (both 1966), and as a judge in "Lucia Darling and the Ostrich". (1969)
  • Parley Baer, popular character actor, was cast as Horace Greeley in the 1965 episode "The Great Turkey War". In the story line, Greeley, namesake of Greeley, Colorado, is panning for gold in the Pike's Peak Gold Rush of 1859 and reports as a journalist on the difficult origin of the settlement of Denver, with rampant vandalism and the theft of turkeys. Michael Constantine was cast as Pollock, who works with Greeley to clean up the community.[7]
  • Joby Baker was cast as a traveling magician, Dr. William Davis, in the 1967 episode "The Saga of Dr. Davis". In the story line, Davis's wife, Jenny (Judi Meredith), dies after she encourages him to take a young boy, Tad, on his remaining travels across the West.[8]
  • Charles Bateman plays a deputy sheriff, Jim Brand, in Washoe County, Nevada, in the 1965 episode "The Wild West's Biggest Train Holdup". In the story line, Brand places a locked chain on a Central Pacific Railroad engine until the company agrees to pay its tax assessment. Roy Barcroft was cast as the aging Sheriff Jackson with Pat Priest as his daughter, Nora, who is romantically interested in Brand.[9]
  • John Beck played a young newspaperman, Sandy Peters, in the 1969 episode "Solomon's Glory", the story of a formerly successfully journalist named Solomon (Willard Sage) who has turned to liquor but is being sobered up by his former boss (Tyler McVey), as Solomon's sister arrives in town.[10]
  • Robert Blake, at thirty-three, played Billy the Kid in the 1966 episode "The Kid from Hell's Kitchen". In the story line, The Kid sets out to avenge the death of his friend John Tunstall (John Anderson).[11]
  • Lloyd Bochner played the author Robert Louis Stevenson in the episode "Jolly Roger and Wells Fargo", directed by Denver Pyle.[12]
  • Carol Booth (born 1941), in the 1969 episode "Lucia Darling and the Ostrich", played a teacher trying to establish a school in 1863 in the since ghost town of Bannack, Montana. In the story line, a masked sheriff (William Bryant) and his deputy (Jeff Morris) rob the stagecoach bringing Lucia to Montana and steal both gold and her textbooks. She sets out to prove the officers' guilt despite the reservations of both the town itself - hence the reference to "The Ostrich" in the sand in the title of the episode - and her uncle, Judge Sidney Edgerton (Tol Avery), who shortly thereafter became the first governor of the Montana Territory.[13]
  • Ray Boyle in "Yaller" and "Twelve Pound Nugget" (both 1954)
  • Lane Bradbury played a young Eliza Stewart Udall at Pipe Spring in southern Utah in the 1969 episode "A Key for the Fort". In the story line, Miss Stewart, a Mormon pioneer, sends the first telegraph message from Arizona Territory and works with her Aunt Cora (Ivalou Redd) to find an innovative way to nurse an ill Ute chief, Black Wing (George Keymas), back to health. The episode also stars Gregg Palmer as Jacob. The episode was filmed at Pipe Spring National Monument.[14]
  • David Brian played the Mormon figure Jacob Hamblin in the 1963 episode "The Peacemaker". In the story line, Hamblin works feverishly to hold the peace treaty with the Navajo after a white man kills some Indians who come onto his property. Bing Russell, Michael Pate, and Richard Webb also appear in this episode.[15]
  • Paul Brinegar played a prospector, Sawbuck, in the episode "Solid Gold Cavity", filmed in Sedona, Arizona. In the story line based on a true incident, Sawbuck saves the life of Dr. John Beers, a young dentist, who on the trail to San Francisco is attacked and left for dead by two bandits. Dr. Beers (played by Thomas Peters) repays Sawbuck by taking some of the prospector's gold and making him a set of gold teeth, for which Beers subsequently obtained a patent.[16] In "The Lady and the Sourdough", Brinegar plays a cantankerous cook who teams up with a gold miner, Tom Despo (Stanley Adams), until he meets a neighboring widow (Amzie Strickland).[17] In 1969, Brinegar played the Death Valley pioneer Jimmy Dayton (died 1899) in the episode "Jimmy Dayton's Bonanza". In the story line, the aging rancher Dayton takes a saloon girl, played by Marilyn O'Connor, as his wife, but she has second thoughts after she learns that he has exaggerated his wealth. James Wainwright (1938-1999) co-stars as a cowboy who feigns an interest in Mrs. Dayton. The episode was released three days after the death of series host Robert Taylor.[18]

C to E[edit]

F to K[edit]

  • Paul Fix played the hardy, cantankerous pioneer James Briton "Brit" Bailey, with Rosemary DeCamp as his equally defiant wife, Hannah, in the 1969 episode "Here Stands Bailey". In the story line, the Baileys are ordered off their land at what is now Bailey's Prairie, Texas, by Stephen F. Austin (John Carter), who is bringing the Old Three Hundred original settlers to the area. Austin has a change of heart and asks the Baileys to stay. Bailey dies with his final wish of interment standing upright facing west, hence his grave marker, "Here Stands Bailey Facing West."[30]
  • Ron Foster appeared as Silas Begg in "Rough and Ready" (1957).
  • Lisa Gaye plays the widowed Faith Turner who places a sign seeking a husband and a father for her young son in the episode "The Rider". Jesse Pearson is cast as mail express rider Jim Barnes, who tries to help her find a suitable mate.[31]
  • George Goebel appeared as Baylor Thomas, a visionary who tries to develop the use of wind power for moving wagons west, in the 1963 episode "Thar She Blows".
  • James Hampton, later of The Doris Day Show, played publisher William Randolph Hearst in the 1964 episode, "The Paper Dynasty". James Lanphier (1920-1969) was cast as Ambrose Bierce. In the story line, Hearst struggles to turn a profit despite increased circulation of The San Francisco Examiner. Robert O. Cornthwaite appears as Sam Chamberlain; Barry Kelley as George Hearst, the father of William Randolph Hearst.[32]
  • Ron Hagerthy, formerly of Sky King, appeared as Felix in the 1958 episode "Old Gabe".
  • Don Haggerty played Horace Tabor in the 1967 episode "Chicken Bill", with Dub Taylor in the title role of the Colorado silver miner "Chicken Bill" Lovell. In the story line, Lovell salts his mine to get Tabor to pay off Lovell's lingering debt and to fund his continued operation.[33]
  • Ron Hayes appeared as Dan Bartlett in the 1960 episode "Devil's Bar".
  • Michael Hinn (1913-1988) of the former Boots and Saddles western series played Brigham Young in the episode "Biscuits and Billy, the Kid". In the story line, the Tugwell family, Jason (Ben Cooper), Ellie (Emily Banks), and Mary (Erin Moran), are abandoned by their guide while on a wagon train from Utah to California.[34]
  • Skip Homeier played a pastor, Ben Darniell, in Carson City, Nevada, in the 1965 oddly-titled episode, "Fighting Sky Pilot." In the story line, the minister Darniell attempts to rescue a saloon girl, Claire Vernon (Carol Brewster), from her oppressive employer.[35]
  • Rodolfo Hoyos, Jr., was cast as Governor Manuel Armijo in "La Tules" (1962).
  • Brad Johnson appeared five times on Death Valley Days, including the role of Bill Tilghman in the 1960 episode "The Wedding Dress".
  • Chubby Johnson, as Jake in "The Tenderfoot" (1968) and as Davis in "The Other Side of the Mountain" (1969)
  • I. Stanford Jolley, five appearances, as J. V. Langley in "The Kickapoo Run" (1954), as Colby in "California's First Ice Man" (1955), as a guide in "California Gold Rush in Reverse" (1957), and in the final role of Bart Taylor in "Eruption at Volcano" (1959)
  • DeForest Kelley played the convict Martin in the episode "Devil's Gate" (1965) with Jim Davis and as the gambler Elliott Webster in "The Lady of the Plains", with Sherry Jackson (1966)
  • Brett King as Cassidy and Robert Knapp as Tom Dixon in "The Devil's Due" (1960)

L to O[edit]

P to R[edit]

S to V[edit]

W to Y[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Result Category Recipient
1955 Emmy Award Nominated Best Western or Adventure Series
-
1961 Western Heritage Awards Won Best Factual Television Program Ruth Woodman and Nat Perrin (For episode "The Great Lounsberry Scoop")

In the 1955–1956 season, NBC offered Frontier, an anthology Western series similar to Death Valley Days hosted by Walter Coy. Though Frontier, a springboard for the Western actor Jack Elam, was nominated for an Emmy Award, it was cancelled after a single season.

Two episodes of Death Valley Days are shown weekdays beginning at 6:35 p.m. Eastern on the Encore Westerns Channel.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ French, Jack & Siegel, David S. (eds.) (2014). Radio Rides the Range: A Reference Guide to Western Drama on the Air, 1929-1967. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-7146-1. Pp. 43-49.
  2. ^ "McGowan Org takes "Death", "Dr. Christian", The Billboard, June 5, 1954, p. 8
  3. ^ "Halo for a Badman". Internet Movie Data Base. March 2, 1967. Retrieved June 5, 2015. 
  4. ^ ""Major Horace Bell", Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. April 26, 1967. Retrieved June 6, 2015. 
  5. ^ ""Shanghai Kelly's Birthday Party" on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. October 7, 1967. Retrieved June 7, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Birthright". Internet Movie Data Base. May 6, 1965. Retrieved August 25, 2015. 
  7. ^ "The Great Turkey War". Internet Movie Data Base. October 7, 1965. Retrieved August 29, 2015. 
  8. ^ "he Saga of Dr. Davis on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. March 18, 1967. Retrieved June 10, 2015. 
  9. ^ "The Wild West's Biggest Train Holdup". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Solomon's Glory". January 17, 1969. Retrieved July 12, 2015. 
  11. ^ ""The Kid from Hell's Kitchen" on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. October 20, 1966. Retrieved May 31, 2015. 
  12. ^ ""Jolly Roger and Wells Fargo" on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. December 23, 1966. Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Lucia Darling and the Ostrich". Internet Movie Data Base. May 11, 1969. Retrieved July 17, 2015. 
  14. ^ "A Key for the Fort". Internet Movie Data Base. March 26, 1969. Retrieved July 15, 2015. 
  15. ^ "The Peacemaker on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved August 4, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Solid Gold Cavity of Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. October 1, 1966. Retrieved May 28, 2015. 
  17. ^ ""The Lady and the Sourdough" on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. October 8, 1966. Retrieved May 30, 2015. 
  18. ^ "Jimmy Dayton's Bonanza". Internet Movie Data Base. June 11, 1969. Retrieved July 17, 2015. 
  19. ^ "The Measure of a Man". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved August 3, 2015. 
  20. ^ ""The Man Who Wouldn't Die", Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved June 6, 2015. 
  21. ^ "A Gift on Death Valley Days". January 10, 1969. Retrieved July 12, 2015. 
  22. ^ "Graydon's Charge". Internet Movie Data Base. January 5, 1964. Retrieved August 5, 2015. 
  23. ^ "Little Washington". Internet Movie Data Base. October 1, 1953. Retrieved August 7, 2015. 
  24. ^ "Devil's Gate". Internet Movie Data Base. December 23, 1965. Retrieved July 17, 2015. 
  25. ^ "The Day They Stole the Salamanderpublisher=Internet Movie Data Base". April 28, 1967. Retrieved July 17, 2015. 
  26. ^ "The Oldest Law". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved July 16, 2015. 
  27. ^ "Mrs. Romney and the Outlaws". Internet Movie Data Base. December 23, 1965. Retrieved September 1, 2015. 
  28. ^ "The Lady Was an M.D.". Internet Movie Data Base. August 29, 2015. Retrieved September 1, 2015. 
  29. ^ ""The Reluctant Gun", Death Valley Days, December 26, 1959". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved May 8, 2014. 
  30. ^ "Here Stands Bailey on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. February 18, 1969. Retrieved July 13, 2015. 
  31. ^ "The Rider". Internet Movie Data Base. October 7, 1965. Retrieved August 29, 2015. 
  32. ^ "The Paper Dynasty". Internet Movie Data Base. March 1, 1964. Retrieved August 7, 2015. 
  33. ^ ""Chicken Bill" on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved June 7, 2015. 
  34. ^ "Biscuits and Billy, the Kid". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved July 20, 2015. 
  35. ^ "Fighting Sky Pilot". Internet Movie Data Base. March 25, 1965. Retrieved August 24, 2015. 
  36. ^ "Magic Locket". Internet Movie Data Base. March 17, 1965. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  37. ^ . Internet Movie Data Base. March 14, 1969 http://imdb.com/title/tt0959691/?ref_=tt_ep_nx. Retrieved July 14, 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  38. ^ "Drop Out on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. April 25, 1969. Retrieved July 15, 2015. 
  39. ^ "The Lawless Have Laws". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved August 26, 2015. 
  40. ^ ""Silver Tombstone" on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. February 26, 1967. Retrieved June 3, 2015. 
  41. ^ ""The Grass Man" in Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. November 13, 1962. Retrieved August 2, 2015. 
  42. ^ "Little Cayuse". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved August 6, 2015. 
  43. ^ "The Journey". Internet Movie Data Base. March 29, 1965. Retrieved August 25, 2015. 
  44. ^ ""Along Came Mariana" on Death Valley Days". May 11, 1967. Retrieved June 13, 2015. 
  45. ^ "The Mezcla Man". Internet Movie Data Base. January 2, 1970. Retrieved July 21, 2015. 
  46. ^ ""Solid Foundation" on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved June 13, 2015. 
  47. ^ ""Samaritans, Mountain Style" on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. October 27, 1966. Retrieved May 31, 2015. 
  48. ^ ""The Hero of Apache Pass" on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. December 24, 1966. Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  49. ^ "The Wooing of Perilous Pauline". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved August 6, 2015. 
  50. ^ "Davy's Friend". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved August 2, 2015. 
  51. ^ "A Kingdom for a Horse". Internet Movie Data Base. October 1963. Retrieved August 5, 2015. 
  52. ^ "Nevada legislators, 1861-2015" (PDF). leg.state.nv.us. Retrieved July 15, 2015. 
  53. ^ "How to Beat a Badman". Internet Movie Data Base. March 18, 1969. Retrieved July 15, 2015. 
  54. ^ "The Book". Internet Movie Data Base. October 28, 1965. Retrieved September 1, 2015. 
  55. ^ ""The Man Who Didn't Want Gold", Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. March 1, 1967. Retrieved June 5, 2015. 
  56. ^ ""The Understanding" on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved July 11, 2015. 
  57. ^ "A Restless Man on Death Valley Days". tv.com. Retrieved July 13, 2015. 
  58. ^ ""A Calamity Called Jane" on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. June 2, 2015. 
  59. ^ ""Doc Holliday's Gold Bars" on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. December 30, 1966. Retrieved June 3, 2015. 
  60. ^ "Kate Melville and the Law". Internet Movie Data Base. May 4, 1965. Retrieved August 25, 2015. 
  61. ^ "William Tannen". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved May 7, 2014. 
  62. ^ "The Angel of Tombstone on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved July 14, 2015. 
  63. ^ ""A Picture of a Lady" on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. December 30, 1965. Retrieved July 14, 2015. 
  64. ^ ""Brute Ange" on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. October 5, 1966. Retrieved May 28, 2015. 
  65. ^ "Death Valley Days: "A Mule ... Like the Army's Mule", October 5, 1968". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved October 26, 2012. 
  66. ^ "Death Valley Days: "King of the Uvalde Road", January 1, 1970". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved October 26, 2012. 

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External links[edit]