Judge Roy Bean (TV series)

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Judge Roy Bean
Written byBuckley Angell
Orville H. Hampton
Russell Hayden
Milton Raison
John Ward
Directed byDerwin Abrahams
Reg Browne
Nate Watt
Seymour Robbie
StarringEdgar Buchanan
Jack Buetel
Jackie Loughery
Tris Coffin
Lash LaRue
X Brands
Glenn Strange
Composer(s)Harry Bluestone
Emil Cadkin
Harry Geller
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes39
Executive producer(s)Peter Piech
Producer(s)Fred Franks
Russell Hayden
CinematographyJockey Arthur Feindel
John Mathew Nickolaus, Jr.
Lester White
Editor(s)Thor L. Brooks
Reg Browne
Running time24 mins.
Original networkSyndication
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseSeptember 1, 1955 (1955-09-01) –
August 2, 1956 (1956-08-02)

Judge Roy Bean is a syndicated American western television series starring Edgar Buchanan as the legendary Kentucky-born Judge Roy Bean, a Texas justice of the peace known as "The Law West of the Pecos".


Judge Roy Bean is set in Langtry in Val Verde County in southwest Texas, where Bean held court in his combination general store and saloon.[1]

Each of the thirty-nine episodes of the program begins with a standard introduction: "During the 1870s, the wildest spot in the United States was the desolate region west of the Pecos River. Virtually beyond the reach of the authorities, the railroads, then pushing their way west, attracted the most vicious characters in the country. It was said that all civilization and law stopped at the east bank of the Pecos. It took one man, a lone storekeeper who was sick of the lawlessness, to change all this. His name was Judge Roy Bean".[1]

The legendary Bean would have hanged a man for the slightest infraction of "his laws", but there are no hangings on the family-oriented series. The storekeeper role is stressed more than that of the bartender. Bean's Langtry is not named for the English actress Lillie Langtry, who visited there after Bean's death. Instead, Langtry is named for George Langtry, an engineer and foreman of the Southern Pacific Railroad who had supervised a Chinese work crew there.[1]

Jack Buetel appears in the series as 41-year-old Jeff Taggert, Bean's right-hand man. Jackie Loughery portrays Letty Bean, the judge's 26-year-old niece. Russell Hayden appeared in twelve episodes as Steve, a Texas Ranger.[1]

Bean was earlier the focus of the 1940 Walter Brennan western, The Westerner, and later in 1972 the Paul Newman film, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, both considered more historically accurate than the television series.[2]

Recurring cast members[edit]

Tristram Coffin portrayed different characters in seven episodes of Judge Roy Bean, including the series premiere, "The Judge of Pecos Valley", in which Bean sets forth to capture a train robber who is loose in the area. Coffin appears in the third segment, "The Horse Thief", in which a rancher is jailed for stealing a horse, and Bean must keep a mob from getting out of control. Other episodes featuring Coffin are "The Refugee", "Border Raiders", "The Cross Draw Kid", and "The Wedding of Old Sam" in his role of Sam Haskins.[3] Character actor X Brands appeared in various roles fifteen times on Judge Roy Bean.[4] Myron Healey appeared four times: as Reno in "Checkmate", as Winters in "The Eyes of Texas", as Hurley in "The Katcina Doll", and as Gorman in "The Travelers".[5]

Selected episodes[edit]

In "Sunburnt Gold", Bean pursues a gang that steals gold coins, melts them down and turns them into nuggets so that they cannot be identified. In "The Runaway", a boy flees home because he thinks his father is cowardly for not resisting a recalcitrant boss. In "Slightly Prodigal", a woman arrives in Langtry in search of her son, who has turned into an outlaw. In "Black Jack", the judge seeks to return an escaped train robber to prison. In "Judge Declares a Holiday", Bean confronts a con man who arranges horse races but flees with the bet money before the event can be held. In "Citizen Romeo", Bean learns about a plan to smuggle guns and ammunition to the Indians, and he encounters an organ grinder with a monkey as he tries to halt the smuggling.

Sammee Tong appeared in the title role of the episode "Ah Sid, Cowboy", with Glenn Strange, later the bartender Sam on Gunsmoke, as Fallon. Strange appeared a total of six times on Judge Roy Bean,[1] including the roles of Sampson, a crooked rancher trying to locate missing gold dust, in the episode "The Hidden Truth", Mason in "The Judge's Dilemma", Tom Holman in "Border Raiders", King Lonagan in "The Cross Draw Kid", and Nolan in "The Referee".

Lash LaRue, the cowboy with the bullwhip, appeared seven times on Judge Roy Bean:[1] as John Wesley Hardin in "Gunman's Bargain", as Storts in "The Katcina Doll", as Matt Logan in "Outlaw's Son", as Duke Castle in "The Reformer", as Todd Malone in "Bad Medicine", as Harbon in "The Defense Rests", an episode about an attempt to frame deputy Jeff Taggart's brother for bank robbery in Del Rio, and as Bass in "Lone Star Killer", the series finale. Mason Alan Dinehart played Clint Donoran in "Outlaw's Son".

Other episodes are entitled: "Letty Leaves Home", "Four Ladies from Laredo" (with Gloria Winters of Sky King), "Luck O' the Irish", "The Hypnotist", and "Terror Rides the Trail".

Production notes[edit]

Unlike most syndicated westerns of the 1950s, which were black-and-white, Judge Roy Bean was filmed in color by the Barrett Company in Pioneertown, California, and at Hayden's Quintet Productions ranch. The series was not extended for a second season. The theme song "Land of the Pecos" by Roy Ingraham, Charles Kogg, and Eddie Paul was published by Bibo Music.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g 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. 109-110
  2. ^ Alex McNeil, Total Television, New York: Penguin Books, 1996, 4th ed., p. 441
  3. ^ "Tristram Coffin". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved February 19, 2009.
  4. ^ "X Brands". IMDB. Retrieved February 19, 2009.
  5. ^ "Myron Healey". IMDB. Retrieved February 19, 2009.

External links[edit]