The Guns of Will Sonnett

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The Guns of Will Sonnett
Walter Brennan Guns of Will Sonnett 1968.JPG
Walter Brennan and Edward Andrews, 1968.
Genre Western
Created by Aaron Spelling
Richard Carr
Written by Ed Adamson
Harry Basch
Tony Barrett
Jameson Brewer
Richard Carr
Peter B. Germano
Cliff Gould
Kathleen Hite
James Komack
Edward J. Lakso
Robert Pirosh
Aaron Spelling
Cliff Todd
Directed by Jack Arnold
Thomas Carr
Irving J. Moore
Michael O'Herlihy
Richard C. Sarafian
Jud Taylor
Jean Yarbrough
Starring Walter Brennan
Dack Rambo
Composer(s) Hugo Friedhofer
Earle H. Hagen
Fred Steiner
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 50 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Danny Thomas
Producer(s) Aaron Spelling
Dick Clark
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) Thomas-Spelling Productions
Distributor NBC Films
King World Productions
CBS Television Distribution
Original network ABC
Picture format Color
Original release September 8, 1967 – September 16, 1969

The Guns of Will Sonnett is a Western television series set in the 1870s which was broadcast on the ABC television network from 1967 to 1969. The series was the first production collaboration between Aaron Spelling and Danny Thomas, who would later go on to produce one of ABC's most-memorable hits, The Mod Squad. Today, the series is distributed by King World (now CBS Television Distribution), and, when telecast, is usually seen in tandem with another 1960s short-lived Western series, the Mark Goodson-Bill Todman production Branded; King World was originally responsible for distributing both shows.

It was filmed on location at various sites near Los Angeles, including Wildwood Regional Park in Thousand Oaks, California.[1]


The series starred veteran character actor Walter Brennan as Will Sonnett, and Dack Rambo as his grandson, Jeff, who were searching for Will's son, James. Disgusted with his father's absence due to army business, James had disappeared at the age of seventeen. A few years later, a baby boy was delivered to Will, with a letter identifying him as James' son and explaining that the mother had died in childbirth. The letter also said that James was giving his father a second chance at being a parent. Will was grateful for the opportunity, and did his best to steer his grandson in the right direction.

The elder Sonnett was capable with firearms and often spoke to strangers about this in an intimidating way. In the first episode, he mentions that his son is an expert with guns, and his grandson is better, "and I'm better than both of 'em–no brag, just fact." This last phrase was uttered frequently on the show, and became a catch phrase among the show's fans.

Will was not completely absent from James' childhood, and he had taught James how to handle a six-shooter; the younger man became renowned as a peerless gunfighter. Hearing so much of his father's repute, Jeff decided to find him. Will agreed, and they rode across the West looking for James. They often arrived at places that James had recently left. The people they met had mixed opinions of James, some seeing him as a ruthless killer, and others as the only man brave enough to take the side of justice against men far more ruthless. James appeared in several episodes, played by Jason Evers. One episode, entitled "The Man Who Killed Jim Sonnett", guest starred Robert F. Simon.

The main characters achieved the goal of the premise in the final episode, when Will and Jeff located James. The three men became lawmen in a small town: Will as town marshal and the other two as his deputies.

The Guns of Will Sonnett aired two years after the cancellation of Brennan's 1964-1965 ABC series The Tycoon.

Guest stars[edit]

  • Ahna Capri portrayed Laurie in "Stopover in a Troubled Town" (1968).
  • Charles Grodin played the gunfighter Bells Pickering in "A Bell for Jeff Sonnett" (1967).
  • Kevin Hagen played the prosecutor named Kingman, and Judson Pratt portrayed John Hardwick in the episode "One Angry Juror" (March 7, 1969).
  • Dennis Hopper portrayed Vern Reed in "Find a Sonnett, Kill a Sonnett" (1967).
  • Cloris Leachman portrayed Vera Sonnett in "And A Killing Rode Into Town" (1967).
  • Nora Marlowe portrayed Polly in "Meeting in a Small Town" (December 6, 1968).
  • Strother Martin played the bartender Harvey Bains in "Message at Noon" (1967).
  • Jack Nicholson portrayed Tom Murdoch in "A Son for A Son" (1967).


Season 1 (1967–68)[edit]

No.TitleOriginal air date
1"Ride the Long Trail"September 8, 1967
2"A Bell For Jeff Sonnett"September 15, 1967
3"A Grave For James Sonnett"September 22, 1967
4"The Natural Way"September 29, 1967
5"Of Lasting Summers and Jim Sonnett"October 6, 1967
6"Message At Noon"October 13, 1967
7"A Son For A Son"October 20, 1967
8"Meeting At Devil's Fork"October 27, 1967
9"First Love"November 3, 1967
10"The Favor"November 10, 1967
11"Ride the Man Down"November 17, 1967
12"The Turkey Shoot"November 24, 1967
13"And A Killing Rode Into Town"December 1, 1967
14"Find A Sonnett, Kill A Sonnett"December 8, 1967
15"Sunday In Paradise"December 15, 1967
16"The Secret Of Hangtown Mine"December 22, 1967
17"The Hero"December 29, 1967
18"What's In A Name?"January 5, 1968
19"End Of The Rope"January 12, 1968
20"And He Shall Lead the Children"January 19, 1968
21"Look For the Hound Dog"January 26, 1968
22"Stopover In A Troubled Town"February 2, 1968
23"Alone"February 9, 1968
24"The Sins of the Father"February 23, 1968
25"The Warriors"March 1, 1968
26"A Fool and His Money"March 8, 1968

Season 2 (1968–69)[edit]

No.TitleOriginal air date
27"Reunion"September 27, 1968
28"The Trap"October 4, 1968
29"Chapter and Verse"October 11, 1968
30"Pariah"October 18, 1968
31"Joby"November 1, 1968
32"The Straw Man"November 8, 1968
33"A Difference Of Opinion"November 15, 1968
34"Home Free"November 22, 1968
35"Guilt"November 29, 1968
36"Meeting In A Small Town"December 6, 1968
37"The Fearless Man"December 13, 1968
38"Where There's Hope"December 20, 1968
39"Join the Army"January 3, 1969
40"Time Is the Rider"January 10, 1969
41"Robber's Roost"January 17, 1969
42"Trail's End"January 31, 1969
43"A Town In Terror" (Part 1)"February 7, 1969
44"A Town In Terror" (Part 2)"February 14, 1969
45"Jim Sonnett's Lady"February 21, 1969
46"The Trial"February 28, 1969
47"One Angry Juror"March 7, 1969
48"The Sodbuster"March 14, 1969
49"The Man Who Killed James Sonnett"March 21, 1969
50"Three Stand Together"September 16, 1969

Home release[edit]

Timeless Media Group released both seasons on DVD in Region 1 on July 14, 2009 in a 5-disc set entitled The Guns of Will Sonnett: The Complete Seasons 1&2.[2] The episodes were taken from the form syndicated by King World, and were edited from the original broadcast versions, with 3 minutes missing from each episode. They are transferred from video tape sources and have not been remastered from the original film prints. The DVD package calls The Guns of Will Sonnett one of the most underrated westerns in the history of television.


  1. ^ Bidwell, Carol A. (1989). The Conejo Valley: Old and New Frontiers. Windsor Publications. Pages 82-83. ISBN 9780897812993.
  2. ^

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