|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (March 2013)|
Preston as Christopher Colt (1958)
|Born||William Erksine Strange
September 10, 1929
Denver, Colorado, USA
|Died||February 6, 1992
Lovelock, Pershing County, Nevada
|Cause of death||Colon cancer|
|Alma mater||University of Wyoming|
|Occupation||Actor: Colt .45|
|Spouse(s)||Carol Ohmart (married 1956-1958)|
Wayde Preston (September 10, 1929 – February 6, 1992) was an American actor cast from 1957 to 1960 in the lead role in 67 episodes of the ABC/Warner Brothers western television series, Colt .45. He is also known for his appearance in the title role of an acclaimed 1959 episode entitled "The Saga of Waco Williams" of another ABC/WB western series, Maverick.
Born William Erksine Strange in Denver, Colorado, Preston was reared in Laramie in southern Wyoming by his educator parents, John and Bernice Strange. He had two younger sisters, Joan and Mary. In 1947 he graduated from Laramie High School, where he was active in football, track, the school band and the Reserve Officer Training Corps. He attended the University of Wyoming in Laramie, where he studied pharmacy. He became an accomplished musician and played in many bands during the late 1940s. In 1950 Preston was drafted into the United States Army. Trained in an artillery unit at Fort Bliss, Texas, Preston attained the rank of first lieutenant and fought in the Korean War. For a time, after his military service, he was a park ranger at Grand Teton National Park in northwestern Wyoming and rode the rodeo circuit before he got his break as an actor.
In Colt .45 he played Christopher Colt, a government undercover agent who masquerades as a pistol salesman traveling throughout the Old West. The series lasted until Preston, like James Garner and Clint Walker during the same period, ran afoul of the Warner Brothers studio and their production demands. Donald May replaced Preston in 1959 and 1960 in the role of Colt's cousin, Sam Colt Jr., but only in four episodes.
"The Saga of Waco Williams" is a critical favorite that paired Preston with James Garner, as Bret Maverick, and drew more viewers than any other Maverick episode; it remains one of Preston's career milestones. Tom Selleck's recurring comical character of Lance White in NBC's later The Rockford Files, starring James Garner, is loosely based by writer/producer Stephen J. Cannell upon Waco Williams (Selleck and Preston resembled each other.) After these appearances, Selleck in 1980 immediately procured his own CBS series, Magnum, P.I.
Preston played some 20 roles in television and films between 1957-91. Following his departure from Colt .45 he went to Europe, where he appeared in numerous spaghetti westerns including Vic Morrow's A Man Called Sledge opposite James Garner as well as the 1968 film Anzio about the World War II Battle of Anzio. Preston played the role of Logan in another 1968 film, Wrath of God; he was then cast in 1969 as Marshal Johnny Silver in Death Knows No Time.