1 9 5 3 – 1 9 5 4 (USA)
250 x 30 minute episodes
Action in the Afternoon was television’s first live outdoor Western, originating in the wide-open spaces of suburban Philadelphia and telecast on CBS five afternoons a week.
Produced on the back lot of WCAU-TV, Channel 10, then owned by the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin newspaper, the area had a natural creek running through the property.
While other ‘live’ Western shows were seen on US TV they all relied on pre-recorded action sequences and filmed inserts. Action in the Afternoon did away with these although there were occasions when actors needed more time to get from one set to another.
In cases like this the star of the show, singing cowboy Jack Valentine would fill in with a song accompanied by the Tommy Ferguson Trio.
The interior shots were done in the studios and exterior shots outside on the backlot, (which was also the parking lot for the station’s employees) where mock-ups of different western buildings were built and microphones were hidden in hitching posts, on buildings, tree stumps and in rocks.
Since the production had such a low budget, there were only a few building frontages; the Copper Cup Saloon, the newspaper office (the Huberle Record), a bank, a General Store, a Blacksmith shop, a Wells Fargo office and the sheriff’s office and jail. A totem pole concealed a telephone pole.
Also featured in the series were Red Cotten, the sassy belle of the saloon (Mary Elaine Watts); shady Ace Bancroft (Barry Cassell); Sheriff Sam Mitchell (Sam Kressen); his wife, Amy (Jean Corbett); Ben Johnson the blacksmith (Norman Garfield); Grimy James (John Zacherle) the undertaker; and Kate, the owner and publisher of the newspaper (Harrisse Forest). The narrator was Blake Ritter, who also played the editor of the Huberle Record.
The fictional setting for the series was Huberle, Montana.
The Musical Director for the series was Richard Lester, who went on to fame and fortune with his direction of The Beatles in A Hard Day’s Night (1964), How I Won the War (1967), Robin and Marian (1976), Superman II (1981) and Superman III (1983).
Sheriff Sam Mitchell
Mary Elaine Watts
Tommy Ferguson Trio