1 9 5 8 – 1 9 6 2 (USA)
68 x 60 minute episodes
This black and white Western drama from ABC starred Ty Hardin as former Confederate Army Captain Bronco Layne, now cleaning up another bit of the Wild West.
Bronco was born in Texas and “there ain’t a horse that he can’t handle” – which is how he got his name. His grandfather was a Yankee, and Bronco continued the proud family tradition by serving with the Texas Confederacy.
He had a Colt. 45 with the inscription “Courage Is the Freedom of Honor,” a pocket watch that played the song Deep in the Heart of Dixie, and a reminder of the Battle of Elmira – a cat he called Elmira.
Inside the watch, there was a picture of Redemption McNally (Kathleen Crowley), Bronco’s one and only love since they grew up
together in Texas.
When the war ended, Bronco returned to Texas to become partners with his friend, Enrique ‘Rickie’ Cortez (Gerald Mohr) in the Layne and Cortez General Store.
But Bronco had the wanderlust and disliked staying in one place.
He decided to leave town without Elmira (who he gave to Enrique) and his gold pocket watch, which he gave to the chief of an Indian war party to save his and Enrique’s lives when they were bringing merchandise back to town.
Enrique eventually re-acquired Bronco’s gold watch from a drifter (who bought it from an Indian) and placed it in the window of the Layne and Cortez Store with a sign reading “Will owner please claim”. Bronco never did.
There were no other regular characters in the series, but the handsome young Bronco did encounter plenty of interesting characters in his exploits, including Billy the Kid, Jesse James, Buffalo Bill Cody, Belle Starr, Theodore Roosevelt and Wild Bill Hickock.
The character of Bronco was first introduced in the TV show Cheyenne when the star of that show (Clint Walker) was dropped after a contract dispute.
Ty Hardin was introduced briefly as the new star, and when Walker was ultimately reinstated Hardin received his own show – Bronco.
Between 1958 and 1960, Bronco alternated with Sugarfoot. From 1960 onwards, the show was brought back under the Cheyenne umbrella as part of a rotating anthology comprising Cheyenne, Sugarfoot and Bronco.
Sugarfoot was dropped from the rotation in 1961 leaving only Bronco and Cheyenne to alternate in the 1961 – 1962 season.
In Britain, Bronco shared its name with a brand of toilet paper and was the source of many schoolboy jokes.
Enrique ‘Rickie’ Cortez