1 9 5 5 – 1 9 6 3 (USA)
107 x 60 minute episodes
Cheyenne Bodie was a tall, strapping half-breed frontier scout in the days following the American Civil War. He drifted from job to job, encountered plenty of villains, lots of beautiful girls, and more than his share of gunfights.
In one episode Bodie could be seen as the foreman on a ranch, in another as a trail scout for a wagon train, in another as a recently deputised lawman.
The show was lavishly produced, movie-style, by Warner Brothers, but the attraction was obviously Clint Walker himself. He had a sidekick called Smitty, for the first season, but after that, he worked alone.
Cheyenne was originally seen as one of three rotating elements – along with Kings Row and Casablanca – of Warner Bros. Presents, the studio’s first venture into television, and quickly emerged as the most popular of the three.
In fact, Clint Walker’s Cheyenne was seldom seen on an every-week basis at any time during its original run.
Cheyenne was given a big-budget look by Warner Bros by including action scenes taken directly from their Western movies.
The series was based, rather loosely, on a 1947 movie of the same name starring Dennis Morgan.
Cheyenne was plagued with problems behind the scenes, and in 1958 Walker walked after Warner Bros refused to release him from some of the more stringent requirements of his contract which had been signed before Cheyenne became a hit.
Among other things, Walker did not want to have to kick back 50% of all personal appearance fees to the studio, he wanted higher payment for re-runs, and he wanted permission to make records for labels other than Warner’s own.
Stripped of its star, the studio nevertheless refused to give an inch and continued the series under the name Cheyenne, with an unknown actor named Ty Hardin in the leading role, which was now that of Bronco Layne.
Walker, meanwhile, was legally prevented from working anywhere.
In early 1959 Walker and the studio came to an agreement and Walker returned to the series.
For part of the 1959-1960 season, Cheyenne alternated with Shirley Temple’s Storybook.
Then for 1960-1961 Cheyenne became The Cheyenne Show, a rotating anthology in which Walker was seen on a majority of weeks, interspersed with episodes of Ty Hardin as Bronco and Will Hutchins as Sugarfoot.
In 1961-1962 Sugarfoot was dropped and only Cheyenne and Bronco were seen.
Finally, in 1962 the show went solo again, but only for one more season – and then Walker rode off into the sunset for the last time.
L Q Jones