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Don Durant played TV’s Johnny Ringo for one fleeting season on CBS until the show was cancelled in 1960.
The fast-drawing gunfighter-turned-lawman wielded a LeMat handgun that had an additional barrel that fired a shotgun round. He also had the distinction of being the only primetime TV cowboy to not only sing but compose – both lyrics and music – the theme for his own show.
After the series ended, Durant turned his bad luck into a gold mine of personal appearances, playing rodeos, horse shows, state fairs and even shopping centre openings.
He made guest appearances on shows such as The Twilight Zone, The Virginian, and Wagon Train before leaving the acting profession in 1964 and beginning a second career in real estate and financial management.
Despite its brief one-season run, the Aaron Spelling-produced Johnny Ringo generated about 100 toys and other items of merchandise including board games, character puppets, gun sets and toy canteens.
The show also spawned what is considered to be the single most valuable TV Western toy collectible ever – the Johnny Ringo Western Frontier Playset, featuring miniature figures, horses and wagons.
In 2001, a playset sold on eBay for $8,998. In close bidding against five others at the end, Don Durant himself had the winning bid. It was placed through his friend, Jacquelyn Patterson, a childhood fan from Knoxville, Tennessee, who owned a website devoted to Johnny Ringo.
Durant passed away aged 72 in March 2005 at his home in Monarch Beach, California. He had been battling chronic lymphocytic leukaemia since 1992.
Sheriff Johnny Ringo
Deputy Sheriff Cully
Terence de Marney