Home Television Drama Hec Ramsey

Hec Ramsey

1 9 7 2 – 1 9 7 4 (USA)
10 x 90/120 minute episodes

From October 1972 to August 1974, Hec Ramsey rotated as part of the NBC Mystery Movie with ColumboMcCloud and McMillan and Wife.

Set in 1901, Hec Ramsey starred the irascible Richard Boone as the irascible Hector ‘Hec’ Ramsey, a former gunfighter solving crimes alongside the (very youthful) Sheriff Oliver B. Stamp (Rick Lenz) with then-new sleuthing technologies in the town of New Prospect, Oklahoma.

Boone was a legend, having starred as the hero in Have Gun Will Travel. But he was also a legend in Hollywood for high standards, his insistence on having some say in the direction of his shows, a straight-shootin’ mouth and his deliverance of solid performances despite his hard-partying ways.

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“Dick can do it, morning after morning, no matter how enormous has been his carousing of the night before,” Ramsey co-star Harry Morgan (M*A*S*H) said in 1974. And he was talking about some carousing. Boone loved nothing more than chartering a plane, loading it up with friends and vodka and going off on an adventure – on a school night.

One adventure took him, musician Duane Eddy and a group of pals on an alcohol-fuelled flight from L.A. to Phoenix to jam with Charley Pride in Pride’s motel room before getting back on the plane, flying home and heading to the set with about a half-hour of sleep. And, of course, he turned in top-notch work the following day.

Boone could pretty much do as he pleased, having earned what he termed his “the-hell-with-you” money doing Have Gun Will Travel. But with some hefty paychecks at stake with Hec Ramsey even he knew to listen when the powers-that-be made changes.

He just let off a little steam griping about it. “Do you know what those bleeps have done?” he asked in one memorable phone call to a reporter, referring to Jack Webb (Dragnet) and his production company, which backed the series.

“They’ve taken all creative control away from me. They want me to be just a bleeping actor reading my lines. They’ve had Dragnet and ‘Son of Dragnet’ and ‘Fire-Engine Dragnet’ and ‘Mod Squad Dragnet’, and now they want to make this ‘Turn-of-the-Century Dragnet’. They worked their will on me . . . Am I going to quit? Of course not. With all that money I get for playing Hec, that would be a bleeping Pyrrhic victory.”

Producers prompted that rant when they decided the show had wandered from its original intent, becoming too much of a traditional Western when it was supposed to be a whodunit. But Boone wasn’t wrong about Webb and company spinning out another version of the same general concept.

However, Webb wasn’t wrong for doing so. After all, Dragnet was a hit and so was Emergency!

Hec Ramsey 
Richard Boone
Sheriff Oliver B. Stamp 

Richard Lenz
Doc Amos B. Coogan 

Harry Morgan
Arne Tornquist 

Dennis Rucker