(left to right: Slim Sherman, Jess Harper, Jonesy,
Sherman: John Smith
Jess Harper: Robert Fuller
Andy Sherman: Bobby Crawford (1959-1961)
Jonesy: Hoagy Carmichael (1959-1960)
Daisy Cooper: Spring Byington (1961-1963)
Mike Williams: Dennis Holmes
Text and photos courtesy of Sierra
During its four-year run, Laramie was one of the best westerns on television. Produced by Revue Productions, it premiered with “Stage Stop” on September 15, 1959, and hung up its boots with “The Road to Helena” on May 21, 1963. It was the story of Slim Sherman and his 14-year-old brother Andy, left by themselves to run the Sherman ranch in Laramie, Wyoming during the 1870’s. Their father had been killed in a gunfight with a land-grabber, leaving them to fend for themselves. Barely able to survive, their only help is a long-time family friend named Jonesy, who becomes a sort of handyman around the ranch.
In the first episode, called “Stage Stop” in some references and “The Drifter” in others, Slim is offered a contract from the government to use the ranch as a relay station for the Great Overland Mail Stage Lines. A young drifter with a lightning draw named Jess Harper wanders in and assists Slim in a gunfight with outlaws. Slim is very grateful for the help, and he persuades Harper to stay on to help run the relay station. Harper’s fast gun comes in handy throughout the series.
Laramie was an hour long show. The first 93 episodes were filmed in black and white, and the next 31 were in color. In 1961, Andy Sherman was written out of the cast, and two new members were added: Daisy Cooper, a housekeeper and surrogate mother to the all-male household, and orphan Mike Williams, his parents having been killed in the proverbial Indian attack.
Running a stagecoach relay station was a great way to bring in the guest
stars, and Laramie pulled in
some of the top names in Hollywood. Among them were Dan Duryea, Clu Gulager, James Coburn, Julie
London, Ernest Borgnine, and Vera Miles.
Laramie was well-written and directed, and it had the added advantage of having two stars, John Smith and Robert Fuller, who were excellent cowboys. John Smith came to Laramie from the successful television western Cimarron City. He basically retired after Laramie, but Robert Fuller went on to do Cooper Smith in Wagon Train and Dr. Kelly Brackett in Emergency.
Carmichael died December 15, 1981
Spring Byington died September 7, 1971
John Smith died January 25, 1995.
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