Marshall Dan Troop (left) and
Deputy Johnny McKay
Dan Troop: John Russell
Johnny McKay: Peter Brown
Merrill: Peggie Castle
Text and photo courtesy of Sierra
was another television western centered in the lawless Laramie, Wyoming of the
1870’s. It was straightforward
adventure, with no gimmicks or tricks to draw in the audience. The stories were taunt and simple, always about desperadoes brought to
justice by the long arm of the law. It
ran for four years on ABC, premiering on October 5, 1958 with “The Deputy,”
where Dan Troop becomes appointed marshal of Laramie and must set out to find a
deputy he can trust. It ended with
“The Witness” on June 24, 1962 with Dan Troop attempting to prove a friend
innocent of murder.
There were no speeches, no
no mercy given in this series. If
you messed up in Troop’s jurisdiction, you were hunted down.
Troop was a tough, no-nonsense marshal who believed in the law all his
life. He backed up his play with a
double-barreled shotgun. His
deputy, Johnny McKay, while new to the job, was no slouch with a gun.
He was young, but not reckless, and well-suited for the job. He always addressed his boss as “Mr. Troop.” Lilly Merrill was the owner of the Birdcage Saloon.
Lawman may initially have been ABC’s
attempt to emulate the success of CBS’ Gunsmoke, but it succeeded all by
itself in becoming one of the top-rated shows ever put on television. It’s 156 episodes were shot in black and white and were 30 minutes in
length. The choice of granite-jawed
John Russell, a veteran of many films and television appearances, with the
handsome, young Peter Brown, seemed to click with everyone, and the series drew
huge amounts of fan mail. It was
this series which propelled Peter Brown to stardom.
Like most westerns from that era, it had its own classy theme song :
The Lawman came with the sun.
There was a job to be done.
And so they sent for the badge and the gun
Of the Lawman
as he silently rode
Where the evil violently flowed,
They knew he’d live or he’d die by the code
Of the Lawman.
man who rides all alone
And all that he’ll ever own,
Is just a badge and a gun and he’s known
As the Lawman.
Russell died January 29, 1991.
Peggie Castle died August 11, 1973.
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