Sugarfoot

  

Will Hutchins as Tom Brewster

 

Text and photos courtesy of Sierra

 

In the mid-1950’s, Warner Brothers Studios had a stable of fine television westerns. One of the lightest-hearted of the group was Sugarfoot, starring Will Hutchins as wannabe lawyer Tom Brewster. A sugarfoot in western terminology is not a flattering thing to be. It implies a person one step below tenderfoot, and a tenderfoot is a greenhorn at everything. Tom Brewster apparently didn’t mind that he was called a sugarfoot. He went right on studying for his law degree through correspondence courses, while he traveled the unsettled western frontier in search of adventure. He was a gentle cowboy with a sense of humor and a strong sense of justice. Often, he had the opportunity to practice law and defend the rights of the citizens in the corrupt towns he wandered through, as someone was always sure to ask him for a little help. A little help usually meant a whole lot of trouble for Tom.

Tom Brewster was a mild-mannered man. He had plenty of opportunity for gunplay and fisticuffs, but mostly he was a well-meaning person with a big dose of naiveté. Always trying to find the best way out of trouble was a real problem for him because The Canary Kid, a notorious gunman, was the spitten’ image of Tom Brewster and sure to show up at the right place and wrong time to create havoc in Brewster’s life. The episodes which featured both The Canary Kid and Tom Brewster were some of the finest in television history.

Sugarfoot was an hour in length, shot in black and white, and ran on ABC in a crazy pattern which included Cheyenne and Bronco. It premiered on 17 September 1957, ran for four seasons, and had a total of 69 episodes filmed. During its first two seasons, it alternated with Cheyenne. When Clint Walker got into his dispute with Warner Brothers in 1958 and Bronco was born, it alternated with Bronco during its third year as part of the Cheyenne Show. During its fourth season, it alternated with both Bronco and Cheyenne.

There were six Dell comic books on Sugarfoot, and every one of them are big collector items averaging around $15 each in today’s markets.

Will Hutchins was born Marshall Lowell Hutchason on 5 May 1932 in Los Angeles, where he still lives. After serving in the Army in Paris with the Signal Corps and before becoming an actor, he worked at a variety of jobs, including special delivery messenger, bus boy, grocery store clerk, delivery boy and hand bill passer. The part of Tom Brewster was tailor-made for him by executive producer William T. Orr, one of the few times a series was made specially for an unknown star. Will Hutchins reminded Orr of the late, great Will Rogers. Hutchins talked like Rogers and had the same lazy manner and personality. Signing a Warner Brothers contract in September 1956, Hutchins made such an impact with the television audiences that Orr decided he was worthy of his own television series, and history was made. After Sugarfoot, Hutchins went on to success as Woody Banner in Hey Landlord and then as Dagwood Bumstead in Blondie, not to mention hundreds of other performances.

As with many Westerns of the time, Sugarfoot had its own theme song:

SUGARFOOT, SUGARFOOT
Easy lopin', cattle ropin' SUGARFOOT,
Carefree as the tumbleweeds
A-joggin' along with a heart full of song,
And a rifle and a volume of the law.

SUGARFOOT, SUGARFOOT
Never underestimate a SUGARFOOT,
Once you got his dander up
Ain't no one who's quicker on the draw.

You'll find him on the side of law and order,
From the Mexicali border, to the rolling hills of Arkansaw;

SUGARFOOT, SUGARFOOT
Easy lopin', cattle ropin' SUGARFOOT,
Ridin' down to cattle town
A-joggin' a-long with a heart full of song
And a rifle and a volume of the law.

 

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