Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Tales of the Texas Rangers
Tales of the Texas Rangers is a 20th century Western old-time radio and television police procedural drama which originally aired on NBC Radio from 1950 to 1952 and later on CBS Television from 1955 to 1958. Film star Joel McCrea voiced the radio version as the fictitious Texas Ranger Jayce Pearson, who uses the latest scientific techniques to identify criminals. His faithful horse, Charcoal (or "Charky"), helps Pearson to track down the culprits. The radio shows, some of which are available on the Internet, are reenactments of actual Texas Ranger cases.
The television version was produced and also directed for several episodes by Stacy Keach, Sr. It was sponsored for part of its run by Wheaties cereal. Captain Manuel T. "Lone Wolf" Gonzaullas, who was said to have killed thirty-one men during his 30-year career as a Texas Ranger, was the consultant for the television series, as he had been for the earlier radio series. The television version was filmed by Screen Gems.
On radio, Joel McCrea's Pearson often worked by request with a local sheriff's office or police department. But in the television version, Willard Parker assumed the role of Jace Pearson and had a regular partner, Ranger Clay Morgan, who had been an occasional character on the radio show. Morgan was portrayed in the television version by Harry Lauter. William Boyett appeared five times on the television series, including the role of Wade Crowell in the 1955 premiere episode, "Ransom Flight."
During the opening and closing credits of the television series, the actors march toward the camera as an off-screen men's chorus sings the theme song, "These Are Tales of Texas Rangers", to the tune of "The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You" and "I've Been Working on the Railroad". The radio series used contemporary cases and modern detective methods to solve crimes; it was a procedural drama, in many ways Jack Webb's Dragnet with a western flavor. The television version had some episodes set in the 1950s, comparable in some ways to Rod Cameron's syndicated series, State Trooper. Other episodes were set in the 19th century in a traditional western genre. In each case, Parker and Lauter were involved with chases and shoot-outs. The weaponry varied greatly between the modern and older stories.
Irving J. Moore, later with Gunsmoke, began his career as a director on two episodes of Tales of the Texas Rangers. Besides Keach and Moore, the other directors included Lew Landers, George Blair, and Earl Bellamy.