|Genre|| Western |
|Directed by|| Leslie H. Martinson |
Irving J. Moore
Robert D. Webb
|Starring|| Jeffrey Hunter |
|Opening theme||"The Yellow Rose of Texas"|
as arranged by
Frank Comstock and
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||26|
|Executive producers|| William T. Orr |
|Producers|| Richard M. Bluel |
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Production companies||Apollo Productions|
Rancom Productions Inc.
Temple Houston Company
Warner Bros. Television
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution|
|Picture format||1.33 : 1 monochrome|
|First shown in||Thursdays at 7:30pm|
|Original release||September 19, 1963 –|
April 2, 1964
Temple Houston is an American television series starring Jeffrey Hunter as real-life 19th century Texas lawyer Temple Lea Houston. It ran for one season on NBC from 1963 to 1964. It is considered "the first attempt ... to produce an hour-long western series with the main character being an attorney in the formal sense."Temple Houston was the only program which Jack Webb sold to a network during his ten months as the head of production at Warner Bros. Television. It was also the lone series in which Hunter played a regular part. The series' supporting cast features Jack Elam and Chubby Johnson.
Temple Houston is based loosely on the career of the real-life circuit-riding lawyer Temple Lea Houston (1860–1905), son of the more famous Sam Houston. Little, however, binds all the episodes together under a common framework. The series variously cast the characters and situations in both an overtly humorous and a deadly serious light. Author-historian (and attorney) Francis M. Nevins asserts of the first episode entitled "The Twisted Rope", "Clearly, the concept here is Perry Mason out West", going so far as to note that Temple Houston's court opponent "apes Hamilton Burger by accusing Houston of 'prolonging this trial with a lot of dramatic nonsense'".Later episodes turned Houston into more of a detective than a lawyer. Over the course of the series, the bulk of the narrative sees Houston actually gathering evidence, rather than trying cases. In the end, the series largely eschewed criminal law in favor of overtly humorous plots, such as in the episode "The Law and Big Annie", in which Houston uses his legal expertise to help a friend decide what to do after he inherits an elephant.
The producers tried to avoid any storylines that would embarrass the two surviving children of Temple Houston who were still living when the series aired.
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date|
|0||"The Man from Galveston"||William Conrad|| Dean Riesner,|
Michael S. Zagor
|1||"The Twisted Rope"||Abner Biberman||S : James Warner Bellah;|
T : Jack Turley
|September 19, 1963|
|2||"Find Angel Chavez"||Herman Hoffman||John Hawkins,|
|September 26, 1963|
|3||"Letter of the Law"||Robert Totten||Donald S. Sanford||October 3, 1963|
|4||"Toll the Bell Slowly"||Gerd Oswald|| Robert Leslie Bellem,|
|October 17, 1963|
|5||"The Third Bullet"||Alvin Ganzer||Antony Ellis||October 24, 1963|
|6||"Gallows in Galilee"||Robert Totten||E.M. Parsons||October 31, 1963|
|7||"The Siege at Thayer's Bluff"||Alvin Ganzer||Preston Wood||November 7, 1963|
|8||"Jubilee"||Robert Totten||John Robinson,|
|November 14, 1963|
|9||"Thunder Gap"||Leslie H. Martinson|| Harold Jack Bloom,|
|November 21, 1963|
|10||"Billy Hart"||William Conrad||Herman Groves,|
|November 28, 1963|
|11||"Seventy Times Seven"||Robert Totten|| D.D. Beauchamp,|
Arthur Browne Jr.
|December 5, 1963|
|12||"Fracas at Kiowa Flats"||Leslie H. Martinson||Carey Wilber||December 12, 1963|
|13||"Enough Rope"||Irving J. Moore||Robert Vincent Wright||December 19, 1963|
|14||"The Dark Madonna"||John Florea||Gerry Day||December 26, 1963|
|15||"The Guardian"||Robert D. Webb||Donald S. Sanford||January 2, 1964|
|16||"Thy Name Is Woman"||William Conrad||Ken Pettus||January 9, 1964|
|17||"The Law and Big Annie"||Ken Pettus||Cecil Smith||January 16, 1964|
|18||"Sam's Boy"||Irving J. Moore||Warren Douglas||January 23, 1964|
|19||"Ten Rounds for Baby"||Irving J. Moore||William R. Cox||January 30, 1964|
|20||"The Case for William Gotch"||Leslie H. Martinson||Herman Groves||February 6, 1964|
|21||"A Slight Case of Larceny"||William Conrad||Ken Pettus||February 13, 1964|
|22||"Last Full Moon"||Leslie H. Martinson||Robert Sabaroff||February 27, 1964|
|23||"The Gun That Swept the West"||William Conrad||TBA||March 5, 1964|
|24||"Do Unto Others, Then Gallop"||Leslie H. Martinson||Ron Bishop||March 19, 1964|
|25||"The Town That Trespassed"||William Conrad||Jack Turley||March 26, 1964|
|26||"Miss Katherine"||Leslie H. Martinson||Ken Pettus||April 2, 1964|
Temple Houston was rushed onto the 1963 schedule in only four weeks after a previously planned drama, The Robert Taylor Show,based on case files of the former United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare, was abandoned with four unaired episodes. In addition, the Temple Houston pilot episode was unusable for the introduction to the new series because James Coburn, who played the secondary character, a gunslinger turned U.S. marshal, would not accept a role in a series. Coburn's character was hence assumed by Jack Elam as George Taggart. A leading character actor in film and television, Elam had just left the short-lived ABC/Warner Bros. western, The Dakotas , which had replaced Clint Walker's long-running Cheyenne series early in 1963.
On orders from Jack Webb, episodes were put together in two or three days each, something previously thought impossible in television production. Work began on August 7, 1963, with the initial airing set for September 19. Jimmy Lydon, a former child actor, adult actor, and producer who was at the time with WB, recalled that Webb told the staff: "Fellas, I just sold Temple Houston. We gotta be on the air in four weeks, we can't use the pilot, we have no scripts, no nothing - do it!"Lydon recalled the team having worked around the clock to get Temple Houston on the air. Co-producer William Conrad directed six episodes, two scripts simultaneously on two different soundstages at WB. "We bicycled Jeff (Hunter) and (Jack) Elam between the two companies, and Bill shot 'em both in four-and-a-half days. Two complete one-hour shows!" said Lydon.
In a 1965 interview, Hunter described the situation:
In the first place, we had no time to prepare for it. I was notified on July 17 to be ready to start August 7 for an October air date. When we reached the screen we did not have a single segment ready. It was done so fast the writers never got a chance to know what it was all about. We all wanted to follow the line indicated by the pilot film, which we thought would make a charming series. NBC, however, favored making it serious.
Two Temple Houston directors, Robert Totten and Irving J. Moore, worked on Gunsmoke as well. Character actress Mary Wickes was cast in several episodes as Ida Goff, and Frank Ferguson, formerly Gus the ranch hand on My Friend Flicka , played Judge Gurney.
The earliest known conceptual documents for Temple Houston date back to 1957.It took about six years for a pilot to be filmed. That pilot, The Man from Galveston, was filmed in March 1963, but was never broadcast on television. Instead, the 57-minute film was released theatrically late in 1963. The series used a different cast from the movie pilot. Jeffrey Hunter was the only cast member to star in both pilot and series, although his character was re-dubbed Timothy Higgins in the pilot when it was released as a theatrical film.
The series was produced by Warner Bros. Television and Apollo Productions, a company co-owned by star Jeffrey Hunter, who had demanded to produce it in exchange for a film and television commitment to Warner Bros.
By December 1963, the series was rated 31st of the 32 new shows that season.NBC then ordered a switch back to more humorous stories. but the change merely allowed the series to continue to the end of the season.
Temple Houston was pulled after one season of twenty-six episodes. Hunter later indicated that he thought the series failed because of an inability to establish a consistent tone.
The unused pilot with Hunter cast as lawyer Timothy Higgins, was released in theaters in December 1963 as The Man from Galveston. Hopeful of success in the series and being paid $5,000 per episode, Jeffrey Hunter, a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, described the historic figure that he played as "one of the finest lawyers in the last part of the 19th century." Indeed, Temple Houston at the age of 20 was the youngest practicing lawyer in Texas. He was the county attorney in Brazoria County south of Houston, until he accepted appointment as the district attorney of the 35th Judicial District, which then encompassed 26 counties in the Texas Panhandle, based in the frontier community of Mobeetie in Wheeler County.
As a member of the Texas State Senate from 1885 to 1889, Temple Houston became involved with a dispute with the legendary cattleman and rancher Charles Goodnight, sometimes called "the father of the Texas Panhandle". At issue was fencing of grasslands to accommodate large ranchers. Houston sided unsuccessfully with the smaller ranchers who wanted free grassland. One historian described the real Temple Houston as "a flamboyant figure in his black frock coat and shoulder-length auburn hair topped off with a white Stetson. He liked to lace his arguments with literary allusions and could enthrall a courtroom or legislative chamber."Houston gave the dedication in 1888 for the new state capitol building in Austin, Texas. He subsequently worked for Oklahoma statehood, which came to fruition two years after his death. Houston lost races for Texas attorney general and territorial governor of Oklahoma. In the series, Houston located his clients by traveling with the circuit court and being available as needed.
Jeffrey Hunter described the Temple Houston that he sought to emulate as having "many sides to his character. He was a flamboyant orator; he was a bit of a dandy; he was tough; he was gentle; he was an excellent marksman," all features which gave the series greater latitude with a western format. Houston was also described as follows:
He would ride, shoot, fight, drink, and love with the best of them and maybe better than most. The modesty that he displays in day-to-day life would disappear as soon as he enters a courtroom, becoming the flamboyant attorney famous throughout the American Southwest.
Though Hunter was an optimistic person and a collegial colleague on the set, Temple Houston proved illusory for his long-term career prospects. Hunter thought that the series had found its voice beginning with the 12th episode, "Enough Rope", by having adopted the light-hearted approach of ABC's former Maverick western series.As Hunter explained the change in format, the series was "conceived in humor and delivered in dead seriousness. Then, about halfway through the season, NBC decided to return to the tongue-in-cheek approach. By that time it was too late. The big joke around town was that the series was about a synagogue in Texas."
In taking the Temple Houston role, Hunter was compelled by a scheduling conflict to bow out of John Ford's final western film, Cheyenne Autumn . Hunter died in 1969 at the age of 42, having undergone unsuccessful brain surgery following a stroke that had been apparently triggered by a household fall. Oddly, the Hunter-Houston parallel prevailed in death too: Houston succumbed to a brain hemorrhage just three days after his 45th birthday.
Because the show produced so few episodes, it had little presence on the domestic syndication market. However, it appears to have enjoyed limited international syndication. The series was shown in Japan in 1963,and on Australian regional television station GTS-4 in 1974.
In the United Kingdom the series was shown on BBC One television between October 1964 and July 1965, inspiring one of the few pieces of memorabilia from the show—a 1965 British annual.As in the US, the pilot The Man From Galveston was never shown on UK TV but did duty as a cinema second feature in April 1964 (supporting Warner's Mary, Mary).
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Temple Houston (TV series) .|
John Randolph Webb was an American actor, television producer, director, and screenwriter, who is most famous for his role as Sgt. Joe Friday in the Dragnet franchise. He was also the founder of his own production company, Mark VII Limited.
Jeffrey Hunter was an American film and television actor and producer known for his roles in films such as The Searchers and King of Kings. On television, Hunter was known for his 1965 role as Capt. Christopher Pike in the original pilot episode of Star Trek and the later use of that footage in the episode "The Menagerie."
William Conrad was an American actor, producer, and director whose entertainment career spanned five decades in radio, film, and television, peaking in popularity when he starred in the detective series Cannon.
Joseph Peter Breck was an American character actor. The rugged, dark-haired Breck played the gambler and gunfighter Doc Holliday on the ABC/Warner Bros. Television series Maverick as well as Victoria Barkley's hot-tempered middle son Nick in the 1960s ABC/Four Star Western, The Big Valley. Breck also had the starring role in an earlier NBC/Four Star Western television series entitled Black Saddle.
Norman Eugene "Clint" Walker was an American actor and singer. He played cowboy Cheyenne Bodie in the ABC/Warner Bros. western series Cheyenne from 1955 to 1963.
William Scott "Jack" Elam was an American film and television actor best known for his numerous roles as villains in Western films, and later in his career, comedies. His most distinguishing physical quality was his misaligned eye. Before his career in acting, he took several jobs in finance and served two years in the United States Navy during World War II.
Ruta Lee is a Canadian-American actress and dancer of Lithuanian descent who appeared as one of the brides in the musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. She had roles in films including Billy Wilder's crime drama Witness for the Prosecution and Stanley Donen's musical comedy Funny Face and also is remembered for her guest appearance in a 1963 episode of Rod Serling's sci-fi series The Twilight Zone called "A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain".
Ty Hardin was an American actor best known as the star of the 1958 to 1962 ABC/Warner Bros. Western television series Bronco.
Brainstorm is a 1965 neo-noir film starring Jeffrey Hunter and Anne Francis. It was produced and directed by William Conrad, who became better known as an actor in such television series as Cannon and Jake and the Fatman, and was one of three suspense thrillers directed by Conrad for Warner Bros. in 1965, which also included Two on a Guillotine and My Blood Runs Cold.
The Dakotas is an ABC/Warner Bros. western television series starring Larry Ward and featuring Jack Elam, Chad Everett, and Michael Greene, broadcast during 1963. The short-lived program is considered a spin-off of Clint Walker's Cheyenne.
Will Hutchins is an American actor most noted for playing the lead role of the young lawyer Tom Brewster, in the Western television series Sugarfoot, which aired on ABC from 1957 to 1961 for 69 episodes.
Andrew Duggan was an American character actor of both film and television.
Cheyenne is an American Western television series of 108 black-and-white episodes broadcast on ABC from 1955 to 1962. The show was the first hour-long Western, and was the first hour-long dramatic series of any kind, with continuing characters, to last more than one season. It was also the first series to be made by a major Hollywood film studio which did not derive from its established film properties, and the first of a long chain of Warner Bros. original series produced by William T. Orr.
Pierre Lind de Lappe, known professionally as Peter Brown, was an American actor who portrayed Deputy Johnny McKay opposite John Russell as Marshal Dan Troop in the 1958 to 1962 ABC-Warner Brothers western television series Lawman and Texas Ranger Chad Cooper on NBC's Laredo from 1965 to 1967.
Charles Randolph "Chubby" Johnson was an American film and television supporting character actor with a genial demeanor and warm, country-accented voice.
Temple Lea Houston was an American attorney and politician who served from 1885 to 1889 in the Texas State Senate. He was the last-born child of Margaret Lea Houston and Sam Houston, the first elected president of the Republic of Texas.
Frank S. Ferguson was an American character actor with hundreds of appearances in both film and television.
James J. Lydon is an American actor and television producer whose career in the entertainment industry began as a teenager during the 1930s.
Ross Elliott was an American television and film character actor. He began his acting career in the Mercury Theatre, where he performed in The War of the Worlds, Orson Welles' famed radio program.
Laredo is an American Western television series that aired on NBC from 1965–67, starring Neville Brand, William Smith, Peter Brown, and Philip Carey as Texas Rangers. It is set on the Mexican border around Laredo in Webb County in South Texas. The program presented 56 episodes in color. It was produced by Universal Television. The series has a comedic element, but like another NBC series that premiered in 1965, The Wackiest Ship in the Army, it was an hour in length, had no laugh track, and characters were not infrequently killed in it, thus going against three unofficial rules for sitcoms at the time.