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This was one of my favorite westerns on early television. As I
remember, it either preceded or followed "The Lone Ranger" on Saturday
nights where I lived in northern Arkansas. It somewhat resembled the
Red Ryder series in that The Range Rider was the hero with a youngster
as a sidekick. Instead of the Native American youth "Little Beaver,"
played inevitably by a non-Native American, Dick Jones played Dick
West. At times Dick West was more of a Batman's Robin rather than a
"Little Beaver." This Gene Autry production starred famous stuntman
Jock Mahoney, stepfather of Sally Fields, as the Range Rider,
determined to bring justice to the American frontier. He was now billed
as Jack Mahoney and being the star did few stunts.
The show could be counted on to deliver 30 minutes minus commercials of action and adventure. Because Jack Mahoney was so tall, Dick West looked diminutive (he was in reality of average height) and much younger than he really was.
Jack or Jock Mahoney as he was known depending on what point in his
career he was played The Range Rider for a few seasons on television.
The show was part of Gene Autry's Flying Crown stable of television
I remember The Range Rider because of the fact that Mahoney really did favor the old fashioned frontiersman manner of dress. Other than a cowboy hat and the regulation six shooter, he wore buckskins and Indian moccasins. His youthful companion Dick West favored the more traditional cowboy garb, in fact his outfit was black like Hopalong Cassidy's.
We never did learn what the Range Rider's real name was. He just rode into town with Dick, righted the wrongs and left all in 30 minutes with commercial breaks. Dick Jones who played Dick West was in fact a good rider himself, he could match Jock Mahoney's stuntman background in many ways.
As a child actor you might remember him best for being the young Senate page who sported a Boy Ranger badge in the Senate and encouraged Jimmy Stewart to fight on. He was also the kid who died on the gold wagon train heading east in Virginia City. But it was a good thing he could ride and shoot because he was annoying. I guess the Range Rider put up with it as coming with the territory.
Jock Mahoney later went on to become Yancey Derringer and later on was one of Hollywood's Tarzans. He might not have had the physique of Johnny Weissmuller or Gordon Scott, but the man was athletic as all get out.
Thanks to Gene Autry for bringing us the Range Rider when I was a lad.
I remember seeing this series as a very young girl (born in 1956) when
I lived in England. I remember very little about the series except
having a girlish crush on Dick.
The only other thing I remember was an episode where Dick ends up flying over a wall into a pigsty. The Range Rider says something, Dick replies, the RR says "Indeed?" and Dick replies "No, in pig muck".
I howled with laughter and told everyone I knew over the next few days.
Even now, every time I hear anyone say "Indeed?", I have to stop myself from delivering Dick's reply.
For that wonderful memory alone, I am grateful.
This show predated me by quite some years. I hadn't seen it until I
bought a cheapo DVD at WalMart with a bunch of old Westerns on it, and
it included seven Range Rider episodes - what a revelation. The stories
aren't extremely deep, someone occasionally might get killed but more
often they don't. The closest I can parallel it to another show would
be Batman and Robin; Range Rider and Dick West kind of freelance about,
solving problems and crimes. What I enjoy the most is the comic aspect
they give to Dick West, the Range Rider's sidekick and 'the All
American Boy'. (Wonder what the Jack Armstrong people thought of that
one?) On one hand, Dick is right there beside the Range Rider, using
his gun, getting into the fights, a character a kid back-when could
really dream of being like. On the other hand Dick is also given some
really funny lines; he's kind of a dopey overanxious young guy who
really keeps the stories animated. I like the way they occasionally
throw in a line about a blonde or a brunette, like when Dick West has
to go down into a well to look for something - Range Rider tells him to
see if he can see any brunettes or redheads at the bottom of the well.
Actually, that brings up one of the funnier aspects of this show - in
most episodes, there turns out to be a pretty young lady and Dickie
falls head over heels for her. When he tells Range Rider how much he
likes the girl, Range Rider brings up a few of Dickie's other past
'loves' and Dickie always insists - indignantly - "This one's
DIFFERENT!" They're ALL different. It's a running gag and always funny.
Quite a few of the episodes are more funny than anything - like one where Dickie has to pretend to belong to a traveling acting troupe. He is dressed up as Juliet (from the Shakespeare play) and keeps looking down at his chest in the woman's dress he is wearing. In another episode he has to pass himself off as a cook at a roadhouse and that does not go well either. However there are also a fair number of episodes that have a more serious storyline to them - but there's always at least a little bit of fun going on too.
One of my very favorite scenes (with Dick West again!) has him fighting with some bad guy who has punched him in the mouth. The things they'd let you do to kids not even old enough to drink back then! Well anyhow Dick retaliates with a roundhouse that knocks the bad guy backwards and down into a well. Dick scurries over to the well and stands on tiptoe and looks down into the well as the bad guy splashes into the water. Then he steps back and gets this intense look on his face; he shakes his head this way and that, and then reaches in and pulls out a tooth that the bad guy's punch knocked out. Fortunately it was a tooth he needed pulled anyhow. There's some great comedy in among the Western action.
Dick West and Range Rider do nearly all their own stunts. One scene has them sliding down some large rock formations in the desert and Dick lands on his rear end on a rock after coming down a lot farther than I think he planned. It HAD to have hurt!
Range Rider himself is a real tough guy, no doubt, and there are appearances by some very well-known character actors, i.e. Lee Van Cleef in one episode I watched. Denver Pyle is in quite a few of the episodes as well as some others you might recognize, a couple of which you've seen in many 3 Stooges shorts. This is a fun show to watch - well worth keeping in mind if it should ever cross your path. I hope to find more episodes of it.
I used to watch this show when it came on Sunday nights about 6 or 6:30 p.m. Ironically, this was the same time as Roy Rogers came on, and he was my hero. I don't think we either got the right channel or perhaps we didn't have a TV at the time. Anyway, the Range Rider was sponsored by Table Talk pies, those kind that your mother could put in your lunchbox. They had fruit fillings and a awful of crust. They work great in school cafeteria food fights. Anyway, Jock Mahoney would come on after the show to do the commercial and he would say something like "Have Mom pick up several flavors the next time she goes shopping, and don't forget to save the lemon for Dad." Mahoney later told the story of how he was stopped on the street one day by a guy who said how much his kids liked the show and complimented Mahoney. Jocko smiled and then the guy said, "but that part about saving the lemon pie for Dad. I actually liked the other flavors. I can't stand the lemon pie." Enjoyed Jocko doing the crouper mount (where the rider runs up to the horse and vaults into the saddle). We used to do that on the seesaw at school until somebody at the other end would step off. We would come down hard and then walk around bowlegged for a while. Oooh, man, that smarts.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Appearing on British television some time after 'The Lone Ranger', Jock
Mahoney's character was a consistently less-super and therefore more
believable incarnation of the western hero. For one thing; he dressed
in a more homely buckskin outfit, without the showy belt of double
six-guns. His horse looked more like a cowboy's horse and less like a
circus-prop. He also had unfashionably long hair that often became lank
and untidy in a brawl.
He wasn't a dead-shot. He didn't wear a mask. And he often took a good hiding when he fought - though he invariably won. In short; he was a Real Bloke and not a camp fantasy icon like 'The Lone Ranger'. Dick West, on the other hand, was a whining juvenile bore who served as the fall guy. Nowhere nearly as cerebral, mature or interesting as TLR's Tonto, he provided the light humour of the show and seemed to have a hint of 'Bowery Boys' about him.
Although these characters have never had the enduring popularity of 'Roy Rodgers', or 'The Lone Ranger', they were a lot more believable for all that, and crammed a whole adventure into just 30 minutes. I haven't seen any of these characters since I was a kid, but I'm willing to bet that 'The Range Rider' still offers the best entertainment.
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