|Index||3 reviews in total|
This TV show, probably the first of it's kind, demonstrated that a
woman despite heavy obligations and responsibilities (little brother,
no parents and a ranch to run), could successfully compete in a man's
world. Not only could she successfully compete, but she would come
through in a major crisis, save lives, behave with genuine courage,
dignity and honor, do it cheerfully with good humor and prove extremely
useful to the community while being the paradigm role model to an
impressionable younger brother.
Where the TV show is a fictionalized account bearing no relationship to the real Annie Oakley, their accomplishments were. They both competed not just successfully but surprisingly and consistently, in what was then regarded as a man's world. The real Annie Oakley (Phoebe Ann Oakley Moses or Mozee or Mozey) was the heroine of the day in her travels through the US and Europe in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show out shooting just about anyone. In a time that antibiotics were non-existent, she suffered through tremendous injury and illness nearly dying on a couple of occasions and demonstrated a rare courage of getting out of bed to ensure that the show went on! Previous to that she had been the support of her family, ensuring that food was on the table every night and in later life quietly worked to support charities and women's rights.
To young girls growing up in the '50's the TV show Annie was the perfect counter balance to the heroics of The Lone Ranger, Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers, and Gene Autrey TV shows. Was it a coincidence she rode a palomino? Doubtful. The writers probably wanted to show as subtly as possible that she could compete with Roy and Dale on her own terms. The genre was the popular wild west-the most successful for many years if the longevity of westerns is a measure. Every week youngsters grew up knowing that America was exemplified by the standards of the Old West, where character was king. Honor, fair play, justice-for-all were the by words on which the TV heroes were modeled. That there was a pistol-packing lady whose character was a match for any of her male counterparts says a good deal about the fabric of the American character and actress Gail Davis made Annie Oakley the cheerful ideal to which all girls aspired. ANNIE OAKLEY was a wonderful TV show!
Let me start out by saying that this show had absolutely nothing to do
with the life and times of the real Annie Oakley. The real Annie was an
honest to God deadly markswoman, but who was born and raised in the
Wild West of Ohio. I'm not sure where the television Annie did her
exploits in the Hollywood Never Never Land of the Old West, but it was
definitely west of the Mississippi. Possibly in Colorado because.....
Annie was the niece of the sheriff who we never saw. One of the things I remember about this series was that several times the excuse why the sheriff wasn't around was that he was 'delivering a prisoner to Denver'. Hence I assume that's where the Oakleys resided.
Gail Davis played Annie. I still remember her in those cowgirl outfits in rather juvenile looking pigtails. The fashion may have been some of Dale Evans's castoffs, but it was deliberately so because this wholesome girl in pigtails fooled many an outlaw into not taking her seriously to their regret. Gail Davis was Gene Autry's leading lady in several of his later westerns and he managed her career.
The sheriff left his deputy, Lofty Craig as played by Brad Johnson. Given the mores of the Fifties, Lofty was always in trouble and every week the law needed the assistance of sharpshooting Annie.
If Lofty wasn't in trouble it was her brother Tagg. Tagg was played by Jimmy Hawkins who is probably best known as one of the Bailey children from It's A Wonderful Life. Annie was constantly coming to his aid.
I'm sure a whole generation of feminists saw Annie Oakley as kids and saw a woman could compete in a man's world most successfully. As did the real Annie Oakley in her career.
One of those kids who saw and liked Annie Oakley was my sister Nancy who's no longer with us as is Gail Davis. And this review is dedicated to a show she was crazy about as a child.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The highly dense population of the 'Juvenile Cowboys & Indians
Shows("Kiddie Westerns") in the infancy of the Commercial Television
Industry, no doubt was long in search for Female Heroine(that's the
best kind!)to do the lead in a "Bubble Gum" Western Adventure Series.
We had already had Dale Evans, whom everyone knew to be Mrs Roy Rogers in real life.(Well, "Happy Trails, To You!!") She was already sharing the billing on the Roy Rogers TV Show, as she had and continued to in their starring vehicles at REPUBLIC PICTURES, and their guest shots .
Searching history, we find on Miss Phoebe Ann Mosey(1860-1926), who is known to the World as "Annie Oakley", Circus Sharpshooter and a Star of "BUFFALO BILL's WILD WEST SHOW." Miss Mosey, daughter of Quaker Parents, immigrants from Pennsylvania, was born in Willowdell, Darke County, Ohio.
She had learned to shoot at a very early age and shoot very well. At one point, she began to appear in various entertainment venues as a sharpshooter. In 1885, she and her Sharpshooter Husband joined up with the above mentioned Buffalo Bill.(Not to be confused with Howdy Doody's Buffalo Bob Smith!) In contrast to the above Biographical Info, we have the fictional "Annie Oakley" of Flying A Productions' TV Series(that's Gene Autry's Company, Schultz!). This Annie(Gail Davis)lives on a Ranch, apparently orphaned, with her little brother, "Tag"(Jimmy Hawkins). We never see any Ranch Hands or anyone else, so we figure that they must raise Weeds and Rocks.
The Ranch is situated some short distance from "Town", the Clint Eastwood Town, for it has no name. They spend all their time helping out Deputy Sheriff 'Lofty' Craig, or getting into jams that 'Lofty' must labor to get them out. It seems that Deputy Craig is a sort of general purpose male figure here. He is at once Romantic Interest, Guardian Angel, "Big Brother"(pre-Orwellian) and Sterling Beacon of Law and Order in the "Old West" and Paragon of Virtue.
And, not to hurt your feelings too much, Shultz, I must tell you this hard and simple fact. The real Annie Oakley never lived in the West. She was a native of Ohio, where she lived most of her life. But, then again, one Leonard Slye* was born there too; so we can forgive you after all, Annie. 2007-2014
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