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The exploits of Champion, a wild stallion who befriends twelve year-old Ricky North in the American Southwest in the 1880's. Although Ricky, who lived on his Uncle Sandy's ranch, had a magnetic attraction for trouble, he was always rescued by the Wonder Horse, aided by the boy's other bosom companion, German shepherd dog, Rebel. Written by
Champion was in fact played by four different horses. The original "Champion" that made Gene Autry famous in the movies is not the same horse that appeared in the 1955-1956 TV series. Champion easily earned his title of "Wonder Horse" by performing a variety of tricks which included kneeling, untying rope knots and dancing and prancing for the public. It died (buried at Autry's Melody Ranch) when Autry was serving in the military during World War II. The others: "Champion" (the horse of the TV series), a chestnut stallion foaled in 1940. The others - "Champion Jr." and "Little Champion" - were all used in Autry's postwar films. "Champion's" hoofprints can be seen in front of Graumann's Chinese Theater in Hollywood. See more »
Another Story Of A Horse And The Boy Who Loves Him
One of the big producers of TV westerns in television's first decade was the first of those singing cowboys Gene Autry. Among the shows he produced besides his own was Annie Oakley, The Range Rider, Buffalo Bill Jr., and this one starring his horse Champion.
Unlike Roy Rogers for whom there was only one Trigger, Autry had about four or five versions of his steed at the ready for movies, personal appearances and in this case a television series.
The Adventures Of Champion had the bad luck to debut when Autry was gradually getting out of television when G rated cowboys were being replaced by the adult western. It also had the bad luck to debut around the same time as a boy/horse show in a modern western setting named Fury was winning viewers on Saturday morning.
According to a recent biography of Gene Autry, Public Cowboy Number One, Gene originally offered the adult father figure role to one of his fellow singing cowboys Monte Hale. However Hale turned the role down because he didn't like being billed under the horse in the credits and the role of the sheriff went to Jim Bannon.
The cast as it finally rounded out was young Barry Curtis who lived with his uncle Jim Bannon and made a friend of the unrideable Champion which was the exact same premise that Fury had. For good measure young Curtis had a Rin Tin Tin German Shepherd dog in Rebel.
It was a nice kids show, but it certainly wasn't as memorable in the consciousness as Fury was.
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