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Every Saturday morning I loved the lineup of live action and animated
on the air. "The Tales of Texas Rangers" started just before I entered
kintergarten and continued until about the third grade. Many times my
friends and I played cowboys and sometimes used story lines from these
shows. When I was in the early grades I wanted to be a cowboy, which
be a big move for a city slicker from Pittsburgh. Cowboy, fireman, and
pilot were the top three career goals of the boys in my classes. Westerns
and Science Fiction were big both in the movies and TV.
"Tales of Texas Rangers" was one of the better Westerns I remember. One week they would be in the Old West and the other week they would be in modern times. We loved the deserts, the mountains, and the praries of the West, and of course the horses. It was encouraging to see even that in the age of Satellites, they still had big ranches in Texas and were still troubled by cattle rustlers and mine claim-jumpers. The good guys always won, and we admired their bravery and quick-thinking. One encouraging sign for our future employment was that at least the original Texas Rangers only hired men who were not from Texas, on the theory that Texans would sooner or later would be forced to arrest an old friend.
One of the details that strikes you at that age is that in the modern episodes they always got brand new Fords every September. Seeing the new crop of cars every years was very exciting and every year the auto stores on Homestead's "Auto Row" would hold big open houses to show off the latest models.
When my own children grew up in the 1980s I watched many wonderful new kids' shows, but they just didn't match up to the classics like "Texas Rangers." Ah, the memories!
As a child growing up in the 50s Tales of the Texas Rangers was my favorite show. It had the most unusual idea for that time anyway to have alternating time frames using the same stars. The most vivid memory was the way the show started. It would be one Ranger then as he walked down the street more and more joined his side until he had a whole company with him by the end of the opening walk. Conversely when the show ended and the music played the opposite happened a full company dwindled down to just one as the show closed out. Ingenious! Maybe the Western Channel from Encore can find this lost gem. I wonder does anyone know if there are copies of the shows available.
Harry Lauter used to turn up in so many shows during the 1950s and 1960s
that my dad and I used to keep track of them so we could catch repeats.
Harry was that good; an actor who came across as someone who could carry
any character with aplomb.
This series had probably the best theme outside of 'The Adventures of Superman'. Though I've not seen 'Texas Rangers' for decades, I can replay that theme, words and picture, in my mind without any trouble at all.
A series I'd love to find one day on DVD.
This is one series that was definitely "must see TV" in our house,
although it did not appear on NBC. We see that, as remembered, it was
over the "Tiffany Network", CBS that we first viewed TALES OF THE Texas
RANGERS (Screen Gems Television, 1955-59).
The series boasted of the commanding presence of Jace Pearson (Willard Parker) and Clay Morgan (Harry Lauter). (No, Schultz; it's not Sir Harry Lauder, the Scottish Born British Music Hall Comedian!) The pair were inseparable as they traversed time and space in patrolling the vast Texas terrain, rendering it peaceful for the law-abiding. "Time" and "Space", what does that mean?
The special feature of TALES OF THE Texas RANGERS was that it featured stories on the wanted, the cold-blooded killers and any and all manner of wrong doers in any era in the History of the Lone Star State. That is, these two main characters would be depicted one week going after "Black Bart" or some such desperado of the Old West; only the very next week driving their truck with horse trailer in tow, working on some present day pattern of Bank Robberies.
That was the series' gimmick, and a good one at that. We never questioned it; just accepted it as a unique dramatic device. The series was aimed at juveniles; hence it was slotted on Saturday Mornings, somewhere between THE MIGHTY MOUSE PLAYHOUSE and a local RECORD HOP-type Teenagers' Show. We all knew it was something special to be displacing any animated antics.
There are certain details of the show that were most memorable to us and our impressionable little kids minds, that they persist, right up to the present moment.* Take for example, the theme song used at the opening and closing. The words (most of 'em, anyway!), the tune and the manner in which it was delivered seem as vivid now as ever, even though we're talking over 50 years now!
It would start with a quiet street in a "typical Western town." Ranger Jace Pearson (Mr. Willard Parker) looking very serious, was seen in close-up. The sounding of one single trumpet resonates the chords of the first line of the theme song all around the town. The music begins to pick up intensity, volume and speed as one by one, then in twos more and more Texas Rangers join in with Jace and Clay Morgan (Mr. Harry Lauter) in a highly energetic and even symbolic march down this main street. The theme song/march, while being done to the tune as "The Eyes of Texas" and/or "I've been working on the Railroad, had a set of original lyrics designed for the show. In part they wenta soma thinga lika thisa:
"Here's A Stalwart Man of Texas, Jace Pearson is his name' His Partner Clay is right beside him, Blank,blank blank, blank, blank, blank! ..
(And it finishes up something lika,) "They'll fight for Right, for Right and Justice, To Enforce the Law for You!"
It is only in recent years that we found out that there had been a TALES OF THE Texas RANGERS Radio Show on the NBC Radio Network from 1950-52. It starred Mr. Joel McCrae as lone-wolf type Jace Pearson, having no partner on the Radio version.
Like so many television shows of its day, TALES OF Texas RANGERS provided a clue to the young folks about right living, fair play,cultivating a law abiding attitude and behaviour pattern. All this was done in a suggestive, soft sell manner. Even the last line of its Theme/Signature song planted a small seed that could reap big results. Remember: "They'll fight for Right, for Right and Justice, to Enforce the Law for You!"
The technical adviser for the show was not Capt. Clint Peoples, but
Capt. Lone Wolf Gonzales. It was based on real cases of the Texas
Rangers as its predecessor Radio show. It's theme song had two
choruses, the first was: He's the stalwart man of Texas, Jayce Pearson
is his name. His partner Clay is right beside him, each day has proved
their fame. All Texas Rangers sworn to duty, Their work is never
through. They'll fight and fight for right and justice to enforce the
law for you.
The second played at the ending was: These are tales of Texas Rangers, a band of study men. Always on the side of justice, They'll fight and fight again. All Texas Rangers sworn to duty Courageous, brave and True. Ever marching ever ready to enforce the law for you.
The uniforms they wore in both the "early days" and the "Modern day" episodes were never worn by actual Texas Rangers. In fact there was never any such uniform for the Rangers. My grandfather was one of the modern day and my great-great grandfather was a Captain of the Texas Troupe which was early day rangers. The badges worn on the series bore no resemblance to any ranger badge ever used. When the show was on it was a Gold DPS gold shield that was worn by rangers, the now famous circle star or wheel star came well after the show was out of production and barely at the end of my Grandfather's career.
It was embellished with a whole lot more shooting and chases than ever actually took place in cases, but it did introduce the fact that the Rangers were one of the first modern policing agencies to utilize forensic evidence to solve cases.
SONY has the rights to the 13 unreleased episodes of the Tales of the Texas Rangers. They indicated that if enough people and/or dealers show interest, they will sell them on the market. In other words, it is up to us to contact SONY; or SONY may find it more convenient to just sell the entire 52 stories as one package. Suggest we fans move to request it. Unreleased: Both Barrels Blazing, Bandits of El Dorado, Last Days of Boot Hill, Whirlwind Raiders, Ambush, Warpath, Double Edge, Midway Kewpie, Quarter Horse, Jail Bird, Buckaroo from Powder River, Panhandle, Key Witness, Traitor's Gold. This was a very good series for its time and Willard Parker was an underrated actor
If anyone has the following episodes I would like to hear from you. Double Edge, Buckaroo from Powder River, Last Days of Boot Hill, Bandits of El Dorado, Panhandle, Key Witness, Quarter Horse, Whirlwind Raiders, Both Barrels Blazing, Traitor's Gold, Warpath, Midway Kewpie, Fifth Plague, Ambush. I have the remaining stories. Willard Parker was a good actor who played on Broadway and various B westerns in the fifties. I suspect his obvious resemblance to Randolph Scott hurt him. The show had three excellent supporting players. Moonlighting from his role as the Old Ranger on Death Valley Days, Stanley Andrews was in the Shooting of Sam Bass, The Hobo, Shorty Sees the Light, and The Black Eyes of Texas. Morris Ankram played Colonel Bryson in Trail Herd. Ken Christy was Windy Norton in Singing on the Trail.
I grew up in Texas, in the '50's, and any TV program mentioning or about Texas or Texans was viewed with awe in our household. MY personal favorite was "Tales of the Texas Rangers". The weekly adventures of Jace and Clay, whether in "Cowboy Days" or "Modern Times", were most welcomed in our living room, and my imagination. Especially Jace. As an only child, my days were mostly spent in fantasy and daydreams. Jace was the the love of my life and main character in my make believe world. He was everyone from my "Knight in a Stetson" that whisked me off to Happily Ever After, Texas, to just my best friend. Jace and Clay never drank, smoked, cursed, nor even kissed a girl. They were two honest and skilled lawmen that always held up the integrity of the Texas Rangers and the Laws of Texas, and protected here citizens from the bad guys. There have been a lot of people, real and fictional, in my life that I have loved and admired, that have awed and inspired me, but few more so than Texas Ranger Jace Pearson.
My father retired from the Texas Rangers in 1951, when I was about four years old. He and I watched this program every Saturday. Its tech adviser was Captain Clint Peoples, for whom my dad worked in his last years with the Rangers. I KNEW that Capt. Peoples played up his own role in all the episodes (???), but I also recognized my father's contributions (as he revealed them). In sum, when I look back, I think that there was a lot more realism than my fellow eight year old viewers knew. I am incredibly gratified, though, that kids from New Hampshire felt exactly as I did about the show. Small world. Thanks to you all "Yankees" for sharing your memories. If you're curious, my father's favorite TV crime show in the years before he died was Hawaii Five-O.
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