Based on the true characters of Captain Tom Rynning and Ranger Clint Travis, 26 Men was in the tradition of Death Valley Days providing true stories of the exploits of the Arizona Rangers. Modeled on the Texas Rangers, the Arizona Rangers did a lot in cleaning up the outlaw element in the Territory so that it was disbanded in 1909 and Arizona was admitted to the union as our 48th state in 1912.
Rynning was the second captain of the rangers, the Rangers were founded in 1901 and he took the job in 1903 after the first guy quit. As did many of the Rangers they had the background of being Rough Riders in the Spanish American War and had the backing of the First Rough Rider in the land Theodore Roosevelt. Tris Coffin who had a gazillion player credits on the big and small screen, on stage, and mostly on radio played the no nonsense Captain Rynning.
The stories moved like a western Dragnet, no frills at all, just the facts and the apprehension. No mock heroics either, just professional men doing their jobs.
26 Men was produced by Russell Hayden who had many a western credit to his name before the camera. And I don't think it was a coincidence that the Arizona Rangers were reestablished in 1957 by Governor Ernest W. McFarland of Arizona the same year 26 Men made its debut. Nothing like the value of good publicity.
The Rangers did not have a spotless history though. They were used as strikebreakers by some of the mine owners of Arizona. As such they did have big fans in organized labor.
Still the series is a good one and when TV Guide Channel runs it, catch it if you can.
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