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Bronco was an oddball in the stable of WB Westerns: it tended to try to portray vaguely accurate historical characters and incidents. Bronco seems to have made the acquaintance of just about every notable character not involved in a Western owned by a different studio or network. Billy the Kid, Jesse James, and so forth, often with inaccurate but interesting spins on character or events. As a former Confederate officer who retained his aging issue hat, Bronco cut an effective figure. A viewing of a recently available video reminded me of the normal 1950s Westerns anachronisms: during the "War of Northern Aggression" there is Captain Lane using an 1873 revolver in 1863. Such problems notwithstanding, these were good examples of the WB Westerns and fine entertainment even today.
Some may have thought of "Bronco" as sort of a poor man's "Cheyenne," but it was a good series in its own right with a pleasant, "outdoorsy" quality that stressed action and adventure over gunplay and violence. It also boasted as its star a likeable actor named Ty Hardin who seemed to have a lot going for him: good looks, rugged physique, winning personality. He displayed a nice flair for comedy in "The Chapman Report" and did well dramatically in a modest movie called "Wall of Noise" but, for some reason or other, soon faded into obscurity. Hey, Ty, you're missed!
I was a little girl of about three when I fell in love with Bronco Lane. It was my first ever favourite TV show, and Bronco was my first ever heart-throb character. One day, my mother sent me to the shop, but I was away for so long that she came looking for me. Apparently, whenever the shop-keeper tried to serve me, I refused to speak to her. My mother asked me why, and I replied that I wouldn't answer until I was addressed, not by my name, but as "Bronco Lane". I do not remember this incident, but I strongly recall how much I loved the show, and thinking that Bronco (Ty Hardin) was the most handsome man in the world!
Bronco was a western television series that got rushed to market when
Clint Walker walked out on Cheyenne during a contract dispute with
Warner Brothers. It's star was one Orville Whipple Hungerford, III,
better known to us kids as Ty Hardin.
Hardin certainly didn't have the looming presence of 6'6" Clint Walker as Cheyenne, but he was a more than adequate western hero. Bronco Lane was a wanderer and in the course of this Confederate veteran's western wanderings he ran into a whole lot of famous true western legends. Warner Brothers was doing something that all the studios did with their westerns back in the day, mixed their cowboy heroes with stories real western personalities.
When Clint Walker came back and Cheyenne resumed production, Bronco was sort of like a spare tire that became a fifth wheel in the Warner Brothers western shows. It was on for a few seasons and dropped. It's star got a few good movie roles and then dropped out of sight.
Years ago I read that Hardin got involved in some really far right wing politics. I mean John Birch Society style right wing. I'm not sure if that drove casting directors to pass him by or did he get involved in that blaming his fading career on the Communists. Either way it's kind of a sad story.
But I still remember that theme song, "Bronco, Bronco, Tearing Across The Texas Plains, Bronco, Bronco, Bronco Lane."
This one goes back a long time. Anyone who remembers
the show must be really old. For reasons I do not
understand it was never rerun here in Germany.
So it is a good age tester. The only thing I remember is that
Bronco Lane used to drink water out of his hat. And that I
liked it a lot. The fondest and saddest memory is this. I
must have been 8 or 9 at the time when a friend told me
that his parents just bought a color TV. I said what do you
mean "Color?". He said that in it the movies are colored. I
told him he was an idiot, of course everything was colored.
Well, I went back home switched TV on and yes, Bronco
was running and everything was black and white. I could
not believe it. I had never noticed before. That was the day
when color left my TV life. For a long time at least. (I wonder
when I realized that movies were only two-dimensional.)
Years later when my family finally bought a color TV I did not like it and to this day I prefer black and white films to colored. And at least with certain TV series like "The Fugitive" that was colored in later seasons I turn off the color.
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