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It is the 1870s in Wyoming Territory. Slim Sherman and his 14-year-old brother Andy try to hang on to their ranch after their father is shot by a land grabber. They augment their slight cattle ranch income by serving as a stagecoach station near Laramie. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
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Before Laramie became infamously known as the location of Matthew Shepard's murder it was best known as the title of a western set there in old west Wyoming. The premise was young Slim Sherman as played by John Smith and his younger brother Andy (Robert Crawford, Jr.) trying to hang on to the family ranch after their father had been murdered by a cattle baron trying to grab the land.
It was a tough go for the Sherman Brothers and the family cook Jonesy who was played by Hoagy Carmichael. But in that pilot episode a lone Shane like gunfighter Jess Harper showed up. The Shermans took him in and he became a family member with roots at the ranch. After that only fools messed with the Shermans especially if they knew that they had Robert Fuller to mess with as Jess Harper.
Laramie was one of many towns founded as a rail depot of the Union Pacific. But into the hinterlands of Wyoming still one of our most rural states you got some place on horseback or by stage. And the Shermans had a franchise way station at their ranch which I'm sure supplemented their income during a lean year for cattle. It allowed for a whole range of stories combining the stagecoach way station with the ranch.
Laramie had a respectable run of four years. Carmichael and Crawford dropped out and housekeeper Spring Byington and orphan Dennis Holmes joined the Sherman ranch. Bob Fuller went on to a good career, a stint on Wagon Train after Laramie was canceled and later a long run on the Jack Webb produced Emergency.
John Smith had done a few films before Laramie and got a second lead in the John Wayne film Circus World. He dropped out of sight after that and some thirty years later I read in an obituary that he had died of cirrhosis of the liver. There's probably one awfully tragic story there.
But I prefer to remember John Smith as Slim Sherman zealously guarding home and hearth with Jess Harper to back him up. Maybe we'll get to see Laramie again some day.
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