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This ambitious modern day western starred 41-year old Richard Egan ("A Summer Place", "The View from Pompey's Head", "Gog") as Jim Redigo, the hyper masculine, totally decent general manager of the huge Garrett ranch of New Mexico. Redigo was meant to be a mythic character, sort of Matt Dillon with an MBA, and over the run of the show Egan convinced you that Redigo had greatness in him. "Empire" was filmed on location in New Mexico.
Egan was asked if he regretted being tied down to playing the same role over and over, rather than having the variety of going from role to role in films. Egan said the people who became big stars, like Bogart, Cooper, and Gable, all essentially played the same part over and over again. That is how a star's persona is created.
Fifty-three year old Anne Seymour played the elegant owner of the Garret ranch, the widow of the man who built the empire from nothing- with Jim Redigo's help.
Thirty-three year old Terry Moore ("Mighty Joe Young") was Seymour's luscious, curvaceous daughter, who could get any man she wanted-except Redigo.
Twenty-two year old Ryan O'Neal was Seymour's son, who was trying to prove to Redigo that he was a man.
The great Kathleen Hite created this series. She was a terrific writer who did many superb character studies on "Gunsmoke". Hite came up with four good characters here, and they were well cast. Terry Moore was a warm, sexy presence, although she wasn't given anywhere near enough screen time. Ryan O'Neal was extremely vital and likable as Tal Garrett. O'Neal gave the stand out performance of the series.
The producers were Hal Hudson ("Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater") and the great William Sackheim ("The Law").
Each episode had a well written and cast guest star role. Robert Vaughn and Inger Stevens were superb in two separate episodes as paraplegics. Jeremy Slate was also terrific as a likable but mysterious new ranch hand whose competition with Ryan O'Neal ends in a deadly boxing match. Robert Culp played an ambitious man who schemes to marry Terry Moore and fire Redigo. Other guest stars included Richard Jordan, Claude Akins, Ralph Meeker, Telly Savalas, Ray Danton, Joanne Linville and Joanna Barnes.
The delightful Joanna Moore also trekked out to New Mexico to be a guest star. It must have been lonely on location. In a blink, she was married in real life to the charming Ryan O'Neal and was the mother of Tatum O'Neal.
The ratings were mediocre, and Terry Moore and Anne Seymour were fired in the middle of the first season. (Seymour's character was said to die.) The show was still good, but it became much more ordinary without women. Forty-one year old Charles Bronson ("Man With a Camera","The Magnificent Seven") was brought in as tough ranch hand Paul Moreno. This was already Bronson's third series.
For the second season the title was changed to "Redigo", and the length was reduced from 60 minutes to 30 minutes. Ryan O'Neal and Charles Bronson were gone. Jim Redigo bought his own small place. Appealing young Roger Davis ("The Gallant Men") played his ranch hand. The 30-minute format left little time to develop complex characters and stories, and what was once a fine show became unwatchable. "Redigo" was canceled in mid-season.
Richard Egan signed on for a new pilot called "Stryker", produced by the brilliant Leslie Stevens ("Stoney Burke", "The Outer Limits"). Egan played a business tycoon who doubles as a crack American spy. The concept was fine but the tongue in cheek approach was off-putting. It should have been played straight, using the noir approach that Stevens did so well.
Egan then made another interesting pilot called "Stranded". Egan was the captain of an airliner that crashes in the jungle. The survivors have no idea where they are or how to get out. One of the passengers is a fugitive who was being taken back to prison. Peter Graves, Julie Adams and Lois Nettleton also would have starred in the series.
Richard Egan is a fictional character in the short story "The Films of Richard Egan" by Anthony Giardina. The story is on the Internet. Read it if you have time. It is at: http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/g/giardina-marriage.html
Graduate study at Stanford, an army captain during World War ll, a movie star, dated Susan Hayward, married to the same woman for almost 30 years. Richard Egan did all right.
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