Have Gun - Will Travel (1957–1963)
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The Return of Dr. Thackeray 

Not Rated | | Western | Episode aired 17 May 1958
Paladin again assists his friend Phyllis Thackeray, M.D., when impatience and panic threaten to generate a smallpox epidemic.



(teleplay), (teleplay) | 3 more credits »

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Episode complete credited cast:
Dr. Phyllis Thackeray
Sam Barton
Tom Barton
Fred Cooley
Johnny Western ...
Steve Pauley
Cy Malis ...
Nate - the Sick Man


Paladin again assists his friend Phyllis Thackeray, M.D., when impatience and panic threaten to generate a smallpox epidemic.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

17 May 1958 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Sam Barton: [to Dr. Thackeray] You're the wrong sex to be handling a gun.
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User Reviews

Ordinary Episode, Extraordinary Result...
23 November 2011 | by (Ridgefield, CT, USA) – See all my reviews

In this episode, I will not add more about the plot that was covered by previous reviewers. However, in this somewhat ordinary episode there was one extraordinary, and unexpected, result.

In this episode, the title character, Dr. Thackeray (played by the lovely June Lockhart) is being threatened by a group of cowpokes who have been exposed to smallpox, and are ordered under quarantine by her, with the quarantine being enforced - and Dr. Thackeray being protected

  • by Paladin. This does not go over well with the rambunctious
cowpokes, one of them goes so far as to engage in physical altercation with Paladin (from which Paladin emerges victor, of course).

If you look in the credits, you will see that the young cowpoke who fights Paladin is Steve Pauley, played by Johnny Western. Johnny Western was a young actor and a bit of a singing cowboy - no less than Gene Autry had taken a liking to him and helped him early in Western's career. When he got the job on HGWT, Western was thrilled - his chance to play in a scene opposite the legend, Richard Boone as Paladin. So thrilled was Western that he had trouble with his lone scene - how could he bring himself to strike Paladin, his hero? After a few poor takes, Richard Boone realized how nervous the young man was. To his credit, rather than simply asking for another bit player to step in for the inexperienced youngster, Boone offered to work with him on the scene, and with Boone's help, they were able to complete the scene.

Western was so thankful that he went home that night and did what he did best - he wrote a song. The next day, though he was not needed on the set, Western went there, approached Richard Boone, and presented him with a gift - the song he wrote the night before. Boone was stunned. After the surprise wore off, Boone, ever the artist, asked Western could again play the song on his guitar, but with a rhythm that was more upbeat. Western complied, and Boone approved. Boone then went to Herb Meadow (the creator of the show) and suggested they use the song for the theme song of the show. Meadow agreed, and they set up a music production company to act as the business entity that would collect any royalties due for the song - an entity that would be owned in equal parts by Western, Boone, and Meadow.

That song - "The Ballad of Paladin" - is the theme song you will hear at the conclusion of each of the subsequent episodes of Have Gun Will Travel, to this day. And to this day, the royalties are shared equally by Johnny Western, and the estates of Mr. Boone and Mr. Meadow.

You can hear a clip of the song, performed by Mr. Western, at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgvxu8QY01s

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