The 78 half-hour episodes of the television western "26 Men" were originally broadcast during the 1957-59 television seasons. The series was produced by Russell "Lucky" Hayden, the same guy who played Hopalong Cassidy's sidekick Lucky Jenkins in many of Hoppy's western films during the late 30's and early 40's. Much like its counterpart, "Tales of Texas Rangers", the series focused on the historical adventures of the Arizona Rangers who operated in Arizona while it was still a territory. Some names were changed but the idea was to recreate actual cases from the files of the Rangers.
The Arizona Rangers were created in 1901 by the Arizona Territorial Legislature to deal mostly with rustlers along the Mexican border. Modeled on the Texas Rangers the group was originally limited to one company of 14 men, in 1903 the force was increased to 26 men (hence the series title).
Many of the 26 were Spanish-American War veterans of Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders unit. They were expert horsemen, trackers and marksmen. Because the force was small and their mission was big the territory made sure they were equipped with the best horses and the most modern weapons. And they apparently were legends in their own time, widely publicized and conspicuous. And so successful that local law enforcement lobbied hard to have this elite force disbanded.
In the television series Tris Coffin plays Captain Tom Rynning (the actual name of the unit's second commander) and Kelo Henderson plays Clint Travis. "Coffin" was appropriately named as his main claim to fame was an incident a couple years earlier on the CBS anthology series "Climax". Coffin was playing a corpse during a scene and suddenly just stood up during shooting and walked out of the frame. He had thought the scene over and the camera turned off. For this he was nationally nicknamed "dead man walking". The DVD issue includes the following 10 episodes:
"The Recruit" - 15 October 1957 - The newspaper editor of Wilcox asks the Rangers for help, and two of them are dispatched to the town. However, when they get there they find the editor has been lynched and is hanging from a tree.
"The Wild Bunch" - 29 October 1957 - A member of the notorious Wild Bunch bandit gang escapes from Ranger Clint Travis' custody, resulting in his being fired. Furious, Travis sets out to take on the whole gang and salvage his career and reputation.
"Border Incident" - 5 November 1957 - Clint Travis goes undercover as a gun smuggler to stop Mexican revolutionary Juan Morales' plans to topple the Mexican government.
"Incident at Yuma" - 19 November 1957 - A gang of convicts has escaped from prison, but Capt. Rynning's can't get any more men to help capture them.
"The Slater Brothers" - 26 November 1957 - When Clint Travis is falsely accused of Murder. Rynning sends him into Galioro Mountains to prove his innocence by finding the cattle rustlers who actually committed the crime.
"Trouble At Pinnacle Peak"
"The Big Rope"
"Trail of Darkness"
"Trade Me Deadly"
"The Bells of St. Thomas"
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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