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The Wild Wild West (1965 - 1969)

 
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2020 6:06 pm    Post subject: The Wild Wild West (1965 - 1969) Reply with quote

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This popular TV series includes as much science fiction as the James Bond movies, so a thread for it belongs here on All Sci-Fi — as one of our members (a loyal fan of this series) pointed out to me.

The thread for the movie version recently got me to thinking about The Wild, Wild West TV series. I wondered why I hadn't appreciate it at the tender age of seventeen when it first aired. Confused

I guess it was because I just wasn't all that into Westerns back then. And yet . . . I love 'em now! Go figure, eh? Rolling Eyes

Perhaps I'd have liked the series better if Jim West's personal train — The Wander — had been a little more like James Bond's Aston Martin DB5. To me it was just a regular train, a beautiful machine, certainly —






— but what if had been a kind of sleek "steam punk sports car" like this. (A picture I modified to show what I have in mind). Very Happy





Imagine a montage scene with The Wanderer thundering through little towns and right passed other trains sitting on the sidings just to let it pass by! The President would order all this special treatment to speed Jim West to his assignment. And these dramatic scenes would be accompanied by rousing music to give them lots of pizazz! Cool

As for William Conrad and Ross Martin, they were perfect — a Western James Bond who travels around with his own 19th Century version of Q. Plus, Artemus Gordon was a master of disguises . . . in the Sherlock Holmes tradition! Cool





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Fans of Roger Moore will disagree with me, but Robert Conrad had the dashing good looks that Mr. Moore once had . . . just before he became the new James Bond. Sad


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Pow pointed out that this series had ample sci-fi elements in its weekly plots, and I've recently been reminded from my experiences with the episodes that he's right!





I've been watching The Wild, Wild West on FETV for the last few weeks, and I've got 20 episode I haven't even gotten to yet!

~ Click here to see the series' opening with it's wonderful theme!
Cool

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Last edited by Bud Brewster on Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:57 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Krel
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2020 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The show was originally designed as a "wheel" show about four agents, all named after the points of the compass. North, South, East and West. Each agent would work in section of the country he was named for. Sorry, I'm too lazy to pull out the book on TWWW to look up the full names of the agents.

They originally thought about naming the show, "The Wild, Wild, Wild West". But then they thought that the third "Wild" would be excessive. Laughing

Rory Calhoun was originally listed as the lead, and there are photos of him in costume.*

The part of Dr. Miguelito Quixote Loveless was written for Michael Dunn. Dr. Loveless's female companion, Antoinette, was played by Dunn's real-life night club singing partner, Phoebe Dorin.

The show caused some controversy in the Hollywood by forming it's own crew of stuntmen. The crew was formed, because during the first season production, they had trouble getting enough stuntmen for the show. The movie, "The Great Race" was using most of the stunt performers in Hollywood.

West originally fought using Karate. He switched to boxing, when one of the stuntmen showed Robert Conrad how he could fight off three different groups of people coming from three different directions. Robert Conrad became so interested in boxing, that the studio built him a boxing ring to practice in between scenes.

Robert Conrad LOVED the designs of his tight costumes, even though he had difficulty with some movement, such as bending his legs. There were many, many instances of split pants. Laughing

David.

* Rory Calhoun said that he did the first "Spaghetti Western". He said that he was offered "A Fistful of Dollars", but turned it down (He wasn't the only one, the script they showed to the actors was poorly translated). He laughed that it showed what he knew about movies.
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Eadie
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2020 8:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Krel wrote:
The show was originally designed as a "wheel" show about four agents, all named after the points of the compass. North, South, East and West. Each agent would work in section of the country he was named for. Sorry, I'm too lazy to pull out the book on TWWW to look up the full names of the agents.

Please do so. We new (and much younger) fans are very interested!
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Pow
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jim West, Tom East, Sam South, and Hal North were the proposed names for the other Secret Service agents had the show gone in the direction of having rotating agents each week.

In the original proposal, Jim West did not have a partner.
Producers envisioned plots where West would require some form of nifty gadgets in order to accomplish his missions.
They asked themselves exactly how does he obtain these spy gizmos out in the middle of nowhere?

Solution: West has a partner who travels with him and who also invents the anachronistic devices.

They also created Artemus Gordon as a contrast for Jim to react to on missions.

West was pretty serious while Arty could be much more humorous & eccentric.

Many actors were auditioned for the role of James West.

According to producers, there was never any question as to who be cast as Artemus Gordon. Ross Martin was always the number one choice.

Gordon was described as "an absolute rogue, self-educated, a spellbinder,"The Music Man" and "The Rainmaker" rolled into one.

Arty was always reluctant to fight with his fists. He's not a coward, it's just that he feels that if he cannot talk his way out of fight then he's failed as a true con artist.

The pilot took 11 1/2 days to film and began on December 16, 1964 in Sonora,CA.

The Wanderer set included a coach car, a kitchen, a gun room, and a laboratory and cost $35,000 to construct.
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Krel
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2020 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Pow, now I don't have to look for my book on the show. Laughing

Pow wrote:
Gordon was described as "an absolute rogue,self-educated,a spellbinder,"The Music Man"and "The Rainmaker"rolled into one.

Arty was always reluctant to fight with his fists. He's not a coward,it's just that he feels that if he cannot talk his way out of fight then he's failed as a true con artist.

As the show developed Arty proved to be very proficient at fighting, although he still preferred outwitting his opponents.

It was also established that he was from the South, and very good with a foil.

I don't remember if they ever said that he severed in the military of either side. It's been awhile since I've watched the show. I really have no excuse, I own the complete series on DVD.

David.
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Pow
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2020 12:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're welcome, David.

More WWW Fun Facts } Richard Markowitz composed the classic theme score for TWWW. His first TV series he wrote the score for was the Nick Adams(a close friend of Robert Conrad) western "The Rebel."

Johnny Cash would sing the song "Johnny Yuma Was A Rebel." Another terrific song for a terrific western.

DePatie-Freling did the animation for TWWW. They were best known for their "Pink Panther"cartoons.

The fact that TWWW ever made it onto the air was a miracle.

While the pilot was being filmed there had been a regime change at CBS. Like any new wave of management the executives wanted to make their own mark and cancel whatever they could from the previous regime.

The CBS execs also did not quite know what to make of TWWW. It was a western but not a western like any other before it. After viewing the pilot,CBS decided not to pick up the series for their 1965 fall schedule.

CBS later changed their mind and reinstated TWWW for the fall of '65.

Whew!


Last edited by Pow on Tue Feb 25, 2020 1:51 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Gord Green
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2020 3:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The TV series was SO great....And the movie so sucked!

It's not the concept that makes a series great...It's the chemistry of the ensemble actors, producers etc that makes it great.

Robert Conrad was exceptional in whatever he was in. BLACK SHEEP was great too. You could believe in the character no matter how bizzare the conception was.

Thanks Bob...You done good work!

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Pow
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2020 9:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"TWWW" Trivia Topic: The Stunts.

The production for the show required a huge portion of the budget to be allocated to the many stunts seen each week.

Bob Conrad offered to do his own stunt work which he loved to do anyway. It also sped up the shooting schedule (time=$$$) by having Conrad perform the stunts.

The other problem facing the series was the availability of stunt people.

The stunt community was not a plentiful one back in those days.

So all the stunt people were in constant demand for their services by films and other television series.

The result would then be that each week TWWW could face a lack of stunt people for their episodes because the stuntmen were contracted for films and other shows.

The solution by Bob was to hire stuntmen who would be a regular part of the series each week and could be counted on to be available for the entire season.

The fact that TWWW retained the exact same stuntmen from week to week did not go over well at all with the Stuntmen's Association.

The SA wanted all their members to be able to book a job on any film and TV show and not have a select few be tied up on one series.

In time Bob was able to build up a top notch team of stuntmen that were a regular crew for TWWW.
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Pow
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2020 4:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Stuntmen} Whitey Hughes stood 5'6'' & weighed all of 130 lbs. He was one tough hombre and a superb stuntman. Bob Conrad offered the job of Stunt Coordinator to Whitey for TWWW when the show was picked up for season#2.

Whitey & Conrad worked closely together on performing the stunts and became good friends. Whitey did an excellent job in his role as SC. Unfortunately Bob & Whitey had a major falling out in December of 1968. Hughes walked off TWWW never to be on it again.

Dick Cangey would become another key stuntman who played an important role in Bob Conrad's life. Cangey had been a professional boxer earlier in his life before becoming a stuntman on TWWW.

One day Dick was listening to his fellow stuntman debate the pros & cons of boxing versus karate. He decided to show them just what boxing can be and challenged them, one-at-a-time, to attempt to hit him while Dick & the stuntmen all wore boxing gloves.

Cangey told them he would not strike back and that not one of 'em would be able to lay a glove on him. Dick was right, not one could touch him and they became exhausted trying to do so.

At this time Dick was older than most of them, overweight and past his boxing days.

Robert Conrad watched all this and decided he just had to try it. Like the others, Conrad couldn't lay a glove on Dick. Bob was excited about boxing and asked Dick to teach him how to box. Dick did so and said that Bob turned into a fine boxer.

If you watch the first season of TWWW you'll see that Conrad uses a number of karate type moves in his fight scenes. Once Dick taught him how to box you will notice that Bob's battles with the villains had Jim West employ boxing moves.
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2020 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

That is a fascinating anecdote about this series, and I'll keep it in mind while I continue to watch the episodes I've DVRed from FETV!

Thanks, Pow!

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Pow
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2020 2:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Robert "Red" Gene West,March 08,1936~July 18,2017.

Red was another important part of the ensemble stunt team on TWWW.

He went to high school with Elvis Presley,they later became close friends. The story goes that Elvis wore his hair long for that era and some other high school classmates decided to corner Elvis in the men's room at school and cut his hair.

Red, who barely knew Elvis at the time, just happened to walk in and took in the situation and did not like what he saw.

The imposing Red asked the boys if they'd like to try cutting his hair. The boys quickly left.

Red became a driver for Elvis transporting him to singing gigs as his career began.Later Red was part of the 'Memphis Mafia'or Elvis's bodyguards.

Red played football in both high school & junior college.
Served in the USMC from 1956~'58. He was a Golden Gloves Boxer.

Bob Conrad said that Red was hands down one of the toughest men he ever met.
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Krel
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2020 11:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Red West was a regular in Robert Conrad's later productions.

David.
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Pow
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2020 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TWWW was a very troubled & chaotic TV series during its first season.

As the old regime in management was swept away at CBS, many of the people who put the show together were fired.

The CBS management which replaced the previous regime found TWWW to be very expensive to produce due to the sets, props, stunts, and period costumes.

They also found the series hard to pigeonhole because it certainly wasn't a TV western in the traditional sense, like "Rawhide" or "Gunsmoke."

The network just didn't "get" TWWW and was unsure about how to handle it.

The creator of TWWW, Michael Garrison, had never produced a TV series before. He had a clear vision of what he wanted, but it was also a very expensive vision that CBS was not happy about.

Michael was made an "executive producer", which was a way of moving him aside from the series and lessening his creative input. The show became infamous for the coming & going of producers during the first season.

Sadly, TWWW's creator — Michael Garrison — would die in a fall at his Bel Aire mansion in August of 1966.

Given its tumultuous history, it remains a miracle that the show made it past its first season, let alone going on for 3 more seasons and becoming a huge fan favorite.

CBS cancelled TWWW due to the level of violence associated with the show. Television was harshly criticized as promoting violence as entertainment by many in the wake of the assassinations of both Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and Senator Robert F.Kennedy.

By the fourth and final season of the series, the network imposed very strong restrictions for TWWW (among other such shows) that limited the action, stunts and daring do that once had made the series so famous.

It clearly hurt the show, and many on the series felt it was just as well that the series ended when it did.

The new limitations on what TWWW could do made it a pale imitation of itself.
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Maurice
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2020 5:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the story that show was originally The Wild Wild Wild West is backwards. The first version of the titles (see here) says The Wild West. Collier Young produced three episodes of the show before being booted and claimed to have added the 2nd "Wild". Robert Conrad apparently confirmed this, "All that guy did creatively was put the second 'wild' in the title."

Here's a ME TV page about The Wanderer locomotive, which mentions the clever detail that it was numbered "8" because that number still looks the same if you flop a shot so the engine is going the other direction.

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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2020 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

I pride myself on being able to recognize actors and actresses when they pop up unexpectedly in shows and movies long before they became familiar faces and household names.

Actually, I don't always spot them by their faces — especially when their appearance has been altered because of the role they're playing. Wigs that alter their hair, beards that cover their faces, and exaggerated mannerisms required by a specific role . . . these will sometimes fool me for a while.

But eventually I'll spot tell-tale mannerisms or distinctive voices, and suddenly the face will look very familiar. When that happens I'll cackle with glee and shout, "Hey, that's ____, who was in ______!"

With that in mind guys, here's what happened today.

While watching an episode called One Bullet from Broken Bow from my newly acquired Bat Masterson DVDs, I made a "double play" when I first spotted the gorgeous Joan O'Brien, who won our hearts (along with Cary Grant's) in Operation Petticoat, and Elvis Presley's heart in It Happened at the World's Fair.

That one was easy.

But when Bat Masterson bravely ventured into a renegade Indian camp to rescue two gorgeous hostages, I did an astounded double-take when I saw a handsome Injun who was in love with one of the two ladies and ended up helping Bat rescue the gals from them ornery redskins!

"By gum," I said to myself, "that's the actor who had his own series as a very unusual Western hero!"

I looked up the cast on IMDB and discovered that I was right! And then I found this interesting IMDB trivia item as well! Very Happy
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Robert Conrad's television debut.
________________________________

So, Secret Agent James West got his start in Hollywood as Juanito (an uncredited role), the love-sick Redskin who helped Bat Materson rescue the ladies from the Indians!

Wow . . . how cool is that? Shocked

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