Lawman

Marshall Dan Troop (left) and

Deputy Johnny McKay

CAST:

Marshal Dan Troop:  John Russell

Deputy Johnny McKay:  Peter Brown

Lilly Merrill:  Peggie Castle  

Text and photo courtesy of Sierra

Lawman was another television western centered in the lawless Laramie, Wyoming of the 1870’s. It was straightforward adventure, with no gimmicks or tricks to draw in the audience. The stories were taunt and simple, always about desperadoes brought to justice by the long arm of the law. It ran for four years on ABC, premiering on October 5, 1958 with “The Deputy,” where Dan Troop becomes appointed marshal of Laramie and must set out to find a deputy he can trust. It ended with “The Witness” on June 24, 1962 with Dan Troop attempting to prove a friend innocent of murder.

There were no speeches, no philosophizing and no mercy given in this series. If you messed up in Troop’s jurisdiction, you were hunted down. Troop was a tough, no-nonsense marshal who believed in the law all his life. He backed up his play with a double-barreled shotgun. His deputy, Johnny McKay, while new to the job, was no slouch with a gun. He was young, but not reckless, and well-suited for the job. He always addressed his boss as “Mr. Troop.” Lilly Merrill was the owner of the Birdcage Saloon.

Lawman may initially have been ABC’s attempt to emulate the success of CBS’ Gunsmoke, but it succeeded all by itself in becoming one of the top-rated shows ever put on television. It’s 156 episodes were shot in black and white and were 30 minutes in length. The choice of granite-jawed John Russell, a veteran of many films and television appearances, with the handsome, young Peter Brown, seemed to click with everyone, and the series drew huge amounts of fan mail.  It was this series which propelled Peter Brown to stardom.   

Like most westerns from that era, it had its own classy theme song:

Lawman. Lawman.  
The Lawman came with the sun.
 
There was a job to be done.
 
And so they sent for the badge and the gun
 
Of the Lawman

And as he silently rode  
Where the evil violently flowed,
 
They knew he’d live or he’d die by the code
 
Of the Lawman.  

The man who rides all alone  
And all that he’ll ever own,
 
Is just a badge and a gun and he’s known
 
As the Lawman.

John Russell died January 29, 1991.
Peggie Castle died August 11, 1973.

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