Bronco

  

Bronco Layne:  Ty Hardin
Toothy Thompson:  Jack Elam

Text and pictures courtesy of Sierra

If ever a show owed its existence to another, it was Bronco. Born out of a fight between Clint Walker of Cheyenne and Warner Brothers Studios in 1958, Bronco came about because Warner Brothers wanted to keep the hugely success Cheyenne series alive…minus its star Clint Walker, of course. A call went out for new talent, and newcomer Ty Hardin appeared as Bronco Layne, Cheyenne Bodie’s country cousin. When Clint Walker and Warner Brothers later made their peace, Ty had made such a great impression with the audience that it was decided to give him a western series of his own. Bronco was such a huge success that it continued under its own steam for another three years.

It becomes a bit confusing keeping up with Bronco. During its first season, it alternated with Sugarfoot as part of the Cheyenne Show. When Clint Walker returned, it then aired with Cheyenne for its second season. During the third season, it alternated with Sugarfoot and Cheyenne, and for the fourth season, it alternated with Cheyenne once again.  It was an hour in length and shot in black and white for ABC.  It premiered on 23 September 1958, and there were a total of 68 episodes shot.

Bronco Layne was an ex-Confederate Army captain who returned to Texas after the Civil War and didn’t like what he found. Stripped of his honor and with his home confiscated, he became a loner who preferred to avoid trouble, but during his roaming of the frontier fighting injustice and outlaws, he stood firm and looked it square in the eye, if it got in his way. He traveled the length and breadth of Texas helping people in distress and working at assorted jobs, which included secret missions for the federal government, a deputy sheriff, and ranch hand. He chased not only bad guys and Indians, but a few charming ladies as well. There was never any lacking of action in this series.

Ty Hardin was born Ty Hungerford on New Year’s Day in 1930 in New York City. Six months later, his family moved to Texas, and this is where he lived until the family moved to California in 1957. He went to college to become an engineer and wound up working for an aircraft factory after college. On a chance visit to Paramount Studios to rent a prop gun for a fancy-dress party, he was spotted and offered an acting contract. When producer William T. Orr saw him in May 1958, Orr promptly took over his acting contract and cast him as Bronco Layne. The rest was history. During the run of the series, Ty learned to become an adept horseman and gun handler, and he did a lot of his own stunts. A deeply religious man, and it was not unusual for him to reach into his saddlebags and pull out his Bible during quiet moments on the set.

Strangely, there were three Bronco comic books issued by Dell, but every one of them wore the Cheyenne label although Ty Hardin was on the covers. In the 1980’s, Ty retired to Prescott, Arizona where he became a preacher.  Although he eventually returned to Southern California, he has not reactivated his career.

Like all the early television westerns, Bronco had its own theme song. Here’s the words:

Bronco, Bronco,
Tearin' across the Texas plain.
Bronco, Bronco.
Bronco Layne.

Born down around the old panhandle,
Texas is where he grew to fame.
There ain't a horse that he can't handle,
That's how he got his name.

Bronco, Bronco.
Tearin' across the Texas plain.
Bronco, Bronco.
Bronco Layne.

Next to a four square Texas twister,
You'd call a cyclone weak and mild,
You've never seen a twister, mister,
Til someone gets him riled.

Bronco, Bronco
Tearin' across the Texas plain.
Bronco, Bronco.
Bronco Layne.

Show me a gal who kissed him once.
I'll show you a gal who's kissed him twice.
Once a city gal has kissed him twice,
She's dreamin' of shoes and rice.

Bronco, Bronco
Tearin' across the Texas plain.
Bronco, Bronco.
Bronco Layne.

 

Back to Our Favorite Westerns