Monday’s Music Moves Me: TV Themes – Westerns (Happy Birthday, Dad!)

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Dad would have been 84 today. He died a couple of weeks shy of his 35th birthday, and the three of us still miss him. Back when I was ten going on eleven, I thought 35 was old. Now that I’m 59 going on 60, I realize how young he was.

One of my favorite memories of him: one late Saturday afternoon, he and the three of us were sitting on the back porch watching old Westerns, like Maverick, Sugarfoot, Wanted: Dead or Alive, and Have Gun, Will Travel. It must have been the beginning of the month, because Mom sent him downstairs with the rent check. At the commercial break, all four of us ran downstairs with the check, gave it to the landlord, got a receipt, and then ran back upstairs and arrived just in time to catch the rest of the show.

Westerns used to be a big part of the TV schedule. Some of our better-known actors, like Steve McQueen (Wanted: Dead or Alive), Clint Eastwood (Rawhide), Burt Reynolds (Gunsmoke), James Garner (Maverick), and Chuck Connors (The Rifleman) got their start in Westerns. Linda Evans (Dynasty) and Lee Majors (The Six Million Dollar Man) first came to our attention in The Big Valley, which also starred Miss Barbara Stanwyck, one of my favorite actresses (Double Indemnity, Ball of Fire, Christmas in Connecticut), often called the best actress never to win an Oscar. Westerns are a great part of television history, now all but forgotten.

In honor of Dad’s birthday, Part 7 (I think) of my recurring series, TV Themes: The Westerns.

  1. Ballad of Paladin (Have Gun, Will Travel) – composed by Bernard Herrmann
  2. Rawhide Theme – Written by Ned Washington (lyrics) and Dimitri Tiomkin (music), sung by Frankie Laine
  3. Maverick Theme – David Buttolph and Paul Francis Webster
  4. Bat Masterson Theme – Written by Havens Wray (David D. Rose), sung by Bill Lee
  5. Wanted: Dead or Alive Theme – Season 1 theme, written by William Loose
  6. The Rifleman Theme – Written by Herschel Burke Gilbert
  7. The Big Valley Theme – George Duning
  8. Sugarfoot Theme – Mack David and Jay Livingston
  9. Cisco Kid Intro – can’t find a composer…
  10. Zorro Theme – Norman Foster and George Bruns

And that’s Monday’s Music Moves Me for February 15, 2016. Happy birthday, Dad!

Monday’s Music Moves Me is sponsored by X-Mas Dolly, Callie, Stacy, and Naila Moon, so be sure and visit them, where you can also find the Linky for the other participants.


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Author: John Holton

I'm a writer and blogger who writes and blogs about things that interest me.

18 thoughts on “Monday’s Music Moves Me: TV Themes – Westerns (Happy Birthday, Dad!)”

  1. Yeah, 35 is a very young age to go. I had my father for nearly twice as long and even he seemed like he went far too soon.

    There was a period between about age 7 and high school when I stopped watching westerns for the most part. I guess I got more into science fiction. Then when I was about 16 or so I started watching a lot of westerns again. I remember all those old themes.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

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    1. In this day and age, 70 is still a relatively young person. You’re right, he did go too soon.

      I think we stopped watching Westerns after Dad died. I’m just starting to catch up on them now, on MeTV and other vintage TV stations. Now, I can see the entertainment in them.

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    1. Like I told a couple of people, no matter how old your parents are when they die, it’s always too soon…

      A lot of the shows featured here are ones that I can see on the vintage TV channels, which is a good thing, because I couldn’t remember what some of them were about. I remember the music, though.

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  2. Westerns were a TV staple in our house also. I think I would have placed the theme song of “Colt 45” (With Wade Preston and later Don May) somewhere near the top. It was pretty catchy and my sisters and I used to sing it all the time.

    Yes, 35 is way to soon to go.

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    1. I don’t think “Colt .45” aired in Chicago, or at least we didn’t watch it. Great theme song, though… I hear Colt .45 and I think the Houston Colt .45s, one of the first expansion teams in the National League (now the Astros).

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  3. Old westerns always do seem to center around happy, comfortable times, don’t they. Grandpa Hank always stretched out on his stomach on the floor in front of the TV while I sat on his back; watching those westerns right along with him! Good times, those. Grandpa Hank passed away just before his 45th birthday.

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    1. They were shows that the family could watch together: no bad language or sexual innuendo, the gunfights weren’t bloody and usually came after someone tried everything to avoid them, you knew who the good and bad guys were (at the end the good guys got the girls and the bad guys ended up dead or in the hoosegow), and usually included some innocent humor. Parents and grandparents didn’t have to worry that the kids were going to see something they shouldn’t.

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  4. #6! I watched that with my grandpa everyday. I am sorry to hear your father passed at such an early age. I just lost a man who was like a father to me a few weeks back and just returned from his memorial this weekend. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. I’m not really sure. I know the networks are pushed in two directions, one telling them they need 168 hours worth of programming a week and the other telling them they need to compete with the other networks for ratings. Westerns are not the ratings-grabbers they once were. Plus, the expense is prohibitive for a weekly show, and the limited use they can get out of sets and costumes puts it out of the question. Movies, on the other hand, tend to have much bigger budgets. That’s my take on it, anyway.

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    1. The vintage TV channels are full of Westerns. One used to broadcast them all day Saturday. They were a big part of the TV schedule well into the 1960’s and a couple of shows, Like “Bonanza” and “Gunsmoke,” continued into the 1970’s. For a show to build that kind of a following is something you don’t see these days.

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  5. Hi John – I used to love Westerns. Sorry to read about your father’s death – yes that is way too early … but you three seem to have settled into happily remembering him in the way he would have loved.

    I didn’t know all that about the various actors/actresses … but it makes sense .. and some of them I know and ‘loved’!! Cheers Hilary

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    1. Thanks. It’s been almost 50 years now since Dad died, so we’ve had plenty of time to get used to it… šŸ™‚

      One day, I might put together a post about all the film actors that got their start in TV, and the film actors who moved to TV. There are lots of them…

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