Chess knight courtesy of COCHISE LEATHER COMPANY
Have Gun – Will Travel presents the self-imposed quest of an man called Paladin to bring about justice in the developing West. The original series ran for six seasons, from September 14, 1957 to April 20, 1963, and appeared on the Columbia Broadcasting System channels. The original closing theme was written by Johnny Western, Richard Boone and Sam Rolfe and recorded by Johnny Western. The opening theme, written by Bernard Hermann found its origins in the score he wrote for the movie, On Dangerous Ground. The popularity of the series led to a radio drama spin-off starring John Dehner as Paladin (November 23, 1958 – November 22, 1960, 106 episodes).
Those associated with Have Gun – Will Travel were nominated for a number of awards.* Nominees included:
- Richard Boone – Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Series (Lead or Support), Primetime Emmys, 1960
- Richard Boone – Best Actor in a Leading Role (Continuing Character) in a Dramatic Series (Best Western Series), Primetime Emmys, 1959
- William Margulies, Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) – Best Cinematography for Television for the episode “Ella West,” Primetime Emmys, 1959
- William Margulies, Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) – Best Cinematography for Television for the episode “The Outlaw” (1957), Primetime Emmys, 1958
- Shimon Wincelberg – Episodic Drama for the episode “The Fatalist” (1960), Writers Guild of America (WGA), 1962
One nominee won the award:
- Gene Roddenberry – Best Teleplay for the episode “Helen of Abajinian” (1957), Writers Guild of America (WGA), USA, 1958
Have Gun – Will Travel is a darker western concentrating on man’s recognition of right and wrong, justice versus vengence, paths taken and the decisions that dictated the direction of those footsteps. Many of the episodes begin at the Carlton Hotel, where a vignette related to the subject of the episode is sometimes enacted.
The subject of the episodes often involves social ethics and mores, or the lack thereof. Episodes explore addiction, adoption, the “big fish in small pond” syndrome, civic duty, cultural diversity, despotism, disability awareness, functionalism, genocide, gun control, inheritance, justice, the man versus society conflict, maturation, noblesse oblige, parental responsibility, the principle of law, religious persecution, the corruptive influence of power, racism, religious zealousy, social castes, social progress, respect for seniors, value of life, vigilantism, and women’s suffrage. On a more positive note, the series emphasized the importance of education, the superiority of intelligent response to reaction, and a thorough knowledge of world history and those that shaped it.
However, it is upon the personal choices a man makes when presented with the seven deadly sins, or as Paladin may have quoted, “Luxuria, gula, avaritia, acedia, ira, invidia, and superbia,”*** that the episodes concentrate. Through these choices, the ying and yang of a person’s character is scrutinzed. There are those who simply falter from the straight and narrow and are worthy of redemption.**** There are also those lost in a labrynth of evil within their own mind from which there is no possibility of escape.*****
Some episodes provide funhouse mirror reflections of each other, with endings that reflect differently on each character’s image. ***(** Despite being replete with remonstrations, the series does occasionally tread lightly on man’s quirks, offering counterpoints of the heights of the ridiculous and depths of poignancy.******* Three such episodes are based on literary works. “Foggbound”******** is an expedition embedded in Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne. “A Knight to Remember” borrows character personalities from The Ingenious Nobleman Sir Quixote of La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes, and there is a resemblance of the classic German legend, Faust, in “The Poker Fiend.”
A number of episodes center on teachers and education, so it is not surprising that within those episodes are life lessons. There is also a reverence shown for the teachings of history, exemplified through quotes about similar circumstances and the continued relavance of those past histories to the present. A comment by George Santayana is perhaps appropriate.
“Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages,
infancy is perpetual.
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
For a listing of information about each episode, including cast and crew identification, click on the links below:
*** Lust , gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride