It was inevitable that I would get into the television series Laramie (1959-63).   Once I’d watched every episode of The Rifleman, it was only matter of time before I turned to another western.  Why Laramie?   Just keeping it in the family, so to speak.  Johnny Crawford co-stars in The Rifleman, and his older brother Robert Crawford Jr. co-stars in Laramie, at least in the first season and the beginning of the second.  I’d never watched Laramie before I purchased season one on DVD, since it wasn’t syndicated widely.  The DVDs have only been recently released, and the image quality is pretty poor.  The color seasons (three and four) are even worse, but the series is good enough to keep me watching.

Slim Sherman (John Smith) is raising his kid brother Andy (Crawford) at the family ranch, which is also a stage stop on the way to Laramie, Wyoming.  Old Jonesy (Hoagy Carmichael) helps out around the place.  In the pilot, drifter Jess Harper (Robert Fuller) clashes with Slim but is immediately welcomed by Andy.  Naturally, Jess sticks around to become a part of the family.   The plots tend to swing back and forth between stories centering on either Slim or Jess, who are often away from the ranch having adventures in nearby towns or out in the wilderness.  Sometimes they get pretty far from home—The Run to Tumavaca takes them all the way to Mexico.  Andy and Jonesy usually always get left behind.  This is probably why these two characters fade away by the time season two gets rolling.  An elderly housekeeper (the delightful Spring Byington) and an orphan (Dennis Holmes) join Jess and Slim for seasons three and four.

Robert Fuller as Jess Harper in Laramie with John Smith (Slim Sherman), Robert Crawford Jr. and Hoagy Carmichael

Laramie, featuring (center clockwise) John Smith, Robert Fuller, Robert Crawford Jr. and Hoagy Carmichael. (click to see larger versions)

Slim is pretty uptight and stern at the start of the series, but he loosens up and gets more interesting as his relationship with Jess develops.  Jess is an impulsive hothead, but his character mellows somewhat under Slim’s influence.  I only knew Robert Fuller from his years on Emergency!  He’s definitely my favorite actor in Laramie.  He makes a great cowboy.

All four seasons of Laramie are available on DVD.  Netflix has seasons three and four only.

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6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by duchess_mccain on May 2, 2012 at 6:53 am

    Another great western! I love the big picture of Robert Fuller in collage. Also, which episode is the one of Andy from? It’s really cute. :)


    • Andy in his indian paint and feather is from the beginning of Man of God (season 1, episode 12). The picture next to it of Jonesy is from the same scene. The one you like of Fuller is from the end of The Lawbreakers (S1, EP6).


  2. Hi, ho! Thought I’d stop by for a sec and try to catch up – FYI, for a brief while, John Champion (one of the Laramie producers) and I were writing partners (cobbled together by a wishful agent) and John told me that it was the network’s idea to get rid of Hoagy and the kid – they wanted a more action western. I stopped watching, so had no idea Spring Byington and Dennis Holmes were brought in – or I would have stopped laughing long enough to ask John how they managed to justify it. (He also told me that the fate of many television series was quite often dependent on the response of sponsor’s wives. That was at the time, of course. Couldn’t happen now – joke – but it does explain a great deal.) Those were the days when one irate housewife could claim to represent an entire viewer demographic and cause panic in all of TV land.


    • Thanks for the inside info! I personally think they went in the wrong direction–Andy could have easily had more adventures with the big boys, and the show would have been more interesting and still action-packed. I’ve only seen a bit of seasons 3 and 4, but it looks like the same pattern. They have a kid and a homey type to make the show more family-friendly, and then those characters fade into the background as the stories swing back to action-adventure.


  3. Posted by C Jeffords on March 7, 2013 at 11:49 am

    If you like Robert Fuller, you need to get hold of “Wagon Train: The Complete Color Season” (and also 8th Season, when that gets out). Color Season is on DVD from Timeless (the same outfit that brought us Laramie), and they have the franchise for all the other seasons too (6th just came out this week). In WT Fuller plays scout Cooper “Coop” Smith, and a fine job he does of it too.


  4. Posted by C Jeffords on March 7, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Oh, yes…and try googling “Laramie fan fiction.” It isn’t big, but there are a few really fine stories out there! (Modestly including mine, if I can figure out how to build a website…)


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