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Rawhide is an Americanmarker Western series that aired for eight seasons (1959-1966) on the CBS network on Friday nights, from January 9, 1959 to September 3, 1965, before moving to Tuesday nights from September 14, 1965 until January 4, 1966, with a total of 217 black-and-white episodes. Starring Eric Fleming and Clint Eastwood, the series was produced and sometimes directed by Charles Marquis Warren who also produced early episodes of Gunsmoke.

Rawhide was the fifth-longest-running American television Western, beaten only by nine years of The Virginian and Wagon Train, fourteen years of Bonanza, and twenty years of Gunsmoke.


In an early show, the date is given as 1869. It is given that there are 20-25 riders looking after 3,000 head of cattle. Gil (short for Gilbert, ep 181) Favor revealed this is about the maximum manageable size for a herd of cows. This cattle drive begins in San Antonio, Texasmarker, and makes its way along the Sedalia Trailmarker (Sedalia, the final destination, is in Missourimarker about 50 miles east from Kansas City). The herd is estimated to be worth about $50-60,000 if sold at market and represents a pool of animals from 200 owners. The Trail Boss carries a considerable sum of cash for all necessities and all possible emergencies. Pay was a dollar a day and often the drovers would go through six months pay in days at the end of the trail, often gambling and drinking all of it away. There were also women to help them spend the money. Riding "drag" was often a punishment since it was behind the herd, so you'd pick up all their dust. Drives had a "Remuda" which was a pool of extra horses since if something happened to a man's horse, he would be no good without an instant replacement.

The episode would be introduced, usually by some words from Gil Favor but sometimes by others. The typical Rawhide story involved drovers, portrayed by Eric Fleming (Trail Boss Gil Favor) and Clint Eastwood (ramrod Rowdy Yates), coming upon people on the trail and getting drawn into solving whatever problem they presented or were confronting. Sometimes one of the members of the cattle drive or some of the others would venture into a nearby town and encounter some trouble or other from which they needed to be rescued. Rowdy Yates was a young hothead in the earliest episodes and Favor had to keep a tight rein on him. Favor was often a hard man and there were a few times when people including Yates mutinied under him after working too hard or after a good tongue lashing. He had to fight some times and mostly but not always, won. Some of the stories were obviously easier in production terms but the peak form of the show was convincing and naturalistic, and sometimes brutal. Its situations could range from parched plains to anthrax, ghostly riders to wolves, cattle raiding, bandits, murderers, and so forth. A problem on such drives was the constant need for water, and the scout spent much of his time looking for it, sometimes finding water holes, even rivers had dried up. In some ways it was similar to the TV series Wagon Train that debuted in 1957.

The series was not afraid to face tough issues. Robert Culp played an ex-soldier on the drive who had become dangerously addicted to morphine. Jesus (Hey Soos) being Mexican faced racism a number of times. There was still anger left over from the Civil War which had ended only four years earlier. The Poco Tiempo episode reveals that Rowdy's father's name was Dan, that Rowdy came from S.W. Texas and that he went off to war at 16. Trail Boss Favor had been a Confederate Captain in the war. There were still Indians about, though often not that wild, some still wanted cattle as payment for going through their land. There were some rough-tough people in the shows and Gil Favor was tortured by having his face held near a fire in one episode. In another, people had "the plague" and guns were used to enforce quarantine. Though towns liked the drover's money, they did not like them coming into town in numbers and getting drunk. There were also cattle rustlers in many different forms.

In episode 67 "Incident Near the Promised Land", the cattle drive finally reached Sedalia (for the first time in the series). Unusually, episode 68 continues on from that, where the cattle have been sold and the men celebrate in town and decide on their futures with even Favor thinking of leaving the business. Instead of the usual ending where Gil Favor tells his men to: "Head 'em up! Move 'em out!" and the cattle move off, this episode had the end titles over a view of a Sedalia Street. Episode 69 sees Gil Favor visiting his two daughters, Gillian and Maggie who live with their Aunt Elena in Philadelphiamarker. Episode 70 and a number of the men are back together and heading back to San Antonio about 650 miles away, with a herd of horses (used in the titles instead of cattle). Episode 71 sees a new cattle drive ready to go but the owner of 1600 of the cattle wants to be in charge so Favor reluctantly signs on as a ramrod, but after some problems, Favor is boss again at the end of the show. These five episodes made up one storyline instead of the usual single episode stories which could have been set anywhere in the West.

Favor had many bad moments in the series but none worse than the "Lost Herd" episode where close to finish of the drive, he wants to beat another herd to town, to get the best prices. He takes a narrow short cut; there's thunder and lightning and the herd stampedes over the cliffs leaving him just 9 out of 3,000 cattle when the drive reaches town. He doesn't have the money to pay the drovers off and has to face the owner (Royal Dano) whose cows he has lost, knowing that he might never work in the business again.

Cast members

Regular cast members included:
  • Paul Brinegar as the cantankerous cook, George Washington Wishbone
  • Robert Cabal as the wrangler, Jesús "Hey Soos" Patines
  • James Murdock as the cook's unfortunate assistant, Harkness "Mushy" Mushgrove III
  • Steve Raines as rider Jim Quince
  • Rocky Shahan as rider Joe Scarlet
  • Sheb Wooley as scout Pete Nolan
  • John Ireland as Jed Colby
  • Raymond St. Jacques as rider Simon Blake
  • Charles H. Gray as Clay Forester

Notable guest stars

Production notes

Series producer Charles Marquis Warren based Rawhide on the movie Cattle Empire that he directed in 1958 and for which Endre Bohem was a screenwriter and Paul Brinegar, Steve Raines and Rocky Shahan were actors; all also worked in Rawhide. Its premiere episode reached the top 20 in the Nielsen Ratings.

The show had a grueling schedule, being mostly weekly with a three to four month break between seasons. After the first season of 22 episodes, seasons 2-7 were 30 episodes. Often the only way the lead actors could get a break was if they were said to be off on business. On rare occasions, the show would feature a small number of the actors and some misfortune, maybe in a town, which would give the others time off.

Theme song

The theme song's lyrics were written by Ned Washington in 1958. It was composed by Dimitri Tiomkin and sung by pop singer Frankie Laine. The theme song became very popular, and was covered several times and featured in movies like The Blues Brothers and Shrek.

DVD Releases

As of August 2009, at least one Internet vendor was selling the entire series—217 episodes spanning eight seasons—on a 40-disk set of region-free DVDs. Separately, Paramount Home Entertainment has released the first three season of Rawhide on DVD in Region 1. The most recent release, Season 3, Volume 2, was released on December 9, 2008.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
Season 1 23 July 25, 2006
Season 2, Volume 1 16 May 29, 2007
Season 2, Volume 2 16 December 18, 2007
Season 3, Volume 1 15 May 27, 2008
Season 3, Volume 2 15 December 9, 2008

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