Originally aired on September 21, 1965.
Half a century ago this week, the folks who insisted on sticking with the re-vamped Rawhide watched "Ride a Crooked Mile." In this one, Rowdy takes on a new drover named Danny Hawks. But then a group of men ride into camp, led by Nat Benson. Benson accuses Hawks of being a horse thief whom they plan to hang. Channeling his inner Gil Favor, Rowdy refuses to hand over Hawks without a warrant from the law. Benson and his men ride ahead of the herd, poisoning water holes and causing angst among the drovers.
I've never seen this episode so I dashed off to the Internet Movie Database to find out more. This episode was written by Norris B. Stone, Jr., who wrote "Incident of the Curious Street" from the first season. I'm mentioning him here because this was the last writing credit he received. Stone passed away September 27, 1967 at the age of 55.
Danny Hawks is played by John Drew Barrymore in his third and final Rawhide appearance. As y'all probably know, anybody in Hollywood named Barrymore is somehow related to John Barrymore. In the case of John Drew Barrymore, he was the son of John Barrymore and actress Dolores Costello. His parents divorced when he was a baby and he later said he only remembered seeing his father once.
His mother tried to prevent him from pursuing an acting career, so she enrolled him in St. John's Military Academy. Well, y'all can see this coming: He pursued an acting career. But first, he and his cousin Dirk Drew Davenport enlisted in the U.S. Navy when they were only 13 years old. Both boys were mature-looking for their age and they got by with it for a little while until the Navy and their families figured out what had happened.
Barrymore signed his first movie contract when he was just 17. Unlike most of the actors we see on Rawhide, he didn't scratch and claw his way up from the bottom. He insisted on leading roles, and once he got them, he often skipped out. This caused a lot of embarrassment for his family but they nevertheless continued to encourage him.
Barrymore was married four times and was arrested repeatedly for drunkenness and spousal abuse. During the 1960s, his drug abuse caused him to become unreliable as an actor, though he still made some onscreen appearances.
Abusing drugs and alcohol, Barrymore continued in a downward spiral. As y'all may know, his father, John Barrymore, also drank himself into an early grave. Carrying on the family tradition, Barrymore's children, John Blyth Barrymore, Jessica Barrymore and Drew Barrymore, also battled drug addiction. Drew overcame her troubles and continued with a successful acting career. She moved into a house near her father's home when he was near death. She paid his medical bills until his death on November 29, 2004.
Nat Benson is played by Douglas Kennedy. Y'all may remember him from "Incident at the Dangerfield Dip" from the second season. He played Ewan Dangerfield, the crooked owner of a cattle-dipping facility. The 6'4" Kennedy was born September 14, 1915 in New York City, though he was not 6'4" at that time.
His onscreen career gained traction in 1940 and he was often cast as tough guys or villains. His acting work was interrupted by service in the U.S. Army during World War II. He resumed his career after the war, and eventually starred in a TV series. He played the title role in Steve Donovan, Western Marshal for 39 episodes during the 1955-1956 season. This is his third and final appearance on Rawhide.
Kennedy died August 10, 1973 in Hawaii.