Originally aired on September 28, 1965.
In this one, Rowdy undertakes the near-impossible task of getting 1,500 steers to the town of Bent Fork in only six weeks. The owner of the herd insists on sending his foreman, Lash Whitcomb, along as the segundo. "Segundo," of course, means "second" in Spanish, and is apparently the same thing as "ramrod." Whereas we've been hearing the term "ramrod" since the first episode, I don't know why the writer went with "segundo" now. Or maybe I do. This episode was the first of two Rawhide scripts written by Mort R. Lewis, so perhaps he didn't know about that whole "ramrod" thing.
Anyway, Rowdy becomes concerned when Whitcomb pushes the men and beeves to the limit of their endurance. The drive becomes more complicated when the sheriff of Smith County plans to extort a fee in return for letting the herd pass.
Lash Whitcomb is played by James Gregory, making his third and final appearance in the series. Gregory is best remembered for his recurring role as Inspector Frank Luger in 66 episodes of Barney Miller from 1975 to 1982. Gregory was born December 23, 1911 in the Bronx. He was president of his high school's drama club, but later worked as a runner on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange after the crash of 1929. He acted in Broadway productions and received positive reviews, but his acting career was interrupted by service in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II.
While in the military, he married Anne Miltner, and the couple would stay married for 58 years until Gregory's death. After the war, Gregory resumed acting and made the transition to television in the early 1950s. If I don't point out his connection to The Twilight Zone, Leen will, so I'll save her the trouble. Gregory was in the 1959 pilot episode of that series in a story entitled "Where is Everybody?" that helped get the series noticed. That same year, Gregory turned in a fine performance as Sergeant Shaefler in the movie Al Capone.
Throughout his career, Gregory was often cast as tough characters, often police detectives. He even played a gorilla in the 1970 film Beneath the Planet of the Apes. Although his human face is covered with gorilla makeup, you can still recognize his slow, gravelly voice.
During his long career, he appeared in such series as Wagon Train, Laramie, Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Daniel Boone, The Wild Wild West, F Troop, Star Trek, The High Chaparral, The Big Valley, Hawaii Five-O, The Virginian, Night Gallery, Ironside, M*A*S*H and Sanford and Son. And that's just a few of the shows he was in. He was also the star of a short-lived comedy TV series Detective School.
Gregory's final onscreen appearance was in a 1986 episode of Mr. Belvedere. Gregory passed away September 16, 2002 at the age of 90.
We'll also see one of my favorite character actors, R. G. Armstrong. He plays crooked sheriff John Keeley, who won't let the herd pass without a bribe. Robert Golden Armstrong, Jr. was born in Birmingham, Alabama on April 7, 1917. That would explain his authentic Southern voice. Another explanation would be his education at the University of North Carolina, where he took up acting with the Carolina Playmakers. One of his classmates was Andy Griffith, and years later Armstrong would appear in episodes of The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock.
Armstrong was an English major, and earned his master's degree. I don't understand why his master couldn't earn his own degree. Anyway, after college, he went to New York and found success onstage. He appeared in the play End as a Man, the first production to go from off-Broadway to Broadway.
In 1958 he headed to Hollywood, where he got a part in the 1954 movie Garden of Eden. That same year, he made guest appearances on Have Gun, Will Travel and The Rifleman. While filming an episode of The Westerner in 1960, he met director Sam Peckinpah. Peckinpah took a liking to Armstrong's acting style and often cast him in his later films.
With his smooth drawl, Armstrong was usually cast as a rural character. But sometimes he would appear as a preacher or even a bad guy. While this is his fourth and last visit to Rawhide, y'all might best remember him as Enoch Talby in "Incident of the Dog Days" from Season 1. We watched that one together at our Utah gathering and a good time was had by all.
As best I can tell, Armstrong never had what one might call a signature role, but he's familiar to those of us who grew up watching television. He is referenced in the book Names You Never Remember, With Faces You Never Forget by Justin Humphreys.
Even after retiring from onscreen acting, Armstrong continued to appear in off-Broadway productions. Eventually he retired from acting because of his failing eyesight. He died July 27, 2012 in Studio City, California at the age of 95. He passed away 24 days after his best friend, Andy Griffith.
We'll also catch a glimpse of L.Q. Jones as drover Pee Jay Peters. This is his fifth of six Rawhide visits. Like R.G. Armstrong, Jones was also favored by director Sam Peckinpah. And in true Rawhide form, Jones was once a horse and cattle rancher. By that I mean he was a rancher who raised horses and cattle. I did not mean to imply that he was ever a horse who was also a cattle rancher. According to his bio, he has always been human. Jones is still with us at the age of 88, which is 309 in horse years.
Keep an eye out for Clay Heath, the drunken lawyer with whom Rowdy consults. He's played by Vaughn Taylor in his third and final Rawhide appearance. What's amusing is that his second appearance was in "Incident of the Phantom Bugler." In that one, he played a judge who was also trying to extort a fee to let the herd pass. Eventually, the toll booth was invented in Blazing Saddles and the west was never the same.