Originally aired on October 5, 1965.
Fifty years ago this week, the Rawhide episode was "Walk Into Terror." In this one, Jim Quince and Simon Blake investigate an old mine shaft to see if it's safe to move the herd across the ridge above it. Upon entering the mine, Quince is attacked by a bear. Actually, it's obviously a man in a bear suit. If you don't smile when you watch that "bear," you have issues. When the "bear" stands up and charges at Quince on two legs, he looks like my brother-in-law dancing. Anyway, just use your imagination and pretend it's a real bear, like we do when German Shepherds play wolves or Hereford cattle masquerade as longhorns.
To save Quince, Simon shoots the bear/man in fur coat and the sound vibrations cause a cave-in, trapping the two men and dead bear/man in fur coat. It's up to Rowdy and his crew to get 'em out.
Two drovers who recently joined the drive are Ed Rankin and Jerry Boggs. Both men are reluctant to do an honest day's work, and Rankin appears to have an almost psychotic mean streak. Boggs is a hulking, slow-witted man who does whatever Rankin tells him. Rankin has some mining experience and knowledge of blasting gel, so Rowdy enlists his help in an effort to rescue the two drovers.
Whereas Rankin has a psychotic mean streak, what better actor to play him than Bruce Dern? I loved Dern's portrayal of "Long Hair," the only name given to the villain in the 1972 film The Cowboys. This is just my opinion, but even though that was a John Wayne movie, the actors who stole the show were bad guy Dern and Roscoe Lee Brown as Jebediah Nightlinger, the trail cook. In that movie, Dern became one of the few actors to kill John Wayne's character onscreen. Knowing that Dern's character was to shoot him in the back in that film, Wayne told him "America will hate you for this." Dern replied "Yeah, but they'll love me in Berkeley." Wayne was right, though. Dern actually received a few death threats for having "murdered" the Duke.
Knowing he would excel at playing evil, edgy characters, Dern chose to be born in Chicago, Illinois on June 4, 1936. He is the grandson of George Henry Dern, who was governor of Utah from 1925-1933 and secretary of war from 1933-1936. According to the Internet Movie Database, first lady Eleanor Roosevelt was Dern's babysitter. I'm guessing that his granddaddy's position with the president brought that about.
Dern's father was an attorney and law partner with Adlai Stevenson II. Stevenson, as y'all probably know, ran for president of the United States as the Democratic nominee in 1952 and 1956. My internet is so slow, I don't know if he won or not.
Dern attended the University of Pennsylvania and was a middle distance runner on the track team while he was there. Even today he stays in shape by running. He has run marathons and even races that were 50 miles in length. I suspect he doesn't still run that far but that's quite a feat for the feet. Because he's such an avid runner, he says he has never drank alcohol or coffee. He has also never smoked, except when his onscreen roles called for his character to do so. I guess he could do like Bill Clinton and not inhale.
In the 1977 thriller Black Sunday, Dern played a domestic terrorist who plans to detonate a bomb over the Super Bowl, using a dirigible. He received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the 1978 film Coming Home. In that movie, he played a Marine captain who returns from the Vietnam War with post-traumatic stress syndrome. He received an Academy Award nomination for best actor for his work in the 2013 film Nebraska.
On a humorous note, Dern was a guest on Saturday Night Live in 1982. One of the comedy sketches was introduced by the announcer: "And now, a sketch in which Bruce Dern does NOT play a psycho!" Of course, by the end of the sketch he's off-the-charts psycho.
Although Dern has not won an Oscar, he has received other awards. In 1971 he received the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor for the film Drive, He Said. He received the Silver Bear Award for Best Actor for the 1982 movie That Championship Season. Two years ago, he won the AARP Movies for Grownups Award for Best Actor. for Nebraska.
Dern is not only still with us, he's still active and working. According to the Internet Movie Database, he's currently filming American Dresser, due out next year.
Rankin's brutish associate Jerry Boggs is played by Claude Akins in his seventh and final visit to Rawhide. Akins spent much of his career as a supporting actor, but did eventually find stardom in a couple of TV series. For two seasons, he played truck driver Sonny Pruitt in Movin' On from 1974-1976. He resurfaced in a weekly series as the crooked (but somehow still lovable) Sheriff Lobo. That character was first introduced in the short-lived TV series B.J. and the Bear in 1978 and was soon spun off into his own series The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo. That show lasted for 38 episodes in 1978-1979.
Akins was born in Nelson, Georgia on May 25, 1926. When he was six months old, his family moved to Bedford, Indiana.
Akins graduated from Northwestern University, where he majored in speech and theater. After college, he served with the U.S. Army in World War II in Burma and the Philippines. After the war, he went back to acting and eventually landed a part in the 1953 movie From Here to Eternity.
Those who knew Akins said he was a genuinely nice guy who was very accommodating to fans who wanted an autograph. Akins loved golfing, and played in various charity tournaments even near the end of his life. One of his golfing buddies was Robert J. Wilke, another Rawhide alumnus.
Of Akins' seven appearances on Rawhide, my favorite was "Incident of the Lost Idol" from Season Three. In that one, he played an outlaw coming to take his children after the death of their mother.
Akins died January 27, 1994 at the age of 67.
In this episode, Rowdy buys blasting gel from an old miner named Adams. Adams is played by B-movie actor Roy Barcroft. This is his fifth and final visit to this series. The coolest thing about him, in my opinion, had nothing to do with his onscreen career. When Barcroft was 15, he lied about his age and enlisted in the U.S. Army so he could go fight in World War I. He was wounded in France, sent home and discharged at the age of 16. That must have been an interesting story to tell at the prom.
After this episode, Rawhide is now down into single digits. There are only nine episodes left in the series.