Wednesday, August 09, 2017

The "BRONCO" TV Theme - TY Hardin (Paul Sammes Singers)

Not too many classic TV Western stars are still around. Headed for the last round-up a few days ago: Ty Hardin. He played the hero Bronco Layne, and was part of the Warner Bros. western family that included the late James "Maverick" Garner and Jack "Maverick" Kelly and Roger "Maverick" Moore, and still with us, Clint "Cheyenne" Walker and Will "Sugarfoot" Hutchins.

Born Orison Whipple Hungerford Jr. on New Year’s Day 1930, Ty could trace his family back to a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was in the Korean War, and then went to Texas A&M University. His good looks got him some acting offers, and as Ty Hungerford, he was signed to Paramount, appearing in Tom Tryon’s immortal “I Married a Monster from Outer Space.” 

    “Discovered” by John Wayne (as James Arness was), Ty had the look of a strong, stoic cowboy. With a nod to the legendary gunfighter John Wesley Hardin, the former Ty Hungerford got a new name and a Warner Bros. contract. He was eased into the world of TV westerns via the "Cheyenne" series, playing “Bronco Layne." He soon had a show of his own. 

    This was a time when American television was under the siege of Western-mania. While radio had done well for "The Lone Ranger" and "Gunsmoke," and the movies had Hopalong Cassidy, pop culture hadn't seen so much beefcake and horse flesh. Every night, you could watch the action in Dodge City, Cimmaron City, Laramie, Tombstone Territory or the Ponderosa. Cowboys rode along the route of Wells Fargo, turned up on a "Wagon Train" through obscure sagebrush, got sun burned on "Death Valley Days," and would go just about anywhere for an adventure: “Have Gun Will Travel.” 

     Many new faces became instant stars, including Steve McQueen on “Wanted Dead or Alive,” Nick Adams on "The Rebel" and Chuck Connors as "The Rifleman." Women tended to do little except work a saloon (Peggie Castle on “Lawman” and Amanda Blake on “Gunsmoke”).  Every gimmick was used to get viewers to tune in The Deputy, The Tall Man, Wyatt Earp, Yancy Derringer, Bat Masterson, Paladin, Tate, Wild Bill Hickok, Kit Carson, The Cisco Kid, The Virginian and Zorro, among others. 

    “Bronco” rotated with the hour-long Sugarfoot for an hour of viewer time. The shows were polar opposites. “Sugarfoot” was about a mild-mannered, blond fellow prone toward solving problems with law books and common sense. “Bronco” was a more traditional muscle man with the angular look of Rowdy Yates (Clint Eastwood on "Rawhide") or Tom Tryon ("Texas John Slaughter").  

    Most every TV Western had to have a theme song explaining the hero. This could be fairly dopey (“The Lawman came with the sun. There was a job to be done…”) or so ridiculous the lyrics weren’t used (“Bonanza” would be an example). Warner Bros. seemed to corner the market on goofy ones (“Sugarfoot” among the more egregious). There wasn’t much to say about Bronco except to sing his name (“Bronco! Bronco! Bronco Layne!”) The only version I have in my collection has the reliable Johnny Gregory guiding the orchestra, featuring the Michael Sammes Singers.

     Mike Sammes (February 19, 1928-May 19, 2001) ran one of the best known back-up groups in pop music at the time. Not only did they sing TV themes (including “Supercar” and “Stingray” for their native country's popular action shows), they backed all types of vocalists. They sang behind British songbird Helen Shapiro ("Walkin' Back to Happiness"), Welsh superstar Tom Jones ("Green Green Grass of Home" and "Delilah") and Aussie beauty Olivia Newton-John (that's Mike offering the country basso voice on "If you Love Me Let Me Know.) The Sammes bunch even appear on Beatles tracks “I Am the Walrus” and “Good Night.”   

    Mr. Sammes gets special mention here for impersonating “Whispering Carl Schmidt,” and singing what seemed to be an authentic 78 rpm ballad “Mein Liebling Mein Rose” on an episode of “The Avengers,” with guest star Peter Jeffrey as "The Joker" out for revenge against Emma Peel. The fake-vintage tune (music by “The Avengers” theme writer Laurie Johnson) was so catchy, and Sammes' phonetic German vocal so creepy, "Mein Liebling Mein Rose" was actually released as a single. But, I digress. 

    After “Bronco,” Ty Hardin worked in Europe on a variety of film projects, and in 1967 starred in an Australia adventure series “Riptide.” His film career flagged with only two film credits in the 1980’s and one in 1992. Fans never forgot “Bronco,” and he turned up on the memorabilia circuit, especially the rodeos and country fairs that featured vintage cowboy stars. Hardin, married eight times, was a fun, irascible guy with a no-nonsense personality. He self-published his autobiography, which he offered for sale on his website. Ty noted that anyone could get it signed, free. He added two words: “Big Deal.”  

    Ty was aware that he was beginning to have Alzheier’s symptoms. He continued to make the personal appearances as long as he could. He encouraged fans to not simply live in the comfortable past, but be aware of the complex problems in the world around them. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from him, written a few years ago, which remains a prophecy and a legacy:

    “The fact that we have turned our backs on our Godly virtues is the prime reason our nation is headed for a train wreck. How did our Jesus deal with the moneychangers? He threw them out of His church. Who let them back into the church? You did. You’re entitled to believe what you like, but Men of God seeking religious freedom established this nation and we own them our allegiance even if we don’t believe in their God of Creation. Our currency carries their trade mark “In God we Trust” Live with it and respect it, for if we don’t, we will reap a whirl wind of disaster like has never been witnessed before in our History. You may not agree with our founding fathers but the sub-humans that now control our monetary system are destroying our nation’s freedoms with financial bondage and their no-win wars. We cannot sit back and watch our nation being reduced into financial slavery while your kids are being stationed all over the world protecting their globalist assets.  Cowboys get off your butts out of their usury debt. Put a stash away of food and ammo. We will be called on to retake our land for God. I’m referring to the Bible’s prediction of the last days. What if God is right?  Call me an alarmist or a Bible thumper, but I am preparing for the worst and praying for a revival. This present collapse of our economy is just a clear picture of the events to come.  Having a black president may be a giant step in your eyes for equal opportunity but it was not as it does make a gigantic statement? When the economy hits a brick wall, the frustrations of despair and hunger goes too the streets, the armed masses will be the most lethal mass of humanity in the entire world. What do you think their Homeland security is all about? They can’t augment their One World Order without disarming or killing Patriots and they well know it. Folks, freedom is walking on thin ice looking for a miracle. What if our  Black President cannot unite our nation, restore the Constitution. All Hell Will Break Loose.”

  Johnny Gregory Orchestra, Sammes Singers   Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart passwords, malware or spyware anywhere.

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