December 12, 2012
I'm working on a story about an old TV show filmed in Phoenix. I remember clearly that after the TV show "26 Men" aired for a year (1957?), that a still living Arizona Ranger threatened to sue the show because he felt that the sexual shenanigans depicted on the show were scandalous and unauthentic (never mind that a real Arizona Ranger—Jeff Kidder—was killed in a whore house gunfight in Naco).
I have a tape of the shows and they are rather racy for the times. I seem to remember articles in the Arizona Republic about this with a photo of the still-living Ranger as well.
Tris Coffin portrayed Captain Tom Rynning in the ABC TV show "26 Men (who lived to ride again)". The show was filmed at Cudia City which was at 40th Street and Camelback in Phoenix. I actually talked my parents into visiting the set when we were in the Valley visiting our relatives the Hamiltons and I got to see the wooden bars in the jail (which really disappointed me).
I think the show only lasted two seasons. Believe it or not, we are having trouble finding this story about the former ranger—it might even have been several—who tried to sue for $40,000 in damages and I've often wondered if that led to the cancellation of the show. I've talked to numerous ex-staffers at the Republic and so far, nothing (their online search has a huge hole from about 1920 to 1990. One ex-employee confided to me that the Republic used to have 19 in the research library, but all have left, either by attrition or early-buy-out deals. Today it's farmed out to one contract labor person. Ouch!
Dan The Man Harshberger and I were faithful followers of "26 Men" and we got our Levi jacket inspiration directly from Kelo Henderson, the lead, hunk Ranger.
1958: Dan The Man Harshberger and BBB at White Hills ghost town, 40 miles north of Kingman, Arizona. Photo by Dan's mother, Denise Harshberger
"Saddle up, saddle up. . .This is the story of 26 men, who rode the Arizona territory. . ."
—The catchy "26 Men" theme song