John Dehner and the Story Behind Have Gun Will Travel on Radio


Manage episode 233176087 series 1286771
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This is a snippet from Breaking Walls Episode 91: The Hollywood Radio Western Renaissance (1954 - 1980). ————— The only western series of note to begin on television and then transition to radio was Have Gun Will Travel. On TV, Richard Boone starred as Paladin, a gun for hire. It proved popular enough that CBS decided to drop Frontier Gentleman in favor of a radio version of this series in an attempt to attract sponsorship. The idea worked. When CBS took Gunsmoke to TV, director Norman Macdonnell wanted to be heavily involved in the production, but when network execs chose a totally new roster of people, Macdonnell was incensed. To help ease his disappointment, CBS brass gave him the radio version of Have Gun, Will Travel. Macdonnell wanted to prove he could make the radio version better than the TV. On November 8th, 1958, one week before the final episode of Frontier Gentleman, Macdonnell conducted three voice tests for the lead. Harry Bartell, Vic Perrin, and John Dehner read lines from the opening script, “Strange Vendetta.” Dehner was chosen. On November 23rd, exactly one week after J.B. Kendall vanished from the air, Have Gun premiered.

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