the saddlebag.....


the saddlebag..... Branded debuted January 24, 1965 as a midseason replacement for the NBC sitcom The Bill Dana Show.

Branded was shot on a three-day schedule at Paramount - one day on location at Thousand Oaks or Vasquez Rocks, one day on the lot and one day for interiors.

When they would tape scenes in a western town they would film them on the Paramount Studio lot and they would use the Bonanza streets.
There were a total of 48 episodes filmed; 16 for the short first season and 32 for the second season.

The opening scene was shot in color even tho the first season was shot in black & white. They figured that if Branded would go a second season, it would be in color. If that was the case they would be ready. Which of course they figured right.

The opening scene was shot in Kanab, Utah because it was outside of the jurisdiction of the Screen Actors Guild. Since they had all those extras at the court-martial watching Chuck's epilates being ripped off and his sword being broken, they would have had to pay every time the show ran. This way they could pay everybody once and never have to deal with them again.

While filming the opening scene in Kanab everyone had stayed at the Parry Motel. The first night after filming the court-martial, while everyone was asleep, Larry Cohen heard a knock on his door. It was Chuck. Larry opened the door and there stood Chuck in his undershirt, his cavalry pants with the stripe down the side and the high boots. Chuck told Larry he needed help with getting his boots off. They went back to Chuck's room to try and get his boots off. Chuck told him he would set down in the chair with Larry's back to him and Chuck would push on his butt with his foot and Larry should pull on the boot and then the boot would come off. The boot just didn't want to come off. So after a while Larry pulled so hard that Chuck flew off the chair behind Larry falls on the floor and Chuck smacks his head on the glass coffee table next to the chair. Chuck's lying there on the floor stunned. Larry was standing there looking down at Chuck and thought......"I killed the star!"

Chuck starred in the movie Flipper. Producer Ivan Tors wanted Chuck to star in the television series of the same name, but Chuck turned it down to do Branded. Tors eventually did get his man, when he signed Chuck to star in the Africa western TV series, Cowboy in Africa, in 1967.

Branded was set in the 1870's in southwestern Wyoming.

John Howard was the commanding officer who in the opening scene of Branded, he would strip Jas of his rank and break his saber over his knee.

Larry Cohen, creator of Branded, talks about John on the extra feature on the Branded Season 2 DVD set.
Thanks Bob Buster for this information!

Jas' horse's name was Domino.

Jas had a pearl-handled Colt .45, and of course his trademark broken saber.

Chuck did everything possible to make this character different from The Rifleman character, he even changed his hair. He decided to keep it short and let his sideburns grow, and have it long in the back. He wanted to look military—he was a West Point man in this show. He was twelve pounds lighter than when he was doing The Rifleman. He did a regular course of exercises and watched his diet—he ate a little Roquefort cheese and some yogurt for lunch, weighing 204 pounds.

Chuck was the highest paid guy on television for a half-hour show at that time. He was getting paid ten grand per episode, plus two thousand more for the packaging fee. Chuck not only owned a piece of the show, but he got a cut on the production end of things as a packaging fee. He went to Proctor & Gamble and sold them on the idea of Branded.

Chuck started to have second thought about playing a coward. Larry Cohen told Chuck that this was a very challenging role. Instead of being a big swaggering cowboy riding from town to town, he had an emotional hook, an humiliation to overcome and that it would give him a chance to really act.

There were 31 soldiers and 140 apaches with repeating rifles at the battle of Bitter Creek.

Andrew J. Fenady—Producer, Writer, Actor, was shocked when he heard about Chuck's death. He had written a Christmas western called Runaways, and thought Chuck would had been great for the part.
I tried to find this Christmas western. It doesn't look like they ever did it. I found several movies called Runaways, but none like this one. The only thing that I could think of was a Christmas episode from Gunsmoke called P.S. Murry Christmas. (Excellent!) This was a story about Times New Roman at Christmastime. But Fenady didn't have anything to do with this episode.

Broken Sabre and Blade Rider are two different edited versions, compiled of the episodes from Branded and were released on videocassettes.

Lee Van Cleef had already done an episode of Branded, Lee's agent called Fenady and told him that he had to give Lee another job because Lee had a chance to go to Italy and do a spaghetti western, BUT, he didn't have the money for the airfare!

Episode number seven was called Coward Step Aside and featured Johnny Crawford as a young deputy.

Branded was the only half-hour western on television for the 1965-66 season.

Branded was a smash success in its debut season of 1965, finishing at number fourteen in the Nielsen ratings, and less than one point out of the Top 10.

At one time there were 29 westerns on television, but by 1965 there were only a handful left, and only Branded remained in the 30-minute format.

Chuck had a German Sheppard named Jake, after his character, Jason McCord.

Near the end of the second season, a format change was instituted to set up a third season. The Bitter Creek plotline was dropped to make McCord more of a family man - with a steady girlfriend (Ann Williams), adopted daughter (Kellie) and joining a surveying firm run by his dad.
It was not to be. In spite OK ratings, Branded was discharged at the end of year two.
Not sure I would have enjoyed the series as much had they changed it.

Lee Rich, Producer, was responsible for having Branded cancelled. He had sold Hey Landlord to Proctor & Gamble and got them to cancel Branded.
Anybody ever heard of this show? I never did!
"Shame on you Lee Rich, your show only lasted one season!"

Kamala Devi played Laurette Lansing, Jason McCord's love interest, in The Mission & The Assassins as Laurette Lansing Ashley. Looks like this lady didn't wait for our Cowboy to return.
In real life Kamala was Chuck's 2nd wife. They met when they starred together in the film Geronimo (She played Geronimo's wife, Teela) They were married April 10, 1963, Chuck birthday. They divorced 9 years later in 1972.
Beside Branded & Geronimo, Kamala also appeared with Chuck in Arrest and Trial & Cowboy in Africa Kamala was born in Bombay, Maharashtra, India.
In the episode #4 — Rules of the Game aka Elsie Brown — Elise called Jas.....tall man

In The Rifleman The Wyoming Story — Aggie also called Lucas - tall man & in
The Actress — Elizabeth Garrett Black called Lucas tall man

John Carradine plays General Josh McCord, Jas' grandfather.

Larry Cohen's brand.....

Have you ever heard the obscene/parody version of Branded when you were a kid?
It was called Stranded.

Stranded on a toilet bowl
What do you do when you're stranded
and there ain't nothing on the roll?
To prove you're a man
You must wipe it with your hand
Stranded on a toilet bowl

Thanks Rich Magerowski from Massachusetts for these lyrics!


*Some of this information, but not all is from David Fury's book
Chuck Connors..... The Man Behind the Rifle
Some is from Larry Cohen's interview included in the Branded Boxsets.

Now available on Kindle..... Chuck Connors.....The Man Behind the Rifle by David Fury
Edited version of the 1997 book, with lots of new photos, and also a complete Rifleman episode/plot synopsis guide.
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