The Rifleman
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Hooray for Tall Men
by Erskine Johnson
Written for The Press

The Lonesome Bride episode # 108


Joan Shawlee as Mary Woodson, the mail order bride.
 


Hooray for Tall Men
by Erskine Johnson
Written for The Press

We have with us today Miss Joan Shawlee who would like to take the stand and testify that TV westerns were not created just to serve as robot baby sitters to keep dad and the kids out of mischief while ma's in the kitchen.
The TV western insists Joan, is also a convenient device to improve the lot of shapely, king-size actresses.

Joan is shapely and king-size, standing 6' with heels, and when she first arrived in Hollywood there was hardly a leading man around tall enough to put an arm around her.
"One look at me," Joan kids, and actors would start yelling, "Take me to your ladder." "For a long time it practically ruined my career as an actress."
The the tall, tall men came to the TV west―men Joan could look up to. She had to stand on tiptoes to kiss 6 ft 8 Chuck Connors as "The Lonesome Bride" for "The Rifleman" episode and she says:
"I almost swooned with joy. The crew thought I'd flipped my lid. They didn't know how many times I'd lost roles because I would have looked silly leaning over and kissing the hero on top of his head."
It was a problem for Joan the day she arrived in Hollywood as a Broadway show girl signed for movie roles by Universal.
"No wonder the studio didn't know what to do with me. In my first movie the leading man had to stand on a box to put us at eye level."
Joan then decided maybe she'd have better luck with television, which at the time still hadn't gone western. TV producers were just as baffled by tall girls as were movie producers.
"All of them," said Joan, "had the same brilliant idea. Put a tall girl with a comedian and you've got a laugh."
The first time she worked with a comedian the audience laughed but Joan didn't. The late Lou Costello shoved a pie into her face. She played it so straight she was typed and worked with practically every top comic in the business.

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