Hop-Along Cassidy/NBC/1949 (Limp)
William Boyd starred as the silver-haired western hero Hop-Along Cassidy who championed the cause of justice in the Old West. He was assisted by sidekicks Gabby Hayes/Andy Clyde in his “B” movies (reedited for TV) and Red Connors (Edgar Buchanan) on the television series HOP-ALONG CASSIDY/NBC/1949.
“Hoppy” derived his nickname from his creator, New York writer Clarence E. Mulford (1883-1956) who originally conceived his hero in the novel “Bar-20” (1907) as a tough, tobacco-chewing, hard-drinking cowboy with a limp, hence “Hop-Along.”
However, when William Boyd took the reigns of the character, he cleaned up the foul-mouthed western star and transformed him into a pristine cowboy hero dressed in black who rode tall in the saddle atop a white horse named Topper. About the only thing he didn’t discard was his name “Hop-Along.” The limp was explained away with a simple healing of his leg.
Note: William Boyd purchased the rights to his own films in the 1940s and subsequently received seventy million dollars when he sold his feature film rights to television.
Dr. John Hamish Watson (Martin Freeman), British physician who shares an upstairs flat at 221B Baker Street in present day London with eccentric genius Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch). John walks with a limp and uses a cane.
John went to King Edward VI Grammar School in Chelmsford, studied medicine at King’s College, received a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery in 2004, worked at the Broomfield Hospital Chelmsford and the University College Hospital London, and trained at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital as a British Army doctor.
Later, Watson was deployed to Afghanistan with the Royal Army Medical Corps and was a Captain in the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers until he was shot in the shoulder. His wound left Watson with a psychosomatic limp and an intermittent tremor in his dominant hand. John’s limp disappears in situations requiring him to move quickly.
“Listen, what I said before, John, I meant it. I don’t have friends. I’ve just got one.” ―Sherlock to John H. Watson
Watson accompanies Sherlock Holmes to crime scenes overseen by Detective Inspector Greg LeStrade (Rupert Graves) of Scotland Yard where Holmes uses his uncanny deductive ability to find clues to solve each of his cases.
John records his adventures with Holmes on an Internet Blog which becomes popular with members of Scotland Yard. His blog helps Watson earn a living and inspires a widespread interest of Holmes among the general public and the media.
Watson is adept at firearms (being an excellent marksman), unarmed combat and reading people through facial expressions. Once in a while, John’s observations or remarks inspire Holmes to come up with answer that will solve a crime.
Eventually, Watson marries Mary Morstan whom Watson later learns was a former CIA agent.
Note: The television series was based on the Sherlock Holmes stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The series was filmed in Cardiff, Wales, with North Gower Street in London used for exterior shots of Holmes and Watson’s 221B Baker Street residence.
Other TV actors to portray the character of Doctor John H. Watson include:
- Howard Marion-Crawford – Sherlock Holmes/SYN/1954
- David Burke – The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes/The Return of Sherlock Holmes/Granada TV/1984-1986
- Edward Hardwicke – The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes/The Memoirs of Sherlock Homes/Granada TV/1986-94
- Lucy Liu (as Dr. Joan H. Watson) – Elementary/CBS/2012-2016+
On the TV crime drama Law & Order: Criminal Intent actress Kathryn Erbe played the part of Alexandra Eames, who was loosely based on the fictional physician Dr. John Watson.
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation/CBS/2000-2015 (Legs Amputated)
Dr. Albert “Al” Robbins (Robert David Hall), disabled Chief Medical Examiner at the Las Vegas Police Department. “Doc” Robbins lost his legs when he was hit by a drunk driver as a youth. He uses prosthetic limbs and a crutch to get around. He walks with a limp.
A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Robbins earned a Masters Degree in Physiology. He began his career as a Coroner in Arlington, Virginia. He now works the graveyard shift for the CSI division of the LVPD. His assistant, David Phillips (David Berman) is often sent into the field to examine corpses before they are transported to his laboratory.
Over the years, Robbins has interacted with supervisors Dr. Gil Grissom (William Peterson), a PH.D. who specialized in insects , and his replacements investigator Raymond Langston (Laurence Fishburne) and Director D.B. Russell (Ted Danson). In addition, Doc Robbins worked with LVPD Homicide Investigator Captain James “Jim” Brass (Paul Guilfoyle).
Robbins is married 25 years to his wife, Judy (née Rubino), has three children, a Siamese cat, likes coffee, plays guitar, bakes “low taste” vegan pies, is terrified of rats (musophobia), and according to his family tree, is a direct descendant of William “Buffalo Bill” Cody. His mother was a nurse. His twin was stillborn.
Robbins also has a photo collection of dead celebrities who have graced his autopsy table, including rapper Tupac Shakur, and John Entwistle, the bassist for The Who.
Note: The Dr. Robbins character first appeared on episode “Who Are You.” On episode “The Theory of Everything,” Doc Robbins mentions that he suffers from bradycardia and wears a pacemaker.
“If you support diversity and think shows should give a portrayal of what America truly looks like, then performers with disabilities must be included in that equation.” – RD Hall
Born on November 9, 1947 in East Orange, New Jersey, actor Robert David Hall had both legs amputated after suffering burns over 65% of his body, when his car was crushed by an 18-wheeler in 1978. Like his TV character, Hall uses prostheses.
NATIONAL VELVET/NBC/1960-62 (Injured Leg)
Mi Taylor (James McCallion), an Irish born ranch hand working for the Brown Dairy Ranch owned by Martha (Ann Doran) and Herbert Brown (Arthur Space).
When Mi was a jockey in England, he was thrown from a horse and broke his leg. The injury ended his career. He now walks with a limp.
He uses his experience to help a young girl named Velvet Brown (Lori Martin) train her horse, Blaze King for the Grand National Steeplechase.
Note: The series was based on the 1935 novel by Enid Bagnold. The series ran for a total of fifty-eight episodes. The 1944 movie National Velvet starred Elizabeth Taylor as Velvet Brown and Mickey Rooney as Michael “Mi” Taylor.
Born on September 27, 1918 in Glasgow, Scotland, actor James McCallion died on July 11, 1991 in Los Angeles, California.
I’VE GOT A SECRET/CBS/1952-67/SYN/1972 & 76 (Limped)
Bill Cullen, popular TV game show host who sported a limp due to a childhood bout with polio.
He first appeared as a panelist on the popular game show I’VE GOT A SECRET and later emceed such shows as CHAIN REACTION, EYE GUESS, PLACE THE FACE, THE PRICE IS RIGHT and NAME THAT TUNE.
GUNSMOKE/CBS/1955-75 (Crippled Right Leg)
Chester Goode (Dennis Weaver), frontier deputy living in Dodge City who walked with a pronounced limp (his right leg was as stiff as a post). When searching for the town marshal, Matt Dillon , Chester shouted his catchphrase “Mister Dillon, Mister Dillon.”
The idea of making Chester handicapped came from Dennis Weaver. He proposed the idea to the show’s producers and they told him OK go ahead and do it. But upon reflecting on the role Weaver confessed “If I had known at the time I would be walking stiff-legged for nine years, I would have thought twice about it. Did you ever try to make a fire with a stiff leg or put a boot on. It’s tough to do.” Weaver had to take Yoga lessons to keep himself in condition for the job.
According to a video remembrance of Dennis Weaver:
“Traditionally, the sidekick is too old, too young, too fat to get involved with the fights.” Therefore, the producers of the show wanted Weaver’s character to be non-violent and that he would not carry a gun. Weaver thought about the character line and decided that maybe if his knee was frozen, a stiff leg would help define his character as a sidekick. After proposing the idea to the producers and getting their approval, Weaver began to practice walking stiff legged for the part. Years later, reflecting on the idea of a handicapped character, Weaver lamented “If I had known I was going to have to walk stiff-legged for nine years, I might have never suggested the idea. Did you ever try to build a fire with a stiff leg? Why I had to take Yoga lessons to be able to do the things I did. It‘s tough to do.”