The Deputy/NBC/1959-1961 (Injured Eye)
Sergeant Hapgood “Sarge” Tasker (Read Morgan), US Army Cavalry officer stationed in Silver City, Arizona during the 1880s. Sarge was in charge of the Quartermaster’s Corps Army Supply Office across the street from the Marshal’s office.
After getting arrested for disturbing the peace during a saloon fight, Sarge befriended and occasionally helped Clay McCord (Allen Case), a local storekeeper who volunteered to be town Deputy Marshal. Clay reported to Chief Marshal of the Territory Simon Fry (Henry Fonda) stationed in Prescott, Arizona.
Sarge received the injury to his left eye during a border skirmish. He was ordered to wear an eye patch until the eye healed. His character first appeared in “Meet Sergeant Tasker” (Episode 2) during Season 2 of the series.
The Lazarus Man/UPN/1996-1997 (Amnesia)
The Lazarus Man (Robert Urich), a man buried in a shallow grave in San Sebastian, Texas who awoke dressed in a Confederate uniform with only a US Army revolver in his possession.
With no memory of who he was, the man took the name Lazarus after the biblical character who also rose from the dead.
While waiting for his memory to return, Lazarus interacted with a variety of people during his quest, including:
- Investigating threats against the troops under the command of General George Armstrong Custer.
- Facing down gunfighters who believed Lazarus had nine lives.
- Revealing the truth of the murder of a newly rich prospector.
- Partnering with a Civil War veteran turned bounty hunter.
- Being accused of stealing a mining payroll from a stagecoach.
- Protecting pacifist farmers from hostile cattlemen.
- Fending off enemies from his past like an eccentric card shark with a grudge, and a Federal Agent who wanted Lazarus dead.
Little by little, bits and pieces of memory surfaced in Lazarus’ mind – memories relating to a man with a derby hat and Ford’s Theater where President Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated.
“Something has happened to me which I do not understand. All I know for certain is I am alive. How I got here? Who I am? I do not know, but I must’ve seen or done something, something terrible to be buried alive, to be left for dead. I can remember nothing of my life, my friends or my enemies but the key to my identity lies somewhere out there. I will search until I find the man I was…and hope to be again.” — The Lazarus Man
Finally, in an effort to discover the full truth behind his predicament, Lazarus underwent hypnosis. The session jogged his memory and he recalled that he was Captain James Cathcart, an Army intelligence officer who had been ordered away from his post as bodyguard to the President by Union Major Gafney (Wayne Grace), a traitor and the man responsible for leaving Cathcart for dead when he attempted to stop the assassination plot.
The derby wearing Major later abducted Cathcart’s wife, Claire (Isabelle Townsend) and used her for bait to lure Cathcart to his doom. But Cathcart managed to kill the Major, but in doing so, he lost his wife to a stray bullet shot by one of the Major’s men and his son and daughter to other members of the conspiracy. The last we saw of Cathcart, he was searching for his kidnapped children.
Note: The term “Lazarus” refers to the biblical character Lazarus (John 11:1-44 ) who allegedly had died and was then miraculously raised from the dead by a prophet named Jesus. Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days.
The series LAZARUS MAN ran 26 episodes. There was no second season due to Urich’s bout with synovial cancer which took his life a few years later. Robert Urich died 04/16/2002. See also – “The Man Called Shenandoah”
A Man Called Shenandoah/ABC/1965-66 (Amnesia)
Shenandoah (Robert Horton), a survivor of a shooting found near-dead on the prairie. The man was hauled to a nearby town by buffalo hunters and nursed back to health by a saloon girl named Kate (Beverly Garland).
When the man realized he had amnesia, a doctor suggested he call himself Shenandoah (which means “land of silence”) and so the man adopts the name and wanders the frontier in search of his identity. Ironically, before leaving town, Shenandoah is forced into a gunfight and kills the one person who could have told him who he is.
Beginning his quest on a newly-purchased horse, Shenandoah is accused of killing the horse’s former owner. Found innocent of the horse theft charges, Shenandoah continues his journey to an Army outpost where he seeks a sergeant who supposedly recognized his image on a photograph, but again our lonely wanderer has a run of bad luck when he is accused as an accomplice in the sergeant’s treason charge.
Freed from the fort, Shenandoah is again falsely accused, this time of murder, and the only witness to the crime is a little girl who is so traumatized that she can’t speak. Eventually, the girl identifies the real killer and Shenandoah is off again.
Down the road a piece Shenandoah meets a man who recognizes him from the war. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, the bad news is that Shenandoah allegedly killed the man’s brother.
After resolving his last predicament, Shenandoah continues his trek to self discovering. Along the way he is:
- Waiting at a stagecoach station for a judge who may have a clue to his identity.
- Privy to a safe deposit box that leads Shenandoah to a town, a treasure map, and a former partner who once tried to kill him.
- Identified by a bank robber who then tries to kill him.
- Believed to be the long-lost brother of rancher Julia Riley.
- Accused of killing the founder of Eldridgeville, Louisiana four years earlier.
- Thought to be the long-lost son of a dying cattle baron.
- Searching for a clown who flees the circus tent when he spots Shenandoah in the audience.
- Thought to be the former boyfriend of the wife of an aging and jealous rancher.
- Identified – via a photograph – as being Lt. Neal Henderson, an Army deserter who ran off during an Indian attack.
Finally, in an effort to unravels his past history, Shenandoah seeks help from a psychiatrist who extracts that Shenandoah was a Lieutenant in the Union Army (formerly from Fort Todd) operating on the western frontier with the Second Regiment at Fort Smith…and that is all we learn about The Man Called Shenandoah. (The series ended after 34 episodes and we never learned who shot Shenandoah).
Theme Song Lyrics “Oh Shenandoah”
(Sung by Robert Horton)
You’re doomed to wander
On beyond this land so lonely
You’re doomed to wander
So roam in search of home
Across this land so lonely
Been ridin’ hard
Since dawns a breakin’
Cross this barren land so lonely
I’ll end my roaming
My name, I’ll learn my name
Before the days a going
The man I thought they would bury
Deep within this land so lonely
Oh Shenandoah you’re doomed to wander
So roam in search of home
Cross this land so lonely
Note: In the 1990s, actor Robert Urich starred in a similar western called LAZARUS MAN/UPN/1996-97 about a man who roamed the western frontier trying to piece together his past, a past possibly linked to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
Saddle Rash/CARTOON NETWORK (Adult Swim)/2002 (No Arms)
Slim (Sam Seder), an armless gunfighter seeks revenge on Tommy Morgan (H. Jon Benjamin) an outlaw hiding out near a small town in the Old West.
Before his final encounter with Tommy Morgan, Slim meets and falls in love with Hanna Headstrong (Sarah Silverman), a local rancher’s daughter.
When Slim meets two of Morgan’s loud-mouth outlaws in a saloon, Slim tells the big guy that he has a message for him, but it is under his hat. When the big guy lifts off Slim’s hat, he head-butts the big guy and knocks him out. Consequently, the man’s partner draws on Slim who kicks the gun from his hand and kicks him in the crotch.
The series only ran one episode.
See also – Saddle Ranch Cartoon clip @ YouTube
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.
Deadwood/HBO/2002-2004 (Cerebral Palsy)
Jewel Caulfield (Geri Jewell), disabled woman working at the Gem, a frontier saloon and brothel in the town of Deadwood, South Dakota in the 1870s.
Wearing a tattered dress (her only one) Jewel serves as the local’s cook, cleaner and waitress. Albert “Al” Swearengen (Ian McShane), the ruthless owner of Gem, employs Jewel out of pity (though he will never admit it). In her spare time, Jewel enjoys reading books about medicine in the American Civil War.
Some quotes by and about Jewel, the cleaning lady:
Jewel: Goddammit Richardson! Your too fuckin’ ugly to be sneakin’ up on people!
Jewel: I put out cinnamon.
Dan Dority: Where?
Jewel: The meeting table.
Dan Dority: On whose instruction?
Jewel: Cinnamon’s good with peaches.
Dan Dority: Do not put unauthorized cinnamon on the goddamn meeting table! That’s all the fuck we need.
Jewel: Say ‘I’m as nimble as a forest creature.’
Doc Cochran: You’re as nimble as a forest creature.
Jewel: No, say it about yourself.
Doc Cochran: I’m as nimble as a forest creature.
Al Swearengen: What was your purpose at Doc’s?
Jewel: I’m knocked up!
Al Swearengen: Hey Doc, how long were you planning on taking before you told me what the fuck was wrong with Jewel?
Doc Cochran: Nothing, nothing she wasn’t born with.
Al Swearengen: Mmm, I mean, she told me she was knocked up but I assumed that was her gimp sense of humor.
Doc Cochran: She wants me to brace her leg so her dragging it doesn’t drive you crazy.
Al Swearengen: So what’d you tell her?
Doc Cochran: Not to worry about your moods, that you generate those yourself and then you find your excuse for having ’em.
Al Swearengen: Saucy words Doc, good thing you’re handy with the snatch.
Doc Cochran: I had an idea for a boot, just now measured her for it.
Al Swearengen: If you treat her as successfully as you did the minister, she’ll be kicking up her heels in no fucking time.
Doc Cochran: I will leave you now to pursue another excuse.
Note: Geri Jewell appeared on 23 episodes of this cable network western series.When asked how she mentally prepared for the cruelty her character Jewel endured on DEADWOOD, she said, “Emotionally I was able to relate to Jewel’s abuse, as having dealt with abuse myself in my adult life, and like myself, I played Jewel with a sense of resilience and strength. In fact, in some ways Jewel could kick ass much better than I could!!” Geri Jewell reprised her role as Jewel in the HBO TV presentation Deadwood: The Movie (2019)…,.a fond farewell to one of TV’s greatest shows.
Born Geraldine Ann “Geri” Jewell on September 13, 1956, Geri Jewel was the first disabled actor to be featured in a recurring role (12 episodes) on a prime time TV series. She played Blair’s cousin, Geri Tyler on the comedy FACTS OF LIVE/NBC/1981-1984. Geri also appeared as Rose on 9 episodes of THE YOUNG AND RESTLESS in 2002.
See also: Facts of Life
LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE/NBC/1974-83 (Blind)
Mary Ingalls Kendall (Melissa Sue Anderson), the daughter of Minnesota farmer Charles Ingalls Michael Landon) who lost her sight after a bout with scarlet fever that destroyed her corona on the two-part episode “I’ll Be Waving As You Drive Away.”
To help her cope, Mary was sent to a school for the blind (The Sleepy Eye School for the Blind) and later married her instructor (himself blind).
Over the life of the series, the blind couple moved to the Dakotas, then returned to Walnut Grove (Mary’s hometown) and finally left for New York when Mary’s husband, Adam Kendall (Linwood Boomer) took a job as a lawyer with his father’s firm after he (Adam) miraculously regained his sight via a freak accident.
Adam Charles Holbrook Kendall Jr., the baby boy of Adam and Mary Kendall was killed in the fire at the blind school.
Christopher Bowman played the recurring blind student, George at the blind school where Mary and Adam worked. He is first seen in “Blind Journey” in which the school moved with the help of Charles and Joe Kagan from Winoka to Walnut Grove.
Here are the key episodes dealing with Mary and her blindness.
- “Four Eyes” (Sept. 17, 1975): Mary needs to get glasses. Her schoolwork improves but the kids at school tease her so she loses her glasses on purpose.
- “I’ll Be Waving as You Drive Away” (Mar. 6 & 13, 1978): Mary goes blind. Her family sends her to a school for the blind. Mary meets Adam Kendall and learns to live with her condition.
- “The Wedding” (Nov. 6, 1978): Mary and Adam get married.
- “Darkness is My Friend” (Jan. 21, 1980): The blind school is taken over by escaped convicts while Adam is away. Mary and her sister, Laura are taken hostage. Their Pa comes to the rescue and disarm the convicts.
- “May We Make Them Proud” (Feb. 4, 1980): The community helps build a new blind school. Unfortunately, the building burns down and the resulting fire kills Alice Garvey and Mary’s baby boy. The fire was caused by Albert who left a lite pipe in a box of rags. A guilt-ridden Albert later confesses to Mary that he was responsible for the fire and death of her baby.
- “To See the Light” (Dec. 1 & 8, 1980): An explosion gives Adam a concussion which makes him see again. He applies to law school and pursues a degree.
Note: This frontier series was based on the Little House novels written by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
KUNG FU/ABC/1972-75 (Blind)
Master Po, (Keye Luke) , a blind Shaolin Buddhist monk living in the Hunan Province of China in the later half of the 1800’s.
Seen mostly in flashback sequences, Master Po was the mentor of an orphaned boy (part Chinese and American) named Kwai Chang Caine (David Carradine), who later – as a grown man – fled China after avenging the murder of Master Po.
On episode No.9 “A Praying Mantis Kills” (3-15-73) Master Po spoke to Caine in the garden of the Shaolin temple.
Master Po: The monarch butterfly rests itself on the young cherry blossom.
Young Caine: You are blind. How do you see this, Master?
Master Po: I see it with my history. I smell it is spring. I know the monarch loves the cherry. I feel the flutter of disturbed air. All this speaks to me.
Young Caine: Sometimes, I feel strange…You make it seem better to be blind.
Master Po: You are learning.
Once Master Po asked the neophyte Caine to close his eyes and relate what he heard. Sitting by a pond, the boy heard the obvious sounds of water, and birds in the trees. “Do you not hear the grasshopper at your feet?,” asked Master Po. Caine looked to the ground and was astonished that the blind man had discerned the location of such a tiny insect. From that day, Master Po called the boy “Grasshopper.”
Years later on a religious pilgrimage, Master Po was callously murdered by the Royal Chinese Nephew. In defense of his Master, Kwai Chang Caine killed the nephew and was forced to flee China to America. Caine called the blind Master Po, “Old Man.”
Note: To make MasterPo look blind, opaque contact lenses were inserted into the actor’s eyes. Tiny holes were drilled into the contacts so Keye Luke could see a bit.
TATE/NBC/1960 (Injured Arm)
Tate (David McLean), a one-armed gunfighter who roamed the American frontier of the 1870s. He was a casualty of the Civil War (The Battle of Vicksburg in May 1863).
Tate lost the use of his left arm when an explosion shattered it. Finding it difficult to obtain work, Tate became a drifter/gunfighter.
Marshall: How long’s it been?
Tate: Ten years.
Marshall: The war and then some. Where’d it happen?
Tate: Vicksburg. I didn’t run fast enough, Morty.
Marshall: You’re home, son. What do you think of it?
Tate: The same. A little smaller, a little dirtier. Just a memory, Morty, it doesn’t exist any more.
Tate’s left arm was encased in a sheath of black leather stitched up with rawhide lacing that ran from his fingers to his elbow. His right gun arm was lightning swift and could “shoot five times without reloading.”
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.”