Question: How did the Indian tribe on F Troop get their name? Lisa F.
Televisionary: Wow, Lisa asking without even letting me know which tribe you're talking about? That's playing your question rather close to the vest, no? Regardless, I shall soldier on and answer your query because that's the can-do kind of spirit my readers expect from their cranky but tolerated know-it-all.
I assume you mean the comical, commerce-minded Hekawi tribe and not their more war-like counterparts, the Shugs. (At least, I'm happy to make that assumption since I have no idea how the latter got their name.) As the story went, when the tribe migrated westward, they found themselves hopelessly lost, leading the chief to ask his scouts: "Where the heck are we?"
Think that's funny? (Heck, I'll admit I do.) If so, you're likely to be a fan of the show's distinct borscht-belt-style humor, even if some of the non-P.C. elements of the show make for a little squirming from time to time. (And when I say borscht belt I ain't kidding, considering two of the more prominent guest-stars to hit the show, Milton Berle
as Wise Owl and Don Rickles
as Bald Eagle, were of an entirely different tribe.)
, which ran on ABC's schedule from September 1965 to August 1967, built itself a respectable cult following despite its short, two-season lifespan. Certainly, its flavor was popular at the time, sharing a gag style with such shows as Get Smart
, The Phil Silvers Show
and the derivative McHale's Navy
A spoof of the wildly popular TV-western genre, F Troop featured Ken Berry (Mayberry R.F.D.) as the naive, all-thumbs Capt. Wilton Parmenter, commander of the troops stationed at Fort Courage. Under Parmenter, who gained his rank by accidentally leading a courageous charge in his Civil-War days, were the business-savvy Sgt. Morgan O'Rourke (Forrest Tucker), his cohort Cpl. Randolph Agarn (Larry Storch), and a whole host of other bumblers, including the myopic lookout, Trooper Vanderbilt (Joe Brooks) and Bugler Hannibal Dobbs (James Hampton), who was mighty bad with a horn. Rounding out the cast were the beauteous Melody Patterson as Wrangler Jane, the filly who hoped to lead Parmenter to the altar; Chief Wild Eagle (Frank deKova) and Crazy Cat (Don Diamond).
A quick look back at TV Guide
's coverage of the show, by the way, reveals how little has changed in this town when it comes to ambition and a realistic outlook toward the work, even on a jaunty little series like F Troop
. Five weeks into production on the series, the producers discovered that sweet, innocent Patterson had guile enough to pull the wool over their eyes and lie about her age. She wasn't 18, as she'd told them, but 16-1/2, which required her to complete four hours of schooling per work day and kicked off a running battle with a tough on-set teacher who routinely threatened to withdraw the actress's work permit if she didn't do her homework.
Even more noteworthy was Tucker's comment to a reporter on life in Hollywood as a whole or rather, how his life would quickly shift elsewhere should his regular gig disappear. "[T]he day I finish a job here, my little wife and I are on the first plane out," he said. "I love this place and all my pals, but I wouldn't want to be unemployed here if they see me playing golf three days in a row, they say, 'Are you through?'"