Question: A few of my friends were discussing the actor Jack Palance. Someone said that he played on Have Gun Will Travel. I said I didn't think the actor was Jack Palance, but I could not remember the actor's name. I know that he seemed to be tall, dressed in black clothing and had a mustache. Could you please e-mail me back with the correct answer? Thank you in advance for the info. June F.
Televisionary: Now, June, as the gently worded disclaimer says, I don't do the direct e-mail thing. How could I in good conscience provide the answer only to you and deny all your fellow readers the boundless joy of reading my fact-finding? (Alright, so maybe it's not quite boundless joy, but if I don't make you come here to read the thing, we miss out on a hit, our ad dollars drop and we're out on the street.)
Anyway, all of my babbling aside, the man in question is the late Richard Boone. (The confusion with Palance is understandable: Boone wore all black in the role, Palance built his early career on playing gun-totin' baddies in '50s Westerns, and neither man was exactly pretty-boy material. In fact, someone in CBS's east-coast operations once called Boone "the ugliest actor in Hollywood" in a wire... before they found out he'd been cast.
Boone was brought into the series, which ran on CBS from September 1957 to September 1963, after cowboy icon Randolph Scott proved too busy to take it. But the producers couldn't ask for better he-man pedigree than Boone's. A several-times-removed nephew of pioneer Daniel, the actor already knew how to ride a horse (though he didn't much like them) and had experience as a boxer, an oil-field roughneck, a fishing-boat crewman, a bartender and a torpedo squadron gunner before starring for two seasons as Dr. Konrad Styner in NBC's Medic.
Boone made out handsomely playing Paladin, the cultured, gunslinging mercenary who worked out of San Francisco's ritzy Hotel Carlton and dealt out his own brand of justice for a price. The actor's own price was a respectable one, according to TV Guide, earning him more than $250,000 a year (righteous bucks by '50s standards) when rerun payments and international dollars from Have Gun and Medic were figured in. However, none of the money helped to make him any easier to work with.
An admitted perfectionist who called most TV "a waste of time," the cranky and demanding Boone wielded a great deal of clout on the Have Gun set and he didn't hesitate to turn his temper on anyone who displeased him. "Few other stars are so earnestly, piously and vehemently hated," Richard Gehman wrote of the star in a three-part 1961 TV Guide profile. "Scratch some actors who have worked on his shows and out gushes sulfuric invective."
Not that any of that invective bothered Boone much. "Maybe I am a miserable beast," he told Gehman. "But now that I've got success, in some measure, I can decide what I want and what I want, in a word, is to do the best work I can under the best possible conditions. If I can do that, to hell with what they say."