Thursday, August 10, 2017

Orison Hungerford RIP

Readers steeped in tv nostalgia have asked me to mark the death of Orison Whipple Hungerford, better known as the actor Ty Hardin.

He most famourly played the title role in Bronco Layne, which first showed on the BBC on Monday 1 June 1959, at 1955 - sandwiched between Juke Box Jury and Panorama. The billing: "A new Western series starring Ty Hardin as Bronco Layne, the roving cowboy adventurer. When Bronco saves a young man from death by snake-bite he does not realise that he is helping one of the deadliest gunmen in the West. Even with Bronco's help and friendship the young man finds it tougher to live down an old reputation than to build a new one."

Orison came to acting after service with the US Airforce, flying "Bird dogs" (Cessna L-19) in Korea; he'd come back to work as an engineer with Douglas in Santa Monica. He was spotted by agent Milton Lewis as he went to hire a costume for a Hallowe'en party. He got a further boost after a chat with John Wayne, who recommended him to Warner Brothers. They picked his name - Hardin was from the outlaw John Wesley Hardin (given a spurious final 'g' by Bob Dylan).

In retirement, Ty had a spell as a minister with Chuck Smith's Cavalry Chapel, whose leader predicted the world would end in 1981. The church survives....

Bronco's theme was written by Jay Livingston, with lyrics by Mack David, Hal's older brother.

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