First episode date 18 March 1957
Final episode date 2 June 1962
|Created by James Brooks
Directed by Earl Bellamy William F. Claxton Lewis R. Foster Jerry Hopper Leslie H. Martinson Gene Reynolds Sidney Salkow R.G. Springsteen George Waggner William Witney
Starring Dale Robertson William Demarest Virginia Christine Jack Ging
Theme music composer Mort Greene Harry Warren Stanley Wilson
Composer(s) Paul Dunlap Michael Greene Melvyn Lenard Morton Stevens Harry Sukman John Williams
Cast Dale Robertson, William Demarest, Jack Ging, Virginia Christine, Mary Jane Saunders
Tales of Wells Fargo is an American Western television series starring Dale Robertson that ran from 1957 to 1962 on NBC. Produced by Revue Productions, the series aired in a half-hour format until its final season when it expanded to an hour.
Set in the 1870s and 1880s, the series starred the Oklahoma native Dale Robertson as special agent Jim Hardie, noted at the time as "the left-handed gun". The series development was influenced by the biography of Wells Fargo detective Fred J. Dodge. The concept of Tales of Wells Fargo, a company troubleshooter in the American West, was also adapted by the syndicated series Pony Express, co-starring Grant Sullivan as detective Brett Clark, which aired in the 1959-1960 season, nearly coinciding with the centennial of the Pony Express. Even earlier, from 1954 to 1955, Jim Davis had starred as a railroad investigator, Matt Clark, in the syndicated Stories of the Century. Davis and Robertson, both of whom had unusual but similar-sounding speaking voices, each did the narration for their respective series.
In the 1957 Christmas episode entitled "Laredo", Jim Hardie must track gunrunners across the United States/Mexican border in Laredo, Texas, a quest which keeps him from spending the holiday with friends as he had intended. Guest stars include Henry Rowland, Rodolfo Hoyos, Jr., Karl Swenson, and Pierre Watkin.
The pilot for Tales of Wells Fargo originally premiered as an episode of the anthology series Schlitz Playhouse.
In the 1960-61 season, Wells Fargo was scheduled opposite ABC's detective series Surfside 6 and CBS's new sitcom Bringing Up Buddy, starring Frank Aletter. Wells Fargo and Surfside 6 survived another year, but Bringing Up Buddy was cancelled. Wells Fargo was the lead-in that year to a new NBC Western, Klondike, but that series, set in the Alaskan gold rush town of Skagway, survived only seventeen episodes.
For its first two years, the show was also in the top ten Nielsen Ratings. During the 1957-58 season, it was ranked #3, and during the 1958-59 season, it was ranked #7.
Timeless Media Group released the first two seasons on DVD in Region 1 for the first time.
The TV show also spawned a number of publications for young readers, including the hardcover book Danger at Dry Creek (Golden Press, 1959), a series of Dell Comics and Little Golden Books.