At the end of Hondo, the Oscar-nominated 1953 Western, Hondo Lane (John Wayne) rides off with his bride-to-be and her son after defeating the Apache tribe that tried to kill them.
Fourteen years later, those characters returned for an ABC TV spin-off, this time with Ralph Taeger and Kathie Browne in the lead roles. The TV series isn’t a sequel, but rather a re-imagining of the film story with certain key plot changes. Hondo is a former Confederate officer, “the best scout and spy on either side.” He’s also a wanted man. And, in return for a pardon, he’s tasked with making peace with a belligerent Apache chief (Michael Pate, reprising his film role) who happens to be his former father-in-law.
Hondo is, at best, a reluctant participant. His Native American wife was killed in a Cavalry raid while pregnant with their child, and he generally has no use for the Army and its “Shoot First” negotiation style. Fascinatingly, this series recasts one of John Wayne’s most famous characters as a “disorderly, disinterested” rebel, the closest thing to a counter-culture hero you’ll find in the Old West of 1870. Even more fascinating: the series was co-produced by Batjac, Wayne’s production company.
Notable guest stars:
Annette Funicello, Ricky Nelson, John Carradine, Denver Pyle, Farley Granger, Barton MacLane, Charles McGraw, L.Q. Jones. Robert Reed, Michael Rennie, Iron Eyes Cody, Forrest Tucker, Jim Davis, Jamie Farr, X Brands, Claude Akins, Pat Conway, Jack Elam, Alan Hale Jr, Fernando Lamas, James MacArthur, Don “Red” Barry, Hark Worden
Produced by Andrew J. Fenady. Based on a screenplay by James Edward Grant, from a story by Louis L’Amour.