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Have Gun Will Travel: or, What Baby Boomer TV Show Would You Bring Back?

Category: Baby Boomer Retirement Issues

June 1, 2011 — NPR is running a call-in show today asking listeners what TV show they would bring back if they were in charge of the universe. It’s a contest anyone old enough to be a baby boomer might enjoy. Through the miracle of Netflix your editor just spent a few happy sessions on the exercise bike watching the 1st 3 shows in the “Have Gun Will Travel” series, which first aired in 1957. The show, as you probably remember, features Paladin, a gun for hire. One of the beauties of having lost so many brain cells… since these shows were aired is that they appear all new. Except that we get to reexamine them from a slightly more experienced viewpoint than we had at the age of 9.

Paladin (one of Charlemagne’s warriors, or a traveling knight) is an unusual character in a surprisingly sophisticated show. The quality of writing was high in those days. Paladin is an educated polyglot who lives in a luxury San Francisco hotel when he’s not freelancing with his custom made revolver (trigger pull 1 oz.). The staff there loves him, and apparently so does a mysterious women who works there (occupation unknown) who exchanges hot-blooded stares with him.

The cast is a who’s who of American Westerns. Paladin is played by Richard Boone. In Episode 1 the bad guy looks familiar – yep, that’s Charles Bronson. Episode 2 features a bad guy sidekick who will look familiar to anyone our age, Claude Akins. What’s cool about this show is the Paladin character. He’s an idealized version of the often low-life hired guns we see in later shows and movies. He’s not only sophisticated with his Greek references, Shakespearean quotes, and scientific knowledge; he’s also infinitely good hearted, and always pulling for the little guy like the mission-educated Indian in Episode 3. The show had 225 episodes and ran from 1957 – 1963. Gene Roddenberry wrote several of them.

Which leads us to..
What TV show would you like to see brought back – any era? Attorney General Eric Holder is on the record as desperately wanting “The Wire” to come back. We’d vote for that one, plus “Deadwood”. Over at NPR there are having a write-in feature on what TV shows people would like to bring back. But how ’bout from shows from our baby boomer childhood era? Programs like “MY Friend Flicka”, “Sky King” (remember how many of us fell in love with Penny, not to mention her father’s plane, Songbird), “The Rifleman” …. the list goes on. Please use the Comments section below to share your list -and favorite characters and trivia too. A random Commenter will be chosen to receive our free ebook – “100 Best Retirement Towns”.

Posted by John Brady on June 1st, 2011


  1. I’d do an updated version of “The Man From U.N.C.L.E. starring DAvid MacCalllum, currently of NCIS and Robert Vaughan as cold war spies in the 21st century.
    Too many reworkings of Boomer shows don’t work because the world has changed and wew’re not nearly as naive as we were way back then.
    Love your site.!

    by Sandie Warwick — June 2, 2011

  2. I liked “That Girl” with Marlo Thomas. A young woman pursuing her goals and living alone in New York – a good role model for those of us (especially females) growing up in the ’60s, and still a good message – pursue your dreams.

    Jan Cullinane, The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Rodale)

    by Jan Cullinane, co-author The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your LIfe (Rodale 2007) — June 2, 2011

  3. I’m a cowboy show fan, so I would like to bring back some of those. Anybody remember Lash Larue? He was one of my favorites. Also Gunsmoke.

    by Diane H — June 2, 2011

  4. It would have to be “Gunsmoke.” What family did not watch that show each week? The characters were great, Miss. Kitty, Doc, Festes, Matt, etc.

    by Bob Kennedy — June 2, 2011

  5. I would definitely bring back “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”. I loved the interaction between Lou and Mary. And I would laugh so hard at Ted Baxter’s antics. A wonderful cast and show all the way around.

    by Janet R. — June 2, 2011

  6. My vote is for the individual week shows where each week presents new characters and situations with quality writing. The number one choice would be the Twilight Zone with Alfred Hitchcock Presents in a close second.

    by Tim H — June 2, 2011

  7. I’ve just been reliving through Netflix some episodes of The Real McCoys. Walter Brennan, Richard Crenna and the rest of the family as transplants from W. Virginia to California…..what’s not to love?

    by Carol D — June 2, 2011

  8. Yes, every Saturday night was Gunsmoke. A few other favorites were Beverly Hillbillies, Andy Griffith, Green Acres and of course I Love Lucy.

    by Wanda S — June 2, 2011

  9. One small correction to your article. Skyler King was Penny’s “Uncle Sky” he wasn’t her father. As for me, I’d bring back Northern Exposure. Lived it!

    by Mickey — June 2, 2011

  10. My favorite was The Wild Wild West. Another was Hogan’ Heroes

    by Steve Griffin — June 2, 2011

  11. I loved westerns. Bring back big valley. Lee majors was one of my favorites

    by Victoria — June 2, 2011

  12. “Father Knows Best” has my vote!

    by Laurel — June 2, 2011

  13. it would be great to bring back the original STAR TREK, LEAVE IT TO BEAVER AND OF COURSE TWILIGHT ZONE.

    by david huckabee — June 2, 2011

  14. I always enjoyed seeing the Ed Sullivan Show. It would be fascinating to see some very early performances of later year stars. Also Laugh In.

    by Steve — June 3, 2011

  15. Ozzie and Harriet

    by Debbie Shue — June 3, 2011

  16. So many- Sea Hunt, Maverick, and another James Garner favorite- The Rockford Files. More recent- JAG.

    by Jesse Raye — June 3, 2011

  17. Some of my buddies and I were talking about this. Soupy Sales, Maverick, Sea Hunt (Lloyd Bridges), Sky King, Wanted: Dead or Alive (Steve McQueen), the Rifleman (Chuck Connors). And of course the timing of this was earie – sad to see our our friend James Arness of Gunsmoke leave this earth last week. What a guy.

    by John — June 5, 2011

  18. Gunsmoke is in a class by itself. What a classic. RIP James, and enjoy the Long Branch in the sky.

    by Bob — June 7, 2011

  19. I too enjoy the old westerns. Never a doubt about who was the “bad guy”. Marverick, Alias Smith & Jones, Have Gun Will Travel are just a few. As for other shows always include Twilight Zone and Sea Hunt pushed me into scuba diving!!!! Netflix & Encoure TV are the best for those treasured shows we all love.

    by caseyg51 — June 8, 2011

  20. I liked the comedies – Hogan’s Heros (“I see NOTHING!!!”), and one you don’t hear much about, “F Troop” – those guys always cracked me up. It was nice seeing the indians joking around and making money off the white man instead of being the bad guys all the time(this was before indian casinos, remember!).

    by KLM — June 9, 2011

  21. Tired of seeing I love Lucy,Brady bunch,etc. Real boomers would love to have a cable station that went back to early t.v.I married Joan, Life of Riley,Annie Oakley,My Little Margie,Sugarfoot,The Lawman,Ted Mack Original Amature Hour,Name That Tune,Jack Benny,Milton Berle’s Texaco Hour,M-Squad,Naked City,December Bride,etc.Will it ever happen? Are the old show’s lost.Death Valley Days of course The Honeymooners.

    by Kath — September 24, 2011

  22. Guys in particular will remember our reverence for stunt men – the guys who jumped off moving horses or bad guys who got shot off of balconies. If you love hearing about stunts you should listen to this interview with Hal Needham, one of Hollywood’s premier stuntmen. He talks about jumping off a cliff onto a moving stagecoach 40′ below. Or how in one of the Burt Reynolds movies he directed his miscommunication with a boat driver (he was jumping the car from land onto the riverboat) just about cost him his life. Pretty cool stuff about the way stunts used to be, and he is fun to listen to.

    PS – Hal won an honorary Oscar last night at the Oscars (Feb 24).

    by John Brady — September 24, 2011

  23. Have gun will travel was the first show to pop into my head and as I read the comments about comedies, I thought of Sgt. Bilko and Ernie Kovacks.

    by Renee Lioppmann — November 23, 2011

  24. The original Hawaii Five O

    by Jeff Snyder — February 25, 2013

  25. How about Yancy Derringer

    by Jim Rogers — February 26, 2013

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