The Wilde West

My recent article about Stephen Fry as the young Oscar featured a video of Oscar Wilde as a character in a short-lived TV Western series.

Surprisingly, it was not the first time this had happened.

Back in the 1950s in the series Have Gun, Will Travel (1957–1963) Oscar again fell foul of local baddies in Season 2, Episode 12 entitled The Ballad of Oscar Wilde.

Have Gun,Will Travel: The Ballad of Oscar Wilde

A theme of the Oscar Wilde west is that each man kidnaps the thing he loves, and on this occasion our Confucius plagiarizing “Englishman” (when he finally appears) is held captive in a cabin scattering bon mots, but needing to escape for the inescapable shoot-out.

Oscar is successfully returned, of course, but not before insisting that the insulting ransom be raised fivefold from the “measly ten thousand” being demanded, “in dollars, mind you”.

The episode, which stars Richard Boone as recurring hero Paladin and John O’Malley as Oscar, first aired on December 6, 1958.

Here it is:

[1] John O’Malley, the little-known Australian actor who played Wilde, died less than a year after making this episode.

It was not quite the first appearance of Oscar as a character on screen. In Canada in 1955 Wilde was played by John Harding in The Return of Don Juan, an episode of ‘CBC Summer Theatre’.

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John Cooper

John Cooper is a researcher, author, blogger and documentary historian. As a long-standing member of the Oscar Wilde Society in London, a founding member of the Oscar Wilde Society of America, and a former manager of the Victorian Society In America, he has spent 30 years in the study of Oscar Wilde, having lectured on Wilde, and contributing to TV, film, and academic journals including The Wildean and Oscholars. Online he is the designer, author and editor of this noncommercial archive Oscar Wilde in America, blogger, and moderator of the Oscar Wilde Internet discussion groups at Yahoo and Google. For the last 14 years he has specialized in new and unique research into Oscar Wilde in New York, where he conducts guided walking tours based on the visits of Oscar Wilde. In 2012 John rediscovered Oscar Wilde's essay The Philosophy Of Dress that forms the centerpiece to his recent book Oscar Wilde On Dress (2013).

One thought on “The Wilde West”

  1. Paladin brought back memories, watching westerns with my dad. However, I missed this episode with Oscar’s quick draw of the snuff box. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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