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’.

Published by

John Cooper

John Cooper is a independent scholar who has spent 30 years in the study of Oscar Wilde. He is a long-standing member of the Oscar Wilde Society, a founding member of the Oscar Wilde Society of America, and a former manager of the Victorian Society In America. For the last 20 years Cooper has specialised in Wilde’s 1882 lecture tour becoming a consultant on Wilde’s American experience to biographers and the wider media. Cooper lectures on Wilde and has conducted new and unique research into Oscar Wilde visits to New York culminating in a guided walking tour. Online he is a popular blogger and the creator of the noncommercial archive 'Oscar Wilde in America’ which incorporates his work on the Sarony photographs, and a detailed documentary verification of Wilde’s American lecture tour. In 2012 Cooper rediscovered Wilde's essay The Philosophy Of Dress that forms the centerpiece to his 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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s