In 1955, Hugh O?Brian starred in a TV series, "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp," which became a hit and survived for over 200 shows. It didn?t go into syndication after 1960, so we don?t see it on cable. It was sensationally popular at the time. Stewart Lake got what every author wants: a bonanza a quarter century after his book is published. Lake legally licensed everything with Wyatt Earp?s name on it: lunch boxes, toy guns, the works.
Side note: O?Brian decided to go the whole nine yards (the length of a .50 caliber machine-gun ammo belt in World War II) with his new TV persona. He took up fast-draw shooting. I can recall, 40 years later, a story about his skill. He could draw and fire in four-tenths of a second. As a graduate of Col. Jeff Cooper?s combat handgunning course, let me tell you, that?s fast. O?Brian issued a challenge to any cowboy movie actor to beat him in a timed, filmed draw. Nobody took him up on it. But one man could have, the fastest man in Hollywood?s West:
Sammy Davis, Jr. Sammy reputedly could do "the trick": extend his hand, put a glass on top of it, pull back his hand, draw, fire, and shatter the glass before it hit the ground. He was ranked third or fourth nationally in quick draw competition, which was the rage in the late 1950?s. As he used to say, "It only takes one good eye to shoot."
I also understand that Audie Murphy was quite a hand with a six-gun as well. He would actually go up in the hills and practice (with live ammo!) quick drawing and target shooting. I believe he was given a set of Colt Peacemakers by the Colt factory on a tour. He made a number of pretty cheesy 50's westerns before his death.
If you've ever read his book, he had a classic case of survivor's guilt and probably a severe case of PTSD, before that phrase was even coined.