Crime Fighting Television: Have Gun will Travel

This blog focuses on crime fiction writers, but let’s face it. We’re influenced by what we read and see.

Image Have Gun Will Travel

My co-author of the Tom Stone Detective Stories, Lon, told me about the 1950s crime-fighting western show Have Gun will Travel starring the late Richard Boone in the lead role of Paladin. I asked Lon what he liked about the show.

“I started watching it as a kid and liked it then. Now I see it through adult eyes and I like it more. The stories were written and aired from 1957 to 1963 but they hold up. They’re current, timeless, and they’re morality tales.

“The moral is ‘do what’s right.’ Paladin is a hired gun. He has a conscience and tries to do what’s right. He’s smart A gentleman, knows opera, fencing. Sometimes he has to kill people and he feels badly, but he does what’s right. I also like the acting.”

Lon watches episodes on cable and I pulled it up on YouTube and watched a segment. Cool stuff. Richard Boone, by the way, was a cousin to clean-cut crooner Pat Boone.

I watched a segment, “Show of Force,” where Richard Boone is playing cards in a fancy saloon in ‘Frisco and hears about bad goings on at a ranch. He looks at a headline in the paper and sure ‘nuff. There’s bad stuff going down. Paladin isn’t one to turn a blind eye to justice so off he goes. Watch the segment below after the story excerpt.

Paladin stands out as a strong and dignified character, unflappable in the face of bandits tying him up and threatening his life. He stands for what is good in the face of what is bad.

We even worked Paladin and Have Gun will Travel into the 3rd novel of our trilogy, Tom Stone Day of the Dead.


Here’s an excerpt where our character, Detective Tom Stone is watching the show.

Tom Stone 3 Pack


An actor dressed in old western garb pulled a gun from a holster and aimed at the television screen as a voice intoned. “Put the gun away, Counselor. What good is proof to a dead lawyer?” A simple range of musical notes sounded as an episode of the western Have Gun will Travel got underway.

Stone chewed on a pizza and Silver sat expectantly on the floor waiting for a piece of sausage or strand of cheese to slip and fall. The 1950s western, finding new audiences on cable, allowed Stone to escape away from programs with frenetic edits into a simpler world of black and white. He exchanged the pizza for a bottle of beer on the coffee table while the dog cocked his head, waiting for a bite—or drink.

In the episode “Show of Force,” actor Richard Boone known as Paladin got ready to take action in a dispute between ranchers. Silver started whimpering, focused on the last slice of pizza.

“Okay. If you insist.” Stone tossed a piece of sausage to the floor. “Don’t tell the girls. They say you should eat out of a dog bowl.”

Silver ignored the warning and inhaled the food without even chewing as the storyline unfolded and Paladin confronted the bad guys by talking straight and hitting them in the chin even straighter. A fistfight and chase on horse back ensued. Stone would have liked riding horse and feeling the wind while galloping after a crook. But even back then clues were necessary. He sat back in the sofa and sipped from his beer, letting the half-hour drama take his mind off the chase that continued eluding him. Silver looked over the coffee table, licking his lips.

“All gone, buddy.”

The phone rang, interrupting Stone’s relaxation. “Hello, Stone here?”

“Detective?” A man’s voice was hushed.

On the television set, ranchers squared off. “Yeah.”

“Robert Alvarez.”

“Yeah, yeah. What can I do for you?”

“I know you may be busy, but I wanted to give you an update on Sara.” His voice was strained.




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