Action in the Afternoon

1953 | United States

Action in the Afternoon was television's first live outdoor Western, originating in the wide-open spaces of suburban Philadelphia and telecast five afternoons a week (hence the less than imaginative title).

While other 'live' Western shows were seen on US TV they all relied on pre-recorded action sequences and filmed inserts. Action in the Afternoon did away with these although there were occasions when actors needed more time to get from one set to another. In cases like this the star of the show, Jack Valentine would fill in with a song accompanied by the Tommy Ferguson Trio.

The fictional setting for the series was Huberle, Montana - this came from an ad-lib by the programme’s creator Charles Vanda during his pitch for the series to the executives at CBS, Hubbell Robinson and Harry Omerle.

Produced on the back lot of WCAU-TV, Channel 10, then owned by the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin newspaper, the area had a natural creek running through the property. The interior shots were done in the studios and exterior shots outside on the back lot, which was also the parking lot for the station's employees where mock-ups of different western buildings were built. Since it was on a low budget, there was only three to five buildings: the saloon, the newspaper (The Huberle Record) and the sheriff's office/jail. A totem pole concealed a telephone pole.

Action in the Afternoon TV Western

Alongside Jack Valentine was Mary Elaine Watts as Red Cotten, the sassy belle of the saloon and Barry Cassell as the shady Ace Bancroft. The narrator was Blake Ritter. Also featured were Sam Kressen as Sheriff Sam Mitchell and Jean Corbett as the lawman's wife, Amy. Corbett, during the year that Action in the Afternoon was on the air, also portrayed Aunt Molly on a WCAU-TV cookery show, Home Highlights.

Published on March 25th, 2020. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.