The Adventures of Kit Carson

1951 | United States

One of the most popular early children’s Western series on US television, The Adventures of Kit Carson bore very little resemblance nor was it based on any historical research into the man whose name gave the series its title.

Christopher Houston Carson was an American frontiersman and Indian agent who left home in rural Missouri at the age of 16 and became a mountain man and trapper in the west. Carson explored the west to California, and north through the Rocky Mountains. He lived among and married into the Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes, was hired by the explorer and first Republican nominee for the United States John C. Fremont as a guide, and led him through much of California, Oregon and the Great Basin area. Carson later served in the Mexican War, guiding American forces under Stephen Kearney in California from New Mexico, and again during the U.S. Civil War. He achieved national fame through Fremont's accounts of his expeditions and became the hero of many dime novels, the first of which was published in 1847. But Carson never particularly enjoyed the fame that the books brought him and was bewildered by the celebrity he experienced during his life.

In 1856 Carson narrated his life story to a friend who intended to find a professional writer and publisher, but the manuscript was lost in transit. It turned up in a trunk in Paris in 1905, thirty-seven years after Carson had passed away.

Roaming the West seeking to help those in need on his horse named Apache, Kit Carson was played in the series by Hollywood leading man Bill Williams. His Mexican sidekick, El Toro, was played by Brooklyn born Don Diamond. Williams played Carson for 104 episodes between 1951 and 1955 prompting him to say at the end of it "I never want to see or hear of Kit Carson again."

Published on July 12th, 2020. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.