Wyatt Earp TV Series

The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp

1955 - United States

Consistently good Western Series starring Hugh O'Brian and based on Stuart N. Lake's 1931 biography of the famous US Marshal, whose trademark was a pair of "Buntline Special" pistols with extra-long barrels with which he kept the peace. 

Author and playwright Frederick Hazlitt Brennan wrote the scripts from the first episode which began in 1955 with a story entitled "Mr. Earp Becomes a Marshal", in which Wyatt's friend, Marshal Whitney of Ellsworth, Kansas, was killed by a gunman. Wyatt accepted his badge and avenged his death. The stories continued in the same historical vein and Earp came up against real-life figures such as John Wesley Hardin and the Thompson brothers before moving to Dodge City to become Marshal there. (Except on Saturday nights one assumes, as according to Gun Law the Marshal there was Matt Dillon). 

A young Bat Masterson (Mason Alan Dinehart lll) became his deputy for a while before becoming a county sheriff in his own right and being spun off into his own series (starring Gene Burke's Law Barry in the lead role). The 1957-58 season saw the introduction of another colourful real-life character, the notorious physician turned gambler, Doc Holliday (Douglas Fowley and later Myron Healey). Earp's brothers Virgil (John Anderson) and Morgan (Dirk London) turned up in occasional episodes. 

In the 1959-60 season Earp moved yet again, this time to Tombstone, Arizona, a town run by Old Man Clanton and the "Ten Percent Gang". The final showdown, also based on fact, came at the end of the final season in the form of a five-part story in which Earp discovered that the Clanton gang was using the O.K. Coral as a centre for their illegal activities. Although Earp tried to prevent bloodshed events moved rapidly to a conclusion, which culminated in a shootout between the Marshal, his brothers, Doc Holliday and the Clanton Gang in the famous "Gunfight at the OK Corral". 

Perhaps unfairly forgotten these days, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp was a superior Western series.

Published on December 31st, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.

Read Next...


Running for 14 years on it's native NBC network, Bonanza was set on the vast Ponderosa timber and cattle ranch in Nevada in the 1860's. The show was notable for being the first TV Western to be shot in colour.

Also tagged Tv Western


US & British co-production about a black stallion that no-one has yet been able to tame.

Also released in 1955

Fanny's Kitchen

Phyllis Cradock and her third husband Major John Cradock were quickly poached from the BBC's Kitchen Magic in 1955 to present ITV's first cookery programme.

Also released in 1955

The High Chapparal

US Western series that attempted to recreate Bonanza's success

Also tagged Tv Western

Highway Patrol

1950s TV police series made on a shoestring budget

Also released in 1955


An innocent man is branded a coward in this classic US Western series

Also tagged Western Series

Douglas Fairbanks Presents

Anthology series made in Britain for commercial television but with the US market in mind.

Also released in 1955

Hopalong Cassidy

A cowboy with a fine sense of fair play who did not smoke, drink or swear and who always let the bad guy start the fight. Seriously?

Also tagged Tv Western

The Adventures of Robin Hood

Richard Greene starred as the legendary 12th century outlaw who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor. ITV's first adventure series managed to maintain a high standard of writing, employing blacklisted Hollywood writers who wrote under various aliases.

Also released in 1955