Waxing Nostalgic Over Classic TV

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Real McCoys Hit the Road

-"What is it, Luke?"
-"I believe it's a foreigner! Just keep calm."

One of the most popular shows on TV when I was a kid was the story of the McCoy family. When Uncle Ben died and left his desolate California farm to the McCoys, the whole clan piled into their old jalopy and made the long journey west to start a new life. Grandpa McCoy, along with his grandson Luke and new bride Kate, as well as Luke's little sister Hassie and younger brother, Little Luke, sometimes struggled but their strong family bonds always got them through the tough times.

The Real McCoys ran from 1957 to 1962 on ABC and was in the Top 10 every year. When it got a new name (The McCoys) and a new network (CBS), the audience drifted away and the show was cancelled after the 1963 season, replaced in the hearts of Americans by another backwoods family who had moved to California, The Beverly Hillbillies. While the two shows did share some similarities, the McCoys showed us more heart than the Clampetts, who were just plain silly.

Walter Brennan, of course, was already a big time movie star when he took the role of Grandpa, the crotchety but loving patriarch of the family. Richard Crenna, who played Luke, had already made a name for himself as Walter Denton, the clumsy high school student on Our Miss Brooks, and went on to have an outstanding career as a film and television actor before dying in 2003 of heart failure at the age of 76. Kathleen Nolan played the part of Kate and also went on to have a very productive acting career, appearing just this year in an episode of Cold Case. She also made a name for herself as the first woman president of the Screen Actors Guild (1975-1979).

The video above is Part 1 of the very first episode of The Real McCoys, broadcast October 3, 1957. (Check the related videos for Parts 2 and 3.) The first three seasons of the show are now available on DVD from Amazon.com.

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