Wednesday, February 21, 2024

THE TEXAN -- by Cheryl Pierson


I have become totally obsessed with an old TV series, THE TEXAN starring Rory Calhoun. I never knew this series existed until we switched cable companies not long ago and were so fortunate to be able to add GRIT TV to our lineup—and it’s about all we watch anymore.

The Texan was a black and white series (yes, that’s how old it is, almost older than I am, but not quite!). It aired on CBS from 1958-1960, and as with so many of these older shows, I love to see so many roles by early “unknowns” who later became famous in their own right.

But the premise of The Texan is really different, and heartbreaking all at once.

The Texan is Bill Longley, who was a captain in the Confederacy during the Civil War. When he comes back to his privileged life at his family’s southern plantation, he finds his young wife has died of a fever, and the plantation lies in ruins. He puts a grave marker up beside his wife’s that says Bill Longley died on this day, with the date below it—the date he returned home and found that his love was dead.

He goes to Texas and becomes a drifter, building a reputation as a fast gun, but he is not for hire. He just takes a hand in the wrongs he sees and tries to right them when he can. I have, by no means, seen the entire series yet—we usually watch a couple of the 30-minute episodes while we eat dinner. Yes, some of them feel rather “rushed” because they are only 30 minutes long and the commercials have been moved around to accommodate today’s programming. But all in all, it’s really a good series, and I LOVE being able to study his character as the shows progress and we get to know more about him.

I truly admire the realism in this show. I didn’t realize it until recently, but there were so many westerns of that era that had the lawmen and the “good guys” always shooting to wound someone. The Lone Ranger even says at the beginning of that series that he will never kill, only shoot to wound, and then, only if necessary.

Well, let me tell y’all, Bill Longley has been through war and he is as tough as they come. Even though his past has been harsh ( at least it was once he joined the Confederacy and went to war), he still retains his sense of fairness. But make no mistake—he will shoot to kill, and he is fast. I don’t know how fast he was in actuality, but I did read something interesting the other day, as an aside—Glenn Ford was said to be the fastest gun in Hollywood, with a draw time of .04 seconds! WOW!

This character, The Texan, is in many ways how I envision my heroes in my own books. They don’t have his genteel upbringing—but I think if they all knew each other they’d be friends, because they’d see things the same way. Though they are fast with a gun, they don’t use it indiscriminately, and they are not ever ones to believe that “might makes right”.

You know, I have seen only one of Rory Calhoun’s movies, but in it, he plays the same kind of character as he played in The Texan. A loner. A fast gun. Someone who makes tough decisions and takes up the slack when others don’t or won’t.

Now that I’ve started following him, I remember my mom saying something once about a movie she was wanting to see. I must have been about 8 or 9—all I remember was her saying, “It has Rory Calhoun in it!” and giving a little smile. I should have paid attention about 55 years sooner…

If you get a chance to watch The Texan, you will not be sorry. Bill Longley is like so many of the western heroes we writers try to create, and the ones that readers love to read.

I’ve created many “loner” type heroes in my stories. Many of them resemble the characteristics of Bill Longley in THE TEXAN. Just thinking back on them, I’d say the two that stick in my mind as being most like The Texan are Johnny Houston from LOVE UNDER FIRE and Jaxson McCall from A MARSHAL FOR CALLIE–but it was a hard decision to narrow it down!

Who is your favorite television or big screen movie western star and why? And I’d love to know your favorite western tv series or movie that character played in.

Here’s a short excerpt from A MARSHAL FOR CALLIE.

A ruthless gang of cutthroats from Jaxson McCall’s past have re-surfaced and are holding Callie and Jaxson’s brother, Jeremy, and a young boy, Carlos, hostage. Jaxson is recovering from a poison-tipped arrow, but he and his other brother, Brendan, are there to save the hostages. Here’s the confrontation:

“Turn her loose,” Jax ordered in a low tone.

“Or what, Marshal? You’ll kill me?” Blocker taunted.

But Callie could hear the muted strain in his voice. I must have hit him, she thought, surprised.

“Take me, Blocker,” Jax murmured. Deliberately, he tossed the Winchester to the ground and held his hands out. “You don’t want her—not really. What you want is to finish what you started thirteen years ago. I wonder…” He took a step forward, his silhouette illuminated by the fire behind him in the growing darkness.

Blocker licked his lips nervously. “Wonder what, McCall?”

“Are you man enough to take me? We never finished what we started back in Fort Smith. But you can have it either way, Blocker. A fight, or…not. I’ll—go with you. Just let her go.”

“I don’t think so,” Blocker replied smugly.

“Why not?”

“Because you want it too much, McCall.” Blocker put the tip of the knife under Callie’s chin. “You agree to give yourself up to me, knowing what I’ll do to you?” He shook his head in disbelief. “Girl must mean an awful lot to you. I wonder why.”

“She’s worth money to me,” Jax said quietly. His heart lurched at the hollow, dead look in Blocker’s eyes.

“You’re both worth money to me,” Blocker responded.

Callie could feel the big man’s grip on her easing somewhat. He didn’t realize it, she knew.

“C’mon, Blocker,” Jax murmured. “Let’s fight it out. Just you and me.”

Blocker’s grip slipped a little more, and Callie felt an oozing warmth at her back.

His blood.

Blocker shook his head. “Shorty shoveled out three graves over there. I ain’t gonna fill one of ’em.”

Suddenly, Callie dug her elbows backward with all her might. She heard Blocker’s grunt of pain as he dropped the knife, and she squirmed away from him. He lunged at Jax with a snarl, and both men grappled together, then went to the ground, pummeling one another.

Callie watched in horror, thinking of how Jax had looked just this morning when she’d left him asleep in their bed. The fever, the wound, his fitful rest and lack of food would all surely take their toll. He was in no shape to fight.


She turned, just as a strong arm encircled her waist, pulling her to the safety of the trees and underbrush along the creek bank.

The man urged her to the ground beside Carlos, then he was gone as quickly as he had appeared.

As Callie lifted her head to peer through the undergrowth, she saw him step out into the ring of firelight. He dropped to one knee, his gun ready, but Jax and Blocker fought too closely together to take a chance on a shot.




Thanks for stopping by today!


  1. Cheryl, the real Bill Longley mostly shot from ambush or against unarmed opponents. Another instance where legend has outstripped fact in popular memory. Rick Miller's BLOODY BILL LONGLEY from 2011 is a good, well-researched biography. I watched THE TEXAN as a kid (that's how old I am) and I try to catch Rory's old movies now on Grit TV and Cinevault.

    1. Your comment showed up anonymously— boo. Lol but at least it’s here! I wish they had made up a name for him in this series instead of using one from a real person who was nothing like the character in the show. It’s a great show. I feel lucky to have discovered it and have all these great episodes to watch that I’ve never seen before!

  2. I actually have this series on DVD and love it. Roy Calhoun is quite the interesting actor with a fascinting history. Glad you posted about this show. Doris

    1. Hey Doris! HOW COOL that you have it on DVD. I saw it's for sale on Amazon, so thinking I might have to get it, too. I have been reading about Rory and his growing up years--very turbulent--and even later on, too. It's been something fun to read up on and follow. Glad you stopped by!

    2. His juvenile delinquent history I related with due to my first career. Added to the way he made a career for himself is a story in itself. I would always tell the young people in lock up that they could succeed if they chose because they survived this part of their lives. Some actually did just that. Doris

    3. WOW--THAT IS AWESOME! You helped a lot of people!

  3. SIGH. That comment above was from Cheryl Pierson to you, Doris. I forgot to put in my NAME.

  4. Cheryl, I've watched a few of The Texan episodes recently. Something I like about these old tv westerns is how they packed a story into a 30-minute slot with tight character development and action with subtle hints into the main character's back story. (Love your book excerpt - nice and gritty and descriptive)

    1. Kaye, I agree with you 100%. Looking back on these old television episodes from so long ago, I recognize what really excellent writers they had to be able to create a story from beginning to end and hold the viewer's interest. Also, the character development keeps me intrigued as the show goes on. Nothing like what's on tv today in so many cases, and I am so thankful that we were able to preserve these old shows to enjoy TODAY.

      THANK YOU for the very kind words about my excerpt from the book! I appreciate that! So glad you stopped by today!

  5. Excellent, Cheryl! Thank you, John

    1. Hey, John! Glad you enjoyed it! I tell you, I'm loving watching this show so much!

  6. I don't remember that series, but I remember liking Rory Calhoun in a variety of western roles. He wrote a couple of western novels, too, and many screenplays. I've seen the old CYA reformatory he spent time in (and escaped from) in Ione, CA--but not from the inside. I'll have to check out The Texan.

    1. WOW, I didn't know he wrote novels, but I did see where he wrote screenplays. There was mention SOMEWHERE of him being in the reformatory in El Reno, Oklahoma, too. So glad he turned everything around and had such a wonderful career! Yes, check it out, Jeff, you will really enjoy it!

    2. I've read his 'novel' Domino that also was a movie by the same name Calhoun starred in.

    3. Doris, how was it? Worth the read?

    4. It was like watching the movie and not bad for an early novel. Doris

  7. Replies
    1. I'm so glad I "discovered" him and now can treat myself to watching all his movies and The Texan! Yes, I know what you mean -- all the western stuff if good stuff!

  8. Love that GRIT channel. Congratulations on a very interesting story!

  9. I love it too, Vicky! So glad we got it! Thanks for the very kind words.