Temple Houston (TV series)

Temple Houston (TV series)

Infobox Television
show_name = Temple Houston

caption =
show_name_2 =
genre = Western
Legal drama
creator =
director = Leslie H. Martinson
William Conrad
Robert Totten
Irving J. Moore
Alvin Ganzer
Robert D. Webb
developer =
presenter =
starring = Jeffrey Hunter
Jack Elam
James Best
Frank Ferguson
Chubby Johnson
Mary Wickes
voices =
narrated =
theme_music_composer =
opentheme = "The Yellow Rose of Texas"
"as arranged by"
Frank Comstock and
Ned Washington
endtheme =
composer =
country = USA
language = English
num_seasons = 1
num_episodes = 26
list_episodes =
executive_producer = William T. Orr
Jack Webb
Jeffrey Hunter
producer = Richard M. Bluel
Joseph Dackow
Lawrence Dobkin
Jimmy Lydon
supervising_producer =
asst_producer =
co-producer =
editor = Byron Chudnow
story_editor =
location = flagicon|California California
camera =
runtime =
network = NBC
picture_format = 1.33 : 1 monochrome
audio_format = monaural
first_run = Thursdays at 7:30pm [ [http://aolsvc.timeforkids.kol.aol.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,870505-1,00.html Contemporary "Time Magazine" announcement of the premiere of "Temple Houston"] ]
first_aired = 19 September 1963
last_aired =
2 April 1964
preceded_by =
followed_by =
related =
website =
imdb_id = 0056788
tv_com_id = 5617

"Temple Houston" is a 1963–64 NBC television series which has been called "the first attempt . . . to produce an hour-long Western series with the main character being an attorney in the formal sense."Nevins, Frances M. "Westerns". "Prime Time Law: Fictional Television as Legal Narrative". Robert M. Jarvis and Paul R. Joseph, Editors. Carolina Academic Press. 1998. p. 212-213] It was the only show Jack Webb sold to a network during his ten months as the head of production at Warner Bros. Television. [ [http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/W/htmlW/webbjack/webbjack.htm Jack Webb at The Museum of Broadcast Communications] ] It was also the first Warner Bros. Television show to be aired on a network other than ABC, and the lone series in which actor Jeffrey Hunter played a regular part. [ [http://www.jeffreyhuntermovies.com./televisi.htm Jeffrey Hunter's Notable Television Appearances] ]


Due to interference from NBC upon the production team's concept for the series, it is somewhat difficult to speak of a single premise for "Temple Houston". In its broadest sense, however, it is a show based loosely on the career of the real-life circuit-riding lawyer Temple Houston (1860–1905), son of the more famous Sam Houston. Aside from that general statement, though, there is little which binds all the episodes together under a common framework. The series variously cast the characters and situations in both an overtly humorous and a deadly serious light. Writer Francis M. Nevin asserts of the first episode: "Clearly, the concept here is "Perry Mason" out West", going so far as to note that "Houston"'s court opponent "apes Hamilton Burger by accusing Houston of 'prolonging this trial with a lot of dramatic nonsense'". Later episodes turned Houston into more of a detective than a lawyer. Over the course of the series, the bulk of narrative saw Houston actually gathering evidence, rather than trying cases. In the end, the series largely eschewed criminal law in favor of overtly humorous plots, such as in the episode "The Law and Big Annie", which saw Houston using his legal expertise to help his friend figure out what to do after he had inherited an elephant.

Inasmuch as the series was loosely based on an actual person, producers tried to avoid storylines that would embarrass the two children of Temple Houston who were still alive when the series went on the air. [Production memo, "Temple Houston" files, Warner Bros. Archives, Cinema-Television Library, University of Southern California. The producers did not consult with Houston's family about the series, other than to inquire if any direct descendants were still living. Frank X. Tolbert, "Temple Houston's Family Speaks Up," "Dallas Morning News", August 25, 1963, sec. 1, p. 23.]


Jeffrey Hunter as Temple Houston
Jack Elam as George Taggart
Frank Ferguson as Judge Gurney
Chubby Johnson as Concho
Mary Wickes as Ida Goff

Some notable guest stars on the show were: Collin Wilcox, Susan Kohner, Everett Sloane, Robert Lansing, Kathie Browne, Robert Conrad, Anne Francis, Richard Jaeckel, Connie Stevens and Paula Raymond.



The earliest known conceptual documents for "Temple Houston" date back to 1957. It took about six years for a pilot to be filmed. That pilot, "The Man From Galveston", was filmed in March 1963, but was never broadcast on television. Instead, the 57-minute film was released theatrically in December 1963. A part of the reason for this method of release was because the series used a radically different cast; some were unavailable at the start of series production in August. [Production memo, "Temple Houston" files, Warner Bros. Archives, Cinema-Television Library, University of Southern California.] Actor Jeffrey Hunter was the only cast member to star in both pilot and series, although his character was re-dubbed Timothy Higgins in the pilot when it was released as a theatrical film.


When a Robert Taylor vehicle collapsed in the summer of 1963, NBC suddenly had a vacant slot on its fall 1963 schedule. It therefore quickly moved "Temple Houston" forward. "Houston" had only about three weeks from greenlight to its first date of filming. At the time it was greenlit, writing—much less pre-production—had barely begun. In this chaotic three weeks period, the series underwent a dramatic concept overhaul. Hunter described the situation in a 1965 interview:quote|In the first place, we had no time to prepare for it. I was notified on July 17 to be ready to start August 7 for an October air date. When we reached the screen we did not have a single segment ready. It was done so fast the writers never got a chance to know what it was all about. We all wanted to follow the line indicated by the pilot film, which we thought would make a charming series. NBC, however, favored making it serious.Spiro, J.D. "Happy in Hollywood". "The Milwaukee Journal". 4 July 1965.] |

The series was produced by Warner Bros. Television and Apollo Productions, a company co-owned by star Jeffrey Hunter, who had demanded to produce it in exchange for a film and television commitment to Warner Bros.http://www.jeffreyhuntermovies.com/WildestWesternsIssue2.pdf Glenn A. Mosley, "Temple Houston: The Story Behind a Forgotten Western". "Wildest Westerns Magazine", Issue No. 2, 2000. Under this contract, Hunter appeared in the Warner Bros. theatrical releases "Murieta" (1965) and "Brainstorm" (1965).]

By December 1963, the series was rated 31st of the 32 new shows that season. NBC then ordered a switch back to more humorous stories. The aim, according to Hunter, was to make something "on the order of "Maverick", but the change merely allowed the series to continue to the end of the season.


"Temple Houston" was pulled after one season of 26 episodes. Jeffrey Hunter later indicated that he thought the series' failure was due to an inability to establish a consistent tone for the project. He also noted the unusual title: "The big joke around town was, the series was about a synagogue in Texas.

After cancellation

Although Warner Bros. owns the copyrights to the episodes (allowing, for instance, the scripts to be remade), the theatrical and television distribution rights are owned "in perpetuity" by NBC, which has licensed those rights to various distributors over the years.

Because the show produced so few episodes, it has had little presence on the domestic syndication market. However, it appears to have enjoyed limited international syndication. The series was shown in Japan in 1963, ["Japanese Net Buys 'Houston' in TV Package," "Dallas Morning News", August 27, 1963, sec. 3, p. 5.] and on Australian regional television station GTS-4 in 1974. [ [http://televisionau.siv.net.au/tv220774.htm 1974 Australian television schedule] ] In Britain the program aired during 1964, [ [http://www.sunderlandecho.com/yesterdays?articleid=1886002 "Sunderland Echo" round-up of 1964 news and culture in Sunderland.] ] inspiring one of the few pieces of memorabilia from the show—a 1965 British annual. [ [http://www.booksandcollectibles.com.au/bsearch.php3?bsearch_submit=Search&auth=%3A&title=TEMPLE+HOUSTON+ANNUAL The 1965 "Temple Houston" Annual at booksandcollectibles.com.au.] ]

External links

*imdb title|0056788|Temple Houston
*imdb title|0057283|The Man from Galveston
* [http://www.jeffreyhuntermovies.com/WildestWesternsIssue2.pdf Temple Houston: The Story Behind a Forgotten Western] .
* [http://aa.1asphost.com/CTVA/US/Western/TempleHouston.htm "Temple Houston" at the Classic TV Archive]


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