Colt .45 (TV series)

Colt .45 (also known as The Colt Cousins) is an American Western series which aired on ABC between October 1957 and September 1960.[1]

Colt .45
Wayde Preston as Christopher Colt, 1959
Also known as''The Colt Cousins''
Created byBased on the film by
Thomas W. Blackburn
Developed byRoy Huggins
StarringWayde Preston
Donald May
Kenneth MacDonald
Theme music composerMack David
Jerry Livingston
Opening themePerformed by Hal Hopper
Composer(s)Paul Sawtell
Bert Shefter
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes67
Executive producer(s)William T. Orr
Producer(s)Roy Huggins
Harry Tatelman
Cedric Francis
Mack David
Joseph Hoffman

Oren W. Haglund (production manager)

Gordon Bau (make-up)
Editor(s)James Moore
Running time24 mins
Original networkABC
Picture formatBlack-and-white
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseOctober 18, 1957 (1957-10-18) 
September 27, 1960 (1960-09-27)
Preceded byColt .45
Related showsMaverick
Shotgun Slade

The half-hour program is loosely based on the 1950 Warner Bros. film of the same name, starring Randolph Scott. Colt .45 was part of the William T. Orr-produced array of westerns which Warner produced for ABC in the late 1950s and early 1960s.


Roy Huggins developed the series with Wayde Preston in the part of undercover government agent Christopher Colt, who takes the cover of a traveling Old West pistol salesman, hence the title of the series. Colt .45 also featured fictionalizations of actual historical characters including Edwin Booth (brother of John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln), Sam Bass, Billy the Kid, Lew Wallace, Judge Roy Bean, Buffalo Bill Cody, Ned Buntline, and Calamity Jane.

During this period of time, Colt .45 was one of several ABC/WB western productions, along with Cheyenne, Sugarfoot, Lawman, Maverick and Bronco. Various series leads occasionally did crossover episodes on some of the other WB programs. One of the most imaginative was the "Hadley's Hunters" episode of Maverick, in which Bart Maverick (Jack Kelly) comes upon Christopher Colt's sales satchel, abandoned in a room and covered with dust since the series had been cancelled the previous season.

Cast change

In 1958, series star Wayde Preston left the series because he claimed he was made to do stunts that required a stunt man. Preston was also reportedly unhappy with the show's low budget which caused other problems. Because of Preston's departure, producers were forced to air repeats of the series along with a few new episodes to complete the 1958-1959 season.[1]

In 1959, Donald May assumed the lead role as Sam Colt, Jr., the cousin of Christopher Colt.[2] After leaving the series, Warner Bros. prevented Preston from obtaining other acting jobs. He eventually returned briefly to the series but was demoted to a co-starring role with May.[3]

Guest stars

Episode list

Season 1: 1957–58

No Ep Title Directed by: Written by: Air date
11"Judgment Day"
"The Peacemaker"
Douglas HeyesS: Roy Huggins;
T: Marion Hargrove
October 18, 1957 (1957-10-18)
22"A Time to Die"Douglas HeyesLeo GordonOctober 25, 1957 (1957-10-25)
33"The Three Thousand Dollar Bullet"Franklin AdreonEric Freiwald,
Robert Schaefer
November 1, 1957 (1957-11-01)
44"Gallows at Granite Gap"Franklin AdreonS: Joseph Chadwick;
T: William F. Leicester
November 8, 1957 (1957-11-08)
55"Small Man"Edward BerndsFrederick BradyNovember 15, 1957 (1957-11-15)
66"Final Payment"Franklin AdreonWells RootNovember 22, 1957 (1957-11-22)
77"One Good Turn"Edward BerndsJohn McGreeveyNovember 29, 1957 (1957-11-29)
88"Last Chance"Edward BerndsS: Harold Shumate;
T: Gil Doud
December 6, 1957 (1957-12-06)
99"Young Gun"Walter GraumanT: Daniel B. Ullman;
S/T: William Driskill,
Joel Rapp
December 13, 1957 (1957-12-13)
1010"Rebellion"Walter GraumanS: Anthony Coldeway;
T: James Gunn
December 20, 1957 (1957-12-20)
1111"The Gypsies"Alan Crosland Jr.S: Wesley Haynes;
T: Frederick Brady
December 27, 1957 (1957-12-27)
1212"Sign in the Sand"Alan Crosland Jr.Frederick BradyJanuary 3, 1958 (1958-01-03)
1313"The Mirage"Montgomery PittmanMontgomery PittmanJanuary 10, 1958 (1958-01-10)
1414"Blood Money"Abner BibermanDavid LangJanuary 17, 1958 (1958-01-17)
1515"Dead Reckoning"Abner BibermanJack HarveyJanuary 24, 1958 (1958-01-24)
1616"Decoy"Leslie H. MartinsonS: Albert Aley,
William MacLeod Raine;
T: James Edmiston
January 31, 1958 (1958-01-31)
1717"Rare Specimen"Leslie H. MartinsonGene Levitt,
Eugene Manlove Rhodes
February 7, 1958 (1958-02-07)
1818"Mantrap"TBAMontgomery PittmanFebruary 14, 1958 (1958-02-14)
1919"Ghost Town"Lee SholemS: Nelson Nye;
T: James Gunn
February 21, 1958 (1958-02-21)
2020"The Golden Gun"Richard L. BareFrederick BradyFebruary 28, 1958 (1958-02-28)
2121"Circle of Fear"Leslie H. MartinsonS: Ben Markson;
T: Howard Browne
March 7, 1958 (1958-03-07)
2222"Split Second"Leslie H. MartinsonS: Orville H. Hampton;
T: William F. Leicester
March 14, 1958 (1958-03-14)
2323"Point of Honor"
"Woman on the Stagecoach"
William J. Hole Jr.Steve FisherMarch 21, 1958 (1958-03-21)
2424"The Deserters"Leslie H. MartinsonS: Norman Daniels;
T: Tony Barrett,
Frederick Brady
March 28, 1958 (1958-03-28)
2525"The Manbuster"Oliver DrakeS: Richard Wormser;
T: Oliver Drake
April 4, 1958 (1958-04-04)
2626"Long Odds"Franklin AdreonS: Joseph Hoffman;
T: David Lang
April 11, 1958 (1958-04-11)

Season 2: 1959

No Ep Title Directed by: Written by: Air date
271"The Escape"Lee SholemT: Irwin Winehouse,
A. Sanford Wolfe
April 5, 1959 (1959-04-05)
282"Dead Aim"Lee SholemS: Sid Harris;
T: Wells Root
April 12, 1959 (1959-04-12)
293"The Magic Box"George WaggnerIrwin Winehouse,
A. Sanford Wolfe
April 19, 1959 (1959-04-19)
304"The Confession"Harold DanielsDwight V. BabcockApril 26, 1959 (1959-04-26)
315"The Man Who Loved Lincoln"Arthur RipleyS: James Barnett,
Jack Emanuel;
T: Leonard Lee
May 3, 1959 (1959-05-03)
326"The Sanctuary"Jodie CopelanS: Jack Emanuel;
T: Frank Gruber,
Dean Riesner
May 10, 1959 (1959-05-10)
337"The Saga of Sam Bass"William J. Hole Jr.T: Irwin Winehouse,
A. Sanford Wolfe
May 17, 1959 (1959-05-17)
348"Amnesty"William J. Hole Jr.S: James Barnett,
Jack Emanuel;
T: Irwin Winehouse,
A. Sanford Wolfe
May 24, 1959 (1959-05-24)
359"The Pirate"Montgomery PittmanS: Day Keene;
T: Finlay McDermid
May 31, 1959 (1959-05-31)
3610"Law West of the Pecos"Alan Crosland Jr.John Tucker BattleJune 7, 1959 (1959-06-07)
3711"Don't Tell Joe"TBAS: Peter Dixon;
T: Maurice Zimm
June 14, 1959 (1959-06-14)
3812"Return to El Paso"Lee SholemT: Irwin Winehouse,
A. Sanford Wolfe
June 21, 1959 (1959-06-21)
3913"Night of Decision"Leslie H. MartinsonIrwin Winehouse,
A. Sanford Wolfe
June 28, 1959 (1959-06-28)

Season 3: 1959–60

No Ep Title Directed by: Written by: Air date
401"Queen of Dixie"Herbert L. StrockIrwin Winehouse,
A. Sanford Wolfe
October 4, 1959 (1959-10-04)
412"The Reckoning"TBACarl OnspaughOctober 11, 1959 (1959-10-11)
423"The Devil's Godson"Herbert L. StrockS: James Barnett,
Jack Emanuel;
T: Malcolm Stuart Boylan
October 18, 1959 (1959-10-18)
434"The Rival Gun"TBAS: Mack David;
T: Malcolm Stuart Boylan
October 25, 1959 (1959-10-25)
445"The Hothead"Paul GuilfoyleS: Mack David;
T: Milton Raison,
Dean Riesner
November 1, 1959 (1959-11-01)
456"A Legend of Buffalo Bill"Emory HorgerS: James Barnett,
Jack Emanuel;
T: William Driskill
November 8, 1959 (1959-11-08)
467"Yellow Terror"Herbert L. StrockIrwin Winehouse,
A. Sanford Wolfe
November 15, 1959 (1959-11-15)
478"Tar and Feathers"Emory HorgerIrwin Winehouse,
A. Sanford Wolfe
November 22, 1959 (1959-11-22)
489"Alias Mr. Howard"Herbert L. StrockT: A. Sanford WolfeDecember 6, 1959 (1959-12-06)
4910"Calamity"Paul GuilfoyleDwight NewtonDecember 13, 1959 (1959-12-13)
5011"Under False Pretenses"TBAS: Elmer Kelton;
T: Dwight Newton
January 10, 1960 (1960-01-10)
5112"Impasse"Paul LandresLee Loeb,
Rudy Makoul
January 31, 1960 (1960-01-31)
5213"Arizona Anderson"George WaggnerMack David,
Lee Loeb
February 14, 1960 (1960-02-14)
5314"The Cause"H. Bruce HumberstoneIrwin Winehouse,
A. Sanford Wolfe
February 28, 1960 (1960-02-28)
5415"Phantom Trail"Lew LandersS: James Barnett,
Mack David;
T: Nat Tanchuck
March 13, 1960 (1960-03-13)
5516"Breakthrough"TBAKenneth GametMarch 27, 1960 (1960-03-27)
5617"Chain of Command"Lew LandersS: Roy Huggins;
T: Howard Browne,
Dean Riesner
April 5, 1960 (1960-04-05)
5718"Alibi"Lew LandersS: Edmund Morris;
T: W. Hermanos
April 12, 1960 (1960-04-12)
5819"Absent Without Leave"TBAS: Hugh Benson;
T: William F. Leicester
April 19, 1960 (1960-04-19)
5920"Strange Encounter"Herbert L. StrockS: Irving Rubine;
T: W. Hermanos,
William F. Leicester
April 26, 1960 (1960-04-26)
6021"Trial by Rope"Herbert L. StrockW. Hermanos,
William F. Leicester
May 3, 1960 (1960-05-03)
6122"The Gandy Dancers"TBAT: David Lang,
Edmund Morris
May 10, 1960 (1960-05-10)
6223"Martial Law"William J. Hole Jr.T: W. Hermanos,
Clair Huffaker
May 17, 1960 (1960-05-17)
6324"Attack"William J. Hole Jr.T: W. Hermanos,
Dean Riesner
May 24, 1960 (1960-05-24)
6425"Bounty List"Lee SholemT: W. Hermanos,
Finlay McDermid
May 31, 1960 (1960-05-31)
6526"Appointment in Agoura"Lee SholemT: W. Hermanos,
Edmund Morris;
S/T: William F. Leicester
June 7, 1960 (1960-06-07)
6627"Showdown at Goldtown"Lee SholemS: Kenneth Perkins;
T: W. Hermanos,
William F. Leicester
June 14, 1960 (1960-06-14)
6728"The Trespasser"Lee SholemT: Clair HuffakerJune 21, 1960 (1960-06-21)

Reception and cancellation

Upon its debut in October 1957, Colt .45 was a respectable ratings draw for ABC. It helped ABC win its timeslot against NBC and CBS.[4]

By season two, however, behind the scenes problems caused a dip in viewership. After series star Wayde Preston left the series due his dissatisfaction with working conditions, producers were forced to repeat episodes to fill out the second season. There were also problems with the show's sponsorship which changed repeatedly. According to author Alvin H. Marill, the choice to cast Donald May in the lead role after Preston's departure was not explained in the storyline.[5] Wayde Preston eventually returned to the series but by then, ratings had dropped off and ABC canceled the series in 1960. The final episode aired on September 27, 1960.

Production notes

Theme song

The Colt .45 opening theme music was composed by Hal Hopper with lyrics by Douglas Heyes.


The TV show was adapted into a comic strip by Dan Spiegle, distributed by Dell Comics. [6]


  1. Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle F. (17 October 2007). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present (9 ed.). Ballantine Books. p. 273. ISBN 0-345-49773-2.
  2. Abbott, Doug; Jackson, Ronald (2009). 50 Years of the Television Western: A Pictorial History. AuthorHouse. p. 80. ISBN 1-434-35925-5.
  3. Moore, Barbara A.; Bensman, Marvin R.; Van Dyke, Jim (2006). Prime-Time Television: A Concise History. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 146. ISBN 0-275-98142-8.
  4. "Sunset Trailblazer in All-Out Race to Grab Adult Western Pull". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc.: 2 28 October 1957. ISSN 0006-2510.
  5. Marill, Alvin H. (2011). Television Westerns: Six Decades of Sagebrush Sheriffs, Scalawags, and Sidewinders. Scarecrow Press. p. 46. ISBN 0-810-88132-2.
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