In addition to her many accomplishments, Pancho Barnes was an early supporter and pioneer in television. In late 1947 Pancho Barnes decided to help fund an early television series called COWBOY SLIM. The series was filmed at her 360-acre ‘Rancho Oro Verde’ property and ‘Happy Bottom Riding Club.’ The Pancho Barnes Trust Estate Archive contains the only two known surviving episodes from this TV series: “Stagecoach Days” and “Wild Pinto.”
The Cowboy Slim series aired in 1948 on TV station, KTLA (Channel 5) transmitting from Los Angeles, California. KTLA was the first commercially licensed TV station in the western United States, having begun operations in January 1947. It’s founder, Claus Landsberg, was a friend of Pancho Barnes and an early member of the Happy Bottom Riding Club.
The series starred Sherman Laudermilk as Cowboy Slim and co-starred Pancho’s young stepson, Richard ‘Dickey” McKendry, who used the screen name ‘Buck Horn.’ Sherman Laudermilk was art director at KLTA and wanted to work ‘in front of the camera’ rather than behind the scenes. Laudermilk was also a close friend of Pancho Barnes and an early member of her Happy Bottom Riding Club.
Pancho Barnes wrote songs for the TV series. The episode “Stagecoach Days” features a song and lyrics written by Pancho Barnes called “Song of the Bad Man” and can be heard at 23:10 – 25:09 minutes into the episode. The singers are Bob Vaughn, Jim Yates and Dick White. In this episode Pancho Barnes can also be seen acting as an ‘extra’ dressed as an Indian rider holding a spear in the ‘dream sequence’ scene attacking the stagecoach. She is riding the light-colored horse in the scene that starts 19:18 minutes into the episode.
These two surviving episodes provide a unique glimpse into the world of early television and the involvement of Pancho Barnes in the entertainment industry.
We hope that you enjoy watching these historic early-TV episodes.
For more great videos about Pancho including “Wild Pinto” from Cowboy Slim, visit the Pancho TV page.