Stoney Burke and Quality
“Who the Hell is Stoney Burke, and Why Should You Care?” is an excellent article about Stoney Burke, the character and the Daystar / United Artists / ABC television production.
Author Don McGregor delivers a detailed report about what makes Stoney Burke a television series to be remembered with great respect. From the outset, he admits that striving to win a golden buckle isn’t something most people understand, but he quickly goes on to tell and show us that Leslie Stevens and his creative crew gave us far more than a bunch of rodeo cowboys.
From Jack’s outward display of emotions to
cinematographer Conrad Hall’s intricate use of natural lighting to casting’s
selection of fine guest stars, Stoney Burke had it all. As McGregor
tells it, “Stoney Burke is a series
that is character-centric, not plot-centric, which means the actors have a
chance to show a lot of ‘colors’ as actors like to call it, and display
emotions they seldom had a chance to do elsewhere.”
In a screen capture from an unnamed Stoney
Burke episode McGregor shows Conrad Hall's use of natural lighting, rather
than harsh studio lighting, to add reality to a scene. The style of the light
fixture behind Ves Painter (Warren Oates) tells us that they are in the desert
southwest or possibly Mexico. It also tells us that it is nighttime. Most of
all, it adds a distinctly film noir character to the scene. The lighting, as
well as the expressions on the men's faces, tells us that something frightening
Of course, we know Jack liked artistic projects the best. He went on to use some of Hall’s lighting techniques on Hawaii Five-0. In a very effective screen capture from “Murder – Eyes Only” (Season 8), we know right away that something very chilling surrounds Erica Waldron’s hospitalization at the Pendler Clinic.
Similarly, Leslie Stevens and Conrad Hall used Jack’s talent as an artist. In the Stoney Burke episode “Web of Fear,” Stoney is seen sitting at a table in a bar and sketching on a napkin. There is a frazzled nature to the sketch that reflects the fear Stoney feels as he tries to unravel the mystery of who is intimidating him and trying to harm him.
A scene in the Stoney Burke episode “Kinkaid” shows Stoney using Jack's artistic skills to form three-dimensional letters from two-dimensional ones as he holds a conversation with Kinkaid, the manager of a halfway house for troubled teens. Before he can give two dimensions to an “O”, the conversation ends not to Stoney’s liking, and he scrawls a simple “O” to fill the gap seen between the “R” and the “D.”
Also, Leslie Stevens gave generous airtime to Jack's outstanding horsemanship. You'll see screen captures illustrating that point in Don McGregor's article. Maybe, just maybe, there was a streak of saddle bronc rider in Jack, as well as in Stoney.
Read about it: McGregor, Don. Who The Hell Is Stoney Burke and Why Should You Care? In Comics Bulletin: Riding Shotgun. April 25, 2013. http://www.comicsbulletin.com/columns/5637/who-the-hell-is-stoney-burke-and-why-should-you-care/.
Stoney Burke Pays Tribute to Multi-Dimensional Films
In the episode “Image of Glory,” allusion is
made to MGM/Cinerama’s How the West Was Won, which debuted on February
20, 1963. “Image of Glory” aired on February 4, 1963. It refers to the "widescreen process that originally projected images simultaneously from three synchronized 35 mm projectors onto a huge, deeply curved screen" to create more life-like images (Wikipedia). Here's how it played out on Stoney Burke:
Red: Hey! Let’s go to the movies!
Ves: The only movie playing in this town is one of them widescreen, multo-colored (sic) gorgeous extravaganzas.
Red: I’d like to see that.
Ves: It’s a western! It’s a western! Do you wanna look at some more horses?
Red: Some of my best friends are horses.
The Day That Jack Lord Almost Died
(Publication data unknown, p. 56)
In the episode of Stoney Burke entitled “The Test” (Episode 31), Stoney is about to ride the meanest bronc in the rodeo, Megaton, when the stall door jams. He is thrown from the horse while still in the stall. The bronc is bucking wildly, and Stoney is jammed against the back of the stall, being trampled and kicked. The other cowboys have to kick the door open before the horse can move away from Stoney.
The article claims this really happened, during filming, and Jack was the rider on real-life horse, Meathead, when it happened on a hot day in October 1962. The details were related by Bob Dowdell, who portrayed Cody Bristol. He compares that real scene to the staged scene in the first episode, “The Contender,” when Bristol brother, Harland, was killed in a nearly identical event. Jack had no memory of the incident or the 15 minutes that followed.
Webmaster’s Notes: No mention is made of why Jack was allowed to ride the horse, instead of a rodeo stunt double. Because we know insurance companies are very sensitive to their insureds engaging in dangerous activities, I have to wonder whether this story is true.