Growing up as a member of America’s first TV generation, I have many memories of what I saw on that black-and-white screen. And one of my most vivid memories was this:
An episode of a classic Western series, Sugarfoot, circa 1959, in which Albert Salmi plays a hired killer, dressed in black, who softly sings “Streets of Laredo” as he stalks his victims. Now, how would a 10-year-old kid ever dream up something like that? And it creeped me out but good, too.
But now, now (!) I know that it wasn’t Sugarfoot, but Rawhide, it wasn’t 1959 but 1963, and Salmi’s character was not a hired killer but rather an enigma–as in, Is this guy even real? flesh and blood? what the devil is he? He does dress in black, though, and sing “Streets of Laredo.” If you’re interested, the Rawhide episode is called “Incident of the Pale Rider,” and we watched it last night on Youtube. Superb! And it was cool to see what Albert Salmi could do as an actor, when given the chance.
But really–why was my memory so far off the track? Now I have to worry about my other memories. Are they all off-base? I doubt it; but then why should this one have been so badly off-target?
Well, there were an awful lot of TV westerns back then, and I watched most of them, and this one with Albert Salmi, I only saw once. His character impressed itself deeply on my memory, but the details got mixed up.
Good thing I wasn’t a witness in a court case!