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Popular TV Equines

Thunder - A wild black stallion that befriended eight-year-old Cindy Prescott (Melora Hardin), her young neighbor, Willie (Justin Randi), and his stubborn mule Cupcake on the Saturday morning live-action adventure THUNDER/NBC/1977-78.

Thunder the Black Stallion

Other friends of Thunder included:

  • Clint Ritchie as Bill Prescott, Cindy's father and owner of the Hardin Ranch.
  • Mellissa Converse as Annie Prescott, Bill's veterinarian wife.
  • Ray Girardin as Sam Williams, Willie's father.
  • Cupcake the Mule, often ridden by Cindy and Willie.

Here are a few exploits of Cindy and Willie's adventures where their equine friend Thunder came to their rescue:

  • Cindy rides in a rodeo with a girl with an ambitious mother.
  • A stray bullet fired by teenagers threatens Willie's eyesight.
  • Cattle rustlers hit the Hardin ranch.
  • Cindy and Willie are kidnapped by outlaws.
  • Newly acquired live saving skills come in handy for Cindy and Willie who rush the rescue of people in need.
  • Cindy objects to Bill's plans to kill a dangerous wounded lion.
  • Cindy and Thunder rescues a chauvinist scoutmaster's son.
  • Prejudiced locals are unfriendly to an Indian and his son.
  • A prospector accidentally poisons Cindy's dog.
  • Two escaped juvenile delinquents hold Cindy and Willie against their will.

On the first episode "Thunder and the Jokesters" (09/10/77), Thunder the black stallion saves Willie and Cindy from a forest fire caused by a practical joker.

THUNDER the Black Stallion

TRIVIA NOTE: The series was developed by the producer/writer of the horse adventure FURY/NBC/1955-60 and shot in Round Valley, north of Bishop, California.

Thunder (real name: Ott) and Cupcake were owned by Bobby Davenport. Cupcake the mule was trained to "Burp" on camera. Thunder played in the Universal remake of Black Beauty (1978).

The popular western lawman Red Ryder (Rocky Lane/Bill Elliott) from the TV/Movie adventure series RED RYDER also rode a black stallion called Thunder.

Red Ryder debuted in Dell Comics' Crackajack Funnies #9 (March 1939). On the radio, Red Ryder (beginning February 3, 1942 on the Blue Network) got his horse moving by saying "Roll, Thunder, Roll."

Obituaries: Clint Ritchie: 01/31/2009

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