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Title Card - LANCER

CBS Network
1968 - 1970
60 Minutes

Set in California's San Joaquin Valley of the 1870s, this was the story of Murdoch Lancer (Andrew Duggan), a gruff, widowed rancher who operated a 100,000 acres cattle and timber empire.

Murdoch came to America from Inverness, Scotland in the late 1840s. In Boston, he met and married Catherine Garrett. Together, they trekked to a ranch in California. Sadly, Catherine died giving birth to their first son, Scott who was later sent back east to live with his wealthy maternal grandfather, Harlan Garrett. 

After a suitable mourning period, Murdoch  married a Mexican girl named Maria in Matamoras. Within a couple of years, however, she fell in love with a gambler and ran off with him and her young son, Johnny.

Cast of LANCER
Murdoch, Scott, Teresa, Johnny and Jelly

Listen to Theme Music

Twenty year pass and Murdoch, now much older, realized that the challenges and encroachment by outsiders were making it too difficult to manage his holdings alone, and so he enlisted the aid of the Pinkerton Detective Agency to deliver a proposal to each of his grown sons, namely an all-expenses-paid trip to California plus $1,000 for one hour of their time.

Subsequently, both Johnny (James Stacy) and Scott (Wayne Maunder) listen to Murdoch's terms - one third ownership each in the Murdoch estate - and decide to stay and rescue the family legacy.

Johnny: C'mon. You've been chewing it around long enough, old man. Spit it out, I don't care.
Murdoch: Maybe that's it. Maybe you don't care--not enough anyway. But you'd better. Because you signed on for a third of the responsibility for this ranch.
Johnny:  I'd do just fine if you didn't push so hard.
Murdoch: I don't have time to break you in easy.

But the two sons were polar opposites. The cynical, rebellious Johnny had lived as gunslinger Johnny Madrid along the Mexican border and was hardened by the open range. A gun for hire, Johnny's luck almost ran out when he was captured by Mexican police and scheduled for execution by firing squad until a Pinkerton Detective negotiated his release with a bribe.

Scott, on the other hand, had lived the privileged life of a Harvard educated gentlemen in Boston. In his 20s, Scott was a Lieutenant in the Union Cavalry. He fought in the Civil War and spent a year as a prisoner of war in a Confederate compound before heading to California.

Despite their difference, the two estranged brothers eventually bonded and became a mighty force in Murdoch's defense of his (their) land.

Other residents at the Murdoch ranch included:

  • Elizabeth Baur as Teresa O'Brien, Murdoch's ward. She is the daughter of Murdoch's ranch foremen, Paul O'Brien, who had been killed by "Land Pirates." Murdoch adopted Teresa when she was abandoned by her mother, Angel Day (Cloris Leachman) who years later (as a saloon entertainer) tried but failed to regain custody of her daughter.
  • Paul Brinegar as Jelly Haskin, a soft-hearted old codger who worked as the ranch foreman.
  • John Beck as Chad Lancer, a hillbilly relative from Kentucky who took up residence at the ranch.

Obituaries: Andrew Duggan: 05/15/1988; Paul Brinegar: 03/27/1995; William Kerwin: 10/27/1989; William Bryant: 06/26/2002;

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