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The Tall Man

Title Card - THE TALL MAN

NBC Network
1960 - 1962
30 Minutes

Barry Sullivan starred as deputy sheriff Pat Garrett, a.k.a. "The Tall Man" who maintained law and order in 1870s New Mexico.

"My business is the law and I mean to mind it."

                             -- Pat Garrett

The Tall Man earned his nickname because he stood tall and firm against all dishonesty in the Lincoln County territory.

Pat was occasionally assisted by William H. "Billy" Bonney (Clu Gulager), a misguided youth whom Pat had initially captured but released into the custody of a local rancher.

Garrett's relationship with Billy was that of a mentor who tried to teach him about right and wrong. But Billy's wild nature often got him in trouble, despite Pat's brotherly council. Over time, Billy's run ins with the law made Pat realize that one day they would have a reckoning.

When Billy's step-father, Bill Antrim was gunned down by a trio of
gunmen, Billy refuses to listen to Pat and sets out for revenge.

Billy was always in some sort of trouble. When he teaches a youngster how to use a gun, the boy gets wounded and his father comes gunning for Billy. And the theme of gunslingers and revenge continued when Jack Baron, an ex-Quantrill raider travels to Lincoln County to find Bonney for killing of one his men. And even when Billy does the right thing by refusing to rustle cattle with some friends, he becomes a target of their retribution.

One of Billy's strangest exploits involved Edward Van Doren (Richard Ney), a shipping tycoon and avid hunter who hired Billy to help track mountain lions. But when the man gets Billy alone, he reveals his real desire; he wants to hunt a human, and he's chose Billy as his target.

Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid - THE TALL MAN
Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid

Listen to Theme Music

Other folks in and near Lincoln County included:

  • Dana Massey as Maria, Billy's sweetheart. She gets killed by the Roberts Brothers who came looking for Billy. Another girl named Maria (Pat Michon) was another of Billy's romantic interests. Her father was a sheep rancher who wasn't popular with the local cattle ranchers.
  • Ford  Rainy as Sheriff Brady, Pat's boss. He gets killed and Pat gets elected as the new town Sheriff.
  • Leonard Nimoy as Deputy Johnny Swift. He fills in for Pat while he was recuperating from a sneak gun attack. The town believed Billy shot Pat, but he was innocent of the charge. Later, Pat accidentally kills Johnny and he temporarily quits his job.
  • Narda Onyx as Teresa Oberon, Pat's intended bride who dies.
  • Richard Jaeckel as Denver, a rival gunslinger who becomes Billy's friend after Billy wounds Denver in a showdown.
  • Murray Matheson as John Tundall, Billy's employer.
  • Patricia Donahue as Elena, Pat's old flame. She returned to Lincoln County to lure Pat in to a gunfight wit her her ex-boyfriend Joe Durango who was pursuing her to retrieve money she stole from him.

TRIVIA NOTE:  The Billy the Kid character was not killed on the TV show, but historically, Billy the Kid, who killed two deputies while escaping jail, was tracked down and shot by Pat Garrett in 1881.

TALL MAN was the first TV series for actor Clu Gulager who later  appeared as Sheriff Emmett Ryker on THE VIRGINIAN.

Obituaries: Barry Sullivan: 06/06/1994

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