Friday, May 20, 2016

Four Actresses Challenging TV's Stereotyped Women's Roles

Beverly Garland in "Decoy", Honor Blackman in "The Avengers", Anne Francis in "Honey West" and Barbara Stanwyck in "The Big Valley".

When television sets started to be seen in American homes. There was a difference between how a women would be portrayed in motion pictures were films could be targeted to specific age groups. While what was in our living rooms on that 13 inch black and white screen was viewed by all ages and the new industry could not be certain who was watching at any time. So the programming reflected the "Family Values" of the time. Additionally, because of those "Family Values" the industry was controlled by men,

In 1957 when Beverly Garland starred as the "Decoy" in the Police/Detective television drama of that name. The idea was revolutionary, because as my mother and grandmother knew. A women's place was in the home subservient to her husband and children in many ways.

To illustrate this I suggest all my readers read the following actual 1955 "Good Housekeeping Magazine" article. Which points out exactly where a women's place was in the 1950's scheme of things that I grew up under:

The following is a very small list of some of the prime time network and syndicate television shows from 1957. These and others were what the new syndicated Police/Detective drama "Decoy" was up against when it premiered.

Variety and Music:

Ed Sullivan
The Lawrence Welk Show|
The Milton Berle Show
The Steve Allen Show
Your Hit Parade
American Bandstand
Country Music Jubliee
The Ford Show starring Tennessee Ernie Ford


The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp
Wagon Train

Family Sitcoms:

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet
Father Knows Best
The Danny Thomas Show
Bachelor Father
Leave It To Beaver

Other Police and Detective Shows (Notice the Names of the Stars)

Highway Patrol (Starred Broderick Crawford)
Meet McGraw (Starred Frank Lovejoy)
The New Adventures of Charlie Chan (Starred J, Carrol Naish)
Perry Mason (Starred Raymond Burr)
Richard Diamond, Private Detective (Starred David Janssen)
Dragnet (Starred Jack Webb)
M-Squad (Starred Lee Marvin)

Shows with a Women's Name in the Title in 1957:

I Love Lucy
The Gale Storm Show aka: Oh Susana
The Loretta Young Show

Out of this list of 29 shows 26 had men as the major characters, or were built around a known male personality. It could be argued that Amanda Blake as "Miss Kitty" on "Gunsmoke" was a very strong women's role, but her character came fourth after Matt, Chester and Doc. A similar argument could be made of Barbara Hale as "Della Street" on "Perry Mason", but her role although "confidential" was as a secretary and not a lawyer, or other male profession related to legal matters.

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Programs like "The Thin Man" (1957-1959) starred Peter Lawford and Phyllis Kirk. While the earlier "Mr. and Mrs. North" (1952-1954) starred Richard Denning and Barbara Britton. Both programs were Comedy Detective shows about husband and wife teams."The Thin Man", of course, still had Nick and Nora's dog "Asta". Both of these television shows were based upon a series of novels and a previous popular radio program. "The Thin Man" also upon a successful series of motion pictures starring William Powell and Myrna Loy. While "Mr and Mrs North" had been a very successful Broadway play. However, even though Kirk and Britton were co-billed in the television versions. The two shows were considered Lawford's and Denning's and the two actresses carried the typical 1950's women's mold which was not part of their previous incarnations.

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In 1957 there were only three programs that referred too an actress by her name in the title as I mentioned above. The primary was Lucille Ball in "I Love Lucy", but the show was still a situation comedy revolving around Ball's antics such as "Leave It To Beaver" revolved around the youngest Cleaver. The program ran from  October 15, 1951 through May 6, 1957. It ended five months prior to the premier of "Decoy". When Lucille Ball became pregnant in 1952. Lucy and Dezi's show had to deal with it and that lead to the  birth of "Little Ricky". However, the program still concentrated on comical situations rather than actual family situations.  Additionally, "Little Ricky" was played by various actors and not Lucy and Dezi's real child.

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Desi Arnez, Jr, (Desiderio Alberto Arnaz IV) was born on January 19, 1953. His parent's show never mentioned he had an older sister Lucie Arnaz (Lucie Desiree Arnaz). Who was born three months prior to the first episode of "I Love Lucy". Indicating that the original idea of the "Ricardo's" was not to have a child in the show.

The second television series with a women's name as part of the title starred singer/actress Gale Storm and was her second television program. Storm's first show "My Little Margie" (1952-1955) started as a summer replacement for "I Love Lucy" and moved to a regular spot. Gale Storm became as major a television performer as was Lucile Ball to the viewing audience.

"The Gale Storm Show " (1956-1960) would be syndicated without her name in the title as "Oh, Susana" starting immediately after the original CBS network run. In this program Storm played a cruise director on a ship with the stories revolving around guest stars such as Boris Karloff, Pat Boone and even Robby the Robot. "The Gale Storm Show" was an early version of "The Love Boat" concept.

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Running from 1953 through 1961 and originally titled "A Letter to Loretta", but changed to "The Loretta Young Show" was the third program with a actresses name in the title.  This was an anthology series with Loretta Young basically becoming the hostess. Young would introduce each problem and then appear at the end to thank  the audience and comment one what had been seen.

Originally the idea was to have the Young appear in half of each seasons programs, but after that first season and the work load involved. She appeared only sporadically in the actual programs. Her health was deteriorating and a large amount of the program had guest hosts. The show ran for eight seasons under her name and then went into syndication as "The Loretta Young Theater" without her introductions and endings, because it was thought her dresses would "Date" the show.

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The series might be called a female rip-off of Jack Webb's "Dragnet" in style and look, but it was far from that label. Like "Dragnet" is was supposedly based upon actual police department incidents. Which permitted it to break the "Women's mold". While "Dragnet" was based upon the Los Angles Police Department and "Decoy" based upon the cases of members of "The Bureau of Women of the New York Police Department",

Each episode of "Decoy" opened with a dedication to those officer's and reminded the viewers that there was more than being a housewife for women in real life.

Like Jack Webb's no nonsense Sgt. Joe Friday. Beverly Garland's "Casey Jones" was in the same mold. However, unlike Friday, Jones, at times, showed sympathy to those she became involved with.

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Beverly Garland entered motion picture acting in a small, but critical part in the class 1950 "Film Noir" "D.O.A." as "Miss Foster".

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Her motion picture acting career would include several 1950's Science Fiction features starting with 1953's "The Neanderthal Man". This group would include two of Rodger Corman's science fiction classics:: 1956's "It Conquered the World" and 1957's "Not of this Earth". Along with the semi-classic horror film, 1959's, "The Alligator People" featuring an aging Lon Chaney, Jr.

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Although Beverly Garland would appear in a few other feature films, It would be appearances on many diverse television shows that made up the majority of Garland's acting work through 2004. The actress became a very familiar face to television viewers and after retirement opened a motel in North Hollywood near Universal Studios which is still there under her name.

Besides the ground breaking "Decoy" there were four other television shows Beverly Garland would be associated with, but in stereo type women's roles, The first found her playing Barbara Harper who married Fred MacMurray's Steven Douglas on the sitcom "My Three Sons". Next Garland played Ellie Collins the wife of the title star on "The Bing Crosby Show". That program was followed by the role of Dotty West the mother of Kate Jackson's Amanda King on "The Scarecrow and Mrs King" and last Beverly Garland was Abigail Holt the mother of Stephanie Zimbalist on "Remington Steele",

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Returning to the ground backing "Decoy". The series premiered October 14, 1957 in syndication and would only last one season, but those seasons in the 1950's were long compared with today. "Decoy" had 39 episodes.

Garland's Casey Jones was an undercover Police Officer. The first episode had her moving into a"seedy" rooming house to befriend a women whose ex-boyfriend is a suspect in a jewel theft.

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Not only was "Decoy" the first television drama with an actress as its star, but the series also attempted to center on the issues facing women. Topics included unplanned pregnancy and rape. Two subjects that in 1950's America were taboo to speak about as they just didn't happen.

Here are four examples of "Decoy's" story lines:

Episode 8: "Escape to Danger"
Casey tries to find a woman who has fled believing she murdered her husband.

Episode 10: "The Scapegoat"
A woman, who's in jail for embezzling money to care for her mentally disabled son, escapes.

Episode 27: "The Sound of Tears" is described
Ken Morgan is murdered by a woman who clearly had strong feelings for or against him. She unloaded the contents of a revolver into him. Casey goes to work investigating the women in his life: his domineering mother who wouldn't let another female have him; the young woman who's practically a member of their family; and the ex-fiance whom Ken's mother made him give up.

Episode 29: "Cry Revenge"
Casey gets involved in the lives of a woman and her daughter when they receive a series of threatening phone calls. The situation takes a strange turn when the young woman marries the man who makes the calls.

The following is from an article by Gary O'Dell on the blog "TV Party" describing Beverly Garland as Casey Jones:
In playing a police woman who was sometimes pounding the beat but most often undercover was an actress’ field day and star Garland was more than up to the challenge. One week she would be a “plain clothes man,” the next she would be “doing time” in a women’s prison playing a tough inmate without a trace sentiment or hesitation. Later, in another episode, she’s a nurse; after that, a dancer in a carnival. Garland’s work in the series is timeless and stunning, it turns on a dime, going from astute, observing police officer to hardened gun moll in slight seconds. It’s practically a real life crime that Garland was not Emmy-nominated (or Emmy winning) for her performance

Twelve episodes of the series are available on DVD as "Decoy" is now in Public Domain. The 39th episode "The Lost Ones" premiered on July 7.1958.  That final story line was like the others hard hitting and television "Taboo" for that year:

Casey's visit to a girl she arrested and later befriended takes a turn into the macabre when she discovers the girl's brutal father dead. The girl claims to have shot him, but Casey isn't so sure she believes her.

After the series ended. You would have thought both the television networks and syndicated show producers would have gotten the message about major roles for actresses. However, once again this was the 1950's and American's on their 1958 television sets saw the premiers of:

The Rifleman
Wanted Dead or Alive
Bat Masterson
Frontier Doctor
Broken Arrow
Northwest Passage
Yancy Deringer

Police and Detective Shows
Peter Gunn
Man with a Camera
Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer

American Television was still a man's world. There was one exception with the premier of "The Donna Reed Show" on September 24, 1958.  However, the popular actress would play "Donna Stone a middle class housewife" opposite actor Carl Betz for eight years through March 29, 1966.


Before Marvel Comics created "The Avengers". In 1963, there was the British television series of the same name.

Television viewers in the United States first saw John Steed, played by Patrick Macnee, in 1965 with his then partner Mrs. Emma Peel played by Diana Rigg.

Most American's were unaware that "The Avengers" hadn't started with Steed and Mrs. Peel. In 1998 when a movie version of the series was released, Ralph Fiennes portrayed Steed and Uma Thurman was Mrs. Peel. Thanks to Diana Rigg Emma Peel became the most associated partner to John Steed World wide.

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The character of Mrs. Peel overshadowed both John Steed's original female partner and his second Cathy Gale. A character most American's were unaware of in 1965.

When "The Avengers" premiered January 7, 1961 on ITV/ABC/Thames with the episode "Hot Snow". John Steed's original partner was male and named Dr. David Keel portrayed by Ian Henry.

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Between the Ian Henry original season and the appearance of  Dr. Cathy Gale was a television strike in the UK. When the series restarted filming Ian Henry left the program and was replaced by Jon Rollason as Dr. Martin King. Added to the mix was a nightclub singer named Venus Smith played by Julie Stevens. Her character was introduced in a nude scene which illustrates British television's daring compared to the "Family Values" United States' television programming. The year was 1962, but both characters would last only the second season. Having been replaced by a late addition as the third member of that second season's team Honor Blackman.

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Honor Blackman played Dr, Cathy Gale. Who had the interesting combination of being a first degree black belt  judo expert and anthropologist that was widowed during the Mau Mau uprisings in Kenya.

What makes Gale so interesting and strong a women's character besides Blackman's performance was a need to keep the cost of "The Avenger's" episodes down. The producers took dialogue written for Ian Henry's character of Dr. Keel and used it for Dr. Gale. Giving her lines written for a man, but delivered by a women. Additionally the producers made the decision to dress Honor Blackman in leather.

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Once the third season got underway there were subtle references to a sexual relationship between Gale and Steed. Which would not be seen with Mrs. Peel after the character of Dr. Gale left "The Avengers". There was one episode that found Gale actually living in Steed's apartment, but a quick reference to Steed living at a hotel was used by the writers in an attempt to tone down the implications. Only the audience always thought otherwise.

Honor Blackman started acting classes at the age of 15 in 1940. Her first film was 1947 in a motion picture entitled "Flame is the Spur" playing a non-speaking role. Her first television role was the recurring part of "Nicole" the secretary to American actor Dan Dailey on the British series "The Four Just Men" in 1959.

Besides playing Cathy Gale. Honor Blackman is known for three very different motion picture portrayals. The first playing Queen Hera in Ray Harryhausen's classic "Jason and the Argonauts" in 1963. While still on "The Avengers" for a change of pace.

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The second was the reason she left "The Avengers", because of the conflicts in filming. Honor Blackman became the third leading Bond Girl with the double entendre name of "Pussy Galore". When she played opposite, or was that under (?), Sean Connery in 1964's "Goldfinger".

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In the John Steed and Emma Peel 1968 episode "Too Many Christmas Trees". John Steed receives a Christmas Card from Dr. Cathy Gale. As he reads it Steed remarks:
 "Whatever is she doing at Fort Knox?" 
Great inside joke.

Her third film role reunited Honor Blackman with Sean Connery. This was in a 1968 British look at the American Western genre made in Europe called "Shalako". This motion picture was based upon a Louis L'Amour novel of the same title. In this picture Blackman played Lady Julia Daggett the wife of Sir Charles Daggett portrayed by Jack Hawkins. The film tells the story of a group of British and German's visiting the United States to see the "Old West". A type of event that happened frequently in the 1880's.

However, two things go wrong for Lady Daggett.

First Stephen Boyd as the European's guide knowingly takes the group into an area of New Mexico's Apache territory. Where there is a treaty that white's will not enter. As the story progresses being bored of her very old husband. Lady Daggett decides to have an affair with Boyd and goes with him when he escapes a impending Apache attack. This leads to the second thing that goes wrong for her. She is dumped by Boyd, raped and killed by the Apache's chief played by character actor Woody Strode.

Here is a link to my blog article on both Woody Strode and Michael Pate an Australian actor who played many Native American's in movies such as "Hondo", "Major Dundee" and "McClintock".

In "Shalako" Connery falls in love with and wins the Countess Irina Lazzar played by Brigette Bardot. The film is a routine western, but with some good acting and the Europeans are a nice twist to the standard plot line.

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For those Whoovians, like myself, out there. Honor Blackman had a role in the third episode of 1986's "The Trial of a Time Lord" entitled "Terror of the Vervoids",

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Honor Blackman is also a political animal and I end this little look at my favorite, if you haven't already guessed it, member of "The Avengers" with a quote from her. When she refused "The Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)" in 2014:
They ring you beforehand to ask if you’d like to accept, and I think they were quite shocked when I declined, But since I'm a republican I thought it would be somewhat hypocritical to pop up to the Palace ... Not like Sean (Connery), who accepts a knighthood but never comes here, doesn't pay tax here and supported a yes vote in the referendum. But I don't think he thinks deeply about politics.


Should you be a fan of 1950's Science Fiction and somebody mentions the name Anne Francis. You might think about Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's 1956 reworking of William Shakespeare's "The Tempest", "Forbidden Planet". The motion picture starred Walter Pigeon, Leslie Nielsen and Anne Francis as Altaira. The movie of course also featured Gale Storm's future guest "Robby the Robot". Who also co-starred in M-G-M's 1957  "The Invisible Boy".

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A year prior to  the release of "Forbidden Planet". Anne Francis was seen in both the hard hitting Glenn Ford film  "Blackboard Jungle". The picture also featured two 26 year old actors Sidney Poitier and Vic Morrow.playing High School students. Her second picture for 1955 was "Bad Day at Black Rock" starring Spencer Tracy and Robert Ryan.

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Anne Francis would also appear in two classic episodes of the "Twilight Zone". The first premiered on June 10, 1960 "The After Hours". Can you tell which is the real actress and which is her mannequin double?

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Then there was "Jess-Belle" which premiered on February 14, 1963 with Francis playing a "Witch" in love for a young man who loves another.

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However, it is the 1965 spin off of Gene Barry's popular television series "Burke's Law", "Honey West", named for Anne Francis' character that I want to look at now.

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"Honey West" was originally a series of books created in 1957 when most detective novels were about males such as "Mike Hammer". On September 20,1963 Gene Barry, who had starred in both the television series "Bat Masterson" and George Pal's Oscar winning 1953 "War of the Worlds", premiered as Amos Burke in "Burke's Law". This television series was about the captain of the Los Angeles Police Department's Homicide Division. Who happened to be a millionaire and was chauffeured around in a Rolls-Royce. Aren't all police captain's millionaires?

"Honey West" had first appeared on April 21, 1965 in the "Burke's Law" episode "Who Killed the Jackpot?" The official listing of Season 2, Episode 30, describes the program as:
When a wealthy banker is found murdered in a seedy hotel, it becomes a race to see who will catch the killer first - Burke or glamorous private eye Honey West, who had been hired by the victim. The banker had been planning on skipping the country with a huge amount of cash, now missing, along with his gun. Was his wife, the sleazy yacht owner she was involved with, the dead man's attorney, his very "faithful" secretary, or a local scuba diver in on the deal? Which was the killer? Will Burke or Honey figure out the crime first - and will they survive (one suspect already has been murdered!)?
On September 17, 1965 Anne Francis' series "Honey West" premiered on ABC and it became the first women detective/private eye show on television.

West's partner and her "Man-Friday" was Sam Bolt played by John Ericson. Anne Francis' character also had a pet Ocelot named "Bruce". "Bruce" loved to watch the Ivan Tors television show "Daktari" starring Marshall Thompson which took place in Africa. Many episodes found "Bruce" in front of the television set. Both Sam and "Bruce" shared in the "crime capers" the innovative West had to solve.

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In contrast to the show. Once again the other television programs of 1965 with female leads were still tied to 1950's American "Family Values" and a women's "Proper Place" in the home, or some form of comedy.

Viewers saw 19 year old Sally Field in the premier of "Gidget"> A very toned down version of both the 1957 novel and 1959 motion picture introducing Sandra Dee, Barbara Eden was seen in the premier of "I Dream of Jennie" and Eva Gabor premiered as Eddie Albert's wife on "Green Acres", From previous years were Elizabeth Montgomery in "Bewitched", Mary Tyler Moore as the wife on "The Dick Van Dyke Show", Inger Stevens still the housekeeper for a U.S. Senator on "The Farmer's Daughter". While on "The Donna Reed Show" the actress was in her 8th season as "Donna Stone" that stereo typical middle class housewife and even Lucille Ball was back on "The Lucy Show". The series premiered two years after Ball's divorce from Desi Arnaz. Lucy played a widow raising two children. Another sign of the times and those "Family Values" "The Lucy Show" was to have been about two divorcee's living together and raising their children. However, it was thought viewers would be offended by seeing Lucy as a divorcee each week. Even though everyone knew of her divorce proceedings. So she became a widow.

Looking at the format for "Honey West" there were definitely shades of James Bond and foreshadowing a future event the British television series "The Avengers". Some of the gimmicks used were a high-tech surveillance van, an exploding compact and "Honey West" was known to wear a gas-mask garter belt and tear gas earrings.

Anne Francis' clothing reflected a feline character which was transferred to the actions her character used in solving the cases and also reflected "Honey West's" connection to "Bruce".

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In 1965 as Anne Francis premiered as "Honey West" on ABC. James T. West played by Robert Conrad premiered on CBS. "The Wild Wild West" was James Bond in a Western setting. However, the year prior to these two shows on NBC another Bond rip off with Robert Vaughn and David McCullum "The Man from  Uncle" had started the trend.

Based upon those other programs. The format of "Honey West" was perfect and Anne Francis received a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress and was nominated for a Best Actress Emmy. However, ABC looked at the budget for "Honey West" and the ratings for Jim Nabors in "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C." opposite on CBS. ABC's executives made a decision to end the program after only one season. The replacement was to import the far cheaper British television show "The Avengers", Exit Anne Francis as "Honey West" and enter Diana Rigg as "Mrs. Peel".


Two days prior to the premier of "Honey West" on September 15, 1965 ABC aired the first episode of "The Big Valley" about the Barkley family of Stockton, California. Playing the head of the family in the series was actress Barbara Stanwyck as Victoria Barkley.

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What can I say about an actress of Stanwyck's caliber being on a 1960's television series? Ruby Catherine Stevens was born on July 16, 1907. In 1923 she was appearing on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theater as a "Ziegfield Girl". Ruby was only 16 years old.


In 1926 Ruby changed her name to Barbara Stanwyck for a run in a play entitled "The Noose". Her new first name came from her character Barbara Frietchie and her new last name for another actress in the play Jane Stanwyck.

In 1927 Barbara Stanwyck had her first motion picture role in the silent film "Broadway Nights" playing a fan dancer. Stanwyck lost the lead, because she couldn't "cry" on cue. By 1944 Barbara Stanwyck was the highest paid women in the United States and had been nominated three times for the Best Actress Academy Award.

In December 1964 the actress would appear in her last motion picture "The Night Walker". This was a psychological thriller written by Robert Boch, "Psycho", and produced and directed by William Castle. Her co-star was ex-husband actor Robert Taylor.

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The original concept of Victoria Barkley was that of a somewhat fragile widow, but the power of Barbara Stanwyck reshaped her into what was the strongest female character to date on United States television. Which of course went against the grain of American women television characters and was extremely controversial,

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The date the series took place is confusing as characters and events place the action anywhere between 1870 to 1884 from episode to episode. Even when the previous one might be referred too. This didn't seem to bother the writers or producers and the viewers were really unaware.

Victoria Barkley was loosely based upon Euphemia Ann Hill and the ranch she and her husband built in Calaveras County.

Here is a link to a mini-biography about Euphemia from the blog "Women of the Old West" dated September 18, 2012. It is also dedicated to Barbara Stanwyck.

As the above article indicates Euphemia had three sons. In "The Big Valley" Victoria Barkley had three sons and a daughter. They consisted of Jarrod Thomas Barkley played by Richard Long, Nicholas "Nick" Barkley played by Peter Beck and daughter Audra Barkley played by Linda Evans.
Victoria's third and youngest son was Eugene who was studying medicine in Berkeley. Eugene was played by Charles Briles and was only seen in a total of nine episodes. Added to this group and also bucking the television families of 1965 was Lee Majors as Heath Barkley. Heath was the illegitimate son of Victoria's late husband.

Back on September 12, 1959 NBC premiered "Bonanza". The program told the story of the Cartwright family and would be on the air through January 16, 1973. Almost four years past "The Big Valley". Comparisons between the two programs were immediately made as "Bonanza" was set in the 1860's around Virginia City, Nevada. "Bonanza" told of Ben Cartwright and his three sons who lived on the "Ponderosa" a 600,000 plus acre ranch.  Pernell Roberts portrayed the eldest Adam, Dan Blocker as the lovable middle son Eric known as "Hoss" and Michael Landon as the youngest Joseph known as "Little Joe", However, in reality that was as far as the comparisons of the two shows should have gone, but initially reviewers called "The Big Valley" a female "Bonanza" until the stories got going.

As a comparison all three of Ben's sons were legitimate, but from three different wives who passed away over the years. Although the plots were full of action. They were basically typical television Western fair and in some episodes the relationships shown between Ben and his sons could have been called "My Three Sons" in the Old West; A difference between the two programs was "Bonanza" attempted to deal with social issues, but this had to be toned down or the sponsors would bolt. The NBC executives demanded this and the writers and producers complied.

While "The Big Valley" seemed not to worry about sponsors and was a hard hitting show as reflected first by the idea of an illegitimate son. The relationship between Heath and his "brothers" caused tension as he attempts to be accepted as a "Barkley". Heath's background formed part of the plots in different episodes and there was a black quasi-nanny named Hannah who had raised him. Creating a recurring role on a prime time series. Which added social commentary of its own for 1965. However, Victoria accepts Heath and refers to him as "My Son". Which brings me to her character,

As I said Barbara Stanwyck wasn't going to play a frail women as Victoria Barkley was meant to be. She wasn't either a Ben Cartwright father figure just guiding his sons, or being involved with the locals in city politics and problems to solve. A character type Lorene Greene would reuse as Adama on the original "Battlestar Galactica". Victoria Barkely was a strong willed women of the American West. As Stanwyck had portrayed in motion pictures. Such as Sierra Nevada Jones the "Cattle Queen of Montana", or Jessica Drummond in the Sam Fuller western "Forty Guns".

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Yes Victoria could be tender with her sons and especially daughter. Along with working besides the citizens of Stockton, but also Victoria Barkley was a matriarch you never should under estimate, At one time Victoria Barkely could be the elegant lady of the largest holding around Stockton, California and at others she was the strong willed foreman who ran the spread and demanded loyality,

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The situations Victoria Barkley were involved with were not the typical Hollywood television fair of the period. They reflected back, in some programs, to Beverly Garland in "Decoy" for subject matter.
In one program Victoria impersonates a thief to go undercover at a women's prison to report on it's treatment of the inmates. Other shows might find Victoria placed under guard in a asylum to prevent her testimony in a murder trial, or taken prisoner by a prison wagon train. Replacing a dead female prisoner to keep the body count the same.

Victoria Barkley was never a Samantha Stevens, Jeannie, or even Agent 99. She was always a far different women's character than American's saw on any program at the time including "Honey West".

Another way Stanwyck's status was shown on the program was in the way she was introduced each week:

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There was a sense of power and respect in that four letter word "MISS".

Today, May 20, 2016, with television programs like "Madame Secretary", "Murder 101" "The Good Wife" and "Scandal". It is hard to imagine not seeing actresses in leading dramatic roles. However, women on television had "their place" in the male dominated industry for decades and roles such as "Casey Jones", "Dr. Cathy Gale", "Honey West" and especially "Victoria Barkley" were the very few real exceptions.

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