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The Essentials - April 2006
Remind Me
 Winchester '73

Pop Culture 101 - WINCHESTER '73

The Winchester rifle, along with the Colt 45, was probably the most well-known firearm of the West. Oliver Winchester (1810 – 1880) was an arms maker from New Haven, Connecticut. In 1858 he assigned one of his employees, Benjamin Tyler Henry, to design a repeating rifle. The resulting Henry rifle required newly-designed metal-cased ammunition, which was recharged by pulling down a trigger guard in a quick motion. It could fire 15 rounds. The gun was so popular that in 1866 the company was renamed the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, and introduced the Model 1866. The next refinement of the gun increased the cartridges to .44 caliber; this was the Winchester '73. There were only 133 One-of-a-Thousand Model 1873's made.

Winchester '73 was adapted to a one-hour radio program on the Lux Radio Theatre, broadcast on November 12, 1951 on CBS. James Stewart and Stephen McNally reprised their roles from the film.

In 1967 Universal re-made Winchester '73 as a made-for-television movie directed by Herschel Daugherty. Tom Tryon starred as Lin McAdam, joined by John Saxon as his brother "Dakin." Dan Duryea also appeared in the film, but as Bart McAdam, father of the brothers. The TV movie also starred John Drew Barrymore, Joan Blondell, John Dehner, and Paul Fix. It aired on March 14, 1967.

Dodge City Marshall Wyatt Earp is played in Winchester '73 by character actor Will Geer. In films from 1932, Geer appeared steadily until being blacklisted in 1951. He acted in only two films between 1951 and 1962. He became a familiar face again in films and television until his death in 1978. The role of Grandpa Walton in the TV series "The Waltons" (1972-1978) finally brought him wide recognition.

by John Miller



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