THE REBEL- Reviewing the Adventures of Johnny Yuma

Johnny Yuma

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A Post Civil War Adventure

In the early days of television, a popular subject was the American West. Stories usually based their attentions around the post Civil War period of the mid to late 1800s. Most of these great Westerns had something in common which centered their tales glamorizing a hero figure of interest. Some heroes came from backgrounds a bit shady and others had honors of courage and fame. But every story needs a good introduction to their main character. One that will capture the interest of a demanding audience seeking to be entertained.

In 1959, a western adventure called The Rebel was produced by Goodson-Todman and created by Andrew J. Fenady and Nick Adams. It aired on ABC. Not the normal hero of many dramas, but the background of hero, Johnny Yuma (Nick Adams) called the Rebel brought to the screen a look at the life of a confederate army private after the Civil War. Johnny who was raised by his marshal father Ned Yuma after losing his mother, left to join the army at the young age of 15. Johnny returned home to Mason City, Texas after the war was lost and found his father dead and his neighbors living in chaos. Johnny quickly intervenes to extract the bad guys from his town to bring peace back to the people he cares about. The angry young man with memories of a bitter war and lose of his father heads out on his father’s horse with a sawed off shotgun to act as a peacemaker to the needy people of Texas. He’s never given a badge to officially uphold the law, but his determined state of mind helps protect the innocent and keeps the evil from their doors.

Two Seasons

Episode #1, Johnny Yuma airs October 4, 1959 bringing the introduction for our hero as he returns home to find his father killed and his town being victimized by a band of outlaws. Special guest stars Richard Bakalyan, Philip Mansour, John Carradine, Edward Schaaf, Jeanette Nolan and Dan Blocker help make The Rebel another hit for ABC as they play great character roles in the first episode.

Week after week adventures of Johnny Yuma appeal to the western lover’s choice of entertainment. Johnny not only fought the bad guys and helped people he greeted along his travels, but he kept it all written in a journal he called his book. With the role of a hero and gift of an inspiring author this young man pierced the heart of his viewers while he seeks his own inner peace.

With the array of special guest stars and a theme song performed by Johnny Cash, The Rebel was bound to be a well liked television experience. But despite its appeal, sadly it only ran for two seasons with seventy six half hour episodes to its credit before given the axe of cancellation.

The final episode, The Executioner, aired June 16, 1961 with Johnny fighting Indians who had held three people hostage because of the death of two of their braves. The chief of the tribe forced Johnny to decide whose life would be taken in exchange. Another show of special appearances with such talents as Terry Moore, Barry Atwater, Ken Mayer, Charles Aidman and Arthur Peterson to bring an exciting adventure to the screen as The Rebel becomes a legend of its time.

The Rebel

We May Never Know What Happened to Him

Nick Adams was found dead in his home in 1968. A mystery surrounds his death which has never been fully understood. Suicide, accidentally drug interaction with alcohol or foul play could have been the reason we lost him so young. We may never know. We missed seeing how far his talents could have soared and with that in mind, Nick Adams left this world far too soon.

Ballad of Johnny Yuma

Ballad of Johnny Yuma written by Andrew J. Fenady and Dick Markowitz

Away, away, away rode the rebel, Johnny Yuma.

Johnny Yuma, was a rebel,

He roamed, through the west.

And Johnny Yuma, was a rebel,

He wandered alone.

He got fightin' mad,

This rebel lad,

He packed his star as he wandered far

Where the only law was a hook and a draw, the rebel.

Away, away, away rode the rebel.

Johnny Yuma, was a rebel,

He roamed, through the west.

And Johnny Yuma, was a rebel,

He wandered alone.

He searched the land,

This restless lad,

He was panther quick and leather tough

Cause he had figured that he'd been pushed enough, the rebel.

Away, away, away rode the rebel.

Johnny Yuma.

Johnny Yuma, was a rebel,

He roamed, through the west.

And Johnny Yuma, the rebel,

He wandered alone.

He was fightin' mad,

This rebel lad,

With a dream he would hold until his dying breath

He would search his soul and gamble with death.

Away, away, away rode the rebel, Johnny Yuma.

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Comments 2 comments

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

It was a good show. Nick Adams did well in it but none of the other parts I have seen him play were all that good. He usually was wimpish in the ones I saw like in "No time for sergeants." Thanks for writing about these. Just about every actor of my generation generation started out in these westerns.


Diana Lee profile image

Diana Lee 4 years ago from Potter County, Pa. Author

From comments I got with the Have Gun Will Travel review, The Rebel was mentioned fondly. I knew it had to be the next one I worked on. I love all these old westerns and the actors/actresses who found fame among all of them.

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