I wasn't always Santa
How many westerns can you name that are set in Canada?
Can you name one with cowboys, and not Mounties?
Can it actually be called a western, and not a northern?
More importantly, can a Canadian even be a cowboy?
Let's summarize history's answer with one word... yes.
Canada indeed had ranches, cowboys, and cattle drives,
just as it had trapping, buffalo hunting, mining, homesteading,
plus the happy beneficiary of all this activity, the displaced Indian.
A much more ground-breaking--or at least sod-busting--question is,
Can Canadian actors play cowboys?
Again, the answer is yes.
The earth resounds with the pounding hooves of horses past
ridden by the likes of Glenn Ford, Jay Silverheels, Lorne Greene,
Graham Greene, John Ireland, Chief Dan George,
and the unending thunder trails into et cetera.
Last but not least is Raymond Burr, captain of Cavalry
in Gunsmoke's beloved sister radio western, Fort Laramie.
Jack Kruschen was yet another Canadian who braved
what was in Old West days a largely undefined border,
and crossed into the Hollywood frontier.
As part of Kruschen's kredentials as a westerner,
he appeared 16 times in radio Gunsmoke and once in the tv half-hrs;
5 times in Fort Laramie; once on radio Have Gun Will Travel,
19 times in Frontier Gentleman;
and in quite a few lesser or juvenile westerns.
All in all, as one of those hands who rode for both CBS and NBC brands
under ramrods Norman Macdonnell and Jack Webb,
Krushen racked up more than 600 radio rodeos.
One of the best places to learn Jack Kruschen's voice
is in the episode of Norman Macdonnell's Rogers of the Gazette
titled 'That Taylor Boy,' which aired on July 30, 1953.
The Kruschen here who plays constable Jim Evers
has a much younger voice than the white-haired plump jolly older man
whom we are accustomed to seeing on television.
Before he got that Santa Clausy look that fenced him in on screen,
Jack Kruschen got to ride a wider range on radio.
Before Kruschen settled down to roly-poly roles
as pleasant pudgy polka-dancers
or doughnut-shaped doctors in movies & television,
he played unpleasant pudgy murderous punks.
Check out The Adventures of Jim Bowie episode
'Jackson's Assassination,' where he plays Frost,
or the Tightrope episode 'Appointment in Jericho,'
where he plays Capitaz,
to see how good he was at playing extraordinarily vicious murderers.
If Richard Beals had cornered the market on portraying boys,
and if Ralph Moody had a monopoly on playing Indian chiefs,
Jack Kruschen was uncannily convincing as native guides
in Escape's exotic horror adventures.
In 'A Good Thing' he is persuasive as an Igorot,
in 'Eye of Evil' as a Burmese native,
and in 'The Abominable Snowman' he is Sherpa guide Nasang.
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