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The TV That Time Forgot: Sugarfoot

In the early days of TV, most major Hollywood studios saw it as “the enemy,” the force that was driving down attendance at movie theaters.

In those days, only Universal (which frankly could use the money), Walt Disney (who knew how to use TV to promote his movies and new theme park) and Warner Brothers really embraced the new medium.

Warner Brothers specialized in churning out 60-minure Westerns and private eye shows for ABC-TV. They began with the Western Cheyenne. When that clicked, others soon followed. One of the first was Sugarfoot, starring Will Hutchins.

While the show lasted 4 seasons, it didn’t run every week. Its first season (1957-58), it alternated with Cheyenne. The 2nd season, Bronco was added to the rotation. It wasn’t until the 4th season (1960-61) that Sugarfoot got a regular weekly airing.

The premise of the show involved Hutchins character, Tom Brewster, the proverbial tinhorn from the East – a guy so bad at being a cowboy the other ‘ombres nicknamed him “Sugarfoot” (apparently “Twinkletoes” was a little too over the line in the late 50’s).

Sugarfoot was ostensibly a lawyer, but he seemed to get involved in a fair amount of gunplay. He also seemed to roam far from the show’s Oklahoma setting (especially given how difficult long distance travel was back in the late 1800’s.

Like another W-B Western, Maverick, Sugarfoot was played very tongue-in-cheek. Jack Elam, veteran (or should that be “grizzled veteran”) of many Westerns was a frequent co-star as Hutchins’ sidekick Toothy Thompson.

As the vogue for all things Western began to fade as our attention would turn to doctors and spies, Sugarfoot rode off into that TVland sunset, occasionally returning in reruns.

The entire series is currently available on DVD.

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