Today, the linguistic formula “Have [whatever] - Will [do something]” is firmly cemented into our language. Prior to 1957, it wasn’t.
Then, on September 14, 1957, the great western TV series Have Gun – Will Travel premiered on the CBS network.
After that, variations of the show’s pithy title became about as common as variations of “Got milk?” have become since that slogan was first used in 1993.
Have Gun – Will Travel starred Richard Boone as the main character, Paladin. Yep, just Paladin – period. One name.
Paladin was what might be called a problem solving consultant, though most people thought of him as a professional gunfighter for hire.
He tried to make sure he only worked for people who were on the right side of some issue or problem. And, he also tried to settle things without violence if he could. But he could draw and fire a gun faster than, well, anyone he had to deal with in the show.
So, if you drew against Paladin, you were probably both a bad guy and stupid. And dead.
In work mode, Paladin dressed in black and wore a Colt 45 six-shooter. When he wasn’t working, he lived the life of a fancily-dressed dude in San Francisco.
That’s where people could contact him, as noted in his enigmatic business card, which had the image of a chess knight (a.k.a. a paladin) and the words:
“Have Gun Will Travel. Wire Paladin. San Francisco.”
Any messages that came for him would usually be delivered by the other regular character in the series, Hey Boy. Hey Boy was a Chinese bellhop at Paladin’s residence, the Carlton Hotel, and kind of an on-call gofer for Paladin.
Have Gun – Will Travel aired for six glorious seasons, until 1963. I watched it every week when I was a kid, on my family’s grainy black-and-white TV.
Now, the show is available on DVD and on the CBS “classics” webcasting site. I don’t think they make many shows as great as Have Gun – Will Travel nowadays. But I will admit the technology for watching it is better.
Here are some of the other famous quotes and phrases linked to SEPTEMBER 14:
• “Life Is Just A Bowl Of Cherries.” - Hit song from the stage show George White’s Scandals of 1931, which opened at the Apollo Theatre in New York City on September 14, 1931.
• “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time.” - President Calvin Coolidge, in a famous telegram about the Boston police strike that he sent to Samuel Gompers, President of the American Federation of Labor, on September 14, 1919.
• “Say It loud: ‘I’m Black and I'm Proud’” - Hit song by James Brown, which entered Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart on September 14, 1968.