The Yuma Treasure
Gene Roddenberry, Herb Meadow
Indians and Rattlesnakes and Beefcake, Oh My!,
It was just a few days before Christmas. What a gift to the ladies of the Fifties: Richard Boone stripped to the waist!
Who in Hollywood today would be audacious enough to handle a living fanged venom-bearing rattlesnake? Richard Boone was a brave man, or he was insane or he was insanely brave. The viewer must decide. He walks up to a venomous snake, a living diamondback rattlesnake hanging from a tree, grasps it in his bare hands and holds it over his head for the next two scenes. Would an actor today perform this heroic feat? More importantly, would the insurance company allow it?
Paladin accompanied an Army commander into Indian country to try to make peace between the Army patrols and the local Maricopa Indians. The commander had an agenda and when the wounded Indian returned to camp, Paladin turned his back and got whacked on the head.
In the next scene Richard Boone as Paladin lies stripped to the waist and staked spread-eagled in the desert. Boone had been a gifted athlete but he'd never bothered with beefcake shots as other actors had done. He was the first Western television star to remove his shirt. Indians soon staked out other Western actors, but Paladin was the first to be staked out on his back in the sand and show off his torso. At age 40 Boone's torso was still worth a look. There's little to add except to be very grateful to Gene Roddenberry for the scene. Beefcake is always to be appreciated. This is one of only two occasions when Boone appeared shirtless in this series. No accusations of objectifying him for his art will be made.
Paladin's horse comes to the rescue to get him out of this trouble. This is completely out of character for HGWT. Paladin is the focus of every episode, never the horse he rides. According to the book, Silent Hoofbeats, this particular well-trained mount was called Curley.
Paladin doesn't sing or play the guitar or do any of those other Western clichés. He rarely uses a rope to lasso anyone or anything (episode The Kid notwithstanding), so the help from this well-trained equine is the first and only time we see Paladin rely on his horse to get out of trouble. Paladin does not call the horse by name, either.
The conflict over the gold is trite, but the rattlesnake and the stakeout make this well worth viewing. It's true that people are greedy and filled with gold lust. Major Wilson trying to recall Paladin from West Point amuses. This is the first hint that Paladin is a nom de guerre.
Paladin's Horse: Curley, a bay with front white stockings and a white face stripe. Curley should be called Einstein.
Paladin's Gear: Black concha hat, black Western shirt open at the neck, black trousers, black holster with Colt. The spurs return and appear to be a different style in this episode.
Paladin Shoots: No one. Major Wilson is an accident. He doesn't count in the death toll.
Accidental Deaths: Major Wilson
Paladin's Total Kills: Manfred Holt, Jailbreak Team 3, Miguel Rojas, Strome's lackey, Mulrooney
Total Kills by Paladin: 7
Paladin Wounded: 0
Paladin Concussed: 1