This episode of The Rifleman brought together past and future superheroes
In 1961, two superheroes met on the small screen
Near the end of season three, "Stopover" is already a pretty dramatic Rifleman episode. The story finds Lucas and Mark huddling in their barn in the middle of a snowstorm. When a coach gets stuck outside, the passengers ask Lucas if they can wait out the storm with them. Of course, he accepts. But when a gunman traveling under a different name is uncovered among the passengers, the group starts pointing fingers about a recent robbery. Things get more complicated when a love triangle develops.
The first guest star name that jumps out is Adam West. While this episode came out in 1961, five full years before West would appear as Batman, he's still instantly recognizable. The future superhero plays the reluctant gunman, trying to stay off the radar.
But there's another hidden superhero in this episode.
While the whiskey salesman isn't a heroic character in this episode, his actor is a different story. Vince Medford was played by Gordon Jones. Or as you might know him — The Green Hornet.
The Green Hornet originated as a radio show in the 1930s. In 1940, the superhero finally got to see the big screen...as a movie serial. Movie serials used to play sequentially in chapters in cinemas, once a week, usually following one story. The 13-chapter serial from 1940 was simply called The Green Hornet and the title character himself was played by Gordon Jones.
Twenty-one years later, he would appear on the McCain ranch to go head-to-head with Adam West.
So when you're watching this episode, you're not just watching stranded coach passengers waiting out a storm; you're watching past and future superheroes meet.
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Gordon Jones had a long and varied career as a character in movies and TV.
I remember him best as "Mike the Cop" , the perpetually frustrated foil of Abbott and Costello on their early-'50s TV show (he was in nearly all of the series episodes, covering two seasons).
Gordon Jones also did many features, getting the most notice in "My Sister Eileen" as the "Ramblin' Wreck From Georgia Tech!" (and a heck of an engineer).
Gordon Jones passed on in 1963, only 52 years old; otherwise, he might have racked up even more TV and movie appearances (see if you can spot a number of appearances he made as a sideline cop in Perry Mason episodes over the years).
We'll agree to disagree, okay!!
In the 1978 Superman movie, Kirk Alyn and Noel Neill (Clark Kent/Superman and Lois Lane from the 1940s serials - and she of the 1950s TV show) play the parents of a little Lois Lane as they ride a train that the teenage future Superman (Jeff East) jumps over...
Lyle Talbot (the villain in the second Superman serial) shows up all over 1950s and 1960s TV - most recognizably as Ozzie's next-door neighbor on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.
I remember Joker once came close to doing so - when he was dressed as an operatic clown and at the last second Batman got a "Bat-gas-pellet" out of his utility belt and threw it on the ground creating a smoke screen so he and Robin could escape the Joker's clutches.
Then the Joker vowed "to all that's unholy" that he would never again be tricked by Batman's utility belt and devised his own, then switched it with Batman's during one of the fight sceens.
Seriously, such oddities exist all over old movies and TV shows. How often have you watched a program or movie where someone who is puttering around their home (always on a late night, sometimes with a nice thunderous rainstorm outside) and they hear suspicious sounds upstairs like a possible intruder. Then, they grab whatever might be a likely weapon (sometimes they don't even do that!) and slowly start climbing the stairs to investigate. Doesn't occur to them to call the police or maybe go next door to the neighbor's or if they live in a deserted area, just jump in the car and leave like more sensible people might do in real life. But, if the characters did the sensible thing, where would be the fun/suspense/horror, etc.?