Tony Young

Tony Young
Tony Young

Tony Young obituary in “The Independent” in 2002

TonyYoung was born New York 28 June 1932; married (one daughter); died West Hollywood, California 26 February 2002.

When American television’s production of western series for the international market was at its height, Gunslinger provided a slightly different take on a well-worn formula. Tony Young stepped into the role of Cord, working undercover for the US Cavalry to keep peace at the end of the Civil War.

Posing as a gunfighter, Cord answered to the local army garrison commander, Captain Zachary Wingate (played by Charles D. Gray), who was based at Fort Scott in New Mexico, and the drama boasted guest appearances from stars such as Buddy Ebsen. The programme’s theme song, performed by Frankie Laine, even touched the fringes of the British singles charts but never struck the same chord as the singer’s hit “Rawhide”, from the western series that made Clint Eastwood a star.    

Against competition from series such as GunsmokeBonanzaMaverick and CheyenneGunslinger (1961) survived only one run of 12 episodes and Young never achieved star status again on television. Nevertheless, he forged a career as a character actor in many American programmes screened world-wide.

Born in New York and raised in Hollywood, Young was the son of the actor Carleton G. Young, who was best known as Ellery Queen and the Count of Monte Cristo on radio. Young junior was a handsome, athletic teenager, but his father insisted that he get a good education before considering an acting career. So Young served with the US Air Force and studied at Los Angeles City College, before finding work as a page at the American television network NBC.

With his foot in the door, he was soon appearing in western series such as BroncoFuryLawmanMaverick (all 1959), Laramie (1960) and The Deputy(1960). These programmes were a staple diet of small-screen entertainment at the turn of the 1950s, following the popularity of Hopalong CassidyThe Lone RangerThe Roy Rogers Show and Davy Crockett.

Tony Young
Tony Young

When the chance of fame came with Gunslinger, Young made his début in the hour-long weekly series in February 1961, but his moment of glory was soon over. For a while, he found himself typecast in westerns, taking the lead in the films He Rides Tall (1964), as a sheriff who finds himself in a shootout with his foster-father’s natural son, and Taggart (1964), as the killer who has a price put on his head after avenging the deaths of his parents.

Young also appeared in the Elvis Presley film western Charro! (1969) and made guest appearances in television series such as Bronco (again, 1961), Cheyenne (1962), Wagon Train (1964), Bonanza (1965) and The Virginian (1967). Later, he was seen in episodes of It Takes a Thief (1969), Mission: Impossible (1972), Starsky and Hutch (1977), Fantasy Island (1978), The Fall Guy (1982), Knight Rider (1984) and Quantum Leap (1993).

Star Trek aficionados remember him in a 1968 story as the Elasian guard Kryton, who sabotages the USS Enterprise‘s warp drive (which powers the ship) when Captain Kirk (William Shatner) falls for the female leader of the planet Elas.

Young was married to the actress Madlyn Rhue and subsequently lived for many years with his partner, Kathy Balaban.

Anthony Hayward

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