Monday, September 6, 2021

NO TRUE SCOTSMAN BLOGATHON: Wagon Train, The Annie MacGregor Story (1958)

 

The No True Scotsman Blogathon is the brainchild of Gill at Realweegiemidget Reviews. Contributor's mission statement: "An actor or actress playing a Scot even though they themselves are not Scottish." Holy Scrooge McDuck, Batman! 
Day 1     Day 2     Day 3     

I am taking a look at an episode of Wagon Train from the venerable western's first season with the accents of guest stars Jeannie Carson and Tudor Owen.


THE ANNIE MacGREGOR STORY

Written by Frank W. Marshall
Directed by Mark Stevens
First aired: Wednesday, February 5th, 1958


Ward Bond and Tudor Owen

Major Adams: "Have you ever tried to argue with a Scotchman? Well, I have!"

The Seth Adams wagon train has come upon quite a sight in the prairie. A wagon train of kilt-wearing MacGregors dealing unsuccessfully with a broken wagon wheel. Their leader Angus MacGregor stubbornly refuses any assistance while his daughter Annie tries to play a conciliatory role between her beloved father and the kind strangers. Among the kind strangers is Jason Campbell and sparks are flying between the immigrant girl and the guest star wagon train scout.

Jeannie Carson as Annie MacGregor

Special Guest Star Jeannie Carson plays Annie. Born into a show business family in Yorkshire in 1928, Jeannie became a musical star in the 1952 hit play Love from Judy. Stage success led to movies such as As Long as They're Happy and An Alligator Named Daisy, plus an invitation to do American television. Jeannie played a Scottish lass in her CBS television series Hey, Jeannie!, 1956, and here in The Annie MacGregor Story.

Lest you think Jeannie was America's go-to Scotswoman at this point, in 1960 she played the Irish Sharon McLonergan in a Broadway revival of Finian's Rainbow where she met her husband Biff McGuire. They appeared together often on stage, including a tour of Camelot. The couple was married from 1960 to McGuire's passing in March of 2021.

Accent-wise, Jeannie gives her Scottish characters a lovely soft lilt most pleasant to hear. Her inflection has that slightly foreign feel yet at the same time is comforting. You can understand producers wanting to utilize that aspect of Jeannie's ability.

Tudor Owen as Angus MacGregor

Tudor Owen (The Black Castle) plays Angus MacGregor, the head of the clan and a most headstrong fellow. Owen was born in Wales and studied at London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts following Medical Corps. service in WWI. His Hollywood career began in the silent era and would eventually encompass not only film but television and particularly radio.

Owen didn't always play a Scot but when he did, it was the gruff fellow with a burr under his tongue and a grand yet controlled ability to go over-the-top. Of course, being an actor he still communicated with his audience. I note this particularly because I have Scots friends of whom I can say that their conversation can be unintelligible and it is not until hours after we have spoken that my brain deciphers what I have heard.

Richard Long as Jason Campbell

The MacGregors in our story have quit one wagon train due to the prejudices against foreigners they experienced from their fellow travelers. The experience has made Angus mistrustful of the genuine offer of help from Major Adams. Angus also bears animosity toward the scout who bears the name of Campbell due to a long-standing feud in the old country. Annie's romantic interest is played with sincerity by Richard "Be Still My Heart" Long.    

Complications arise between Angus and his clan, between Angus and a hot-headed passenger on the Adams wagon train played by Kevin Hagen (Little House on the Prairie), plus a subplot with some warring Kiowa warriors. Musical interludes are provided by Jeannie's charming singing, and reels, and sword dancing. To wit, all the Scottish stuff necessary to satisfy audience expectations. 

When we reach the last commercial and the final credits, Annie has helped us to see the softer side of her adored father. Romance is concluded satisfactorily as Major Adams is empowered to marry couples. As for the Kiowa, it appears they are as spooked by the sound of bagpipes as are American horses and cattle not used to the soothing sound! (Yes. They went there.)

Special guest star Jeannie Carson with series lead Ward Bond

This episode was written by Frank W. Marshall whose only other IMDb writing credit is for the fondly recalled The Seth Adams Story, a two-part episode of the series. The Annie MacGregor Story is one of several Wagon Train episodes directed by actor Mark Stevens (The Dark Corner).

Of note:


Jeannie and husband Biff McGuire 
Married 1960-2021



Jeannie's 93rd birthday was May 23, 2021

Jeannie and Biff sing Burton Lane and E.Y. Harburg's Old Devil Moon from Finian's Rainbow












40 comments:

  1. Ah, this does sound the best of those Scottish accents so far, and like you I also have a few Scottish friends who I have difficulty understanding - and I'm Scottish. Thanks for joining the blogathon Paddy, and bringing this treat with you!

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    1. Thanks for hosting. It was fun considering options and coming up with this particular post.

      My husband and his cousins joke about their Scottish (Hillyer) grandmother. They could never understand her. They think she loved them, but she might just as well been telling them they were little monsters!

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  2. No Robert Horton in this episode?

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    1. No Robert Horton. Sigh. Well, they only had that hour slot and Annie MacGregor would be a verrah confused lassie with both Richard Long and Robert Horton before her eyes.

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  3. When I was a lot younger LEE MAJORS and PETER BRECK got my attention more on THE BIG VALLEY. Now that I'm older I appreciate the sophistication of RICHARD LONG as lawyer JARROD BARKLEY. Richard had beautiful blue eyes. I think it's great how well THE BIG VALLEY does in reruns. I first saw the reruns in the mid-70s. I saw the show a lot in the mid-80s on CBN CABLE.

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    1. I was young during The Big Valley's initial run and it was a special treat to stay up and watch the program. Syndication reruns during my teens solidified its "favourite" status. I now own it on DVD. I guess that's the circle of life.

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  4. Actor MARSHALL THOMPSON married BARBARA LONG (the sister of RICHARD LONG) in 1949. They were married until his passing in 1992. 43 years! Marshall is probably best known for the series DAKTARI. According to imdb Marshall was on three eps of WAGON TRAIN.

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    1. I have always liked Marshall Thompson. Next month I am blogging about a movie in his MGM days where he plays a baby-faced killer. Stay tuned.

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  5. What a beautiful couple and vocal team! Love that recording. Thanks for the introduction to Jeannie and Biff. I wonder if it's easier for vocalists to learn and perform accents since Jeannie was so good at it.

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    1. I think musical training might have something to do with developing a good ear. Over the years I have seen Jeannie in some things, and Biff in others, but it was a recent discovery to me that they were one of show business's long-married couples. I wish Jeannie good health and good friends in her 90s.

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  6. I always enjoy your Wagon Train reviews! I didn’t recognize Tudor Owens’ name, but I certainly know that face. He appeared in quite a few 1960s TV series. I had forgotten that Mark Stevens became a director!

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    1. Thanks so much.

      For many years, I referred to Tudor Owen as "the guy who isn't Donald Crisp."

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  7. I was interested to see that Jeannie Carson was pretty much through with movie and TV acting by 1964 (although she made a TV movie in 1977). It sounds like she concentrated on the stage after that. I'm happy to say that Tudor Owens has a small role in one of my favorite man-gets-caught-in-the-middle-of-a-nuclear-test-and-starts-mutating movies, The Most Dangerous Man alive. :)

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    1. Tudor Owen, one of those fellows who finds a place in our movie-loving hearts. Keep out of the way of nuclear tests!

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  8. Interesting selection! You reminded me that I need to revisit Wagon Train, a tremendously fun TV show!

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    1. Wagon Train is full of surprises; amazing guest stars, wonderful stories. My revisits always make me wonder what took me so long.

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  9. Sadly I'm not at all familiar with Wagon Train. I'm fairly sure my grandmother would have been a fan, she used to love watching westerns, both films and television series. Reading your post and the comments I probably should seek out some of these older series as modern television holds no appeal at all for me. When it comes to the entertainment industry I was definitely born too late!

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    1. We are lucky that we have so much of 20th century entertainment available to us. We are our own programmers! I remember a time when I would be excited about each new television season but now who knows when a season begins or ends, and the promos leave me cold.

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  10. Jeannie really did do Scottish accents well. I have to wonder if when she was growing up in Yorkshire she didn't encounter genuine Scots from time to time!I am pretty sure a lot of people are convinced she is a genuine Scotswoman, when she is English!

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    1. She's a charming performer and I would imagine a lady who wouldn't even attempt the accent unless she knew she could do it well.

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  11. I want to mention that MICHAEL CONSTANTINE died on Aug. 31 at the age of 94. I recall that you watched the show ROOM 222. I saw Michael on some of his guest-starring roles including his two eps of MURDER, SHE WROTE. They were MURDER, TAKES THE BUS(85) with ALBERT SALMI and DAVID WAYNE and THE WEARING OF THE GREEN(88) with JEAN PETERS. I remember that you liked the story with LUCIE ARNAZ and PATTY MCCORMACK as the cops that were like CAGNEY & LACEY. (I liked it too).

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    1. I think perhaps tonight would be a good time to re-watch Murder Takes the Bus. I am fond of teleplays with characters confined in one space, especially murder mysteries. (We have good taste.)

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  12. I want to mention the passing of two more MURDER, WHE WROTE guest stars. They are JANE WITHERS and ALEX CORD. Jane did two eps. WHO KILLED J.B. FLETCHER? (91) and SHIP OF THIEVES(93). The first one had an impressive cast-JANET BLAIR, TERRY MOORE, MARGARET O'BRIEN, MARIE WINDSOR and BETTY GARRETT! From the OLD HOLLYWOOD DAYS! To be continued.

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    1. Jane Withers, by all accounts, and in interviews I have seen was a kind and funny lady. I enjoyed that Who Killed J.B. Fletcher episode. It had one of those special guest casts.

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  13. ALEX CORD was in the MURDER, SHE WROTE ep titled DEATH STALKS THE BIG TOP. It was the third season premiere in 1986 and was a two-part episode. Alex is probably best known for the CBS series AIRWOLF. He also did the remake of STAGECOACH(66) where he played the role originated by JOHN WAYNE. I saw the western movie GRAYEAGLE (77) where he played the title character. It also starred JACK ELAM, BEN JOHNSON and LANA WOOD.

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    1. Who doesn't love a circus story? And the conclusion of those episodes is a corker!

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  14. I made a typo. I meant Murder, SHE Wrote in my second post today. Also I want to mention that JANE WITHERS died on AUG. 7 at the age of 95. ALEX CORD died on Aug. 9 at the age of 88.

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  15. I"m late to the party, but have to mention my favorite Scottish actor. Roger Livesey, who like many Scottish actors was born in Wales. He's wonderful in "I know where I"m Going". I have a terrible ear for accents, and never know if anyone doing them correctly unless its some horrible Cockney or Southern accent. But I think Movie Scottish must be one of easier ones, you can say "Aye, Laddie" and its OK. I have been to Scotland, and yes, it took me a while to understand them. Whether they ever understood me is unknown.

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    1. I Know Where I'm Going is a treasure. I was introduced to the movie through Elwy Yost the host of Saturday Night at the movies (TVOntario).

      The part about understanding such a thick accent made me laugh the laugh of recognition. I admit to being one of those who gets a kick out of House Hunters International. Of all the places they visited over years, it was one episode in Scotland that drove the show to using subtitles. Hee-hee.

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  16. Hahaha Richard "Be Still My Heart" Long. He’s definitely that!! I really need to watch Wagon Train. I see parts on tv all the time but I like to start with season one episode one and work my way to the finale of a show.

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    1. Seeing how a show began and how it progressed can be very satisfying. As a classic movie fan I know you will enjoy seeing everyone from Lou Costello to Sessue Hayakawa. Bette Davis was in three episodes!

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  17. I never saw these episodes with Jeannie Carson and Tudor Owens so thanks for reviewing them Paddy. In Yorkshire they have their own strong accent and Mr. Owens would have grown up with Welsh a Gaelic language similar to Scots. But I can imagine that back in the days of the great Western migration there were even stronger accents and regional accents of UK immigrants. Even in my youth visiting my ancestral France there were areas where older people spoke different regional languages (patois).

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    1. I am fascinated by accents but have no skill at them.

      When my husband and I met we were involved with a community theatre group. He auditioned for Pirates of Penzance with a Starbuck monologue from The Rainmaker, but in a Cornish accent which got top marks from a Cornish born member of the group.

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  18. RHONDA FLEMING did three episodes of WAGON TRAIN. BARBARA STANWYCK did four and ANN BLYTH did five. I like both wagon masters SETH ADAMS(played by WARD BOND) and CHRIS HALE( played by JOHN MCINTIRE).

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    1. Both wagon masters are tops with me as well.

      Rhonda Fleming and Ann Blyth both had the opportunity to sing on Wagon Train. What a treat! Of course, Barbara Stanwyck was able to use that whip and I'll bet that was fun.

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  19. JOHN DEHNER guest-starred on two episodes of WAGON TRAIN. He did 12 eps of GUNSMOKE! He had a part on YOUNG MAVERICK with CHARLES FRANK. By the way, John did two eps of COLUMBO and Charles did one. CLASSIC TV FAN

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    1. If I see John Dehner is in anything, nobody better touch the remote!

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  20. After WORLD WAR II JOHN DEHNER worked as an announcer and news editor at such CALIFORNIA stations as KMPC and KFWB. His work in radio news won him a PEABODY AWARD for his UNITED NATIONS news conference. (This is according to imdb.) CLASSIC TV FAN

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    1. It is interesting when a fellow goes from animation to a prestigious Peabody Award.

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