Have Gun - Will Travel

Season 2 Episode 17

The Taffeta Mayor

Aired Saturday 9:30 PM Jan 10, 1959 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
13 votes

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Episode Summary

The Taffeta Mayor
John Kellaway, who is running for mayor of Colton, Wyoming, hires Paladin to protect him from his opposition. When he is killed before Paladin can get there, Paladin persuades John's widow to run for mayor.

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  • An interesting idea was spoiled, in my opinion, by a cop-out ending.

    It starts out well, with a nice variation on the opening scene. Confronted with a batch of bills, we see why Paladin so frequently hunts for work. He quickly spots an opportunity: a man running for mayor against a corrupt and dangerous incumbent.

    Alas, Paladin arrives too late. (Considering the era, it's surprising that this doesn't happen more often.) Being made forcefully aware of the corruption and violence John Kellaway was attempting to fight, Paladin elects to stick around and see what can be done.

    This is where it could have gotten interesting; there was no bar to women running for public office in Wyoming at the time, and Paladin manages to persuade Lucy Kellaway, John's widow, to continue her husband's fight. Unfortunately, it's made clear that Lucy considers politics a "man's job" and the only reason she runs is because no other man in town will risk it, and Paladin cannot, being a nonresident.

    Apparently most of the men of the town prefer a corrupt mayor to a woman mayor, so Paladin and Lucy make an intense, last-minute campaign of the town's women, urging them to exercise their right to vote. They do so to devastating effect, and Lucy is elected.

    We now learn what Paladin's actual plan was: not to replace the corrupt government with an honest one, but simply to make Lucy Kellaway a target, as her husband had been, and catch the bad guys in the act, the corrupt mayor getting killed in the process.

    This is where it became disappointing. Having fulfilled her husband's dream of ousting the opposition, Lucy has no intention of going further. (Surely her husband's dreams also included developing a stable, honest town government?) The message is clear: Ladies only get involved in "men's doings" in dire emergencies, and when the emergency is past, they quickly return to their proper place.

    It doesn't occur to Lucy or Paladin that the main bad guy is still alive, and the sheriff is still presumably in his pocket. What's to prevent the sheriff from letting Oakley out of jail the moment Paladin and Lucy leave town, and setting up a new puppet government? In that case, John Kellaway will still have died for nothing. It would have been more interesting if Paladin had persuaded her to hang in there for six months or a year, perhaps promising to come back and see if she's still of a mind to leave.moreless
Norma Crane

Norma Crane

Lucy Kellaway

Guest Star

Edward Platt

Edward Platt

Arnold Oaklin

Guest Star

Robert Karnes

Robert Karnes

Clay Morrow

Guest Star

Kam Tong

Kam Tong

Hey Boy

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • The background for this episode might sound as though it were made up for the storyline, but in fact, Wyoming was the first territory in the United States to grant sufferage to women, in 1869. This was quickly followed by other firsts: women on juries, the first woman bailiff, and the first woman Justice of the Peace, all in 1870, as well as the first woman governor in 1924. This earned Wyoming the nickname "The Equality State".

    • Paladin is presented with a batch of bills, which illuminate the sort of life he leads. To wit:
      Jeweler (presumably gifts for his lady friends, although quite possibly personal adornment as well).
      Caterer (probably lots of intimate dinner parties, for said lady friends as well as larger groups, such as the actors from "The Moor's Revenge").
      Gunsmith (a good workman keeps his tools in top condition).
      Hotel (a guy's gotta live somewhere).
      Bootmaker (fashionably elegant for the city, strong and practical for the trail).

  • QUOTES (4)

    • Morrow: All right, all, all right, Mr. Paladin. I admit it, I'm afraid. Well, look what he did to you, now--what do you expect me to do?
      Paladin: Well, you could run for mayor, you could run Trask out of business.
      Morrow: Well--I, I'm no politician, I--look, Mr. Paladin, I don't want to get mixed up in things, I just want to stay out of trouble.
      Paladin: Morrow, you're gonna have trouble as long as you live. Everything you do begs for it.

    • Paladin: Now, I don't know if you're like the rest of the people in this town; I hope you're not.
      Lucy Kellaway: What do you mean?
      Paladin: Well, I think this town is getting exactly what it deserves. But your husband hoped for something better. He hired me for a specific job--to stop Trask and Oakland. And that's exactly what I'm going to do. Alone if I must, with your help if you'll give it.

    • Lucy: Uh, but...it's absurd. A woman mayor.
      Paladin: It's not as absurd, or as tragic, as a man giving his life for a cause no one is willing to fight for.

    • Paladin: No, Mr. Oakland, I'm not leaving. I was paid in advance to do a certain job and when that job is done to my satisfaction, then I'll ride out of town.

  • NOTES (0)


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