The Wild Wild West (1969)

Season 2 Episode 11

The Night of the Ready-Made Corpse

Aired Friday 7:30 PM Nov 25, 1966 on CBS
out of 10
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Episode Summary

The Night of the Ready-Made Corpse
Fabian Lavendor is a mortician who runs a side business in faking the deaths of wanted criminals. When Jim and Artie investigate, Lavendor locks them in a gas-filled crypt.

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  • Everything you want in "The Wild Wild West" - a colorful (literally!) villain and a scheme with international intrigue.

    Carroll O'Connor is the villain in this go-around, the appropriately named Fabian Lavender. Ostensibly a mortician, he is actually a 19th century plastic surgeon for criminals, replacing them with look-alike bodies and giving them new faces. He runs afoul of Jim and Artie after he aids the assassin who kills a Latin dictator under their protection.

    O'Connor is terrific in a part that calls for scenery-chewing and a larger-than-life performance. Clad in undertaker's garb and hideous purple gloves, he makes Lavender come alive. And, unlike a lot of "West" villains, he actually poses a physical threat to Jim and Artie. His dialogue is great, and he rolls out the quips with a clipped delivery that almost masks his villainy. His scenes with Ross Martin (as Artie goes undercover as a felon seeking a new face) crackle as they play off of one another.

    A rare ending, where neither Jim nor Artie gets the girl. Instead they have to settle for a beer!moreless
Karen Sharpe

Karen Sharpe

Rose Murphy

Guest Star

Patricia Huston

Patricia Huston

Leda Pellargo

Guest Star

Paul Comi

Paul Comi

Pellargo #2

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (6)

    • Col. Pellargo: My people are completely dedicated to two basic objectives. The first is eking out a basic hand-to-mouth existence. And the second...
      Jim: Trying to assassinate you.
      Col. Pellargo: From time to time, yes. I'm a reasonable man. I'm willing to grant them the first, but never the second.

    • Lavendor: Oh, ah, you just sit down here on the table, will you, please? It's not a very comfortable table, but then, very few of my clients complain about it.

    • (after a fight)
      Artie: Well, good morning, James.
      Jim: Hi, Artie.
      Artie: Anything happening?
      Jim: Oh, same old thing, just a different town.

    • Antille: My arm is hurting.
      Lavendor: Yes, well I can see you have a wound and I'll take care of it. The blood, don't drop it on the carpet. It gives the mourners a very bad impression.

    • Leda Pellargo: What does a murderer say when he's caught?
      Jim: In this case, nothing. He's dead.

    • Jim: I want to check the missing person file.
      Artie: All right, Jim, it's my turn to ask. Why?
      Jim: Because, Artie, things aren't always what they seem to be.

  • NOTES (4)

    • Commercial breaks: Antille laughing (ur), gas pumping into the tomb (ll), Artie on the mortuary table (lr), Jim and Artie drinking (ul)

    • Michael Garrison had the quote "Because, Artie, things aren't always what they seem to be." written on a plaque and hung up in his office. It was his motto for writing the series, to always assure there was some kind of surprise for the audience.

    • In Susan Kesler's excellent book, The Wild Wild West: The Series, she relates that Ken Kolb was impressed with O'Connor even then, and so was Robert Conrad. While watching the rough cut of the episode, Conrad muttered "That SOB upstages me, even with his back to the camera. How does he do that? How does he get everybody to look at him when I'm looking at the camera and he's looking the other way?"

    • It was during the filming of this episode that word came of the tragic, untimely death of series creator Michael Garrison. Ironically, word came down just as they were about to shoot a funeral parlor scene. CBS did not replace Garrison, and producer Bruce Lansbury took over greater control of the series.


    • Artie: Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him, Horatio. A fellow of infinite jest.

      Referencing Hamlet, Scene 5, Act 1, where Hamlet sees the exhumed skull of the court jester, Yorick, and gives a soliloquy on death. The line is often misquoted, "Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well."