Western films and shows are something I have always greatly enjoyed, and when I think of them many things come to my mind as growing up I loved The Lone Ranger and was into watching many western films and shows on TV with The Rifleman still to this day being in my top five favorite shows of all time. I mean heck I even helped produce a western film in 2015 called “Calamity Jane’s Revenge” directed by Henrique Couto and starring Erin R. Ryan, Julia Gomez, Todd The Fox, former WWE wrestler Al Snow and even my cousin Stephen Alexander had a small role! But the main thing I think of is my Grandpa John Salyers, who was very much into old westerns as he loved John Wayne films had a ton of old western films on VHS and as well had a collection of old paperback western books. My Grandpa John was an amazing man who had Native American blood in his veins and was a hard workingman who was a sharpshooter in the army as well as a self taught handyman, factory worker and an amazing farmer who would grow massive fields of vegetables. Hands down in my real life my three biggest role models of my family are my Grandpa John, my Dad and Brother who are all outstanding people who are hardworking and creative people. Wait I need to get back to the topic at hand and that’s Westerns, and this update is about a TV show from the 50’s that I discovered in 2020 and even had some comics released thanks to DELL Comics! The show I am talking about is Brave Eagle, and I am really exited to bring you this update as I am looking forward to reading the comics and watching the show for the first time! So sit back, relax and enjoy!
Brave Eagle was a CBS TV series that started in 1955 and would air at 7:30pm and would go up against Disneyland on ABC! The show was filmed at Roy Rogers’ ranches in California and was way ahead of it time as it was the first series on television to feature a Native American character as the lead and as well focused on issues that tribes had to face from racism to smallpox and really helped bring these issues to the light and educated viewers who for decades had seen Native Americans as savages in media. This showed them as people. Brave Eagle was set in the old west and followed a young Cheyenne chief who leads his tribe in a time when white settlers are taking over the land and fellow tribes are at war with each other. Other characters included Morning Star, the show’s love interest for Brave Eagle, as well as Keena (his adopted son), Smokey Joe, Black Cloud and Black Raven to name a few. The show was well liked but sadly could not bring in the numbers that Disney did on the other station, and after only one season and 26 episodes, the show came to an end. And being from 1955-1956 sadly over the years many episodes have been lost making reruns on stations like MeTv impossible. The series also had many guest stars from the world of westerns like Lee Van Cleef, Rick Vallin, Ann Doran and Steve Rains to name a few and what really is awesome for me is that Roy Rogers and his production company made the show as Roy is one of my all time favorite classic western actors not to mention is Restaurant chains are also amazing. So while Brave Eagle only lasted one season, its impact on Western shows really did make an impact as it showcased that Native American characters could be the lead in a series. I will say that it’s a shame they cast a white actor in the role of Brave Eagle and not a Native American actor, but at least it was a start for change.
Brave Eagle has been released on home media, but of course not as the full series as I have said sadly many episodes are missing and are lost. But thanks to the folks at Alpha Video, all the episodes that have been found have come to DVD in three volumes! And honestly it’s a big thanks to Alpha for alerting me to this show as while shopping their website for Lon Chaney Sr. silent films I came across a three pack of Brave Eagle and being a western fan I had to order it and of course learn about it and once I did I knew it had to get the Rotten Ink treatment! And once I got the DVD’s in from Alpha Video I was set some time aside and gave them a watch, and here is my thoughts on the show as well as the DVD’s put out by Alpha Video. And on a lazy day in 2021 I decided to pop the DVD into the Blu-Ray player, and Juliet and I watched an episode while we ate dinner and I have to say that the show while very cheesy for todays viewing audience, when you sit back and relax and look past all the flaws it really is a fun show! It’s as basic as basic can be in plots and the acting at times is a little stiff and the narration seems like its from a bad documentary, but to be honest all of that added to the charm for me. The prints of the episodes from Alpha Video are ok and some episodes are better than others as issues include soft sound, tape to digital transfers and even at times a little off center. But for this rare and sadly forgotten TV Series this is the best as of now you are going to get them on DVD.
Keith Larsen was born Keith Larsen Burt on June 17, 1924 in Salt Lake City, Utah and had a normal childhood for that time growing up. During World War II, he served in the Navy, and after his military career ended he got the bug to start acting! And once he started he could not stop as he not only became an actor he also directed, wrote and produced films and shows. His first role was in 1951 as an uncredited part in Operation Pacific as Crewman, his first credited roll came in 1952 in episodes of the TV series Space Patrol and from there, his acting career took off with some of his biggest roles being in such shows and films as Fort Vengeance (1953), Chief Crazy Horse (1955), Brave Eagle (1955-56), Apache Warrior (1957), Northwest Passage (1959) and Trap On Cougar Mountain (1972). For me his role as Preacher Ezra Jackson in the 1970 film Night Of The Witches is pretty dang awesome as it was a Horror Comedy he also wrote and directed! His final role came in 1982’s western film Whitewater Sam that he also wrote and directed. Keith Larsen was also married three times with his second wife being actress Vera Miles who is known for being Lila Crane in Psycho 1-2! He also had three kids, and I should also say that he was a true icon of that era of westerns. Keith Larsen passed away on December 13, 2006 at the age of 82, and while gone he is not forgotten.
The series lead actress Kim Winona was a full blooded Sioux Indian whose real name was Constance Elaine Mackey was born on October 10, 1930 in Nebraska and in her youth lived on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota and later would go on to live in Spokane, Washington at the age of 17. While in Washington, she meet her first husband, a man named Harvey Buck. The pair married in 1951 and would move to Los Angeles where she would become a sectary for a commercial artist and while working this job her natural beauty caught the eye of many and she would go on to do modeling as well to earn extra money. From her modeling she caught the attention of a talent scout who encouraged her to try her hand at acting and she read for a part in the 1956 film “The Last Hunt” and while she did not get the part she was hired to promote it as “Miss Apache”. Her first role came in 1955 as Morning Star on Brave Eagle and she was a lead in all 26 episodes. The show’s executive producer Mike North hired her for this part as he thought she was perfect and captured the essence of the character. Constance would take on the stage name Kim Winona at first and would as well go by Connie Buck for future roles after Brave Eagle ended. She would go on to be in such films and shows as The Man Called X, Cheyenne, Rough Riders, Gunsmoke, Rawhide and 1961’s film Gun Fight. Kim walked away from acting to focus on her art, as she was a very talented painter and sculptor with one of her sculptures being on displayed at the Carnegie Institute! Kim was married three times and had two daughters from those marriages. Sadly Constance Elaine Mackey passed away on June 23, 1978 at the age of 47 from suicide by gunshot due to depression, and the world lost a truly lovely and creative soul. Rest In Peace Constance Elaine Mackey aka Kim Winona, your art and roles will live on forever.
While the show only lasted one season, it like all western shows and movies of that time, got tons of great merchandise for fans to collect that includes comics, a coloring book, metal lunchbox, episodes on DVD and a Little Golden Book even! Since I found out about this show I have myself got the DVD set, all the comics and am on the hunt for the Lunchbox! I have heard rumors that Marx Toys did figures based on the show, but besides hearsay I have found zero evidence that they were made…but if they were I would definitely buy the figures of Brave Eagle and Morning Star! Check out below to see some of this awesome merchandise.
I also want to take a brief second to say that on October 3, 2021 while at the Springfield Antique Center Building 2, Juliet and I found something very cool and that was a plush doll of Irwin Troll of comic strip Broom-Hilda fame! And if you remember back in the review for the Irwin Troll paperback comic strip book that I did on September 12, 2020 I talked about wanting one of the dolls and finally a little over a year later I own one! And the shocking part is that it was only $5.00! So I just wanted to update you readers on the fact that Juliet and I finally found an Irwin Troll doll, and we got it for a great price and we both think it’s super cool. And for those of you who have not read my update on Irwin Troll please make sure to check out the update here. And below is two pictures of our Irwin doll on the day we got him.
The Brave Eagle comics by DELL were part of their Four Color series that featured comics based on cartoons, TV shows, movies and famous people. And I must take a moment as well to say just how awesome DELL was as a comic publisher as they did some many comics based on so many amazing properties like Universal Monsters, Vincent Price Films, Steve Reeve Hercules films, Looney Tunes, Walt Disney Characters. Three Stooges, Yogi Bear and so many Western films and shows! No modern comic company does what they did back in their time and that’s why DELL is one of the most important independent comic publishers for fans of licensed properties. I want to think Ebay sellers for having all these issues in stock at great prices and I also want to think my gal Juliet for ordering them all for me. I want to also remind you all that I grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you are ready, let’s see how well Brave Eagle translated to the world of comic books. Oh I will also be numbering these in the number they were released as well as using Brave Eagle as the title and not Four Color. So let’s see what Brave Eagle has in-store for us in these comic pages.
Brave Eagle # 1 **1/2
Released in 1956 Cover Price .10 DELL # 705 of 1354
“The Mask Of The Manitou” Brave Eagle and Smokey end up saving the life of a Blackfoot Warrior who was being attacked by Comanches, after run off the wounded warriors asks via his Chief Sun Bear if they could bring his tribes women and kids to his land for safety and he agrees. While Brave Eagle and Smokey help the Blackfoot settle into their new temporary home, and young Keena is hunting and bags a massive elk that will feed both tribes and so badly wants to share this news with his father and almost gets crushed by a mountain landslide to do so! The landslide destroys all the Blackfoot’s food and Brave Eagle and Smokey at night decide to sneak into their camp and deliver food as a surprise, and Keena as well wants to bring his big elk on his own to surprise them. But a Comanche Warrior that was a prisoner escapes and meets him with his fellow warriors and pins down Brave Eagle, Smokey and Morning Star who arrived to warn them of the prisoners escape by firing arrows at them. Brave Eagle fights back and takes down the Comanches and is able to deliver the food before sunrise, and as he and the others leave he watches in pride as his son delivers the elk. “The Gold Of Haunted Mountain” Brave Eagle, Keena and Smokey meet up with Chris Wilkins who is a miner who is a friend of the tribe and he asks them for a favor that he is owed to show them the entrance of a haunted mine in the mountains that is said to be filled with lots of gold, and when then do so a pair of bad guys follow and try to steal all the gold and even hold Keena as a prisoner! And it takes Brave Eagle and Smokey to act like ghosts to scare the bad guys away and into the arms of the law, and once Keena is safe they even leave Chris a gold nugget to make the old man rich who is a friend and once down on his luck.
This is a mix bagged western comic that captures some of the charm of the TV show and also added a little bit more of a comic charm to the normal western stories. This issue has two stories with both being interesting with the first story really focusing on Brave Eagle being a noble Chief to his people and fellow tribes and gaining pride in his son who does what is right to got get the glory that would come with it. And the second story is more of a Brave Eagle stops criminals from stealing gold and gets a deserter captured by the Calvary. Brave Eagle is a tough fighter in this issue as be brings down three warriors who want him dead and by doing so saves his best friend as well as his love interest, he is also very given as he tries to help a fellow tribe with food and shelter, he also helps his white friend escape the grip of two scummy gold thieves as well helps his son learn how to be a good man. Smokey is also a good guy who follows his Chief and does what he can to help him at all times and trusts in his word. Keena is a good kid who as well seems to always want to do the right thing and wants to be just like his father. The downside to this first issue is that I feel that they really down play Morning Star and she is barely around or used in the first story and does not even show up in the second…and that’s crazy as she is a lead in the TV Show! The issue has some good action as well as some cool spooky moments with the likes of the Haunted Mountain, but also has a few moments of being a little slow in spots making it slightly drag. The cover is cool and if you are a fan of the TV Show is eye catching as it shows Keith Larsen as Brave Eagle and is clearly a promotional still for the show. The interior art is done by Dan Spiegle and is pretty good and captures a very comic book look for all the characters with each looking like they should given the year this was made. Over all a good comic that does its best to do the show justice and I could see how kids of the time would have enjoyed it very much, so with that lets see what the next issue has in store for us.
Brave Eagle # 2 **1/2
Released in 1957 Cover Price .10 DELL # 770 of 1354
“Shield Of Honor” The Crow tribe shows up and steals many of the horses of Brave Eagles tribe including his own horse White Cloud, and this cause Brave Eagle, Smokey and other warriors to give chase to try and get them back. Meanwhile back at camp Chief Great Bear of the Pawnee arrives and chats with Morning Star and Keena and even teaches Keena some warrior tricks that he could do while riding a horse. Once back to his people Brave Eagle has not gotten the horses back and meets with Great Bear who wants to ask for both tribes to come together to go after The Crow that is lead by Chief Iron Hand who he says is a threat to all tribes. The two Chiefs separate and Brave Eagle and his council think that Iron Hand is innocent and that Great Bear was really the horse thief and after visiting Iron Hand and finding the horses near Great Bear’s camp they know they are right. And worse Keena has given Great Bear one of Brave Eagles arrows that has his markings and the Pawnee are headed to The Crows in order to start war as one of their warriors has fake arrows that have the mark of Brave Eagle! But after a fight Brave Eagle defeats Great Bear who promises that he will not get them involved in his war again. “Fury In The Forest” Brave Eagle, Keena and Smokey head into the forest to hunt food for the winter and when they bring down a big bison it is stolen by white hunters, and Brave Eagle must teach them a lesson as well as get the bison back to feed his people.
The second issue of Four Colors to feature Brave Eagle and his tribe is a pretty good read and does I think a slightly better job of bringing in the action and drama of the TV Show to the pages of the comics. The two stories are also well done with the first being another tribe Chief trying to get Brave Eagle involved in a big war between tribes and the second has hunters trying to steal the food of Brave Eagle’s tribe cause they wanted to sell the animals pelt. Brave Eagle once more shows that he is a hero, caring and wise whenever things could affect his tribe and people. I like in this issue how he beats Great Bear who is a warrior that others fear, but to be honest while Great Bear is a good Chief to his people he is also very dishonest as he will do what ever he can to make his tribe beat out their rivals. Keena does some pretty silly things in this issue like given Great Bear and arrow of his fathers even though that is against the tribes rules, and he also should be looking up to his father and not another Chief he just meet. Smokey is around in both stories and is wise and as helpful as ever. And it was cool to see White Cloud the horse of Brave Eagle get a little bit of time to shine as it as well is in both stories. But like before they downplay Morning Star and it’s really starting to annoy me, as she should be way more involved and important in these stories besides being reduced to cameos. I have to say great action as well because I have to praise the quick fight between Brave Eagle and Great Bear as it brought a nice TV Western feel to the comic. Another cool photo cover for the issue that is eye catching for fans of the show and the interior art by Dan Spiegle is once more well done. Over all another good issue that leaves me wanting to read more Brave Eagle….but for the love of Jack Kirby could they please make Morning Star a big deal in these comics.
Brave Eagle # 3 **1/2
Released in 1957 Cover Price .10 DELL # 816 of 1354
“Search For The Sun” A band of renegade Natives have started to rob and kill white men who are mining for gold, and the Calvary is trying to stop them but are failing. The last attack left only one man left alive by the name of Gusty who is now in the care of Brave Eagle and his people as they are trying to nurse him back to health. The renegade robberies puzzle Brave Eagle as gold means nothing to his people so along with Smokey they set out to find out who these renegades are and what they are up to. Meanwhile back at camp Gusty spends his time telling tall tales to Keena and Morning Star, as Keena is a little upset as he feels Brave Eagle ignored him before he left camp as he made him a ring and needed to try and fit its size. When Brave Eagle finds a cabin that has been burnt to the ground he also finds a wounded renegade Indian who spills the beans that they are stealing the gold as another group of white men give them rifles for it! Brave Eagle takes his prisoner to the army fort, and later that night Keena decides that he will return to his real tribe as he thinks because Brave Eagle is not his real dad that he does not love him and once at his family tribe he learns they are working with the gold thieves and he spills the beans on Brave Eagles gold in order to get his own rifle! Meanwhile Gusty is upset that a story he told about Keena’s tribe is what drove him to find then and sets out to bring the young man back. But we find that Keena has sent the renegades to an empty mine and gets word back to Brave Eagle who takes Smokey and some warriors and brings them down. In the end Keena returns to Brave Eagle and a great feast is made to celebrate. “The Iron Trail” Bull Larson is in charge of building rails for trains that will be going through the area and while working he injures one of Brave Eagle’s tribe and keeps him as a hostage. When Brave Eagle goes to check on his missing friend he over hears Bull talking about robbing the payroll train and blaming it on the Natives, and Brave Eagle comes up with a plan that has him on the train and he stops Bull from pulling off the robbery and once more is the hero.
The third issue in the Brave Eagle comics is really good and like before has two stories with one being the longer of the two and each having almost a lesson in them. The two adventures has Brave Eagle and his tribe stopping gold thieves as well as a payroll thieves and also his son learns that just cause you are not from the same blood dose not mean they don’t love them like you are their own. Brave Eagle truly wants his people and the white people to be able to live in harmony, and this clearly angers some of his own people as they want to retake the land and will steal and kill to do so. Brave Eagle as always shows that he is also a great warrior as he fights for what he thinks is right. Keena in this issue gets his feelings hurt and says some things to Brave Eagle he regrets, and when Keena returns to his original tribe he finds that they are on the side of chaos and learns that his true place is with his father. Smokey and Morning Star take a back seat in this issue and while around they sadly do very little. Gusty is a white man that is injured and is being taken care of, but while a good man he does tell some stories that bend the truth and is what causes some issues between Keena and Brave Eagle. And man Bull Larson is a terrible person who is willing to kill and steal the money of his workers and by doing so could start a war between Brave Eagle and the Calvary. While the action is a little slow in this issue when it comes though its lots of fun and makes for another above average read that brings the entertainment to the reader. The cover is good and once more is just a promo photo and the art is done by Dan Spiegle and is good stuff for this time of adaptation comics. So with that let’s take a look at the next issue to showcase Brave Eagle and his Tribe.
Brave Eagle # 4 **
Released in 1958 Cover Price .10 DELL # 879 of 1354
“Forbidden Land” Brave Eagle, Smokey and Keena ride out to check on a wagon when two scared horses entered their camp, but they find that it was a set up by white men who wanted to stage a fake death and robbery in order to start a war between the Soldiers and the Indian Warriors. And worse when the white men escape they trick the Calvary into believing that Brave Eagle and his tribe attacked them and stole the horses that ran into their camp earlier! Because of this the Calvary with orders from the Government is taking Brave Eagles tribes land! The Tribe is upset and the talk of war breaks out, but Brave Eagle wants a chance to make this right and follows one of the accusers to a cave and learns that the plan is for the Calvary to move gold just in case of war and for them to steal it and blame Brave Eagles tribe once more for the robbery. But once Smokey captures one of the thieves and the Calvary learn of the plot they along with Brave Eagle’s tribe stop the gold robbery and the land is returned to the tribe and the misunderstanding is patched up as the crooks are taking in for their crimes. “The Plight Of Red Thunder” While hunting Brave Eagle meets up with Red Thunder a chief that he has been friends with for decades and the two along with Smokey head to his camp in order to enjoy some dinner, but while there they meet Spotted Colt the son of Red Thunder who loves to pull pranks and jokes. To teach him a lesson Brave Eagle fakes being hurt and Spotted Colt has to find a way to get help from people who do not believe him and as well learn that jokes have a time and a place.
The fourth issue in the Brave Eagle comics is at this point the one that packs less impact and in some spots is a little boring. The main story of the gold robbery really is the plot of many of the stories that have came before it and adds nothing new besides more faceless and nameless bad guys. The second story is fun and is a take of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” as Spotted Colt is a young man who likes to have fun, but has terrible timing. Brave Eagle is much of the same a hero, warrior, wise man and a teacher to those that are around him. Smokey and Keena are around but do very little and most annoying Morning Star is nowhere in site! Red Thunder is a kind hearted Chief who has an annoying son and needs help to teach him a lesson. The cover is another promo pic from the show and has Brave Eagle with a bow and arrow. The art is done by what looks like an Unknown Artist and the first story is kind of sloppy in the art department with the second one being way better. Not much to say about this issue besides it’s ok and while entertaining it was also kind of a slow moving read. Keep in mind I did not dislike this issue it was just a little underwhelming and also just kind of did not capture the Show very well.
Brave Eagle # 5 **1/2
Released in 1958 Cover Price .10 DELL # 929 of 1354
“The Ride For Life” Smokey enters his tribes land and falls from his horse as he has been shot and is injured by a pair of white men who are also tracking him and he has heard a plan that they have in the works. Brave Eagle and his warriors wait for Smokey to wake up in order to find out who did this to him so that they can make them face justice. The two would be killers creep into the camp and one cuts free the horses while the other creeps into the tipi and tries to stab Smokey, but it’s a trap and Brave Eagle is inside and fights off the attacker and in the commotion both outlaws escape into the night forest. Brave Eagle is then asked by Morning Star to visit Smokey who is having a very high fever, and Brave Eagle decides that he must ride to the Calvary fort and try and get medicine and once there the two men who shot Smokey are already inside and blame Brave Eagle for a raid the killed Calvary solders and stole gold that they were escorting! But when one of the bad guys slip up they are arrested and Brave Eagle takes the Fort Doctor to Smokey, but also finds out the Keena is near a creek that the raiders use when they stole the gold, and he gets there to find his son kidnapped by the remaining gang! And with the help of his Braves they bring down the rest of the crooks and rush back to be with Smokey. “Mustang Trail” one day Morning Star and Keena notice that three of the tribes horses are missing and they go and tell Brave Eagle who notices that the line that the horses were hitched to has been cut by someone. We see that the horses are taken by a group of outlaws who uses the horses to drag flaming brush behind them causing a wild fire all around the camp. And while Brave Eagle and his tribe put out the fires the outlaws go and steal almost all the tribes horses! And Brave Eagle, Smokey and Keena start tracking to get their horses back and uncover a whole horse thief ring, and using his mind Brave Eagle is able to bring them down and get the horses back.
The fifth and final issue of Brave Eagle is another entertaining issues that does a pretty good job of capture the mood of the TV series it was based on, I will say that it is missing a little bit of the humor of Smokey as well as the shows narration by Brave Eagle is missing and I really dislike that the comics barely use Morning Star as they act like she was not a big deal when she very much is in the source material. And while I really liked the comics I do feel that the lack of Morning Star really was a big flaw. These two stories are pretty good with the first story being really good and the last story being average and slightly dull, but still a good read. Brave Eagle throughout the comics was a great leader to his tribe, who gets things done and really watches out for his people. He is a good fighter, a man who uses his mind to issue solve and is loyal to his friends and tribe. So really Brave Eagle is a good honest hero who is pretty interesting and transfers from TV to Comic pretty well. Keena is the son of Brave Eagle and is always up for adventure and to be at the side of his father during any situation. Smokey is Brave Eagles best friend and is also his most trusted as he as well is always at his Chief’s side and is willing to risk his life for him as well as the tribe he calls family. Morning Star is the daughter of Smokey and the little we see her she is caring, brave and wise. The Calvary in this series seem to be very washy with Brave Eagle and his tribe as at times they act like they trust them and then the moment any white man says a negative thing about them they turn on them. The series had some pretty good action but oddly more of the stories had to do with gold or horse thieves with most being about gold…very weird as it seemed the writer or writers just had one basic idea for Brave Eagle to go after. The comic cover is another promo photo of Brave Eagle and is eye catching for fans of the TV Show. And the interior art once more is done by Dan Spiegle and is pretty good and has that classic Dell Comic look. Over all the Brave Eagle comic series is pretty entertaining and while not fully like the show it does its best to try and capture the magic of the show. Check out the artwork bellow to see the art style used in this comic.
Brave Eagle is a great western TV Show that sparked entertaining Dell Comic issues via their Four Color series and I am sure readers that where viewers really did enjoy giving these a read and continuing the adventures of Brave Eagle. And for me this was a fun comic to start our countdown to Thanksgiving with as this time of the year always makes me want to visit the past and even discover new things from the past like I did here with Brave Eagle. So for the next update we will be still celebrating 10 years of the Horror Host Hall Of Fame and will be taking a look at USA Up All Night and all the classic hosts like Gilbert, Rhonda and Caroline that made up that iconic show! So until next time read a western comic of three, watch a western show or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next time and be ready to stay Up All Night!