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Wanted: Dead or Alive

CBS Network
1958 - 1961
30 Minutes

Steve McQueen starred as Josh Randall, a frontier bounty hunter working in the Old West of the l870s. Josh's motto is "If he's got a price on his head, I've got an empty pocket."

Tracking down a criminal is hard enough work, but trying to get the money due for bringing in a prisoner ("Dead or Alive") could be a problem, but Josh respects the lawmen he encounters and it pays off with mutual respect and prompt payment whenever possible.

Steve McQueen as Josh Randall - WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE

At times, the lawmen envy Josh and sometimes turn their heads when Josh employees methods that might not be considered the letter of the law. That said, Josh has a compassionate side and will cut a prisoner a break if he feels they deserve it. But if the prisoner mistake Josh's compassion for a sign of weakness, they will be in for a deadly surprise if they try to escape. 

Josh carried a sawed-off carbine  which he affectionately called "Mare's Laig." According to Josh, "It's kinda like a hog's leg but not quite as mean. If I have to use it. I want to get the message across."

Further down the trail, Josh temporarily joined forces with a deputy named Jason Nichols (Wright King) who wanted to be a bounty hunter. Jason's had a canine sidekick that he called "Hey Dog."

Listen to Theme Music

Steve McQueen as Josh Randall - WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE

Here are some of Josh's exploits:

  • An opera singer hires Josh to retrieve her sister who is being held for a $5,000 ransom.
  • Josh helps an amnesia victim seeking to discover his true identity.
  • An ruthless elephant trainer is using his animals to terrorize and plunder frontier towns.
  • Josh tracks a Korean wanted for murder. His weapon: Karate.
  • Josh is hired to protect a man's deaf-mute daughter while he's away on business.
  • Josh learns that the bank robber he is tracking turns out to be an escape artist named "The Great Bartolo."
  • A wealthy Missouri rancher, now blind and dying, hires Josh to find his son.
  • Josh is hired to rehabilitate a alcoholic so he can appear to reputable when he meets his estranged brother who is traveling to his wedding.
  • Josh must recapture three men after a tornado destroys a jail, kills a sheriff and sets loose its prisoners.
  • Josh accompanies a photographer who hopes to shoot a photo of "El Gato," a famous Mexican bandit who is Josh's friend.
  • Josh must track down and hopefully recapture Johnny Haywood, a childhood friend who after claiming he was innocent of a bank robbery, escaped from jail
  • Josh is hired by a Japanese woman named Yoshika Nakamura to find a man who promised to marry her while he visited Japan.
  • A man sentenced to hanged is needed to testify in a trial, so Josh's new partner Jason Nichols volunteers to be a hostage until the man is returned to serve out his execution.
  • Josh kills a young man in self defense and must face the wrath of the boy's father who orders the followers of his religious cult to find and kill Josh in retribution.
  • A 10 year-old girl hires Josh to find her father whom she firmly believes is still alive.
  • Josh is hired to find the son of a banker who has joined a band of  Mexican mercenaries.
  • Josh Randall brings in the wrong man and receives nothing for his effort. So he's off again to find the real killer.
  • Josh goes undercover so he can convince a criminal to break out of prison and lead him to $50,000 stolen from a bank.
  • Josh helps the wife of the man accused of murder (whom Josh has been tracking) save her husband from a vigilante lynch mob.
  • Josh volunteers to be a condemned murderer's hostage so that a wounded sheriff can get medical help.
  • A business man who placed a bounty on the man for killing his son, refuses to pay Josh when he captures the man and returns him alive (instead of dead as he expected).
  • An Army commanding officer reinstated a deserter and then refuses to pay Josh his bounty for returning the soldier.
  • Josh travels to hostile Indian Territory to capture Charley Red Cloud who was accused of murdering a man's brother.
  • A corrupt sheriff arrests Josh on a minor charge and the put him to work in a chain gang that is digging ore in a local mine.
  • Job is hired by a banker (whose bank was robbed) to escort additional bank funds from Santa Fe to the town of Pinto, but when Josh is robbed, angered town folk want to lynch the banker for once again loosing their money.


TRIVIA NOTE:  The 94-episode series is a spin-off of the western TRACKDOWN (episode "The Bounty Hunter" 03/07/1957).

WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE was originally filmed in black and white but a colorized version was created for syndication in the late 1980s.

The1987 film Wanted: Dead or Alive starred Rutger Hauer as Nick Randall, the grandson of Josh Randall. He proudly displayed his grandfather's Mare's Leg in his office.  

Similar Mare's Leg type weapons have appeared on the TV series THE ADVENTURES OF BRISCO COUNTY, JR (carried by bounty hunter Lord Bowler), THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (used by gunfighter Vic Tanner); and FIREFLY (wielded by space mercenary Zoe Alleyne Washburne).

Obituaries: Steve McQueen: 11/07/1980;

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