The Big Valley's Days of Wrath Episode: Michael Strong & Sandra Smith Guest Star

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The Big Valley's Days of Wrath debuted on Monday night, January 8, 1968. Michael Strong guest stars as Cass Hyatt, a vengeful ex-con who kills Jarrod Barkley's new bride Beth. Regulars Richard Long, Peter Breck, Lee Majors and Barbara Stanwyck are also jo

ABC-TV's The Big Valley (1965-69) reigns as one of television's more popular westerns. The 1968 episode "Days of Wrath" guest stars Michael Strong as Cass Hyatt, an ex-con who plots his revenge against lawyer Jarrod Barkley.

The Big Valley's Days of Wrath: Cast & Credits

Ken Pettus penned the teleplay for "Days of Wrath," with Lou Morheim producing and Virgil W. Vogel directing. Regulars, guest stars and supporting players are:

  • Jarrod Barkley (Richard Long)
  • Nick Barkley (Peter Breck)
  • Heath Barkley (Lee Majors)
  • Victoria Barkley (Barbara Stanwyck)
  • Cass Hyatt (Michael Strong)
  • Beth (Sandra Smith)
  • Sheriff Zack Fane (Kevin Hagen)
  • Cliff Hyatt (Peter Hobbs)
  • Silas (Napoleon Whiting)
  • Doc Saxton (Jon Lormer)
  • Stationmaster (Carl Prickett)
  • Charles (Bobby Johnson)
  • Sheriff Fred Madden (Douglas Kennedy)

Richard Long (1927-1974) as Jarrod Barkley - ABC-TV

Days of Wrath: Episode Synopsis

Jarrod Barkley returns from a trip to San Francisco with his new bride Beth in tow. The newlyweds have big plans, including building a house on a prime piece of Barkley real estate. While in town Jarrod once again encounters Cass Hyatt, a recently pardoned ex-con who seven years earlier had vowed revenge against Jarrod.

While out in the country one morning discussing their future plans, a shot rings out, killing Beth instantly. Jarrod suspects Cass Hyatt of the murder, with Sheriff Madden grilling Hyatt on his whereabouts the day of the killing. Unable to hold Hyatt for lack of evidence, Sheriff Madden is forced to release the ex-con.

A vengeful Jarrod takes up the trail of Hyatt, eventually tracking him to his brother Cliff's place in Rock Falls. Cass later bushwhacks Jarrod, creasing his head with a bullet fired from a .30-.30 rifle. A wounded Jarrod manages to get on his horse and ride into Rimfire, where he learns that Cass is serving a 30-day sentence for disorderly conduct. 

Jarrod tells Sheriff Zack Fane that he aims to kill Hyatt, and offers the lawman a bribe of $1,200 if the latter will release his prisoner now. Meanwhile, a concerned Nick and Heath are hot on Jarrod's trail.

Days of Wrath: Air Date & Network Competition

"Days of Wrath" was telecast over ABC on Monday night, January 8, 1968, in the 10-11 (ET) time slot. Network competition that evening was The Carol Burnett Show (CBS) and I Spy (NBC).

Days of Wrath: Analysis & Review

Richard Long's Jarrod Barkley was perhaps the most complex and interesting character on The Big Valley. In the 1968 episode "Days of Wrath" Long was given the opportunity to strut his remarkable talents, playing a grief-stricken, revenge-seeking Jarrod who discovers his dark, primitive inner self as he methodically hunts down the killer of his new bride.

"Days of Wrath" begins innocently enough, with Jarrod and his new wife Beth returning to Stockton following a whirlwind courtship. As Victoria plans a wedding reception and Jarrod and Beth map out their future, tragedy  strikes when Beth is killed by an unknown assailant. Jarrod is convinced ex-con Cass Hyatt is the killer, eventually tracking down Hyatt to the town of Rimfire. Here, the action heats up to its climax, as a sympathetic Sheriff Zack Fane eventually accepts Jarrod's bribe of $1,200, releasing Hyatt early where Jarrod calls out the ex-con. The cowardly Hyatt throws down his gun and admits he accidentally shot Beth while trying to kill Jarrod. An enraged Jarrod says he will kill Hyatt with his bare hands, and tries to do so before an arriving Nick and Heath intervene. 

Kevin Hagen (1928-2005) – perhaps best known for his role as Doc Baker on Little House on the Prairie – turns in an excellent performance as Sheriff Zack Fane, whose salary is "fifty dollars a month and all I can steal." Fane is sympathetic to Jarrod's cause, as he too had lost a young wife years earlier at the hands of a drunken cowhand. 

Sandra Smith (1940-) has a good role as Beth, Jarrod's new bride whose life comes to an abrupt end at the hands of Cass Hyatt. Michael Strong (1918-1980) is excellent as the villain, the evil, cowardly Cass Hyatt whose own brother disowns him. Hyatt, for you trivia fans, is later sentenced to life in prison for Beth's murder. 

"Days of Wrath," however, is basically Richard Long's show, with his Jarrod Thomas Barkley character flooring younger brother Nick in one scene and brandishing a hot poker in another as he tries to make Peter Hobbs' Cliff Hyatt talk.

"Days of Wrath" comes from The Big Valley's third season and is episode #77 of 112 in the series. 

Top Image

  • L-r: Peter Breck, Richard Long, Barbara Stanwyck, Linda Evans, Lee Majors in The Big Valley - ABC-TV

Copyright © 2012 William J. Felchner. All rights reserved.