The Big Valley's Last Train to the Fair Episode: Richard Anderson & Karl Swenson Guest Star

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The Big Valley's Last Train to the Fair debuted on Wednesday night, April 27, 1966. Richard Anderson plays an Old West physician whose criminal past comes to haunt him during a train ride to Sacramento. Regulars Richard Long, Peter Breck, Lee Majors and L

ABC-TV's The Big Valley roamed the Wild West from 1965 to 1969. Richard Anderson guest stars as Dr. Travers, a former outlaw and now a practicing physician who is forced to operate on an ill Audra Barkley during a train ride to the California State Fair.

The Big Valley's Last Train to the Fair: Cast & Credits

Paul Savage penned the teleplay for "Last Train to the Fair," with Virgil W. Vogel directing the action. Regulars, guest stars and supporting players are: 

  • Jarrod Barkley (Richard Long)
  • Nick Barkley (Peter Breck)
  • Heath Barkley (Lee Majors)
  • Audra Barkley (Linda Evans)
  • Dr. Travers a.k.a. Lucien Kelleher (Richard Anderson)
  • Aaron Moyers (Karl Swenson)
  • Andy Moyers (Tim McIntire)
  • Charlie Wellman (James McCallion)
  • Silas (Napoleon Whiting)
  • Cora Wellman (Nora Marlowe)
  • Ab Stullman (Hal Lynch)
  • Grace Stullman (Betty Harford)
  • Deakes (Ken Mayer)
  • Mel (Chuck Bail)
  • Ford (Charles Horvath)

Richard Anderson tends to Linda Evans in "Last Train to the Fair." Observing are l-r: Richard Long, Lee Majors and Peter Breck - ABC-TV

Last Train to the Fair: Episode Synopsis

Jarrod, Nick, Heath and Audra are headed to the August 15-31 State Fair in Sacramento, where they will meet Victoria. Just before leaving Audra experiences a sharp pain in her stomach, but thinks nothing of it.

The wealthy Barkleys cruise to Sacramento in a private railroad car with several friends. A Dr. Travers wanders into the car by mistake, where he meets Jarrod. During their journey Audra takes ill, complaining of a pain in her stomach. Jarrod summons Dr. Travers, who diagnoses an inflamed appendix and gives Audra laudlum for the pain. Ice is also packed around the abdomen in order to decrease the swelling.

Dr. Travers states that Audra needs a hospital, but Sacramento is four and a half hours away. But if they only make one brief stop at River Station, they can cut the trip to three hours.

Two men, who had been stalking Travers in Stockton, have assaulted the doctor for unknown reasons. Later, father and son Aaron and Andy Moyers board the train from horseback and take Dr. Travers prisoner. Travers, they tell the Barkleys, is really Lucien Kelleher, an outlaw who had sacked Colbyville some 15 years ago where Moyers' wife was one of his victims. Although Kelleher did 13 years in prison for his crimes, the Moyers want to administer their own brand of justice – a rope.

Last Train to the Fair: Air Date & Network Competition

"Last Train to the Fair" was aired over ABC on Wednesday night, April 27, 1966, in the 9-10 (ET) time slot. Network competition back then when LBJ was still in the White House was Green Acres and The Dick Van Dyke Show (CBS) and Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater (NBC). 

Last Train to the Fair: Analysis & Review

Richard Anderson (1926-) was a frequent guest star on episodic TV during the 1960s, an actor who could always be counted on for a strong, steady performance. Anderson accomplishes that and more in "Last Train to the Fair," where he plays Dr. Travers a.k.a. Lucien Kelleher, an outlaw-turned-physician whose the object of a lynching party.

Credit writer Paul Savage for fleshing out the Dr. Travers character. We learn that Travers is really Lucien Kelleher, an ex-convict who served 13 years in prison for the brutal sack of Colbyville. During that time, Travers spent ten of those years working in the prison hospital. Upon his release, the changed Travers became a physician, working in small towns and gold camps throughout the West.

Travers is called upon by the Barkleys to tend to a seriously ill Audra, whose appendix could burst at any moment. But complicating matters further are Aaron and Andy Moyers, who have boarded the train in order to exact revenge against Travers for the murder of their wife/mother at Colbyville. Although the Barkley brothers have now turned the tables on the Moyers, holding them at gunpoint, seven more riders are tailing the train. 

When Audra's condition worsens, Dr. Travers orders that the train stop so he can perform the appendectomy. The riders catch up, but Travers asks Aaron Moyers to give him 30 minutes to do the operation, after which he will voluntarily ride out with Moyers and his men. 

A bit of Old West emergency medicine is featured next, as Dr. Travers sterilizes his hands and instruments in whiskey. With Jarrod assisting him, Travers then successfully performs the surgery. Upon finishing, young Andy Moyers grabs a gun, hell-bent on killing Travers. "This is for my mother. I waited all my life for this!" he exclaims. 

Andy, however, soon realizes that the man before him is hardly the same man of 15 years ago. "Lucien Kelleher is dead," he declares. Andy's father comes to that conclusion himself, telling his son, "We're finished here."

"Last Train to the Fair" is a taut, action-packed episode. TV western fans will marvel at the stunt work, which includes stunt doubles for the Karl Swenson and Tim McIntire characters spectacularly boarding the train from horseback and the Lee Majors character hopping a moving train and traversing a coal car. There's also a bit of The Big Valley trivia in this one, which includes the fact that Nick has won the target shooting contest at the state fair for six years running and that Audra hopes to win a ribbon for her pickled cucumbers. Also note that quiet Heath Barkley gets to let his hair down a bit, performing a flamenco dance with a red rose clenched between his teeth!

"Last Train to the Fair" marked the final episode of The Big Valley's first season. It is episode #30 of 112 in the series. "Last Train to the Fair" can be viewed on both YouTube and Hulu. 

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. 

1 comment

Jerry Walch
Posted on Apr 23, 2012