The Guns of Will Sonnett – A Latter 60's Television Western

by Guy Belleranti
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Few new westerns series were coming to television by the late 1960's. However, one western that did acquire a loyal following was The Guns of Will Sonnett.

The Guns of Will Sonnett aired from 1967 to 1969 on ABC, with 50 thirty minute color episodes being produced. The producer was Aaron Spelling and the Executive Producer Danny Thomas.

The stars of the series were Walter Brennan and Dack Rambo. Brennan played Will Sonnett, a tough and wise, scripture-quoting ex-army scout, who has raised his grandson, Jeff (Rambo), from infancy to young adulthood. Together Will and Jeff set out to find Jeff's father and Will's son, James (Jim) Sonnett, who is known throughout the west as a notorious gunfighter on the run. Along the way they encounter many people who have had run-ins with Jim. Some of those they meet liked Jim, but many others have nothing nice to say about him. A good number even want him dead. And those who want Jim Sonnett dead also have little use for Will or Jeff. As a result Will and Jeff find themselves in many a tangle during the series' run.

While Jim Sonnett may be fast with a gun, Will claims to be even faster. A favorite line of his about this and one he repeats often is "no brag, just fact". Good-looking grandson Jeff is also no slouch with a gun.

Neither man is ever looking for trouble, but both encounter it on their search for Jim. As a result, their skills with a gun are often needed, either to protect themselves or to help someone else.

Will and Jeff are always just a step late to meeting their goal – finding Jim Sonnett. However, Jim's character does appear in a number of episodes, and these appearances, and near missed meetings between the three, keep the viewer interested.

The final episode in season two appeared in March of 1969, and centered around a man who claims to have been the one who has finally killed Jim Sonnett.

But then the following fall, with the arrival of the new television season, one more episode was aired. This episode, titled "Three Stand Together" has Will and Jeff finally meeting up with Jim and convincing him to join them as lawmen in a small town named Samson. ABC may have planned to use this as a lead-in to taking the series in a new direction, but the series was cancelled. Thus, this episode acted as closure for the series.

In later years repeats of The Guns of Will Sonnett had some success in syndication. And now a number of the episodes are available on DVD.

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