Before Jay Ward’s Dudley Do-Right humorously mocked the Canadian Mounties, there was Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, a series that was actually kind to the reputation of the venerable crimefighting force.
As an officer in the Royal Northwest Mounted Police, Sergeant Preston trekked through the rocky terrain of Canada astride his horse Rex, searching for gangsters with the aid of his Alaskan dog, Yukon King. While other law officers were out talking to witnesses and victims, Preston and Yukon King would sniff for their own clues, and no one ever beat them to the bad guys.
The man who played Preston, the six-foot Richard Simmons (not the excitable fitness guru of the same name), had no intention of being an actor when he was discovered by studio mogul Louis B. Mayer in Palm Springs, California. Simmons was breaking in an Arabian horse at the time, and Mayer was struck by his athleticism. When Mayer convinced Simmons, who worked as a pilot when he was not breaking horses, that he would be acting in an “outdoor role,” Simmons decided to take the job.
Like many of television’s early shows, Sergeant Preston first began as a radio show in 1947 and ran until 1955. It was created by George W. Trendle, of The Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet fame. Originally broadcast on CBS Thursday nights, the show then enjoyed a successful Saturday morning run, adding two unforgettable heroes to the growing television world.
USA / CBS – Wrather / 78×25 minute episodes / Broadcast 29 September 1955 – 25 September 1958
Creators: George W. Trendle, Fran Striker / Music: Emil Von Reznick / Producers: Tom R. Curtis, Charles E. Skinner
RICHARD SIMMONS as Sergeant William Preston