"The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp," Dell Comic No. 1, 36 pages, 1957. Stories: "Terror Town" and "Doomsday at Dodge City."
This first "Wyatt Earp" comic is numbered Dell No. 860, because Dell didn't usually assign the number "1" to a film or TV spinoff comic book. You never knew if the
actor or the series would last long enough for there to be a second edition. Most didn't. "Wyatt Earp" did, and Dell put it on a quarterly schedule with its own numbering system.
The dashing Hugh O'Brian starred as the title character in "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp," a 6-season (226-episode) dramatic series whose "home studio" was Gene Autry's Melody Ranch in Placerita Canyon. The show ran on ABC Tuesdays from September 6, 1955, to June 27, 1961.
It was a time when every television network had to have not just one but multiple Western TV shows to fill the prime-time slots. At one point in the 1950s there were no fewer than 40 Western series on television, most of which didn't last more than a season or two. "Wyatt Earp" was considered one of the better ones. It had staying power and a catchy theme song. Nothing could really compete with "Gunsmoke" on CBS Saturdays, but "Wyatt Earp" didn't have to.
And besides, it was no stranger to the Longbranch Saloon.
(O'Brian's character didn't drink or cuss, and the real-life O'Brian was the fastest draw in TV-dom at 0.8 seconds. Must have been that U.S. Marine Corps training.)
O'Brien's screen career, big and small, spanned more than half a century. In 1991 he was inducted into Downtown Newhall's Walk of Western stars alongside George Montgomery — who had been offered the "Wyatt Earp" part but turned it down because of other commitments. Montgomery would end up at NBC three years later with one of those 40 short-lived Western TV series, "Cimarron City."
O'Brien's life changed when he spent some time in Africa with the 1952 Nobel laureate Dr. Albert Schweitzer. In 1958 he established the Hugh O'Brian Youth Foundation, or HOBY, to seek, recognize and reward leadership in high school sophomores. Canyon High School, for one, selected a HOBY scholar annually in the 1980s and 1990s to attend a national leadership conference.
"It's impossible to put a number on the amount of lives Hugh has touched," his organization stated when he died in 2016 at age 91, "but we can certainly say anyone who participated in HOBY, including all 470,000 of our alumni, tens of thousands of volunteers, and many staff are better people because of him."
LW3253: pdf of original comic book purchased 2017 by Leon Worden. Download individual pages here