Herrmann Music in Have Gun Will Travel and Other Classic CBS Television Series

Bill Wrobel
June 2006


April 24, 2006, was the first performance of The New York Philharmonic under the direction of John Williams in a program of selections from the conductor’s and Bernard Herrmann’s film scores. The Herrmann selections, hosted by Martin Scorsese, were played in the first half of the program, and the rest of the program was devoted to music by John Williams.

Have you ever watched the old classic CBS series such as Have Gun Will Travel, Gunsmoke, Rawhide, Perry Mason, and Twilight Zone and ever wondered how much of Bernard Herrmann’s music you heard in various episodes?

I remember when I was seven years old and watched Paladin on Saturday nights for its first season run. While I was still not cognizant at the time of whom Bernard Herrmann was by name, I recall the excitement I felt watching the show (westerns were big, so to speak, or very popular at that general period on American television). I particularly liked Paladin, and then Matt Dillon (Gunsmoke). I also associated the CBS series with pleasure because of the music heard. I did not know Herrmann’s name because no credits were given at the end of the episodes (since the music was a collection of so-called “stock music” cues from various composers edited into each episode). But even back at that young age I felt drawn to the music. Let’s focus first on the Have Gun Will Travel series since the first three seasons (as I write this paper) are now available on dvd.

Now: Bernard Herrmann did indeed write an original score for the pilot episode of Have Gun Will Travel starring Richard Boone perfectly cast as Paladin (although I heard, true or not, that Randolph Scott was first offered the role). The pilot, titled “Three Bells To Perdido,” was aired September 14, 1957, Saturday evening at 9:30 p.m. (preceding Gunsmoke). However, at no place on the written score (located in Box 187 in the CBS Collection at UCLA Music Library Special Collections) do you see the pilot title–simply “HGWT.” The pilot score was recorded at the same general period as another CBS pilot (but not developed as a series) was recorded, Ethan Allen. Both scores were recorded virtually on the same reel placements (for example, CBS Library 8-46-C, 8-56-C). No dates are given on the written score as to its completion, as Herrmann normally inserts on his scores. I would surmise the music was recorded in mid or late spring of 1957. Proof of this is that music from HGWT was used in an episode of Gunsmoke from the second season (’56/’57) titled “The Man Who Would Be Marshall” (airdate June 15, 1957). If you have the Columbia House dvd (from subscription), go to Chapter 3 from :01-:50. The cue is called “Travel” from the HGWT pilot that Herrmann composed, Bars 18-24, and then Bars 41-45. The exact same sequence is played again in Chapter 4 from 3:08-3:58. Realize that this is the first instance of Herrmann CBS Music Library television music heard on a CBS series, and heard even before the HGWT pilot to be aired almost three months later that year!

Sometime after the score was written, cue numbers were inserted in bold marker pen. The first cue number is #6122 for M-10 “Main Title I.” This numbering system (for this score) does not fit the CBS Log Books’ rendition of the recording of this music originally. HGWT and Ethan Allen were apparently special cases, being pilots during the very early years of the CBS Library, in not being given specific sequential cue numberings in line with the other CBS material used for both stock and restricted (as in HGWT) thematic material used only for the series, especially the Main and End Titles. I will be listing the music sequentially as it is given in the pilot show, not necessarily how it is written in its numbering system. There are some discrepancies and omissions, as I will point out.

Incidentally, as a side note, perhaps you hadn’t noticed it before but the End Credits misspelled the composer’s name (“Hermann” instead of “Herrmann”).


Herrmann Music in Have Gun Will Travel and Other Classic CBS Television Series
Bill Wrobel • June 2006
Company/organization: CBS