Before he was the barkeep in Gunsmoke, Glenn Strange was the stagecoach driver in The Rifleman

His real-life ranching and rodeo skills made him the perfect choice to drive a team of horses.

It was no coincidence that Glenn Strange's career was dominated by work in Western movies and TV shows. He was born in New Mexico Territory in 1899, thirteen years before it became a state. Raised by a rancher and bartender father in west Texas, he learned skills that would be valuable to his work as an actor.

After stints working as a deputy sheriff, a rodeo rider and even a heavyweight boxer, Strange made his way to Hollywood. He appeared in countless Westerns. Svengoolie fans might recognize him for playing Frankenstein's monster in three movies, starting with 1944's House of Frankenstein (with Boris Karloff as a maniacal prison escapee who revives him).

In the 1950s, he began his long career in television. While he is most recognizable as Sam Noonan, the bartender of the Long Branch saloon in Gunsmoke, he had another recurring role on The Rifleman just a few years prior.

On that show — which happened to take place in the New Mexico Territory — Strange played Joey Cole, a stagecoach driver who often rode through North Fork and jumpstarted the story of the episode. In his first appearance, season one's "Duel of Honor," Cole stops the stage in North Fork because it's in need of repairs. While the stage is stuck in town for 24 hours, passenger Count Alfredo di Montova causes a stir leading to a duel with a bigoted local.

In another episode, "The Deadeye Kid," Strange portrays a shotgun rider on a stagecoach who gets rid of a novice easterner trying to hitch a ride on the back. The easterner finds his way to the McCain ranch and befriends Mark.

Strange as Sam the Bartender in 'Gunsmoke'

Strange appeared in seven Rifleman episodes, usually as Joey Cole or an unnamed stagecoach driver who seems to be the same character because of his familiarity with Lucas McCain. But in one episode that's a little… well, strange, he plays a man who drives a stage but for some reason goes by the name Zack. There could be many reasons for this but the most obvious, and mundane, is that television writers simply didn't pay much attention to continuity in those days.

Strange started playing Sam the bartender on Gunsmoke in 1961 but he still acted one last time in The Rifleman in 1962.

His final appearance in North Fork? You can likely guess. He played the uncredited role of a stage driver for a senator passing through town in "The Assailants."

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PatrickGarrett 46 months ago
He played Butch Cavindish the leader of the outlaw gang that ambushed the six Texas Rangers of which one survived with the help of Tonto and became the Lone Ranger. They caught him but he escaped prison and they had to track him down again. The character was very evil, but good prevailed. This role gets overlooked a lot for some reason.
F5Twitster 46 months ago
"There could be many reasons for this but the most obvious, and mundane, is that television writers simply didn't pay much attention to continuity in those days."

The blame, such as it is, belongs not to the writers (the script's mention[s] of the name "Zack" could have been corrected any time between its writing and the moment the lines were spokne on-set, or someone other than Strange could've been cast in the part), but the casting directors and producers, who didn't pay attention to that continuity.
Dave 46 months ago
There are some really funny bloopers involving Glenn Strange from ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEETS FRANKENSTEIN, and Glenn Strange broke his leg falling over a cable and in the lab scene, he was doubled by another former Frankenstein's Monster, costar Lon Chaney Jr who got into the makeup once again. Here's the link to the bloopers:
Barry22 46 months ago
He was also in The first three episodes of The Lone Ranger.
dictracy 46 months ago
Only knew him as Frankenstein
bakdocmatt 46 months ago
Also played Frankenstein monster in Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein,
texasluva bakdocmatt 46 months ago
I have that movie in blu-ray and on DVR. You know that there is no such thing as Dracula, I know there's no such thing........But does Dracula know it? If you wish to sit back and enjoy some monster madness and Abbott & Costello do their thing. This is one to watch.
BrittReid bakdocmatt 46 months ago
and House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula.
hummingbirds 46 months ago
I love the rifleman it’s my favorite show !! I am really enjoying Wagon Train also.
I was born around the time it was being aired 😊
texasluva 46 months ago
Glen was no Stranger to the movie and TV series industry. With 316 credits on his resume in macabre, westerns, stranger then fiction and unusual guest appearances. Yes even Jail House Rock. You may not notice him because of makeup or being inconspicuous but he is most certainly there. In his final years of bartender on Gunmoke he finally settled down until his passing in 1973. No stranger to us we salute you Glen RIP
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