Frank McGrath of ''Wagon Train'' exposed the harsh reality of television stunt work

"The only one that looks after the stuntman is the stuntman."

Everett Collection

Movies and television have come a long way since the fifties and sixties, both creatively and technically. Sure, some people will always prefer the way television was to the way it is today. But even if you're the nostalgic sort, you have to agree that one piece of progress we can all celebrate in entertainment is becoming more mindful of safety on set.

Today, there are multiple people on television and film sets whose specific job is to make sure that the actors involved in any potentially dangerous scenes are as safe and comfortable as possible. Not only does this speak to a more secure environment where both cast and crew alike can rest easy, but it also helps contribute to the finished value of the project. Joy can be contagious, and an audience is much more likely to enjoy an episode of a television show if it's obvious everyone had fun making it.

You'll probably remember Frank McGrath as chef Charlie B. Wooster in the hit series Wagon Train, but before he took on the role, McGrath worked heavily as a stuntman. McGrath often worked as the stunt double for famous actor Warren Baxter. In addition to working together, the two also became good friends.

McGrath spoke of his previous experiences as a stuntman and was incredibly frank about his feelings toward the profession, which he felt wasn't always considerate of human safety. "In pictures, the horse gets off easier than the stuntman," McGrath said to The Salt Lake Tribune. "There's usually an SPCA worker on the set to see that the animals aren't abused, but the only one that looks after the stuntman is the stuntman."

Here's an example: "When a horse was supposed to fall, they'd dig a nice hole for him, then fill it with loose dirt as a cushion," he said. The stuntman, however, would get no such luxuries. "I'd try to hit that soft spot, too, but usually landed out in the rocks."

McGrath might sound upset, however, he also found that his time as an actor only sweetened his memories of being a stuntman. "I used to gripe about getting my brains kicked in doubling for an actor who made all the money," the actor said. But when McGrath himself became an actor and finally understood the complex challenges that came with it, "I'm sorry for all that now."

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2 Comments

Runeshaper 19 days ago
McGrath was a cool 😎 and sturdy dude!
CaptainDunsel 19 days ago
"...an audience is much more likely to enjoy an episode of a television show if it's obvious everyone had fun making it."

Doesn't explain 46 seasons of "Survivor".
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