Paul Brinegar— Rawhide's Mr. Wishbone— had little interest in real cooking

But he made up for it with his charm!

The Everett Collection

Once again, the age-old question on everyone's mind rears its perennial head: "How alike is this actor and the role he famously played on TV?" The inquiry is up there with "Why is the sky blue?" as far as persistence and frequency go. It's only natural. TV is such an intimate medium. We invite certain characters into our homes every week— sometimes every night. How can we possibly trust them if their face belongs to someone who acts nothing like the person we're familiar with?

It's jarring to learn that an actor's persona doesn't actually match that of their character. Sure, we understand and value acting on some level, and we're aware that good actors can distance a performance from the person they are. But, if we fall in love with a character, especially one that recurs episode after episode, season after season, it follows that we want the real-life version to be similar.

Paul Brinegar, who played George Washington "Wishbone" Haggerty on CBS's Rawhide was, at the time, one of the most famous cooks in the world. Mr. Wishbone presided over the chuck wagon in each of the show's eight seasons. He was cantankerous, as anyone would be if they were tasked with feeding a cadre of young cowhands. 

However, in real life, Brinegar wasn't fascinated with the culinary arts. In reality, Brinegar hardly ever cooked— unless he could make a buck off of it. 

In 1964, the actor spoke with The Baltimore Sun regarding whether or not he'd adopted his character's occupation as a new hobby.

"I'm interested in what I hear and read about cookery only as it might help me understand the character of Wishbone, and as it might help me with a book I've been planning to write, with a friend of mine, Tony Habeeb; he's a publicist for Screen Gems."

While he may not have loved cooking at home, that wasn't going to stop Brinegar from capitalizing on his newfound fame as TV's most famous cook.

"We've been collecting what we think are usable recipes," said Brinegar, "not just because they're old-time ones, which the average man can whip up easily. We're looking for more things like the buckwheat mix my mother made, and which she got from my father's grandmother. This is like sourdough— you keep some of the batter to start another batch, and so on. We also have found some good recipes for sourdough.

"We won't go in much for seasonings, or subtleties like that; we have no way, really, of testing them. There will be only simple things, primarily for campers or for backyard cooking."

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2 Comments

JHP 10 days ago
I remember him in an Eastwood movie - maybe Josey Wales? - bartender?
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