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Opinion

Verdugo Views: ‘Have Gun — Will Travel’ star had roots in Glendale, at Hoover High

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Vic Cameron, right, visits with his former student, Richard Boone, star of “Have Gun — Will Travel,” at a Pikes Verdugo Oaks event, along with Boone’s wife, Claire. According to Glendale News-Press writer Jeannette Mazurki, who covered the event, Claire Boone stood 5 feet 1 to Boone’s 6 feet 3.
(Courtesy of Steve Cameron)

Richard Boone, a Hoover High alumni, played Paladin in the popular television show “Have Gun — Will Travel” and played high school football under the tutelage of coach Vic Cameron.

Born in Los Angeles in 1917 and a “seventh-generation nephew of the pioneer Daniel Boone,” according to his obituary in the New York Times on Jan. 12, 1981. Boone and his family moved to Glendale in 1928.

He played offensive right guard for Cameron, who, along with fellow football coach Normal Hayhurst, had left Glendale High in 1929 to head up a football program at the newly opened Hoover High.

Hayhurst had quite a reputation by then. In 1924, his Glendale High team, which included Marion Morrison (later to become John Wayne), won the Southern CIF championship.

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Cameron was in the midst of 10 successful years of coaching at Hoover by the time Boone arrived.

Steve Cameron, who recently shared his father’s photograph album with me, told me that his father used the talents and skills he had learned as a college football star to positively motivate his own teams.

“My dad didn’t have ‘bad’ teams, but he used to say, ‘some were better than others,’” the younger Cameron said.

After graduating from Hoover, Richard Boone attended Stanford University but dropped out to work as an oil-rigger, bartender, painter and writer. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1941 and served in the Pacific during World War II.

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In 1950, Boone made his screen debut as a Marine officer and later went on to star as Paladin. “His role as Paladin, the intelligent and sophisticated but tough gun-for-hire in the late 19th-century American West made him a national star,” according to Wikipedia.

The show was an instant hit, Steve Cameron said. Toward the end of the first season, Richard Boone spoke at a dinner at Pike’s Verdugo Oaks.

The evening had been arranged by his sister, Mrs. Don S. Brown, program chair of the Mariners group at La Cañada Presbyterian Church. His talk was titled, “Genesis, or How I became Paladin of ‘Have Gun Will Travel.’”

Brown told Glendale News-Press writer Jeannette Mazurki, who covered the event, that regular attendance at the Mariners meetings was usually around 80 people, but there were 140 reservations for the Paladin event, including restaurant owners Jack and Mary Pike.

Vic Cameron was there to reminisce with his former student. Richard Boone told Mazurki, “The man who made the most impression on me besides my father, Kirk Boone, was my football coach, Vic Cameron at Hoover High.”

Some 20 years had passed since Richard Boone’s Hoover days, but he said to Cameron, “The one thing I have carried with me through life was what you said about playing football. Play each play as if it were the last play before death. I have never forgotten that and it has been my key in acting too,” according to the News-Press article in Cameron’s scrapbook.

His role as Paladin ran from 1957 to 1963, and the series received two Emmy nominations. It was followed by “The Richard Boone Show.” Boone also appeared in several movies; three with his fellow Glendalian John Wayne.

In a recent conversation, Steve Cameron told me that his father’s coaching had helped build Richard Boone’s character. “My dad made him a man,” he said.

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Readers Write

Thomas Woodall (the third — and youngest — son of Dalton Woodall), emailed regarding the Jan. 25 Verdugo Views column: “I really enjoyed your article about Ed Cooley’s experience at Woodall Camera Shops … Ed and his family are great. He always expressed profound gratitude for the experience he had working at the camera shop. I remember his children working at the shops. He was also so supportive of our family and I recall him attending the funerals of my grandparents and parents ... It reminds me of times when Glendale felt a lot smaller — and way more personal. Thanks again for your wonderful article.”

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