April 17, 2011

Did James Coburn play Soapy Smith in the TV show KLONDIKE?

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I recently came across a contact sheet from the 1960s TV show Klondike. To date I have never had the pleasure of seeing one episode. I was 2-years-old when it first aired and I bet my father and his siblings watched every episode, especially with titles like, Saints and Stickups, Sure Thing Men, and The Man Who Owned Skagway. Apparently the show did not make much of an impact on them, either in the positive or negative, as there is no known correspondence between them that pertains to the show.  For whatever reasons, the writers chose to use fictitious characters, but it is obvious they were based on real people.

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The show takes place in Skagway with actor James Coburn playing Jefferson Durain in 14 of the 17 half-hour aired episodes. Coburn's character was a con man proprietor of a saloon called "Jeff's Place." It doesn't take much imagination to figure out that this was based around Soapy Smith, although I have not found any official word from the producers as of yet.

The opening song for KLONDIKE

1891: Soapy assaults John W. Chambers (no details given).
1892: Joe Palmer and Bob Ford shoot up the town in Creede.
1894: Soapy officially commissioned as an Arapaho County deputy sheriff.

Jeff Smith



  1. I too would love to see those episodes of 'Klondike'.
    At the time James Coburn,[a fine actor] was not too well known to overwhelm the part..I guess.

    The costuming looks 'OK' except for Coburns hat. The streets of mud are a nice touch. The sign on the saloon is awful.

  2. Friend, Rich.
    I found DVD's of Klondike for sale as low as $8.00 for 16 of the 17 episodes. Apparently one of the episodes is lost.
    I found it interesting that this program is where they came up with the term "northern," as opposed to calling it a "western."

    Jeff Smith

  3. was that $8.00 for all episodes, or for each..too bad one is missing, but still good

  4. $8.00 for all sixteen episodes!


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