Lawman (1958–1962)
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Samson the Great 

On an otherwise slow day, a fight promoter rolls into town. Troop, his hands full refereeing, sees the fighter beat all comers. Afterwards, when they won't leave town as ordered, Dan finds himself the next contestant in the ring.


Stuart Heisler


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Episode cast overview:
John Russell ... Marshal Dan Troop
Peter Brown ... Deputy Johnny McKay
Peggie Castle ... Lily Merrill
Walter Burke ... Jimmy Fresco
Mickey Simpson ... Frank 'Samson the Great' Simpson
Dan Sheridan Dan Sheridan ... Jake Summers
Charles Horvath ... Pat Cassidy
Nina Vaughn Nina Vaughn ... Dolores - Saloon Gal (as Mina Vaughn)


A champion prizefighter stops in Laramie, offering $50 to any man who can last two minutes in the ring with him. Nine men try. Nine men fail. The champ, celebrating his victories at a nearby saloon, then becomes loud and abusive. Marshal Troop orders him out of town and the champ agrees to go, but only if the Marshal agrees to fight him. Written by dinky-4 of Minneapolis

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Release Date:

20 November 1960 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Frank Simpson AKA Samson the Great: What hit me?
Jimmy Fresco: Justice, my boy. Justice.
See more »

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User Reviews

In which John Russell takes off his shirt
27 August 2006 | by dinky-4See all my reviews

One of the standard plots of the TV western involved a prizefighter who comes to town, taking on all challengers. The townspeople unite behind a local favorite and bet all their money on him. At the last moment, however, this favorite must bow out of the competition. Rather than having the townspeople forfeit their money, the hero of the series reluctantly steps forward to take on the prizefighter.

With some modifications, "Lawman" used this plot in its "Samson the Great" episode. Like the other TV westerns, it probably did so because it gave its leading men an opportunity to take off his shirt and display his manly prowess. In this case, John Russell provides the "beefcake" and it's a real pleasure to see him bare-chested because, even at age 39, he's still in top shape and also because he rarely appeared without his shirt in "Lawman." (Young co-star Peter Brown -- with his beachboy good-looks -- tended to provide the show's "pin-up" interest.) The fight itself lasts a good two minutes and 40 seconds and provides a number of shots of Russell's lean torso which seems surprisingly well-tanned for a frontier lawman in Laramie, Wyoming.

Aside from the fight this episode's main asset is the performance of Walter Burke as the prizefighter's diminutive, much-beleaguered manager. One wishes there had been more time to learn more about him and about how he came to be knocking around the West with such a drunken, abusive partner as "Samson the Great."

The writer of this episode, incidentally, was Richard Matheson, better known for having authored "The Incredible Shrinking Man."

(Three other TV-western using this basic plot are a "Maverick" episode from November 1957 titled "Stampede," a "Bat Masterson" episode from November 1958 titled "The Fighter," and a "Laramie" episode from December of 1959 titled "Bare Knuckles." In the first, James Garner provides the beefcake and does the fighting and in the second it's Gene Barry. In the "Laramie" episode, John Smith is the one who bares his pecs.

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