TV Programs: Fury (United States, 1955-60)

Figure 1.--

"Fury" was a staple on Saturday morning kids television during the late 1950s. The main character was of course Fury, a horse. His owner Joey was played by Bobby Diamond. Roger Mobley played Homer "Packy" Lambert, Joey's young pal. Although born in Indiana, Roger grew up in west Texas and spoke with a drawl, unlike his fellow cast members. The director of "Fury" didn't want Roger for the part. He wanted Jay North, who went on to play, of course, Dennis the Menace. The producer of "Fury", a wonderful and kind man, Leon Fromkess, overrode his dirctor and hired Roger. Roger went on to play the lead in the Disney series Gallagher.


"Fury" was a staple on Saturday morning NBC kids television during the late 1950s. It was a long-running NBC program. The outdoor scenes for "Fury" were filmed at two different ranches north of Hollywood, and the indoor shots were filmed at an old Hollywood TV lot. The TV show "Lassie", starring Tommy Rettig, was also filmed at that studio.


NBC premiered "Fury" on October 15, 1955, and the final original episode was shown on March 19, 1960. This Saturday morning favorite, though, continued to run at its regular time slot until September 3, 1966, a full 6 years after production had ceased. One source claims that NBC considered scheduling "Fury" as a primetime show but chose Saturday morning instead.


Set in the present-day West.


"Fury" was "the story of a horse and the boy who loves him," as the introduction of each episode of "Fury" explained. The boy was "Joey", an orphaned twelve-year old, who was wrongly accused of breaking a storefront window in a fight with another boy. Joey was brought before a judge to be punished. A horse rancher, "Jim Newton", witnessed the incident and testified to Joey's innocence. Jim had just lost his wife and son in a car wreck caused by a drunk driver, and he asked for and gained the judge's permission to take Joey to live at the ranch with him. Soon, Jim became Joey's legal guardian.

The Horse

The main character was of course Fury, a horse. Jim had captured a wild black stallion. The ranch foreman declared the horse to be full of "fire and fury", and Jim chose the name "Fury" for the stallion. Joey loved Fury from their first meeting, and the boy helped to foil an ex-ranch hand's attempt to kill Fury. From then on, Fury allowed no one but Joey to ride him.

Gender Trends

It is interesting to note that virtually all the early American TV programs about children featured boys. These programs included Dennis the Menace, Lassie, Leave it to Beaver, My Three Sons, and Spin and Marty. There were girls in the family sitcoms, but the we do not recall girls as principal characters in early TV series. We are not sure precisely why ths was. resumably it was related to the still prevalent gender sterotying of the 1950s. Perhaps boys were seen as having more interesting adventures. "Fury" is a special case in point here. This is because girls were much more likely to be involved with horses than boys. Boys in the 1950s persued sports. There were far fewer oppotunities for girls to do sports in the 50s. Girls were infatuated with horses. It is interesting that even a show about horses, however, featured a boy as the main character.


During the series Joey, Jim, Pete the ranch foreman, and Joey's friends had many adventures (the first ranch burned down; a tornado threatened their next home). Sometimes, the plot turned on ranch life (taming the new horses, dealing with would-be-rustlers). Other episodes dealt with 1950s themes, such as civil defense or even flying saucers, the forerunner of UFOs!


The show also developed Joey as a character. In the earliest episodes, Joey is adjusting to a new life and a new family; he showed petty jealousies occasionally and sometimes fits of childish resentment. Later in the show's run, Joey matured into a dependable and well rounded young person. In virtually every episode Fury helped Joey, Jim, or other players out of some trouble or conflict. Fury always protected Joey, and their friendship never weakened.


Joey was portrayed throughout the series by Bobby Diamond, born in Los Angeles on August 23, 1943. Although born in Indiana, Roger grew up in west Texas and spoke with a drawl, unlike his fellow cast members. The director of "Fury" didn't want Roger for the part. He wanted Jay North, who went on to play, of course, "Dennis the Menace". The producer of "Fury", a wonderful and kind man, Leon Fromkess, overrode his dirctor and hired Roger. Roger went on to play the lead in the Disney series "Gallagher". Peter Graves played Jim Newton, the rancher. Pete, the foreman of the ranch (as well as cook and housekeeper) was played by veteran character actor, William Fawcett. Jimmy Baird and Ronald Keith played Joey's friends, "Pee Wee Jenkins" and "Freddie", respectively. In the last season Roger Mobley played "Packy Lambert", another of Joey's friends.


We have only limited information about individual episodes.

Boy Scouts

The Boy Scout episode aired originally on February 11, 1956. It is notable because early TV had Boy Scout episodes. Later the Scouting episodes were always with Scout-like groups, but not the actual Boy Scouts of America. Joey is initiated as a tenderfoot scout in this episode. His guardian, Jim, is the Scoutmaster. As the ceremony ends, the paperboy, Buzz Canfield, comes to collect payment. Buzz spurns both Jim's and Joey's invitation to join the scout troop. Later, he and Joey even have a shoving match and a fight in the school yard when Joey again tries to interest Buzz in joining. Buzz' father is dead, and his mother works long hours at a laundry for a meager living. Buzz delivers papers and works odd jobs after school to bring in extra money. Secretly, Buzz owns a copy of the Boy Scout Handbook, reads from it at every chance, and has mastered many scouting skills.

Joey is now ready to complete requirements for becoming a second class Scout; he must hike alone, find and prepare his own food, build a campfire, and return home. His horse, Fury, follows him into the woods. Along the way, Joey meets Buzz, and the boys apologize for their fight and shake hands as friends. Joey doesn't hike far before he falls into an abandoned well. Fury hears Joey's calls for help, and the horse pushes Buzz back toward the well and Joey. Joey has broken a leg in his fall, and Buzz engineers a resourceful rescue of his new friend. Buzz also makes a splint for Joey's broken leg and secures him so that Fury can take him back to the ranch.

Joey notices that Buzz has a copy of the Scout Handbook, and now it's no secret that Buzz yearns to be a scout. Buzz tells Joey that he can't afford the uniform and must work to help his mom. Joey assures Buzz that he can borrow from the troop's fund and repay in order to buy a uniform - Joey is doing just that, himself- and that the troop will help him finish his jobs. Buzz joins Joey's troop and receives a medal for rescuing Joey. And Fury received a special "equine award" from the scouts for his assistance in the rescue.

In this episode the scouts all wear the forage-type cloth scout cap, long sleeved scout shirts with scout patches and insignia, neckerchiefs with slides, and long scout trousers with plain, dark brown lace-up shoes.

There are some interesting scenes in this episode featuring clothing. As it begins, Joey is waiting anxiously for his uniform to arrive by special delivery. When the package arrives, Joey gets Jim's permission to try it on right away. In his room Joey examines each uniform piece- neckerchief, shirt, trousers - carefully, very proudly, smiling his appreciation. He takes the scout cap, approaches a mirror, and carefully places it on his head in proper position. He smiles and begins reciting the scout oath. The scene dissolves to his initiation ceremony. When Joey finishes the oath, now as a tenderfoot, Jim congratulates Joey and shakes his hand. Joey answers, "Thank you, sir." Woodwinds slowly played the show's lovely theme in the background to complement the scene.

When Joey learns why Buzz won't join the scouts, he answers, "GOLLY! You don't think we'd let a UNIFORM keep you from joining our troop, do you!" As for Buzz's jobs, Joey says,"We'll help you get your jobs done. That's what Scouts are FOR; they help other people and each other, too!"

The "Boy Scout" episode did depict a BSA troop. A subtheme was to put in a good word for the Scouts. When Jim invited Buzz to join the scouts, Buzz scoffed, "That's kid stuff!" Jim retorted, "Mighty IMPORTANT 'kid stuff'! When Joey again asked Buzz to join, Buzz said he didn't have time to play "tin soldier", shoved Joey, and said "Out of the way, rover boy." Then, the shoving and the fight were on, of course.

Other episodes

No information available yet.


Joey typically wore a light colored, long sleeved, western-style shirt. These shirts feature two front pockets, often with flaps that button. The buttons on these shirts are always pearl-snaps. Joey's shirts had a small, print pattern or a thin, vertical stripe. In some episodes Joey wore a plaid version of this western shirt. Invariably, he wore blue jeans and some leather boots which had seen plenty of wear on the ranch. I don't recall seeing Joey ever wear a "cowboy" hat, but Jim and Pete, the ranch foreman, often donned such hats for outdoor work. Both Jim and Pete usually wore denim work shirts or a western shirt with their jeans and boots. Jim might wear a western cut suit with a string tie or perhaps a bolo tie for business or for a special occasion. The only time I remember seeing Joey wear a suit was when Jim's Aunt Harriet from Indiana visited the ranch. Aunt Harriet was a rather particular, fussy sort who demanded that Joey wear his suit and tie to school. The suit was dark, contemporary, with long trousers. Joey stood out among his western-clad schoolmates on that occasion.


HBC's international readers may be more familiar with "Fury" than many Americans, especially of the younger set. "Fury" has been out of syndication for some time in the U.S., compared to other countries. Honestly, I'd really expected TV Land or Nick-at-Nite to have run a "package' of Fury episodes, if only for brief, temporary run. In the 16 years I've watched these networks, it hasn't happened yet--and now I don't think it's going to happen. Young - and not so young these days - viewers apparently won't watch a Black & White show. And the themes and values offered by the show, and others from this era, are increasingly alien to modern viewers, particularly younger ones.


Each episode of "Fury" featured an exciting adventure or challenge, suspense, but most of all a very wholesome story. "Fury" is a representative show of the 1950s in that the kids were always respectful to their elders; the good guys always won; the plots never touched controversial topics. "Fury" was always well written, and its plots, if innocent by today's standards, are still engaging. The characters were never one-dimensional props, and they were allowed to develop. Plus, the rugged outdoor scenery was magnificent. Too bad that NBC, the "Peacock Network", didn't film the shows in color.

Reader Comments

A German reader writes, "Aas child I loved this series very much (even more than "Lassie" and "Flipper"). With my friends we took broom sticks to play Fury in the yard. It was repeated and repeated. I still have Fury books on my shelfs." HBC find this comment fascinating for two rasons. First, it shows the power of American television. Not one American child can point to a Germnan, or even European, television program that affected her. Second, it shows how a program with horses appealed to girls. Very few American boys from this era will identify "Fury" as a particularly favorite program. Many boys watched it no doubt, but few will remember it as their favorite program. Our German reader provides some further thoughts. "Yes, there were and are a lot of American series. But (maybe beginning in the 1990s) it is decreasing and decreasing each year. Self-produced series have become more and more popular. Fury was repeated in TV each summer. This habit ended I guess in the beginning 90s. (HBC note: In America the old black and hite series are becoming increasingly rare.) My parents told me they watched Fury, too. As child I did not realise the "50s-moral-lessons and brave boys" in Fury. But I remember one episode that I even as a small child considered to be stupid. In this episode there was a girl behaving (in 50ies-opinion) rather boyish in jeans trousers. There were 'boy-things' she could better do even as Joey. Joey was frustrated. I don't remember what event followed but at the end sequence the girl appeared in a 'very cute' dress and explained her behaviour was wrong and she will now be more like a girl. Yes, playing Fury as children were only us girls. Interesting, just as HBC suggests, everytime I met Americans and we talk about childhood, no American remembered 'Fury' but they all remembered 'Lassie'."

An Australian reader wrires, "I remember this show "Fury" and I was about 7 years old when it appeared on our crusty old television set and that's how I got to be a Cub Scout in 1968 for 6 months from that Scout epiosode. I can always relate to this episode because whilst I was in hosptial aged 9 in may 1971 I again saw this episode, epecially the part where he broke his leg and tried to get Buzz to join the troop. Girls invaded cubs in 1973 and I was asked back aged 12 but did not want to go to Cubs with giggling girls because they had Brownies and Girl Guides and most my mates exited from scouts for this reason. I loved horses but never owned one, but liked the Melbourn Cup horse race as a result. I think the ABC in Adelaide showed this TV series on saturdays too because I can not remember watching the show in my school uniform on those week days. I did like this show but I was annoyed to find out the show was filmed in black and white when colour came to Australia in 1975. I was used to black and white. I decided to watch the show and it was close to my era times anyways and I could still relate to a 1955-1960 era tv series as I was born in 1961. By age 7 I was a fan of this show and yes I do remember Peter Graves the tall father figure and of course Joey his addopted son and that beautiful black horse Fury too. I think there were a few colour movies of Fury but I'm not sure but I think I saw one or two TV movies and they were ok to and I was about 22 when I saw this first coloured movie of Fury. I think a new TV series should be done of Fury and set to 2000 and onwards and have Joey as a fully grown up man who is married and with children of his own.

An American reader writes, "The readers' comments were very interesting. In my experience, too, girls seem more likely than boys to develop a fondness for horses. "National Velvet" is a good TV exampleof this observation. "NV" was one of very few shows from this time to feature girls in a prominent role. Most films and juvenile literature of the time did have a boy as the central character, and TV reflected gender stereotyping of the era. My perception is that now the stereotypes have been reversed and I stress not ended but reversed.


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Created: June 1, 2003
Last updated: June 3, 2003