In 1960, Pete Boyle was involved with a short lived TV program on WFIL-TV called “Sheriff Smith." The star of the show was Harry K. Smith (mainly known as a newscaster and weather guy) with Pete Boyle as his sidekick. The program was aired Saturdays from 11 am to 11:30 am and only ran for two months from March 12th to June 4, 1960. Channel 6 described it as "a new kind of western, designed just for you young cowhands." TV Guide referred to it as "a western adventure series."

In an unsigned e-mail (AOL allowed you to do that), someone wrote: I worked with Peter Sr and Harry on the “Sheriff Smith" show you reference, and if you would like additional info, I would be glad to provide it. Pete Jr worked on the show as an apprentice cameraman. It was one of the first videotaped shows in Philly history, and was not "short-lived". It was designed as a thirteen (13)-week mini-series (before anyone had heard of them!) running in three installments of 5-4-4 weeks. Pete was an accomplished commercial and fine artist (though, like Norman Rockwell, he preferred to consider him an "illustrator"). He did a fantastic series of portraits of his close acquaintance, Emmett Kelly, the world-renowned Barnum & Bailey clown, and I still have some of the watercolors he painted of the South Jersey landscapes and fishing villages he enjoyed so much.

When we e-mailed for additional information, we got this reply: … I was saying was that this was a MINI-SERIES. ...I realize that videotape was being used by the late 1950's, but it was mostly restricted to "studio"-type talk shows that did not require editing or CONTROL of animals, as we had to do on our show. Videotape could not even be recorded "in-house" - our signal had to be broadcast to a tower atop a neighboring building in order to be recorded. At the time we taped, the show had to be performed straight through, without interruption or pause of any kind (as if it were a LIVE telecast), and editing was impossible. In fact, one incident I recall vividly occurred when the director's (Ben Squires) elderly father, who played bit parts, wore his horned-rim glasses in a scene where he did a walk-through, creating an obvious anachronism. But rather than RETAPING the ENTIRE show just to correct this faux pas, the scene aired as originally taped. When we asked for identification of whom the e-mail was from, the reply was the 13 year old (in 1960) who worked with Pete.

By the way, Broadcast Pioneers member George Koehler, manager of WFIL-TV at that time said that he didn't remember the "Sheriff Smith" program being a limited production, but one that was cancelled because of higher production costs.

Bill Yerkes, a visitor to our site tells a similar story in his e-mail:

I also appeared on "Sheriff Smith" and I remember some of the things listed on your website. The video tape recorders were in another building and they had to send the signal through some sort of antenna. We had to tape the whole thing "live" on tape. If you made a mistake you just kept on going. After the show, they wouldn't let us go home until they ran the tape to make sure they got it.

Barry Cassell (of Action in the Afternoon fame) played the Indian Chief and in one scene I confronted him face to face and I couldn't keep from laughing. He was such a comedian off camera. Sam Kressen, who played the bad buy (he had been the Sheriff on "Action in the Afternoon) and Uncle Pete, the two old pros, taught me how to look past him instead of at his face to keep from laughing. They said the camera will never know where you're really looking. I can still see the look on Barry's face and it still makes me laugh.

I think it was a three episode story that I was in. It was shot in a studio, even the exteriors. I remember that in one scene the corner of the control room window got in the scene but after viewing it they said to let it go since the quality of b/w video tape at that time was so bad you couldn't tell what it was.

Tony DeSimone did the music and he played the organ soap opera style. I remember watching him write the chords on the script as he worked up the music track. He played it live just as we taped the show.

Sheriff Smith was taped at Ralph Lopatin Studios. I think the director for the episodes I was in was Merle Brockway. He directed a lot of shows in those days. He was the director for "Kid West" and I'm pretty sure I remember him directing Carney the Clown on his Saturday morning show.

I remember another scene in Sheriff Smith where I was caught in a rockslide while trying to rescue the kidnapped Indian Chief's son. All of the rock's were made of a plywood frame with chicken wire and painted canvas covering. A stagehand was up on a stepladder and was supposed to through the rock so it hit the ground and rolled up onto my leg. We'll when we went live, he threw the rock right on my leg and it really hurt. Later the Director told me what a great face I made when the rock hit my leg. He said it looked real. I told him it was, it really did hurt. Of course being "live on tape" and this being the end of the show I had to tough it out and finish up the show, Of course Sheriff Smith came to the rescue and arrested Sam Kressen and his sidekick. (I don't remember his name but he had been one of the "Little Rascals").

From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
© 2005, Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
All Rights Reserved

The e-mail address of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia is