Actor Paul Brinegar

Paul Alden Brinegar Jr. (December 19, 1917 – March 27, 1995) was an American character actor best known for his roles in three Western series: The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, Rawhide, and Lancer.

Early years

Brinegar was born in 1917 in Tucumcari in eastern New Mexico, the first child of Louise (née McElroy) and Paul A. Brinegar Sr., who was a farmer. His family relocated several times during his childhood, first moving to Alamogordo, then to Las Cruces, and finally to Santa Fe. It was in Santa Fe where Brinegar became interested in acting, performing in stage productions at his local high school.

After his graduation in 1935, Brinegar left Santa Fe to attend Pasadena Junior College in California. There he studied drama, literature, and art. According to the United States Census of 1940, he was back in Santa Fe by May of that year living with his parents and his two younger brothers, Warren and Robert.

The 1940 census also identifies him at that time as an independent “Writer” and his father then as a freelancing “general short hand Reporter”. Soon thereafter young Brinegar joined the United States Navy to serve four years during World War II as a chief radio operator in the South Pacific. After the war he returned to California, where he applied his military training and experience to earn a living in the Los Angeles area as a radio repairman. He also resumed his pursuit of an acting career in his spare time, playing bit parts in movies.


Brinegar’s first credited appearance in a feature film was in Larceny (1948). From there, he launched a steady film career that slowed considerably in the late 1950s, after he began appearing on television but did not end until 1994, when Brinegar made his final screen appearance, as a stagecoach driver, in the 1994 film version of Maverick.

Brinegar was cast in more than 100 Western films produced between 1946 and 1994, often specializing in playing “feisty, grizzled cowboy sidekicks”. On television, from 1956 to 1958, he played James H. “Dog” Kelley, the mayor of Dodge City, Kansas, in the ABC/Desilu series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp starring Hugh O’Brian. Brinegar appears in that series 33 times as Kelley and in one other episode in another role. He also portrays Ludwig, a bartender, in the 1959 episode “The Ringer” of The Texan starring Rory Calhoun. Brinegar, however, is best remembered as the cattle-drive cook George Washington Wishbone on the CBS series Rawhide (1959 – 1966).:875 Earlier he had played a similar role, one as the character Tom Jefferson Jeffrey, in the 1958 movie Cattle Empire upon which Rawhide was based.

Brinegar also made two guest appearances on CBS courtroom drama Perry Mason. His first appearance on that series, prior to Rawhide, is in the 1958 episode “The Case of the Sun Bather’s Diary”. His second appearance on Perry Mason is in the series’ ninth and final season, in the 1966 episode “The Case of the Unwelcome Well”.

In the 1968-1970 CBS Western series Lancer, Brinegar had the role of Jelly Hoskins; and in 1969 he appeared in Charro! starring Elvis Presley. Then, in 1973, he played the barman in Clint Eastwood’s film High Plains Drifter. From 1982 to 1983, returning to television, Brinegar portrayed a humorous cowboy-like character, Lamar Pettybone, during the first season of the ABC series Matt Houston.:667 Later he reprised a revised version of his Rawhide Wishbone character for the 1991 TV movie The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw, in which he delivers a brief monologue that contains references to several old television Westerns.


Brinegar died of emphysema at the age of 77 in Los Angeles on March 27, 1995. He was cremated and his ashes scattered into the Pacific Ocean. His family directed memorial contributions for Brinegar to the Motion Picture and Television Fund in Woodland Hills, California.


Brinegar guest-starred mostly in westerns, including the Saturday morning series on CBS, Tales of the Texas Rangers in the 1956 episode “The Hobo.” In 1967, he guest-starred in the episode “Take the Southbound Stage” of the NBC series, Daniel Boone, starring Fess Parker in the title role.

On October 1, 1966, he was cast as a prospector, Sawbuck, in the episode “Solid Gold Cavity” of the syndicated Death Valley Days. That same month, Brinegar played Rupert Johnson, who entered a partnership to cook for a feisty miner in return for half of the gold findings in the Death Valley Days episode “The Lady and the Sourdough”.[citation needed]

On June 11, 1969, Brinegar played the Death Valley pioneer Jimmy Dayton (died 1899) in the episode “Jimmy Dayton’s Bonanza”.[citation needed]

TV and Film roles

(Non-western roles included)

  • Abilene Town (1946) – Gambler (uncredited)
  • Larceny (1948) – Mechanic
  • Take One False Step (1949) – Reporter (uncredited)
  • Sword in the Desert (1949) – British Soldier (uncredited)
  • Pinky (1949) – Western Union Clerk (uncredited)
  • The Gal Who Took the West (1949) – Tailor (uncredited)
  • Young Man with a Horn (1950) – Stage Manager (uncredited)
  • A Ticket to Tomahawk (1950) – Henchman (uncredited)
  • Storm Warning (1951) – Cameraman #1 (uncredited)
  • Insurance Investigator (1951) – Mr. Spangler, Hotel Orderly (uncredited)
  • Journey Into Light (1951) – Bum
  • Here Come the Nelsons (1952) – Thin Cop (uncredited)
  • The Captive City (1952) – Police Sergeant
  • Pat and Mike (1952) – Caddy (uncredited)
  • We’re Not Married! (1952) – Beauty Contest Spectator (uncredited)
  • It Happens Every Thursday (1953) – Mr. Sweetzer, Hotel Clerk (uncredited)
  • Fast Company (1953) – Smokey – Poker Player (uncredited)
  • Captain Scarface (1953) – Clegg
  • So Big (1953) – Farmer (uncredited)
  • Phantom of the Rue Morgue (1954) – Angry Accuser in Street (uncredited)
  • Rails Into Laramie (1954) – Bandleader (uncredited)
  • The Rocket Man (1954) – Dave Harris (uncredited)
  • Human Desire (1954) – Brakeman (uncredited)
  • Dawn at Socorro (1954) – Desk Clerk
  • Rogue Cop (1954) – Arcade Clerk (uncredited)
  • A Star Is Born (1954) – Man at Funeral (uncredited)
  • Four Guns to the Border (1954) – Barber (uncredited)
  • The Silver Chalice (1954) – Audience Member (uncredited)
  • The Public Defender (1954-1955, TV Series) – Bud / Vic Oliver / Bailbondsman
  • Cell 2455 Death Row (1955) – Prisoner (uncredited)
  • I Died a Thousand Times (1955) – Bus Driver (uncredited)
  • Highway Patrol (1955, TV Series) – Blainey
  • Ransom! (1956) – Bank Clerk (uncredited)
  • Inside Detroit (1956) – Irate Worker (uncredited)
  • Tales of the Texas Rangers (1956, TV Series) – Hobo
  • World Without End (1956) – Vida (uncredited)
  • Santiago (1956) – Alkali (uncredited)
  • Fighting Trouble (1956) – Mailman (uncredited)
  • Flight to Hong Kong (1956) – Castairs (uncredited)
  • Noah’s Ark (1957, TV Series) – Doug Connor
  • The Spirit of St. Louis (1957) – Okie (uncredited)
  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-1957, TV Series) – Mr. Stern / Police Officer / Mason
  • The Iron Sheriff (1957) – Gun Salesman (uncredited)
  • Tales of Wells Fargo (1957, TV Series) – Shorty Tannin
  • The Vampire (1957) – Willy Warner
  • Hell on Devil’s Island (1957) – Arneaux (uncredited)
  • Copper Sky (1957) – Charlie Martin
  • Cattle Empire (1958) – Tom Jefferson Jeffrey
  • State Trooper (1958, TV Series) – Storekeeper
  • The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp (1955-1958, TV Series) – Mayor Jim Kelley
  • How to Make a Monster (1958) – Rivero
  • Lawman (1959, TV Series) – George the Stage Line Clerk
  • The Texan (1959, TV Series) – Ludwig
  • Trackdown (1959, TV Series) – Deputy Zack Armstead
  • Peter Gunn (1961, TV Series) – Chigger
  • Rawhide (1959-1965, TV Series) – George Washington Wishbone
  • Country Boy (1966) – Link Byrd, Sr., the father of Nashville musician played by Randy Boone
  • Bonanza (1967, TV Series) – Lev Buckalew
  • Iron Horse (1967, TV Series) – Waco Hobson
  • Daniel Boone (1967, TV Series) – Gurney
  • The Guns of Will Sonnett (1968, TV Series) – Charlie Moss
  • Charro! (1969) – Opie Keetch
  • Death Valley Days (1966-1969, TV Series) – James ‘Jimmy’ Dayton / Rupert Johnson / Sawbuck – Prospector
  • Lancer (1968-1970, TV series) – Jelly Hoskins
  • High Plains Drifter (1973) – Lutie Naylor
  • Emergency! (1974-1976, TV Series) – Max / Grady / Husband (Tom)
  • Cannon (1974, TV Series) – Charlie Tompkins
  • The Six Million Dollar Man (1975, TV Series) – Rafe Morris
  • I Wonder Who’s Killing Her Now? (1975) – Looney Pickup Driver
  • CHiPs (1977-1982, TV Series) – Keith Lawton / Old Surfer
  • The Dukes of Hazzard (1979, TV Series) – Dewey Stovall
  • The Texas Rangers (1981, TV Movie) – Old Al
  • The Creature Wasn’t Nice (1983) – Clint Eastwood / Dirty Harry
  • Chattanooga Choo Choo (1984) – Pee Wee
  • Annihilator (1986, TV Movie) – Pops
  • Life Stinks (1991) – Old Bellboy
  • The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (1993, TV Series) – Francis Kilbride
  • Maverick (1994) – Stage Driver
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    Actor Paul Brinegar – Wikipedia

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