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.

Paul Alden Brinegar
Paul Brinegar 1968.JPG
Brinegar (1968)
Paul Alden Brinegar Jr.

(1917-12-19)December 19, 1917
DiedMarch 27, 1995(1995-03-27) (aged 77)
Resting placeCremated - Ashes scattered in Pacific Ocean
Years active1946–1994
Spouse(s)Shirley Talbott (1962-1995; his death); 2 children

Early yearsEdit

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.[2][3][4] His family relocated several times during his childhood, first moving to Alamogordo, then to Las Cruces, and finally to Santa Fe.[5] It was in Santa Fe where Brinegar became interested in acting, performing in stage productions at his local high school.[5]

After his graduation in 1935, Brinegar left Santa Fe to attend Pasadena Junior College in California. There he studied drama, literature, and art.[5] 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.[6]

The 1940 census also identifies him at that time as an independent "Writer" and his father then as a freelancing "general short hand Reporter".[6] 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.[5] 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.[2]


Brinegar's first credited appearance in a feature film was in Larceny (1948).[7] 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".[5] 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).[8]: 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.[9]

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;[8] 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.[8]: 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.[2]


Brinegar as Wishbone with guest star Barbara Eden in a 1964 episode of Rawhide

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 rolesEdit

(Non-western roles included)

References and notesEdit

  1. ^ Wilson, Earl (November 27, 1969). "Small Towns Have Produced Many Big Stars". The Milwaukee Sentinel. p. A33. Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Oliver, Myrna (1995). "Paul Brinegar; Appeared in TV's 'Rawhide'", obituary, Los Angeles Times, March 31, 1995. Retrieved May 11, 2017.
  3. ^ Louise Brinegar's maiden name is documented in "California Death Index, 1940-1997", Paul Alden Brinegar, March 27, 1995; database of the Department of Public Health Services, Sacramento. FamilySearch. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  4. ^ "The Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920", a photographic copy of original enumeration record that includes Brinegar family, Otero County, New Mexico, February 24–25, 1920. FamilySearch, archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. Retrieved May 12, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Paul Brinegar (Rawhide)", Taos Unlimited, an online "Comprehensive Guide to Taos, New Mexico", 2006-2017. Retrieved May 11, 2017.
  6. ^ a b "The Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940", a photographic copy of original enumeration record that includes the Brinegar family, Santa Fe, New Mexico, May 13, 1940. FamilySearch. Retrieved May 12, 2017.
  7. ^ "Larceny (1948)", cast and production details, catalog of the American Film Institute (AFI), Los Angeles, California. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7. P. 579.
  9. ^ "Paul Brinegar". The Daily Herald. Utah, Provo. July 23, 1962. p. 17. Retrieved July 4, 2016 – via  

External linksEdit