Tag Archives: Laramie

Asian Stars in TV Westerns: Laramie: “Dragon at the Door”

2 Oct

“Dragon at the Door,” the first episode of Season 3 of “Laramie,” was the TV episode I watched back in January 2012 that first stimulated my interest in exploring the topic of Asian characters in TV westerns. It was included on a DVD called “Top TV Westerns” and it prompted my search on IMDB for other TV episodes with similar themes. This episode also aired, in a much better copy, on the Encore Western Channel on September 29, 2015. I watched it in high-def and took screen shots from it.

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Asian Stars in TV Westerns, Part 1: Lisa Lu in “Bonanza”

8 Jan

About a year ago, I picked up a DVD called “Top TV Westerns” that included a 1961 episode of “Laramie,” entitled “Dragon at the Door,” that happened to be about a troupe of traveling Japanese entertainers out west, with the lead character played by Japanese actress Nobu McCarthy. I was intrigued by the episode’s respectful treatment of its Japanese characters, avoidance of stereotype, and the honest depiction of culture clash in the interaction between the two American stage drivers, the series’ regular protagonists, and the five Japanese characters. I wondered how many other TV western episodes featured Asian guest stars like this and I did some research and found quite a few, including an episode of “Wagon Train” with Sessue Hayakawa as a traveling samurai (“The Sakae Ito Story”); an episode of “Rawhide,” in which Miyoshi Umeki played a geisha out west (“Incident of the Geisha”); and an episode of “Cheyenne,” in which the title character, working for a railroad, finds himself with a Chinese “bride,” played by Lisa Lu, whom he has to care for until he can reunite her with her father and send them back to San Francisco (“Pocketful of Stars”). After those, the one I most wanted to see was “Day of the Dragon,” an episode of “Bonanza,” guest-starring Lisa Lu and also featuring such august Asian-American performers as Philip Ahn and Richard Loo, along with series regular Victor Sen Yung, who played the Cartwrights’ cook, Hop Sing. I found this episode in a Bonanza box set of the series’ third season.

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