Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Whatever Happened to Kelo Henderson
Fast-draw champ, known for TV Westerns calls Ridgecrest home
By SANDY AUBIN
Special to the Ridgecrest News Review
December 8 2010
One hundred years ago this month, after several attempts over a 30-year period to have a statehood bill approved, delegates to the Arizona Territory constitutional convention agreed on a final document and set the stage for Arizona to enter the U.S. as its 48th state.
This might appear to have nothing to do with Ridgecrest (California), but to the contrary, a local resident embodied Arizona’s path to statehood for two years on the TV Western “26 Men”.
Paul “Kelo” Henderson played Ranger Clint Travis from 1957 to 1959 in 78 episodes about the small handful of lawmen who protected the Arizona Territory.
“Once the rest of the country had come under U.S. jurisdiction, ruthless characters drifted toward Mexico and saw Arizona as a good way to get there,” said Henderson. If a ranger died or left they hired a new one. Yet they never went over 26. Our show was based on real history. “Those rangers were paid 50 dollars a month, and they had to provide their own horses, weapons and ammunition.
Now look how Arizona has grown. Today there are condominiums where one [we filmed ‘26 Men’]. The television series established Henderson as an expert gun showman. His skill caused the president of ABC to rework the ‘26 Men’ pilot to showcase Henderson’s agility and fast draw.
At one time, Henderson won the title of Fast Draw and Gun Dexterity Champion of the World. His fast draw was so fast that it was photographed with a missile camera.
His awards include the 2003 Golden Boot Award for his significant contributions to the Western genre of television and movies.
He generously supports the fans of the Old West and has made personal appearances at numeroue rodeos, fairs and film festivals.
As a cowboy, Henderson is the real deal. Born on a ranch in Pueblo, Colorado, ho honed his skills as a rider, a roper and an expert marksman.
Demonstrating his skills got him most jobs, and when he didn’t get roles, he was hired to train the other actors.
He once trained “Sugarfoot” star Will Hutchins on guns and roping.
“It was the heyday of Westerns. We used to joke, if the TV repairman wanted to repair your TV, he’d take the back off and empty out the dead cowboys and Indians.
Henderson’s other credits include “Wells Fargo”, “Cheyenne”, “Sergeant Preston” and numerous European “spaghetti westerns” (Treasure of the Aztecs” and “Pyramid of the Son Gods”).
Henderson, who traveled widely with the Merchant Marines during World War II has had homes in Torrance, Laguna Beach, Palm Springs and finally Ridgecrest, where his mother, father and aunt lived.
In 1962 then Arizona Governor Paul J. Fannin named Kelo Henderson an Honorary Citizen of Arizona. Then in 1963 the Old West Arizona Rangers Historical Society made him an honorary Arizona Ranger.
To catch a glimpse of Henderson and “26 Men” go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWE_Z6-TRi4