The Rebel is a 76-episode American western television series that ran originally on the ABC network from 1959 to 1961. The Rebel was one of the few Goodson-Todman Productions outside the game show ventures. Starting in December 2011, reruns of The Rebel began to air on Me-TV.
The series is about the adventures of young Confederate Army veteran Johnny Yuma, an aspiring writer, played by Nick Adams. Haunted by his memories of the American Civil War, Yuma, in search of inner peace, roams the American West, specifically the Texas Hill Country and the South Texas Plains. He keeps a journal of his adventures and fights injustice wherever he finds it with the help of a double-barreled shotgun with a sawed-off stock and barrel.
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I don’t recall ever seeing The Rebel when I was a kid, and, like a lot of boys my age at the time (I was between six and eight years old when The Rebel was originally broadcast), I watched a lot of Westerns. I first saw it one Saturday morning last year, when it was on in the waiting room of a Pep Boys, where I was getting some new tires, but couldn’t pay much attention because of background noise. Then I saw an episode yesterday morning on Me-TV.
The episode, The Crime, could have been written today, in which Johnny Yuma is first accused of murder, is quickly exonerated, but stays in town after being told to clear out to defend a Mexican boy then accused of the murder. The town sheriff agrees that there should be a trial, but a deputy wants to simply take him out and hang him. The accused has some of the possessions of an old widow, who had stayed in a town hotel for twenty years after her husband died; he said that she had given them to him, but no one but Johnny believed him. The Mexican, identified only as Salado, says that the woman is dead, but says he did not kill her, that she died of natural causes, but refuses to say where she is buried. In the end, Johnny and the Sheriff find her grave, and bring back her headstone, which says that she is Salado’s mother.
The ending implies that the woman — I can’t remember the character’s name — had an illegitimate son with a Mexican father, and Salado was trying to protect his mother’s reputation from the shame of having fornicated with a Mexican.
Still, despite that certainly politically correct theme, a hidden interracial relationship despite the assumed condemnation of white society, it surprises me when I see The Rebel on television. While Johnny’s Confederate forage cap carries no insignia,1 he is clearly shown wearing an oval CSA — Confederate States of America — belt buckle.2 I’m practically stunned that, in this day of political correctness, a television network can show, even in an old series, a series hero who wears any Confederate livery.