Often when we think of the Wild West, one thing comes to mind… the American Cowboy. He is handsome, tough and rugged. His prevailing qualities are courage and justice. But how often do we stop to consider the Cowgirls of the West? Women born during that time often stood in the shadows of their male counterparts, but in no way were they lesser in quality. Even today their contribution is often overlooked in the heroic tales that are so often featured in western television and films. But occasionally their contribution is recognized, especially in the case of Death Valley Days because the scripts were based on true stories and the real people of the Western era. Even though over time the line between fact and fiction can become hard to distinguish, we never need to doubt the value of the women pioneers of the wild West.
Mariette Hartley is known for her contributions to the entertainment industry and for portraying these women of the West in a variety of movies and television shows, including Death Valley Days. Sometimes these women carried guns and sometimes they carried a Bible, sometimes they were fighters and sometimes they were lovers. Below is a brief synopsis of each Death Valley Days episode featuring Mariette Hartley and the women she characterized.
In 1965, Hartley was cast as a Mormon pioneer, Jessica Scott, who with her husband searches for their son who was taken by Indians while the family was traveling to Utah, in the episode “The Red Shawl”.
As Sister Blandina in 1967’s “Lost Sheep of Trinidad”, she comes to the aid of a wounded robber in the rough frontier town of Trinidad when no one else will. As she works to comfort him she learns he is a friend of the notorious Billy the Kid
“Lady with a Past” was released in 1968 and Hartley stars as Tiger Lil, a woman engaged to a Bostonian businessman. But he is worried that she won’t be able to give up the attention that she receives as a dance hall girl.
Also released in 1968 was “Dress for a Desert Girl” in which Mariette Hartley is Cynthia, a woman who lives in isolation while her husband seeks his fortune and looks for gold.
Did we mention that Mariette Hartley starred in Star Trek?