John O'Malley as Oscar Wilde in "Have Gun Will Travel"
Let's get this much settled right up front: It was a TV version of Oscar Wilde, not the real-life Irish-born playwright and poet. The real Oscar Wilde, who wrote "The Importance of Being Earnest" and "The Picture of Dorian Gray," was a sensation in London in the late 19th century before dying in 1900 — a little too early to make his way into TV or movie productions. But he toured the U.S. in the 1880s, visiting the American West when there still was such a thing, and found his way into a few tidbits of Western lore — drinking whisky with miners in Leadville, Colo., and so forth. Years later, during Hollywood's long love affair with the Wild West, a favorite plot device was to snatch famous visitors to the West from real life and put them in either an exaggerated or completely made-up storyline. Oscar Wilde's turn came around in 1958, and as luck would have it, he had his curtain call at Iverson.
Richard Shannon as Boss Rook, with John O'Malley sitting on the Gorge Arch
The character Oscar Wilde, played by Australian actor John O'Malley, had a central role in an episode of "Have Gun Will Travel" called "The Ballad of Oscar Wilde," which premiered Dec. 6, 1958. The story had Wilde kidnapped by a bad guy named Boss Rook, played by Richard Shannon, who held Wilde hostage in the Iverson Gorge.
Gorge Cabin. In the setting above, the cabin would have been to the right, out of the shot (but it was no longer in place at the time this show was shot). The two big rocks in the background had a corral and shed in front of them for much of the period that the cabin was in place. The cabin, corral and shed, along with a fake mine entrance that was often seen in the area, were all long gone by the time "Have Gun Will Travel" showed up to tape this episode.
Inevitably, it's the series' hero, Paladin, played by Richard Boone, who rides to Wilde's rescue. At first Paladin, on the right, tries to arrange a prisoner swap, but predictably, he ends up having to shoot it out with Boss Rook.
The real Oscar Wilde