Sep. 16, 1965
60 min.
NBC TV Network

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Laredo tv show photo


Neville Brand played a former Union Army officer who came to the Rangers with something of a checkered past, which amused his younger partners. Riley, a gentle soul by nature, had been raised by Indians and so was the best tracker. Cooper was from New Orleans and had the reputation of a fast gun, although not as a gunfighter.

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Joe Riley Laredo
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Joe Riley

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  Played by:
William SmithWilliam Smith
Biker, bare-knuckle brawler, cowboy, Bee-Girl fighter, vampire hunter . . . William Smith has done it ...

Character Bio


Laredo's Ranger JOE RILEY was an orphan raised by Indians. [In “Meanwhile Back at the Reservation” he tells an Indian boy that although he’s not an Indian, he was raised by them. He tells the Indian defendant in "Question of Guilt" the same thing.] It was this childhood which helped him become the best tracker in the Rangers and made him deadly with the knife he always wore in a sheath on his pant leg. He also had an eagle eye for long-distance rifle fire.

Although Laredo was the story of three Rangers (2nd season four) it was Chad and Joe who were the real team. In fact, it was fortunate that William Smith and Peter Brown got along so well because their characters were essentially joined at the hip. In most episodes they were in almost every scene together, especially in the first year. Reese was often their foil, the butt of their jokes, the manipulated sucker or otherwise the comedy focal point.

Although in real life it was William Smith who was highly educated, in Laredo Peter Brown’s character Chad was the educated one who frequently used words Joe had to ask to be translated into English. The show took advantage of Peter Brown’s excellent Spanish but left Joe with only his uneducated English despite the fact that in real life Bill is a master of many languages. Joe was, however, the wild west equivalent of “street smart”.

Interaction with women was always fleeting on Laredo, but what there was went mostly to Chad or sometimes Reese and the Captain (and in year two, Erik Hunter) but rarely to Joe unless one counts his being the object of infatuation of the bloodthirsty Linda Littletrees..

Some descriptions of Laredo call William Smith a “gentle giant” but in fact he didn’t particularly stand out in size next to the wiry 6’ foot Peter Brown and the 6’6” heavily built Philip Carey, Although 6’2” with excellent musculature, Bill had slimmed down considerably from his previous body-builder days. (He would bulk up again for his future biker films in which he would rarely be referred to as "gentle".)

Episode Screenshots

01x14 - The Heroes of San Gill
Season 1, Episode 14
01x21 - The Treasure of San Diablo
Season 1, Episode 21
02x13 - Oh Careless Love
Season 2, Episode 13
01x01 - Lazyfoot, Where are You?
Season 1, Episode 01
[More Episodes]

Joe Riley Photos

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Previous: Chad Cooper Next: Reese Bennett
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