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Under the Radar DVD of the Week: 'Annie Oakley, Volumes 6-9'

Dennis King Published: August 31, 2010

This week, the most unusual DVD to appear on release lists is:

“Annie Oakley, Volumes 6-9”

Little Rock-born actress Gail Davis was reported to be a crack shot and skilled rider, which made her a natural to star in the 1950s TV series “Annie Oakley,” whose third season is due out on DVD Tuesday.

“Annie Oakley, Volumes 6-9” contains 35 episodes from the show’s final season; the series ran from 1954-56. Davis, ex-wife of former Oklahoma Film Office director Bob Davis of Tulsa, reportedly performed most of her own stunts on the show and displayed a rugged independence that was rare in the socially conservative ’50s. In the intervening years, the show and the late Davis have hailed by supporters of women’s rights for breaking down gender barriers and offering a strong role model for what women can do.

The show presented a fictionalized account of legendary Wild West sharpshooter Oakley and her life in the dusty down of Diablo. There, Annie and her brother Tagg (Jimmy Hawkins) kept an eye on various outlaws and scoundrels who rode into town, with Annie generally being called on to show off her shooting prowess.

In a 1982 interview, Davis said of the character: “Annie Oakley had to deal with the same ruthless characters – rustlers and killers – that the cowboys dealt with. And she did it without ever killing a one of them.”

During its run, the show featured guest appearances by a who’s who of Western character actors, including Lee Van Cleef, Monte Blue, Lyle Talbot, L.Q. Jones, Denver Pyle, Fess Parker, Alan Hale Jr., X Bands, Slim Pickens and others.

Davis, who died in 1997, was inducted into the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth in 2004.

“Annie Oakley, Volumes 6-9” is not rated and contains four discs running a total of 300 minutes. It’s being released by Alpha Home Entertainment.

- Dennis King