One of the many successful Western television series that emerged in the 1960s was the cleverly scripted and wonderfully acted 30-minute Cavalry Comedy, F Troop. Its opening theme song containing the lyrics: “…nobody takes a lickin’, where redskin and paleface both turn chicken…” is a strong indicator of the kind of outrageous humor that would emanate from the enchanting episode that followed.
The most dysfunctional troop in the United States Cavalry – the appropriately named Company F – consisted of a duo of high-ranking officer-shysters, a bugler with absolutely no ability to play the brass instrument, a lookout who can’t see his hand in front of his face in the daytime, and even a trooper who speaks and understands only German. Commanding this ill-begotten group of misfits, clods and numskulls was a bungling, absent-minded, oblivious, corny joke-telling captain named Wilton Parmenter, portrayed ingeniously by the ever-likable and versatile Ken Berry.
Berry’s first big break came after an honorable discharge from the army in 1955, when he hooked up with Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Performing as a song-and-dance man live at the Riviera in Las Vegas, Berry served as the opening act for the legendary comedy team. Perhaps this experience provided the inspiration for Berry to also hone in on his comedic skills, which in a few short years would be useful for the starring role in his own comedy series, wielding his saber and equipping himself with a how-to-run-a-fort manual. F Troop premiered on ABC in 1965, and at a time when our nation was at war in Southeast Asia, Ken Berry was one of the show’s alumnae that got America to smile and laugh again for two glorious seasons comprised of 65 knee-slapping episodes.
Understanding what depicting the Parmenter character would require of an actor………………………………………………..