With such treacherous villains as marauders, assassins, and psychos running rampant on the 1960s television series, The Big Valley, a good guy with twice the edge of the traditional Western hero was in order.
Enter sharp-tongued, two-fisted, fast-on-the-draw Nick Barkley, who outside of running the Barkley Ranch of Stockton, California, enjoyed stomping on those who would dare oppose him and the people he cared about. Peter Breck immortalized such a champion.
The 6’2″, handsome football player-turned-actor of Black Irish descent, sums up his role, “Nick Barkley is a driven character with his own set of ethics and morals. He couldn’t survive today, because he didn’t believe in corporate discussions. I loved him for that.” Adds Peter, “He was always truthful, and he would say it like it is, even if others didn’t want to hear it. That made him a little bit of a boor, but Nick’s philosophy was, ‘It’s better to be a boor, than to be less than everything you are.’ ”
Breck’s bold and fearless nature on screen and off, made him the toughest cowboy on television. With the ability to draw a gun at 16/100 of a second, Breck was a natural cowboy hero, performing his own stunts by leaping off horses, flying over hitching rails, dodging swinging sledgehammers, and even wrestling with wolves. Hanging upside down by a rope was not above the rugged actor’s durability, nor an 11-second ride on a a stormy appaloosa. On the set, he would not hesitate to speak his mind about a script he felt was weak, or tell a shiftless director point blank to do his job.
His off-camera experiences include a wild motorcycle ride with James Dean right smack into the lobby of a New York restaurant, and days of auto racing Steve McQueen down one of Los Angeles’ swirviest public…………………………..
Also included in this article:
“Quoteable Nick Barkley”
“What Makes Peter Breck Crack Up?”
“Peter Breck Interview”