Now or never: Remembering ‘Rawhide’ star Eric Fleming

In this blog post, we will take a look back at Now or never: Remembering ‘Rawhide’ star Eric Fleming. For many, the classic TV Western ‘Rawhide’ was a favorite. It gave us something to look forward to every week and in it we followed the adventures of Gil Favor (played by Eric Fleming) and his cowhands as they drove cattle from San Antonio to Sedalia. The show ran from 1959 to 1966, and during its run it had a loyal following of viewers who truly admired Fleming’s portrayal of Favors. Sadly, the actor passed away in 1966 while filming in Peru. His death left a huge void for fans of ‘Rawhide’ who still fondly remember him today.

Eric Fleming’s life and career

Eric Fleming was born in Santa Monica, California, on July 4, 1925. His parents divorced when he was two years old and he was raised by his mother and stepfather. He dropped out of high school at the age of 16 and joined the United States Navy, serving during World War II. After the war, he worked as a machinist and then as a lifeguard before moving to New York City to pursue an acting career.

Fleming made his Broadway debut in 1949 in the play “Mister Roberts”. He also had roles in several other Broadway productions including “The Seven Year Itch” and “Bus Stop”. In 1955, he moved to Hollywood where he began appearing in television shows such as “Gunsmoke”, “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”, and “Wagon Train”.

In 1958, Fleming was cast as trail boss Gil Favor in the CBS television series “Rawhide”. The show ran for eight seasons until 1965 and made him a household name. After “Rawhide” ended, Fleming appeared in a number of films including “Around the World in Eighty Days” (1956) and “High Noon” (1952). He also guest-starred on several popular television shows such as “Bonanza”, “The Virginian”, and ��The Untouchables.

The impact of ‘Rawhide’

The 1950s Western television series “Rawhide” is widely considered to be one of the most important and influential TV shows of all time. The show starred Eric Fleming as trail boss Gil Favor, and it follows the trials and tribulations of a group of cowboys driving a herd of cattle from Texas to Kansas. “Rawhide” was highly praised for its realistic portrayal of the Old West, and it helped to shape the way that Americans view the frontier. The impact of “Rawhide” can still be seen today in popular culture, and the show remains an important part of American television history.

Fleming’s untimely death

On September 28, 1966, actor Eric Fleming died suddenly while on location in Peru filming the final season of the CBS Western series Rawhide. He was only 41 years old.

Fleming’s untimely death came as a shock to both his fans and his co-stars. For eight seasons, Fleming had played trail boss Gil Favor on Rawhide, making him one of the most recognizable faces on television. His character was a strong and compassionate leader, and Fleming brought a level of realism to the role that was rare for television at the time.

After Fleming’s death, Rawhide continued for two more seasons with new lead actor Clu Gulager taking over the role of Favor. But the show never quite recovered from the loss of its star, and it was eventually cancelled in 1968.

Fleming’s death was a tragedy not only for his family and friends, but also for those who loved watching him on Rawhide. He was a talented actor who left us too soon.

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How ‘Rawhide’ continues to be remembered?

Fleming’s career was cut tragically short when he drowned while filming in Peru in 1966. He was just 41 years old.

Since his untimely death, Fleming’s memory has been kept alive by fans of the show and by those who knew him personally. His former co-stars Clint Eastwood and Sheb Wooley continue to speak fondly of him, and his work on “Rawhide” is still considered some of the best television westerns ever made.

Fleming left behind a lasting legacy both on screen and off, and his memory continues to be cherished by those who knew him best.


The life and legacy of Eric Fleming were honored with a Google Doodle on his 93rd birthday. Though he left us far too soon, Fleming’s lasting impact is seen in the countless people who have been inspired by his performances over the years. His strength, courage, and spirit will never be forgotten — now or never.

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