Rex Allen’s “Frontier Doctor” depicted the adventures of physician Bill Baxter (circa 1890’s) in the town of Rising Springs, AZ. In those times the role of medical doctor went beyond dispensing medical advice, birthing babies and treating gunshot wounds. The town doctor was looked upon as the moral backbone of the community.
Dr. Baxter never carried a gun (or sang as Rex had done in films) but didn’t hesitate to pick up and use, when necessary, someone else’s pistol in an effort to uphold justice, protect his patients and prevent further bloodshed.
Republic President Herbert J. Yates’ first foray into TV production under the Hollywood Television Service banner was “Commando Cody—Sky Marshal of the Universe”, the first three of which were filmed in ‘52.
As Republic ventured into television production, they initially wanted Rex Allen to star in “Stories of the Century” but didn’t have any television rights in his contract. Jim Davis eventually starred. His contract amended, Rex went on to star in “Frontier Doctor.”
“Frontier Doctor” was HTS’ 4th series to begin lensing. The inspiration came from Rex, himself, while looking for ideas at the library, stumbling across a turn of the century book on frontier doctors. He then interested his former film producer, Eddy White, in the series.
Starting March 26, 1956, director Franklin Adreon helmed the first two episodes starring Allen; who had made his last feature for Republic about two years earlier, “Phantom Stallion”. (Also Republic’s last B-western.)
Following an unplanned midsummer forced hiatus due to a Screen Actor’s Guild strike against telefilms, action ace William Witney took over the series in December ‘56 for the final 37 half-hour episodes.
Beginning syndication in ‘57, the series was Hollywood Television Services’ second biggest moneymaking syndicated TV series (behind the Emmy Award winning “Stories of the Century”) earning $1,090,388 through ‘61 according to REPUBLIC CONFIDENTIAL VOL. 1: THE STUDIO.
Dell Comics published one issue of “Frontier Doctor” (Four Color #877) in ‘57 based on the episodes “Storm Over King City” and “Apache Uprising”.