When I think of L.Q. Jones, I usually think of him with a cowboy hat. Or a mustache. Or both. Maybe because the roles I associate with him most are cowboys. Maybe it’s because he’s a Texas native. Maybe it’s both. But Mr. Jones played more than just a cowboy and though his film roles might have been bigger, he’s always been around on the small screen as well. With 165 credits from 1955-2006, he had plenty of opportunity to do more than hang out on the range.
However, he did hang out there a lot as Belden on The Virginian and Sheriff Lew Wallace on The Yellow Rose. He also did a stint on the show Renegade, which sounds like it could have been a Western, but was really more of a “What if The Fugitive became a bounty hunter?” show.
My personal favorite guest role of L.Q. Jones is his appearance in the Season 4 episode of The A-Team, “Cowboy George”, in which he gets to be a cowboy villain in a decidedly non-Western show. He plays Chuck Danford who owns the “Floor ’em” where Face has booked Cowboy George to play. Little does Face know that a loophole in the talent contract allowing for substitutions results in Boy George being sent to play the country joint instead. Face is also unaware that the entire purpose of the concert is so Chuck’s associates can rip off the armored car carrying the intended audience’s payroll. It’s not easy playing a bad guy against The A-Team. After all, you’re guaranteed to lose. But L.Q. Jones pulls it off brilliantly. The ease in which he appears to be a good guy right up until he isn’t is great because you buy him as both. He could totally be an innocent business owner or a guy plotting to get The A-Team lynched for the crime that he orchestrated.
Mr. Jones didn’t have to have a big role to make an impression on me. He’s in two episodes that stick in my mind. One is called “A Purge of Madness” from Season 4 of The Bold Ones: The New Doctors. Ross Martin plays a man given to bouts of psychotic rage and the doctors decide to treat it through psychiatric neurosurgery. L.Q. Jones is one of the doctors (along with Milton Berle!) consulting on the case. A small, but integral role that he filled well.
Another one was in the Season 1 episode of Hawaii Five-O called “King of the Hill”. Yaphet Kotto plays a marine suffering from severe PTSD which leads to him shooting Danny before taking him hostage in a hospital room under the belief that he’s protecting a wounded friend and holding a hill until help arrives. Mr. Jones plays a colonel who helps fill in some of the blanks Five-O needs to resolve the situation safely. Again it’s a small role, but an important one. It’s not easy to give convincing exposition.
A natural in a cowboy hat, L.Q. Jones really did pop up on a lot of Westerns, including Alias Smith and Jones, Lancer, Gunsmoke, The Big Valley, Cimarron Strip, Branded, Rawhide, Hondo, Laramie, The Rebel, Have Gun, Will Travel, Death Valley Days, The Rifleman, Tales of Wells Fargo, Cheyenne, Johnny Ringo, The Rebel, and Wagon Train.
He went to the dogs on Lassie and The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin; joined up on Men of Annapolis; tangled with the law on The New Adam-12, Columbo, Walker, Texas Ranger, The FBI, McCloud, Ironside, CHiPs, and Perry Mason; messed around with some good ‘ol boys on The Dukes of Hazzard and Enos; checked in on Ben Casey; privately investigated with Charlie’s Angels, Vega$, Matt Houston, and Cannon; wandered on Kung Fu and Route 66; time-traveled on Voyagers!; and hung on with Bill Bixby on My Favorite Martian, The Magician, and The Incredible Hulk.
Yeah, I don’t know how he missed The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, either.
With or without a cowboy hat, with or without a mustache, if you need a charming villain or a villain with a real mean streak -or both- or even a good guy with a Texas edge, then L.Q. Jones is your man. And we’re all so lucky to have him riding our TV range.