From the mid 1950s to the early 1960s the TV Western was King. At the genre’s peak the three networks aired more than thirty prime time horse operas every week. While Dad may have enjoyed Sheriff Matt Dillon of Gunsmoke or Bat Masterson, Detroit’s little buckaroos had at least three local cowboy heroes to look up to; Sagebrush Shorty, Justice Colt and Cactus Dan.
The Cactus Dan Show, with Dan Edwards, aired on WWJ-TV in the mid 1950s. Dressed in the appropriate Stetson hat, vest and cowboy boots, Cactus Dan hosted half-hour episodes of The Adventures of Kit Carson and Steve Donovan, Western Marshall in an Old West setting. Necco Skybar, a weird chocolate candy concoction with four different flavored centers, sponsored the show.
Though he appeared on Detroit television for about five years, not much is known about Dan Edwards. WWJ-TV alumnus Sonny Eliot, who has an unfailing memory regarding the halcyon days of Detroit TV, doesn’t recall Edwards working at the station. A check of vintage 1950s AFTRA Detroit Talent Directories, the Who’s Who of Detroit TV talent, fail to list his name. A WWJ inter-office memo from 1955 does survive, thanking Edwards for his appearance on Ardis Kenealy’s Romper Room.
In 1958 Cactus Dan slowly disappeared into the sunset, just a flickering, faded memory for those little Detroit buckaroos who are now in their mid 50s