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Pride of the Lioness (27 October 1967)

Appearing as Dr. Richard Wilson

Broadcast 17 November 1967 on the NBC television network.

Synopsis by curator@jmdigitalscrapbook.com:

A small child is desperately ill. Members of his tribe surround him as the local witch doctor, Kanzuma (Geoffrey Holder), struggles to work his magic and cure the child. Seeing the futility of his efforts, Tarzan (Ron Ely) and the tribal chief, Zwengi (Davis Roberts) seize the child and prepare to take him to Dr. Wilson, the white medicine man.

Kanzuma and his followers are enraged, threatening Tarzan, Zwengi, Dr. Wilson, and all other nonbelievers who would anger the gods by accepting the ways of the white man. Undeterred, Tarzan and Zwengi take the child to Dr. Wilson, who treats the boy and tells Zwengi that it's a good thing they brought the child when they did; he would have been dead within hours if they hadn't.

Later that night, Kanzuma and his band sneak up on the doctor and murder him with a poison dart. Pleased that they will once again have their dominance over the tribe, they slink off into the dark.

Some time later, young Dr. Richard Wilson (James MacArthur) arrives, intent on collecting his father's notes so that he can go back to New York and continue his father's work. He meets Tarzan, who takes him to the village and shows him the shrine the villagers have built to his father's memory. Richard is awed by the love and devotion his father's patients continue to show him, even in death.

One villager in particular catches Richard's eye -- a man so obviously sick he can barely walk, yet he's there laying an offering at the senior Dr. Wilson's grave. With Tarzan's help, Richard rushes the man to the clinic and hurries to offer him treatment. Sadly, they are too late and the man dies. Saddened and appalled by the primitive conditions, Richard allows Tarzan to convince him to stay and continue to help the people for whom his father cared so deeply.

Another visitor soon arrives in the form of Richard's well-heeled and haughty mother (Helen Hayes), a woman who abandoned her husband and took their young son away with her many years before because she could not tolerate the living conditions and her husband's devotion to a people she perceives as savage and unworthy.

Mrs. Wilson schemes with the local district representative, Mr. Harrington (John McLiam), to have her son deported, offering him a large bribe if he accomplishes this without implicating her. Kanzuma gets wind of her plan and, when it fails, adds his backing, threatening Harrington with death if he doesn't find a way to send Richard packing and get Tarzan out of his way as well.

Harrington tricks Tarzan and catches him unawares, throwing him in prison. Seeing that she will have to take matters into her own hands, Mrs. Wilson journeys to the village and tries to convince her son to leave. Richard, however, is adamant, refusing to abandon the people he has grown to love, even in the face of Kanzuma's threat of war against Zwengi and the other villagers.

Mrs. Wilson confronts her son, asking him how he will cope with the guilt of knowing he is the cause of civil war. He rounds on her, telling her she is the one who should be feeling guilty for the way she ignored her husband's needs and left him, depriving him of her love and companionship and separating father and son. He won't repeat her mistake; these people need him and want him to stay, so stay he will -- no matter what.

That night, the fighting begins. Tarzan's boy, Jai (Manuel Padilla, Jr.) frees him from prison and they rush off to find the clinic in flames, sick and wounded villagers scattered on the ground while Richard and his mother work to tend them.

Seeing that he has lost the battle, Kanzuma, himself badly wounded, grabs Richard and holds him at knifepoint in a last-ditch effort to have his way.

Horrified, Mrs. Wilson and the others watch helplessly as Kanzuma prepares to slit Richard's throat unless his demands are met. Tarzan steps in, pointing out that Kanzuma is in dire need of medical attention and about to kill the only man who can help him.

Kanzuma gives in and releases Richard, who promises to treat him as soon as the more urgent patients have been seen to.

Peace restored, Kanzuma jailed, and Harrington replaced by a more honest government representative, Mrs. Wilson and her son share a sad farewell, realizing it is likely they will never see each other again.

Suddenly, a young woman runs up, thrusting her baby into Richard's arms and pleading with him to make the child well. Richard is confused; he checked the baby the day before and the child was fine. Mrs. Wilson clucks her tongue in disgust, chastising her son for not recognizing what is clearly a simple case of colic.

To Richard's surprise and delight, she summarily declares that he obviously cannot cope without her. She, too, will stay and together they will continue helping the people they both love.

To view a full gallery of images from this performance click here.

Special Note: No, it's not your browser or your monitor; the images presented on this page really are fuzzy. Due to the scarce availability of this program on video, we've had to make do with a less than perfect copy; however, we thought fans unable to view any version of this program would appreciate even low quality images rather than nothing at all. Therefore, we've cleaned up the images as best we can and present them here for your viewing pleasure. If at some future date we are able to acquire a video with better picture quality, we'll update this page with better images.

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James MacArthur

James MacArthur

Davis Roberts, James MacArthur, Ron Ely

Ron Ely, James MacArthur

Ron Ely, James MacArthur

James MacArthur

Ron Ely, James MacArthur

James MacArthur, Helen Hayes

James MacArthur, Helen Hayes

James MacArthur

James MacArthur, Geoffrey Holder

James MacArthur, Helen Hayes

James MacArthur

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