by Anthony King
The year is 1974. Two years prior, Marjoe Gortner grabbed America by the shorthairs in the documentary Marjoe. The following year he makes his acting debut in the feature-length pilot episode of Kojak and leaves a remarkable impression on Hollywood. As his career is just launched, Marjoe is in an extremely lucky and somewhat powerful position where he can pick and choose the roles offered to him. Granted, he's not co-starring with Al Pacino in the latest Lumet or Coppola, but he's got a choice of interesting roles in interesting movies and TV shows in front of him. So in 1974 Marjoe guests on three television programs, his first foray into television proper. First he appears in an episode of the private detective drama Barnaby Jones, where he plays a rock star (a real-life dream of Marjoe's) who ends up killing his songwriting partner. He then appears in an episode of the long-running hospital drama Medical Center, appropriately playing a faith healer whose wife has cancer and is now torn with the decision of seeking medical treatment for her condition or leaving it up to her husband and God to cure her. Marjoe then appeared in the single-seasoned cop show called Nakia which starred Robert Forster as a sheriff's deputy from the Navajo tribe in New Mexico. In the episode titled “The Moving Target,” Marjoe plays a folk singer who is being targeted by an ex-con after whom Forster is chasing.Earthquake, Marjoe appeared in his third made-for-TV movie, another feature-length pilot for a show that never took off. In The Gun and the Pulpit, Marjoe plays Ernie Parsons, a young, hot-to-trot gunslinger in the West. The movie opens with Parsons standing on the gallows, preparing to face justice for murder. A young, attractive woman whom Parsons had bedded earlier convinces the sheriff and judge that her lover was innocent – she has an alibi for him! Persuaded of his innocence, the lawmen set Parsons free and, before riding off, promises his latest conquest he'll come back for her (spoilers: he doesn't). Out on the open range he happens across a dead body – a preacher shot in the back. After searching the body, Parsons finds a letter written to the minister from someone in a town just down the road, begging him to come and help protect them from the evil Mr. Ross, a railroad man who wants to demolish the town in order to make way for his train. Stripping the man of his black duds and white collar, Parsons then rides intol town with the promise of hope for these people. All for a handsome fee, of course.The Big Lebowski). When McCoy shows up to kill Parsons, we're treated to one of the funniest shootouts I've ever seen. Guns are drawn and fired and the two men stand there, staring at each other, patting themselves in search of a bullet wound for an overly long but perfect amount of time. “You hit?” “No. You?” After this, Parsons and McCoy become partners to save the town and defeat Mr. Ross and his posse.