all you've ever seen of Festus Haggen is the 1966-1974 color
episodes usually in syndication, you might think that the
onliest thing he's ever done did was Deputyin' for Matthew.
As Festus himself says, that's
a dang lie and I can prove it.
before he started into lawin' Festus was um... well... sort
of shiftless or sort of shifty depending on your point of
view. After helping Matt Dillon round up his outlaw uncle,
Festus took a liking to Dodge City and got to work a lollygaggin'
around The Longbranch, the blacksmith's shop and, of course,
the Marshal's office. When asked what it is he does for
a living in 1964's "Kitty Cornered" Festus replies,
"I do just as little as I can and mostly what I please."'
is nothing if not adaptable and after a year or two he overcomes
his disdain for the law and earns Matt's complete trust.
Although he always takes pride in being a Haggen, gradually
his ties to the clan become secondary to his new found family
in Dodge City. His first bond is with Quint Asper (Burt
Reynolds). He chooses the sometimes taciturn blacksmith
as his playmate and teasingly refers to him as "Comanche."
It's not until after Quint leaves town that he begins to
forge a close relationship with Doc, who becomes his new,
albeit very grumpy, best friend. His respect for Matt becomes
unswerving loyalty and Festus eventually wears his deputy
badge with pride. His initial joking flirtation with Miss
Kitty quickly evolves into a brotherly affection.
like the rest of his family, never learned how to read or
write. He is, however, universally considered the smartest
Haggen. He has common sense, cunning and an intuitive understanding
of townfolk, which the other Haggens lack. In fact, as he
himself points out, Festus is good at a lot things. Cards,
horseshoes, singin', dancin', fishin', huntin', trappin',
trackin', drinkin' sweet-talkin', tusslin', cussin' and
shootin' all come naturally to him. And to compensate for
his illiteracy, he has a vast knowledge of oral folklore
and a prodigious memory. He can, for instance, recite every
book of the bible.
always follows his instincts and his heart. Consequently,
he makes some mistakes, but he always manages to set things
straight. He has a fondness for children, and women as well,
but no desire to be married. He also has an affinity for
animals, particularly his mule Ruth. Although he seems to
enjoy it when
he's got money, Festus doesn't care too much for material
things. He is a divergent thinker and seems to have ample
time to ponder such profound and far-sighted matters as
men living on the moon and X-Rays.
is friendly, optimistic, brave, kind-hearted, generous
and loyal. In short, an ideal friend and companion. Although
you do have to buy him a beer every once in a while.
was your beer cold enough for you? Doc
It's kinda hard to tell on just one. Festus