FRANZITE GRIPS IN FILM: The use of Franzite Grips in Popular Culture and Media
uring the heyday of Hollywood Westerns Franzite Grips were prominently featured in film including Spaghetti Westerns, Television, and other films. In fact, during the period from the 1930s to 1960s it would be hard to watch a cowboy movie without seeing Franzite Grips represented. For example, in the very popular TV series Gunsmoke Sheriff Matthew Dillon's 45 Colt featured imitation staghorn Franzite grips at one time until someone wrote the show and complained prompting the producers to switch the grips to authentic stag grips. Many other TV shows and films of the period featured at least one cowboy, bandit, sheriff, cow hand, or thug who wore a pistol sporting Franzite Grips of one variety or another; typically faux ivory, pearl, walnut, or stag.
Gunsmoke TV Series
Matt Dillon's Colt 7 1/2in SAA .45 Caliber with Holster. One of TV's longest (20 years) running westerns, "Gunsmoke" is still on the air in reruns and is seen all over the world. This is one of the Colts used by James Arness as, "Matt Dillon" in the early years of the series. This Colt is from the 1999 sale of weapons from Stembridge Gun Rentals in Hollywood, California. Also shown are papers and copies of invoices with Arness's signature for this gun. There is a Certificate of Authenticity from Allan C. Frisch, the Archivist and Conservator of Inventory for Stembridge in 1999 during the sale. The gun made in 1895 shows 50% of the reblued finish. The barrel is a late first gen. replacement. Bore is good with light frosting from firing blanks. Action is in good working order. Grip is plastic "Franzite" stag. The gun is marked with the Stembridge "S" on the frame above the serial number. As stated in the certificate this was the first gun with a 7 1/2" barrel used in the series. In the first year (1955) Dillon used a 4 3/4" Colt. The invoice is for the early part of 1956 and is signed "Jim Arness" ( attributed ). This gun was replaced when a fan wrote that there were no plastic stag grips in the old west. All other guns used by Arness are in private collections. The holster is a "Arvo Ojala" 7 1/2" quick draw and is shown in a picture included with the gun. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to own a piece of early TV western history. Let me tell you it is a rush to hold a gun that you grew up watching on TV, used by one of the greatest heros of the 50's.
Star Trek (Original Series)
In the January 26, 1967 Star Trek episode "Tomorrow is Yesterday", Captain Kirk and his crew are accidentally sent back in time where they are spotted by an Air Force jet pilot on camera. In order to erase all trace of their existence in the 20th century, Kirk and crew "beam" down to the planet surface to find and steal the Air Force's film of their ship. Fortunately for us, they are captured by miliary police...all of whom are sporting stag style Franzite Grips on their service revolvers. This episode does quite a bit to show the popularity of Franzite Grips during this era as every one of the revolvers shown in this episode are wearing a pair. In fact, they are so popular its surprising that Captain Kirk didn't ask to have Franzite Grips designed for his crew's phasers.....or maybe he did but they eliminated all trace of it when they returned to the future!
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