Wanted: Dead or Alive (1958–1961)
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The Empty Cell 

Randall is rooked out of his bounty by crafty criminal Hunt Willis and his accomplice. Not one to accept defeat, Josh turns detective to rout the outlaws, his investigation dogged by the suspicious sheriff, a cousin to Willis.


Thomas Carr




Episode complete credited cast:
Steve McQueen ... Josh Randall
Lon Chaney Jr. ... Sheriff Lon Paulson (as Lon Chaney)
Jack Kruschen ... Hunt Willis
DeForest Kelley ... Ollie Tate
Eddy Waller ... Pop Cole
Olan Soule ... Telegraph Operator (as Olan Soulé)


A bone tired Josh rides into Cottonwood to the Sheriff's office at midnight with the prisoner Hunt Willis. The Sheriff confirms that the man is Willis but says the $1000 bounty for him hasn't arrived. The tired Josh is happy to let it go until the next morning after a good nights sleep and even happier when the Sheriff offers to take care of both horses for him. As soon as the Sheriff verifies Josh is gone, he lets Willis out of the cell and they leave. The next morning Josh arrives at the office to find a different Sheriff who says he is Lon Paulson, was gone the day before, and there has been no prisoner in a month nor does he believe Josh's story. Josh decides to check at the stable for his horse only to find his horse is stolen since no horses were stabled the night before. After checking with the telegraph office and the bank he learns his reward was collected by the fake Sheriff the day before saying he was Josh. A clue from the telegrapher says his quarry may be in Hode's ... Written by Anonymous

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Release Date:

17 October 1959 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


There is a portrait of Abraham Lincoln in the bank lobby. The show depicts the 1870s era, and should have a portrait of Ulysses S. Grant. See more »


Pop Cole: Advice is free, son; funerals ain't.
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User Reviews

Lon Chaney and DeForest Kelley
13 October 2013 | by kevinolzakSee all my reviews

"The Empty Cell" boasts an excellent cast, with Jack Kruschen as train robber Hunt Willis, brought in at midnight by Josh Randall (Steve McQueen), who figures he'll collect his bounty after a decent night's sleep. Right after he leaves however, we learn that the man posing as Cottonwood sheriff is actually Hunt's accomplice in the robbery, Ollie Tate (DeForest Kelley), who had already collected the reward from the bank by posing as Randall, behind his confederate's back. This enables the real Randall to track down Tate, collect the reward, and force him to lead the way to Hunt Willis. Following close behind is the actual Cottonwood sheriff, Lon Paulson (Lon Chaney), who believes Randall to be responsible for the phony message that lured him away from town the night before. Olan Soule plays the telegrapher who discovers the source of the misleading message, but it's Eddy C. Waller who steals it as Pop Cole, owner of the livery stable, who seems to have an answer for everything they want to know. 39 year old DeForest Kelley (previously seen as a sheriff in "Secret Ballot") was already a long time veteran on TV Westerns, 7 years before STAR TREK, while Lon Chaney was back in the saddle again, now playing a sheriff instead of his usual villainous henchman, even using his own first name.

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