Justice Colt

 J.D. Beemer was a second-generation cowboy performer. His father, Brace Beemer, was the most popular of the radio actors who portrayed The Lone Ranger. Brace was a manís man. He stood 6í3Ē weighed 190 lbs., had steel blue eyes and a deep, resonant voice. He earned a Purple Heart in World War I and possessed a love and respect for the great outdoors, which he instilled in his children Robert, Richard, Barbara and J.D.

 Joseph David Beemer was born on the family farm in Connersville, Indiana on February 13, 1927.The Beemer family moved to Detroit in 1933, when Brace was hired as a radio announcer for WXYZ. J.D., as he was called by family and friends, loved horses. At age 11 he broke and trained his first horse, and soon began appearing in local horse shows. J.D. attended Detroit Redford High School, where he played football while appearing in rodeos around the country.

 After high school, J.D. enlisted in the Navy, where he set up advance ship-to-shore communications for Marine landings on Saipan and Iwo Jima, and fought in the jungles of New Guinea. Following his tour of duty, J.D. studied drama at the Goodman Memorial Theatre in New York and Tufts University in Boston. He did summer stock in New England and Canada, appearing with former Detroiter George C. Scott at the Sun Parlour Playhouse in Leamington, Ontario, Canada.

 In 1950 Brace Beemer invited WXYZ-TV programming director John Pival to the family ranch in Oxford to meet his son Bob, who he thought was a natural for television. While Bob was demonstrating his riding ability, J.D. was at the far end of the field, putting on his own display. Pival was impressed with Bobís riding skills, but he saw something special in J.D. A short time later, J.D. had his own TV show on WXYZ.

 Justice Colt made his TV debut in June of 1950. The hour-long show aired Monday thru Friday at 3:30 P.M.  With his Palomino named Pal by his side, J.D. spun cowboy yarns, demonstrated his roping, branding and tanning skills and the safe handling of firearms. He also introduced old time westerns starring Lash LaRue, Buster Crabbe, Hopalong Cassidy and other cowboy stars. Bosco, Ralston-Purina and Sundial Shoes were early sponsors of the program. The show became so popular that a Sunday version started airing in October of 1953. Mello-D Ranch was sponsored by Ira Wlison Dairy and featured a new cast member, J.D.ís wife Gloria Goode, as Miss G.  Gloria was a vocalist at WXYZ who sang on Memories In Tune and Melodies Ďní Money.  Justice Colt was consistently in the top five of Detroitís daily TV shows, beating out 12 OíClock Comics with Soupy Sales and the local newscasts.

 In September 1955, Justice Colt moved across the Detroit River to CKLW-TV, in Windsor, Ontario. In addition, a second TV show was added to J.D.ís busy schedule.  Adventure Is My Living featured J.D. interviewing guests with exciting occupations, such as horse trainers, hot rod racers, jet pilots and National Guardsmen.

 When Colt was cancelled in March of 1957, J.D. moved to Los Angeles to further pursue an acting career. Using the stage name Justice Colt, J.D. was only able to land a handful of acting jobs, including an episode of Bachelor Father, a line in Gunsmoke and a segment of Night Court. George Seaton, the first actor to play The Lone Ranger on radio, cast J.D. in his film Teacherís Pet. J.D.ís scene ended up on the cutting room floor, but he can be glimpsed in the coming attractions trailer.

 J.D. returned to Detroit in late 1959. He occasionally acted in industrial films for Jam Handy Studios, but his career took on a more equine focus. With his business partner Bud Leach, J.D. broke wild horses at the Lazy B. Ranch in Birmingham, MI. The duo developed a unique and painless, humane method for busting broncs, but like all good horse trainers, J.D. had been busted a few times himself. Over the years, J.D. had, at various times, broken his right arm twice, knee, ankle and three ribs, one at a time. He also was a riding instructor at Centaur Stables in Farmington as well as the Metamora Hunt Club. He also participated in horse shows at the Michigan State Fair, which he had done since he was a child, and trained horses at the Hazel Park Raceway.

 After his fatherís death in 1965, J.D. decided that another career change was in order. He enrolled in Oakland University and earned a degree in criminal psychology. He became a parole officer at the federal facility in McLean, Virginia and retired in 1989.

 J.D. Beemer died of a brain tumor on December 9, 1989.

 Unlike most local video cowboys, J.D. was the real deal, thereís no question about that. He was a true cowboy, and a hero to thousands of Detroit youngsters. A man who walked the walk and talked the talk.  

Copyright © 2011 Edward Golick Jr. All Rights Reserved.