Gordon T. Dawson Dies: ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’ & ‘Rockford Files’ Scribe, Sam Peckinpah Pal Was 84

Gordon T. Dawson, a costume designer-turned-screenwriter who worked on multiple movies with Sam Peckinpah and wrote on TV hits The Rockford Files and Walker, Texas Ranger among other films and series, died March 6 of pulmonary disease in West Hills, CA, his family announced. He was 84.

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Dawson had worked as a fireman and had moved to working with costumes when Peckinpah used him to age costumes for his 1965 film Major Dundee. He would reteam with the director as wardrobe supervisor on 1969’s The Wild Bunch, then as associate producer (and uncredited writer) on 1970’s The Ballad of Cable Hogue and 1972’s The Getaway, and co-writer with Peckinpah on 1974’s Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia.

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He also has a small role as a Pinkerton agent in The Wild Bunch and later appeared unbilled in Peckinpah’s 1973 Western Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, starring James Coburn, Kris Kristofferson and Bob Dylan.

By then Gordon had begin writing full time for TV, with early credits coming on Bonanza, Black Sheep Squadron, Lou Grant and nine episodes of Rockford Files starring James Garner. He later would reteam with Garner, creating the Bret Maverick TV series, reviving Garner’s card-playing wiseacre. Dawson wrote all 18 episodes of its lone season in 1981-82 on NBC.

His next big project was writing for and later producing Walker, Texas Ranger, the Chuck Norris-led neo-Western that bowed in April 1993 on CBS. Dawson wrote more than 30 episodes starting with Season 2 and was named a producer in Season 4, later rising to supervising producer, co-EP and executive producer.

The action series was a slow-builder, missing the year-end primetime Top 30 during its first two seasons. But it would finish at No. 18 for its third full season in 1995-96 and made a TV star of martial arts legend Norris. The series aired nearly 200 episodes during its eight-season run that wrapped in 2001. The series reboot Walker starring Jared Padalecki airs on the CW.

Dawson’s other TV writing credits include episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Silk Stalkings, Diagnosis: Murder, Sons of Thunder and Renegade, among others.

Dawson was nominated for a WGA Award in 2000 for the TNT Western movie Purgatory.

Erik Pedersen contributed to this report.

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