Marine Corps Aces

Pappy Boyington

Robert Conrad as Pappy Boyington

Robert Conrad as Pappy Boyington

Robert Conrad as Pappy Boyington on cover of TV Guide

Robert Conrad as Pappy Boyington on cover of TV Guide

Baa Baa Black Sheep

1970's Television Show

By , March, 2001. Updated June 26, 2011.

Loosely based on Pappy Boyington's autobiography, Baa Baa Black Sheep, which itself was loosely based on the facts, this television show was essentially fiction. The Corsairs were real, but everything else, especially all those cute nurses, bore little resemblance to Pappy Boyington's squadron of Marine fighter pilots in World War Two that fough the Japanese over the Solomon Islands.

The opening credits of the show characterized the Black Sheep pilots as "a collection of misfits and screwballs," which Frank Walton, the squadron's Air Combat Intelligence Officer, and other veterans of the squadron resented.

Walton wrote an article for TV Guide, in attempt to set the record straight." This article became the springboard for him to write his fine book Once They Were Eagles: The Men of the Black Sheep Squadron.

Pappy himself was a consultant to the show, and got on well with its star, Robert Conrad. The producers located some pretty good aircraft: about 5 Corsairs, a DC-3/C-47, some Zeros, and the ubiquitous SNJ (North American Texan) trainer. The Corsairs in the TV show were finished in overall dark glossy blue, with no identifying numbers. Perhaps it would have been easy (and inexpensive) to paint them authentically. Pappy's Corsair is well documented. But one correspondent noted that un-identified planes were easier to re-use and make appear to be more numerous than they really were.

"Baa Baa Black Sheep" ran for one and a half seasons on NBC, 1976-77 and Spring 1978. There were 35 episodes: a two-part pilot entitled "The Misfits," 22 one-hour episodes in 1976-77, and 13 episodes first broadcast in 1978. The two-hour pilot was first telecast: on September 21, 1976. For the Spring 1978 season, the show was re-titled "Black Sheep Squadron;" the last episode aired on April 6, 1978.

The History Channel still airs "Baa Baa Black Sheep" from time to time. Click on the link to check the current schedule; in the search box, type in "Black Sheep," not "Baa Baa." The History Channel telecasts of the show feature brief interviews with surviving Black Sheep - usually John Bolt, Ed Olander, and Bob McClurg.

Cast - Black Sheep Pilots

Maj. Gregory "Pappy" Boyington..... Robert Conrad
Capt. James W. Gutterman (1976-1977)..... James Whitmore, Jr.
Lt. Jerry Bragg..... Dirk Blocker
Lt. T.J. Wiley..... Robert Ginty
Lt. Bob Anderson..... John Larroquette, later starred as the obnoxious lawyer on Night Court
Lt. Lawrence Casey..... W.K. Stratton
Hutch (1976-1977)..... Joey Aresco
Lt. Don French..... Jeff MacKay
Lt. Bob Boyle..... Larry Manetti
Lt. Jeb Pruitt (1978)..... Jeb Adams

Cast - Marines & Others

Gen. "Nuts" Moore..... Simon Oakland - based on a real person, Gen. Moore, Boyington's mentor
Col. Lard, USMC..... Dana Elcar - also based on a real person, Col. Joe Smoak, Boyington's nemesis
Capt. Tommy Harachi (1977-1978)..... Byron Chung
Sgt. Andy Micklin (1977-1978)..... Red West
Cpl. Stan Richards (1977-1978)..... Steve Richmond

Cast - The Nurses, "Pappy's Lambs"

Capt. Dottie Dixon (1977-1978)..... Katherine Cannon
Nurse Samantha Green (1978)..... Denise DuBarry
Nurse Ellie (1977-1978)..... Kathy McCullen
Nurse Nancy Gilmore (1977-1978)..... Nancy Conrad
Nurse Susan (1977-1978)..... Brianne Leary - later a star of Chips, and more recently a "fluff" reporter for "Good Day New York" who went to Afghanistan

Episode Guide

Episode # Air Date Episode Title
_______ _________ ______________________

  1976-77 Season, "Baa Baa Black Sheep"

1. Flying Misfits (1) - Pappy Boyington, annoyed with a
desk assignment, forms a squadron of Flying Tigers
and other pilots grounded for disciplinary reasons.
2. 21 Sep 76 Flying Misfits (2)
3. 23 Sep 76 Best Three Out of Five - A round of "R-and-R" for Pappy
and his men may turn out to be permanent when
Colonel Lard plots to return the Black Sheep's
aircraft to the squadron that they were
"borrowed" from.
4. 28 Sep 76 Small War - Shot down by one of the Black Sheep, Pappy
lands on a Japanese-held island, and encounters a
stranded Australian sailor, who plans to wait out
the war in the safety of his jungle hideout.
5. 5 Oct 76 High Jinx - The assignment of an admiral's son who
has shot down five Japanese planes to the
Black Sheep Squadron may not be the good news
Pappy thinks it is. The new guy has a history
of jinxing the other pilots in his unit.
6. 12 Oct 76 Prisoners of War - Japanese air ace, shot down by Pappy,
faces rough treatment at the hands of Pappy's men.
But when he clobbers them at ping-pong, they draft
him to represent their unit at a tournament
against a rival Seabee outfit.
7. 26 Oct 76 Presumed Dead - A brainwashed former P.O.W. is assigned
to the Black Sheep Squadron just before a meeting
of top Allied Commanders in the South Pacific.
8. 9 Nov 76 The Meatball Circus - The Black Sheep use
captured enemy planes for a strike
against Japanese aircraft carriers.
9. 16 Nov 76 Up for Grabs - Enemy commandos surprise the Black Sheep
and steal their uniforms in order to prepare a
special welcome for a visiting general: Douglas
10. 23 Nov 76 Anyone for Suicide? - Sick with malaria, Pappy ignores
doctor's orders and signs up for a hazardous
"volunteers only" mission - a mistake that could
prove fatal.
11. 30 Nov 76 New Georgia on My Mind - A tough Marine colonel tells
Pappy he and his paratroopers are spearheading the
invasion of New Georgia Island, and that the Black
Sheep are to fly cover under his command.
12. 7 Dec 76 The Cat's Whiskers
13. 14 Dec 76 Love and War
14. 4 Jan 77 War Biz Warrior
15. 11 Jan 77 The Deadliest Enemy of All (1)
16. 18 Jan 77 The Deadliest Enemy of All (2)
17. 25 Jan 77 Devil in the Slot
18. 1 Feb 77 Five the Hard Way
19. 8 Feb 77 Last Mission Over Sengai
20. 15 Feb 77 Trouble at Fort Apache - Pappy is told to escort
a visiting general on a mission with an
experimental bomber. But the general orders Pappy
not to fly in order to test whether the bomber can
survive without escort.
21. 22 Feb 77 Poor Little Lambs - Pappy and two of his men are shot
down over an island occupied by enemy troops,
missionaries, and orphans--and in 24 hours,
the Marines plan to invade the island.
22. 1 Mar 77 W.A.S.P.s - When some WASPS (Women's Air Service Pilots)
arrive to ferry bombers, they demand to fly combat
missions and to remain off-limits to the Black Sheep.
23. 8 Mar 77 Last One for Hutch

24. 22 Mar 77 The Fastest Gun - The Japanese ace, Col. Harachi,
catches Boyington when his Corsair acts up, and challenges him to single
combat, "tomorrow afternoon at 3 o'clock over The Slot." At least this
episode features some flying scenes. But so much was out of whack. A
challenge to a duel over The Slot? Come on. Nothing a fighter pilot liked
better than to catch an enemy plane alone or with engine trouble.
At one point, Pappy radios "The Slot isn't big enough for the both of us."
The Slot is about 400 miles long. Meeting "over the Slot at 3 o'clock"
is about as specific as "meeting over California."
And the nurses! Wow! In the middle of the show, several knock-out nurses
invite the guys to come and help them polish off a keg of beer. Sure!
One neat part of this episode is a brief appearance by the real Pappy
Boyington, as a Marine Corps general pinning a medal on ... himself.

  1977-78 Season, "Black Sheep Squadron"

25. 14 Dec 77 Divine Wind - This one is about aerial combat as well.
The Japanese are determined to bomb an American ammo dump,
misplaced on "Vella La Cava," VMF-214's base island. A
padre who's seen too many horrors has to try to snap Bob
Anderson out of his funk.
26. 21 Dec 77 The 200 Pound Gorilla
27. 28 Dec 77 The Hawk Flies on Sunday
28. 4 Jan 78 Wolves in the Sheep Pen
29. 11 Jan 78 Operation Stand-Down
30. 18 Jan 78 Ten'll Get You Five - Con artist Pappy meets his match
when a visiting sergeant talks him out of his Scotch
supply in exchange for "superior" Japanese oil that
fails in a dogfight.
31. 22 Feb 78 Forbidden Fruit - Pappy finds out the hard way that
his former flame is his commanding officer's daughter.
32. 1 Mar 78 Fighting Angels - It's every woman for herself as "Pappy's
Lambs" man the guns to stop invading troops while
the Black Sheep are off on a mission.
33. 8 Mar 78 The Iceman - When Pappy is ordered home for a bond drive,
his replacement (Richard Jaeckel) is a spit-and-polish
major who immediately finds himself at odds with
the Black Sheep.
34. 15 Mar 78 Hot Shot - An ambitious and devious Army Air Corps ace
visits the Black Sheep.
35. 23 Mar 78 The Show Must Go On... Sometimes - In exchange for some
needed repair work to the airstrip, Pappy promises
some hostile Seabees front-row seats at a girl-packed
U.S.O. show. But when the U.S.O. troupe gets sick,
the Seabees refuse to work, until "Pappy's
Lambs" do their part.
36. 30 Mar 78 Sheep in the Limelight - Pappy and his fighter pilots
unknowingly save the touring Eleanor Roosevelt's
transport from enemy attack, then get hero treatment
that courts disaster.
37. A Little Bit of England - The rock star, Peter Frampton,
guest-stars as a British Coastwatcher.