Today, the TV series Rawhide is probably best known for launching Clint Eastwood's career. A young man at the time, Eastwood acted in Rawhide from 1959 to 1966.
The series was a Western hit for CBS, and it co-starred actor Eric Fleming. It's sometimes forgotten, but tragedy befell Fleming just a few months after Rawhide ended.
Actor Eric Fleming died tragically after Rawhide
On Rawhide, Fleming played the lead role of "Gil Favor." However, he was let go from the show ahead of its final season due to a salary dispute.
Unfortunately, Fleming's exit from Rawhide in 1965 set him on a path that would end tragically. He first moved on to roles in The Glass Bottom Boat and episodes of Bonanza.
Next, Fleming signed on with the anthology series Off to See the Wizard in an episode called "High Jungle." In the summer of 1966, the shoot travelled to the jungles of Peru, where they eventually had a scene to film on the Huallaga River.
It would prove to be a fateful day. For the scene, Fleming and co-star Nico Minardos were aboard a canoe on the Huallaga. According to MeTV, the crew had to rush the scene because a storm was fast approaching.
The actors got on the water but panic ensued when the boat overturned. Minardos escaped back to land, but Fleming was swept away and drowned in the river.
The date was Sept. 28, 1966, and Fleming was just 41. That week, The New York Times reported Fleming died "220 miles northeast of Lima." The episode of Off to See the Wizard was scrapped after the tragedy.
At the time of his death, Fleming was engaged to his fiancée Lynne Garber. A season 9 episode of Bonanza was the final screen role for the classic TV star lost too soon.