SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — In 1961, Clint Eastwood was a young actor just starting out in Hollywood, much like KELO-TV was a young station in the TV broadcast world.
The two came together on Aug. 27, 1961, for KELOLAND TV’s Dakota Territory Centennial Gold Rush event near Manchester. An estimated 100,000 people turned out for the event that featured small plots of land on which participants would dig for a prize. The top prizes included $10,000 and new car. The event happened on the centennial of the Dakota Territory.
Eastwood was one of several celebrities of the time at the event. Band leader Lawrence Welk and actor Paul Brinegar, who played George Washington Wishbone in the Rawhide TV series, were among the celebrities.
Eastwood played character Rowdy Yates in the western series Rawhide, which ran from Jan. 9, 1959 to Dec. 7, 1965, on CBS. Eastwood was considered a secondary player in the series. He played a cowboy who often displayed a temper, according to industry websites.
Although Eastwood has received five Academy Awards, five Golden Globe Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award and five People’s Choice Awards, back in 1961, Welk received top billing in the Gold Rush program.
Welk was appointed the Honorary Dakota Territory Governor for the KELOLAND event. The program cited how Welk had “gone on to fame fortune as the “Champagne Music Maker.””
The Gold Rush program noted that Welk’s musical TV program aired at 8 p.m. on Saturdays on KELOLAND.
Eastwood got two full paragraphs in the program compared to the seven for Welk. Eastwood’s program notes said he “walked into television and became a star virtually overnight in the best Hollywood tradition.”
The program said Eastwood relaxed by swimming and listening to modern and Dixieland jazz.