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Death Valley Days

Death Valley Days

Overview
Death Valley Days is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 radio
Old-time radio
Old-Time Radio and the Golden Age of Radio refer to a period of radio programming in the United States lasting from the proliferation of radio broadcasting in the early 1920s until television's replacement of radio as the primary home entertainment medium in the 1950s...

 and television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

 anthology series featuring true stories of the old American West
American Old West
The American Old West, or the Wild West, comprises the history, geography, people, lore, and cultural expression of life in the Western United States, most often referring to the latter half of the 19th century, between the American Civil War and the end of the century...

, particularly the Death Valley
Death Valley
Death Valley is a desert valley located in Eastern California. Situated within the Mojave Desert, it features the lowest, driest, and hottest locations in North America. Badwater, a basin located in Death Valley, is the specific location of the lowest elevation in North America at 282 feet below...

 area. Created in 1930 by Ruth Woodman, the program was broadcast on radio until 1945. It continued from 1952 to 1975 as a syndicated television series
Television syndication
In broadcasting, syndication is the sale of the right to broadcast radio shows and television shows by multiple radio stations and television stations, without going through a broadcast network, though the process of syndication may conjure up structures like those of a network itself, by its very...

. The series was sponsored by the Pacific Coast Borax Company
Pacific Coast Borax Company
The Pacific Coast Borax Company was a United States mining company founded in 1890 by the American borax magnate Francis "Borax" Smith, the "Borax King".-History:...

 (20 Mule Team Borax
Twenty-Mule-Team Borax
20 Mule Team Borax is a brand of cleaner manufactured by the U.S. soap firm Dial Corporation. The product is named after the 20-mule teams that were used by William Tell Coleman's company to move borax out of Death Valley, California, to the nearest rail spur between 1883 and 1889.Mule teams were...

, Boraxo
Boraxo
Boraxo is an American brand of powdered hand soap.As its name implies, Boraxo is composed largely of borax, and is marketed as a product for those who get their hands especially dirty during the course of their work, such as mechanics and farmers....

).

The 558 television episodes were introduced by a host
Presenter
A presenter, or host , is a person or organization responsible for running an event. A museum or university, for example, may be the presenter or host of an exhibit. Likewise, a master of ceremonies is a person that hosts or presents a show...

. The longest-running was "The Old Ranger" from 1952 to 1965, played by Stanley Andrews
Stanley Andrews
Stanley Andrews was an American actor perhaps best known as the voice of Daddy Warbucks on the radio program Little Orphan Annie and later as "The Old Ranger", the host of Death Valley Days.-Early life:...

 when the series was produced by McGowan Productions, producer of the Sky King
Sky King
Sky King is a 1940s and 1950s American radio and television adventure series. The title character is Arizona rancher and aircraft pilot Schuyler "Sky" King...

television series.
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Encyclopedia
Death Valley Days is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 radio
Old-time radio
Old-Time Radio and the Golden Age of Radio refer to a period of radio programming in the United States lasting from the proliferation of radio broadcasting in the early 1920s until television's replacement of radio as the primary home entertainment medium in the 1950s...

 and television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

 anthology series featuring true stories of the old American West
American Old West
The American Old West, or the Wild West, comprises the history, geography, people, lore, and cultural expression of life in the Western United States, most often referring to the latter half of the 19th century, between the American Civil War and the end of the century...

, particularly the Death Valley
Death Valley
Death Valley is a desert valley located in Eastern California. Situated within the Mojave Desert, it features the lowest, driest, and hottest locations in North America. Badwater, a basin located in Death Valley, is the specific location of the lowest elevation in North America at 282 feet below...

 area. Created in 1930 by Ruth Woodman, the program was broadcast on radio until 1945. It continued from 1952 to 1975 as a syndicated television series
Television syndication
In broadcasting, syndication is the sale of the right to broadcast radio shows and television shows by multiple radio stations and television stations, without going through a broadcast network, though the process of syndication may conjure up structures like those of a network itself, by its very...

. The series was sponsored by the Pacific Coast Borax Company
Pacific Coast Borax Company
The Pacific Coast Borax Company was a United States mining company founded in 1890 by the American borax magnate Francis "Borax" Smith, the "Borax King".-History:...

 (20 Mule Team Borax
Twenty-Mule-Team Borax
20 Mule Team Borax is a brand of cleaner manufactured by the U.S. soap firm Dial Corporation. The product is named after the 20-mule teams that were used by William Tell Coleman's company to move borax out of Death Valley, California, to the nearest rail spur between 1883 and 1889.Mule teams were...

, Boraxo
Boraxo
Boraxo is an American brand of powdered hand soap.As its name implies, Boraxo is composed largely of borax, and is marketed as a product for those who get their hands especially dirty during the course of their work, such as mechanics and farmers....

).

Hosts


The 558 television episodes were introduced by a host
Presenter
A presenter, or host , is a person or organization responsible for running an event. A museum or university, for example, may be the presenter or host of an exhibit. Likewise, a master of ceremonies is a person that hosts or presents a show...

. The longest-running was "The Old Ranger" from 1952 to 1965, played by Stanley Andrews
Stanley Andrews
Stanley Andrews was an American actor perhaps best known as the voice of Daddy Warbucks on the radio program Little Orphan Annie and later as "The Old Ranger", the host of Death Valley Days.-Early life:...

 when the series was produced by McGowan Productions, producer of the Sky King
Sky King
Sky King is a 1940s and 1950s American radio and television adventure series. The title character is Arizona rancher and aircraft pilot Schuyler "Sky" King...

television series. Filmaster Productions Inc., who produced the first several seasons of Gunsmoke
Gunsmoke
Gunsmoke is an American radio and television Western drama series created by director Norman MacDonnell and writer John Meston. The stories take place in and around Dodge City, Kansas, during the settlement of the American West....

for CBS Television, took over production of the series in the mid-1960s.

Following the departure of Andrews, Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 became the host. When Reagan entered politics, the role went to Robert Taylor
Robert Taylor (actor)
Robert Taylor was an American film and television actor.-Early life:Born Spangler Arlington Brugh in Filley, Nebraska, he was the son of Ruth Adaline and Spangler Andrew Brugh, who was a farmer turned doctor...

. Taylor became gravely ill in 1969 and was replaced by Dale Robertson
Dale Robertson
Dayle Lymoine "Dale" Robertson is an American actor best known for his starring roles on television. He played the role of Jim Hardie in the TV series, Tales of Wells Fargo, and the owner of an incomplete railroad line in ABC's The Iron Horse, often appearing as the deceptively thoughtful but...

. Production of new episodes ceased in 1970. Merle Haggard
Merle Haggard
Merle Ronald Haggard is an American country music singer, guitarist, fiddler, instrumentalist, and songwriter. Along with Buck Owens, Haggard and his band The Strangers helped create the Bakersfield sound, which is characterized by the unique twang of Fender Telecaster guitars, vocal harmonies,...

 provided narration for some previously made episodes in 1975. Reagan and Taylor also frequently appeared in the program as actors. While original episodes were still being made, older episodes were in syndication under a different series title with other hosts; the series could still be in competition with itself in syndication, and this also made it easier for viewers to distinguish the new episodes from the older ones. The hosting segment at the beginning and the end was easily reshot with another performer having no effect on the story. Alternate hosts and titles included Frontier Adventure (Dale Robertson
Dale Robertson
Dayle Lymoine "Dale" Robertson is an American actor best known for his starring roles on television. He played the role of Jim Hardie in the TV series, Tales of Wells Fargo, and the owner of an incomplete railroad line in ABC's The Iron Horse, often appearing as the deceptively thoughtful but...

), The Pioneers (Will Rogers, Jr.
Will Rogers, Jr.
William Vann Rogers, generally known as Will Rogers, Jr. , was a son of legendary humorist Will Rogers and his wife, the former Betty Blake . He was a Democratic U. S. Representative from California from January 3, 1943 until May 23, 1944, when he resigned to return to the United States Army...

), Trails West (Ray Milland
Ray Milland
Ray Milland was a Welsh actor and director. His screen career ran from 1929 to 1985, and he is best remembered for his Academy Award–winning portrayal of an alcoholic writer in The Lost Weekend , a sophisticated leading man opposite a corrupt John Wayne in Reap the Wild Wind , the murder-plotting...

), Western Star Theatre (Rory Calhoun
Rory Calhoun
Rory Calhoun was an American television and film actor, screenwriter and producer, best known for his roles in Westerns.-Early life:...

) and Call of the West (John Payne
John Payne (actor)
John Payne was an American film actor who is mainly remembered as a singer in 20th Century Fox musical films, and for his leading roles in Miracle on 34th Street and the NBC western television series The Restless Gun.-Background:Payne was born in Roanoke, Virginia...

). The last title was also often applied to the series' memorable, haunting theme music.

Borax


Under the Death Valley Days title, the program was invariably sponsored by Pacific Coast Borax Company
Pacific Coast Borax Company
The Pacific Coast Borax Company was a United States mining company founded in 1890 by the American borax magnate Francis "Borax" Smith, the "Borax King".-History:...

, which during the program's run changed its name to U.S. Borax Company following a merger. Advertisements
Advertising
Advertising is a form of communication used to persuade an audience to take some action with respect to products, ideas, or services. Most commonly, the desired result is to drive consumer behavior with respect to a commercial offering, although political and ideological advertising is also common...

 for the company's best-known products, 20 Mule Team Borax
Twenty-Mule-Team Borax
20 Mule Team Borax is a brand of cleaner manufactured by the U.S. soap firm Dial Corporation. The product is named after the 20-mule teams that were used by William Tell Coleman's company to move borax out of Death Valley, California, to the nearest rail spur between 1883 and 1889.Mule teams were...

, a laundry additive, Borateem, a laundry detergent, and Boraxo
Boraxo
Boraxo is an American brand of powdered hand soap.As its name implies, Boraxo is composed largely of borax, and is marketed as a product for those who get their hands especially dirty during the course of their work, such as mechanics and farmers....

, a powdered hand soap, were often done by the program's host. Death Valley was the scene of much of the company's borax
Borax
Borax, also known as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate, is an important boron compound, a mineral, and a salt of boric acid. It is usually a white powder consisting of soft colorless crystals that dissolve easily in water.Borax has a wide variety of uses...

 mining operations. The "20-Mule Team Borax" consumer products division of U.S. Borax was eventually bought out by the Dial Corporation, which as of 2010 still manufactures and markets them. U.S. Borax continued to mine and refine the borates and maintained Dial as one of its customers. In 2006, Rio Tinto
Rio Tinto Group
The Rio Tinto Group is a diversified, British-Australian, multinational mining and resources group with headquarters in London and Melbourne. The company was founded in 1873, when a multinational consortium of investors purchased a mine complex on the Rio Tinto river, in Huelva, Spain from the...

, the parent company of U.S. Borax. Inc., decided to merge USB with two of its other holdings, Dampier Salt
Dampier Salt
Dampier Salt is an Australian salt company located in Western Australia, with operations in Dampier, Port Hedland, and Lake MacLeod, with headquarters in Perth...

 and Luzenac
Luzenac
Luzenac is a commune in the Ariège department in southwestern France.-Population:...

 Talc, to form Rio Tinto Minerals and moved its corporate headquarters to Denver, Colorado
Denver, Colorado
The City and County of Denver is the capital and the most populous city of the U.S. state of Colorado. Denver is a consolidated city-county, located in the South Platte River Valley on the western edge of the High Plains just east of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains...

.

Death Valley Days is, judging from sheer number of episodes broadcast, by far the most successful syndicated television Western
Western (genre)
The Western is a genre of various visual arts, such as film, television, radio, literature, painting and others. Westerns are devoted to telling stories set primarily in the latter half of the 19th century in the American Old West, hence the name. Some Westerns are set as early as the Battle of...

, the most successful television Western ever in the half-hour format, and arguably the most successful syndication of any genre in the history of the U.S. television market (Baywatch
Baywatch
Baywatch is an American action drama series about the Los Angeles County Lifeguards who patrol the beaches of Los Angeles County, California, starring David Hasselhoff. The show ran in its original title and format from 1989 to 1999, sans the 1990-1991 season, of which it was not in production...

had a larger international market among U.S.-produced syndicated programs).

The stories used in the series were based on actual events. For example, the episode titled "Death Valley Scotty" was based on the record-breaking run of the 1905 Scott Special
Scott Special
The Scott Special, also known as the Coyote Special, the Death Valley Coyote or the Death Valley Scotty Special, was a one-time, record-breaking passenger train operated by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway from Los Angeles, California, to Chicago, Illinois, at the request of "Death...

, chartered by Walter E. Scott
Walter E. Scott
Walter Edward Perry Scott , also known as Death Valley Scotty, was a prospector, performer, and con man, who was made famous by his many scams involving gold mining and the iconic mansion in Death Valley, popularly known as Scotty's Castle.- Early years :Scott was born in Cynthiana, Kentucky to...

, a.k.a. "Death Valley Scotty".

Guest stars

  • Conlan Carter
    Conlan Carter
    Chester Conlan Carter is a former film and television actor best known for the role of "Doc", featured in sixty-six episodes of the Rick Jason and Vic Morrow ABC World War II television series Combat!...

     portrayed L. Frank Baum
    L. Frank Baum
    Lyman Frank Baum was an American author of children's books, best known for writing The Wonderful Wizard of Oz...

    , the creator of The Wizard of Oz, on a 1970 episode.
  • Dennis Cross
    Dennis Cross
    Dennis Cross was an American actor who was the lead star of the syndicated television series The Blue Angels, fictional stories of daredevil United States Navy pilots which aired from 1960-1961...

     appeared three times in episodes "Treasure of Elk Canyon" (1961), and "Captain Dick Mine" and "The Rider" (both 1965).
  • Ben Cooper
    Ben Cooper
    Ben Cooper is a retired American actor of film and television, who won a Golden Boot award in 2005 for his work in westerns.-Early films:...

     appeared as Jason Tugwell in the 1969 episode "Biscuits and Billy the Kid
    Billy the Kid
    William H. Bonney William H. Bonney William H. Bonney (born William Henry McCarty, Jr. est. November 23, 1859 – c. July 14, 1881, better known as Billy the Kid but also known as Henry Antrim, was a 19th-century American gunman who participated in the Lincoln County War and became a frontier...

    ".
  • Jim Davis
    Jim Davis (actor)
    Jim Davis was an American actor, best known for his role as Jock Ewing in the CBS prime-time soap Dallas, a role which he held up until his death in April 1981.-Biography:...

    , later Jock Ewing on Dallas
    Dallas (TV series)
    Dallas is an American serial drama/prime time soap opera that revolves around the Ewings, a wealthy Texas family in the oil and cattle-ranching industries. Throughout the series, Larry Hagman stars as greedy, scheming oil baron J. R. Ewing...

    , portrayed a U.S. representative from Nevada
    Nevada
    Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

     in the episode "Little Washington", set in 1878 in Carson City
    Carson City, Nevada
    The Consolidated Municipality of Carson City is the capital of the state of Nevada. The words Consolidated Municipality refer to a series of changes in 1969 which abolished Ormsby County and merged all the settlements contained within its borders into Carson City. Since that time Carson City has...

    .
  • John Doucette
    John Doucette
    John Doucette was a film character actor. He was a balding, husky man remembered for playing mob muscle and western bad guys in movies...

     portrayed Apache
    Apache
    Apache is the collective term for several culturally related groups of Native Americans in the United States originally from the Southwest United States. These indigenous peoples of North America speak a Southern Athabaskan language, which is related linguistically to the languages of Athabaskan...

     Chief Geronimo
    Geronimo
    Geronimo was a prominent Native American leader of the Chiricahua Apache who fought against Mexico and the United States for their expansion into Apache tribal lands for several decades during the Apache Wars. Allegedly, "Geronimo" was the name given to him during a Mexican incident...

     in the 1961 episode "Gamble with Death". His co-stars included Dick Sargent
    Dick Sargent
    Richard Stanford Cox , known professionally as Dick Sargent, was an American actor, notable as the second actor to portray Darrin Stephens on the television series Bewitched...

     and Tom Greenway
    Tom Greenway
    Tom Greenway was an American character actor of film and television, whose career, primarily in television westerns, extended from 1949 to 1965.-Early life:...

    .
  • Ron Foster
    Ron Foster (actor)
    Ronald R. Foster, known as Ron Foster , is an American actor, whose longest-running role was as Dr. Charles Grant from 1991-1995 in the defunct CBS soap opera The Guiding Light....

     appeared as Silas Begg in the 1957 episode "Rough and Ready".
  • Ron Hagerthy
    Ron Hagerthy
    Ronald F. "Ron" Hagerthy is a former American actor known primarily for his guest-starring and supporting roles on television westerns. In 1952, he portrayed Clipper King in the modern western series, Sky King, with Kirby Grant in the title role of Clipper's uncle, Schuyler "Sky" King, pilot of...

    , formerly of Sky King
    Sky King
    Sky King is a 1940s and 1950s American radio and television adventure series. The title character is Arizona rancher and aircraft pilot Schuyler "Sky" King...

    , appeared as Felix in the 1958 episode "Old Gabe".
  • Ron Hayes
    Ron Hayes
    Ronald G. Hayes was an American television actor who, as an activist in the environmental movement, worked for the establishment of the first Earth Day, observed on April 22, 1970. He was a member of the Sierra Club and a founder of the ecological interest group Wilderness World...

     appeared as Dan Bartlett in the 1960 episode "Devil's Bar".
  • Brad Johnson appeared five times on Death Valley Days, including the role of Bill Tilghman
    Bill Tilghman
    William Matthew "Bill" Tilghman was a lawman in the American Old West.-Early life :Bill Tilghman was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa, on July 4, 1854. He became a buffalo hunter at age 15 and claimed he killed over 1000 bison over his five years of activity...

     in the 1960 episode "The Wedding Dress".
  • I. Stanford Jolley
    I. Stanford Jolley
    Isaac Stanford Jolley, Sr., known as I. Stanford Jolley was a prolific American character actor of film and television, primarily in western roles as cowboys, law-enforcement officers, or villains...

    , five appearances, as J.V. Langley in "The Kickapoo Run" (1954), as Colby in "California's First Ice Man" (1955) and in the final role of Bart Taylor in "Eruption at Volcano" (1959)
  • Harry Lauter
    Harry Lauter
    Herman Arthur "Harry" Lauter was an American character actor originally from White Plains, New York....

    , a character actor, appeared seven times, twice as Mel Hardin in "Gold Lake" and "Wheelbarrow Johnny" (both 1959).
  • Dayton Lummis
    Dayton Lummis
    Dayton Lummis. Sr. , was an American actor of film and television who specialized in the genre of anthology and western series, often playing authority figures. From 1959-1960, he appeared as Marshal Andy Morrison in nine episodes of NBC's Law of the Plainsman western, with Michael Ansara and...

     portrayed New Mexico
    New Mexico
    New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

     Territorial Governor Lew Wallace
    Lew Wallace
    Lewis "Lew" Wallace was an American lawyer, Union general in the American Civil War, territorial governor and statesman, politician and author...

     in "Shadows on the Window" (1960), with Martin Braddock as Billy the Kid
    Billy the Kid
    William H. Bonney William H. Bonney William H. Bonney (born William Henry McCarty, Jr. est. November 23, 1859 – c. July 14, 1881, better known as Billy the Kid but also known as Henry Antrim, was a 19th-century American gunman who participated in the Lincoln County War and became a frontier...

    . He also played John De La Mar in "City of Widows" the same year.
  • Tyler MacDuff
    Tyler MacDuff
    Tyler MacDuff, born Tyler Glenn Duff, Jr. , was an American actor, primarily on television westerns and dramas who was cast as Billy the Kid in The Boy from Oklahoma.-Biography:...

     played Norman Berry in "The Hoodoo Mine" (1956).
  • Tyler McVey
    Tyler McVey
    Tyler McVey was an American character actor.-Early life and career:McVey was born in Bay City on Saginaw Bay in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. His first screen role, uncredited, came at the age of 39 in 1951, when he portrayed Brady in the The Day the Earth Stood Still...

     appeared four times, including as a priest in the 1962 episode "Abel Duncan's Dying Wish" and in the 1969 segment "The Oldest Outlaw".
  • John M. Pickard
    John Pickard (American actor)
    John M. Pickard was an American actor who appeared primarily in television Westerns.-Early life and career:...

     appeared ten times, including the role of Sheriff McKittrick in the 1966 episode, "The Resurrection of Deadwood Dick" and as Lafe Ellsworth in "The Other Creek" (1968).
  • Judson Pratt
    Judson Pratt
    Judson Pratt was an American actor whose longest continuing work was in thirteen episodes of ABC's Walt Disney Presents and NBC's Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color. A native of Hingham in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, Pratt appeared in numerous television westerns and drama series from...

     appeared twice: "The Left Hand is Damned" (1964) and as a general in "Raid on the San Francisco Mint
    San Francisco Mint
    The San Francisco Mint is a branch of the United States Mint, and was opened in 1854 to serve the gold mines of the California Gold Rush. It quickly outgrew its first building and moved into a new one in 1874. This building, the Old United States Mint, also known affectionately as The Granite Lady,...

    " (1965)
  • John Vivyan
    John Vivyan
    John Vivyan was an American actor active primarily between 1957 and 1970. He was known for his starring role as the honest debonair gambler in the CBS adventure series Mr. Lucky.-Early life and career:Born John C...

    , earlier Mr. Lucky, appeared on Death Valley Days, guest starred in two episodes in 1962.

Awards and nominations

Year Award Result Category Recipient
1955 Emmy Award
Emmy Award
An Emmy Award, often referred to simply as the Emmy, is a television production award, similar in nature to the Peabody Awards but more focused on entertainment, and is considered the television equivalent to the Academy Awards and the Grammy Awards .A majority of Emmys are presented in various...

 
Nominated Best Western or Adventure Series
-
1961 Western Heritage Awards Won Best Factual Television Program Ruth Woodman and Nat Perrin
Nat Perrin
Nat Perrin was an American comedy writer, who contributed gags and storylines to several Marx Brothers films and co-wrote the play Hellzapoppin that was adapted in to a film. He is credited with writing the screenplay or story for over 25 films, including The Great Morgan and Song of the Thin Man...

 (For episode "The Great Lounsberry Scoop")


In the 1955-1956 season, NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 offered Frontier
Frontier (1955 TV series)
This program should not be confused with Frontiers , the British program Frontier , Frontier Justice , Frontier Circus, or Frontier Doctor....

, an anthology Western series similar to Death Valley Days hosted by Walter Coy
Walter Coy
Walter Darwin Coy was an American stage, radio, film, and, principally, television actor, originally from Great Falls, Montana. He was best known for narrating the NBC western anthology series, Frontier, which aired early Sunday evenings in the 1955-1956 season.-Career:Coy performed on Broadway...

. Though Frontier, a springboard for the Western actor Jack Elam
Jack Elam
William Scott "Jack" Elam was an American film actor best known for his numerous roles as villains in Western films and, later in his career, comedies .-Early life:...

, was nominated for an Emmy Award
Emmy Award
An Emmy Award, often referred to simply as the Emmy, is a television production award, similar in nature to the Peabody Awards but more focused on entertainment, and is considered the television equivalent to the Academy Awards and the Grammy Awards .A majority of Emmys are presented in various...

, it was cancelled after a single season.

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