Jim Bronson gets a job at a summer camp for kids with special needs in ‘Then Came Bronson’

Jim Bronson gets a temp job at the Hanrahan School, a summer camp for children with special needs in “The Runner” episode (Season 1, Episode 1) of the 1969 television series Then Came Bronson.

Showing its age, the children at the camp run by noted therapist Edward Hanrahan (Jack Klugman) are referred to as “disturbed children” and the purpose of the camp as stated by the director is “to show them what it’s like to be normal.”

Bronson (Michael Parks) ends up connecting with one autistic boy who isn’t even referred to by name until halfway through the episode. Everyone just calls him “the runner” because he frequently runs away. The character, named Johnnie, is played by Mark Lester (best known for playing Oliver in the 1968 film Oliver!). The way Johnnie, who is non-verbal, is disturbing and Bronson’s disagreement with Hanrahan’s methods ultimately lead to his dismissal when he defies orders and takes Johnnie out on a boat ride.

Penny Marshall guest stars in the episode as another counselor named Claire. The episode was shot on location in Grant Teton National Park at Leeks Marina on Jackson Lake in Wyoming.

Matt Ralph

Matt Ralph

I'm the editor of Summer Camp Culture and also blog at Tangzine.com and MatthewRalph.com. I live in the Philadelphia area and went to camps and camp meetings growing up in Ohio, Maryland and New Jersey.

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