With the partial government shutdown over President Donald Trump’s demands for border wall funding now on its 21st day, a 60-year-old episode of the 1950s Western series Trackdown has again gone viral, thanks to that episode’s villain, a conman named Walter Trump who promised to build a wall to protect a town’s residents from a doomsday scenario.
As recapped by CBS News, the episode in question, “The End of the World,” was written by regular Trackdown writer John Robinson and aired on May 9, 1958. In this episode, Lawrence Dobkin played the villainous Walter Trump, who convinced almost everyone in town that he could save them from impending doom by building a wall, even leading some townspeople to rob a bank in order to pay for the structure.
As noted, the Trump character was described by the episode’s narrator as the “high priest of fraud” and went as far as threatening to sue lead character Hoby Gilman (Robert Culp) after he vocally doubted the conman’s claims of a catastrophic meteor storm.
“I am the only one. Trust me. I can build a wall around your homes that nothing will penetrate,” Walter Trump promised.
“You ask how do you build that wall. You ask, and I’m here to tell you.”
The similarities between Walter Trump and Donald J. Trump don’t just end with building a "wall." https://t.co/FkPPRdioRR
— HuffPost Politics (@HuffPostPol) January 10, 2019
While “The End of the World” saw most of the villagers scared into paying Trump so he could build their wall, he was ultimately arrested and later shot by the town’s sheriff to cover up the fact that he was complicit in Trump’s scheme, per Talking Points Memo. The “wall” that Trump was selling, as further explained, was nothing more than “parasols with drawn-on mystical symbols” supposedly capable of shielding people from danger.
On Wednesday, Gravity Falls creator Alex Hirsch took to Twitter to share a brief clip from “The End of the World,” noting how the six-decade-old episode stood out for featuring a “conman who grifts a small town of suckers into building a wall.” It didn’t take long for the clip to go viral, as it has gotten close to 50,000 retweets and 110,000 likes over the past two days. Several commenters opined that the episode does indeed remind them of Donald Trump and his planned border wall, while one, in particular, replied with a side-by-side photo comparison of the president’s father, Fred Trump, and Lawrence Dobkin, pointing out how both men looked very similar to each other in the late ’50s.
This isn’t the first time “The End of the World” had generated widespread attention on social media, as Snopes noted that a YouTube user had shared a clip from the episode in November 2016 and claimed that it “predicted Donald Trump.” In January 2017, the fact-checking website confirmed that the episode was, in fact, legitimate, and supplied a YouTube link to a full version that was uploaded around that time.