Have Gun Will Travel was a popular American Western television series that aired on CBS from 1957 through 1963. It was the #4 show in the Nielsen ratings in its first year, and #3 for the next three years. It was one of the few television shows to spawn a successful radio version. The radio series debuted on November 23, 1958. The show followed the adventures of Paladin, a gentleman-turned-gunfighter played by John Dehner on radio, who preferred to settle problems without violence, yet, when forced to fight, excelled. Paladin lived in the Carlton Hotel in San Francisco, where he dressed in semi-formal wear, ate gourmet food, and attended opera. In fact, many who initially met him mistook him for a dandy from the East. When working, he dressed in black, used calling cards and wore a holster which carried characteristic chess knight emblems, and carried a derringer under his belt. The knight symbol is of course in reference to his name — possibly a nickname or working name — and his occupation as a champion-for-hire. The theme song of the series refers to him as "a knight without armor." In addition, Paladin drew a parallel between his methods and the chess piece's movement: "It's a chess piece, the most versatile on the board. It can move in eight different directions, over obstacles, and it's always unexpected." Paladin was a former Army officer and a graduate of West Point. He was a polyglot, capable of speaking any foreign tongue required by the plot. He also had a thorough knowledge of ancient history and classical literature, and he exhibited a strong passion for legal principles and the rule of law.