Origin of "Meanwhile, back at the ranch"

This has been on my mind for two days now. Where did this expression come from?? This one person keeps insisting it was the catch phrase of some old timey tv show? Green Acres or something?

On the other hand, I know for a fact it was the basis for a goofy kids book that I forget the title of. Not sure if this book was the origin for the expression though.

IIRC, this was originally used in old silent movies as one of the title cards to indicate a change in the action. Anybody else remember this?

I seem to remember an old children’s book about a farmer who went into town. He would do something incredibly stupid, and “meanwhile, back at the ranch,” his wife who was too vapid to come into town with him would do something amazingly smart or fortuitous.


Yes, yes! That is the book I’m referring to.

I was under the [apparently mistaken] impression that it derived from the old-time serials – as a transition between the adventures of Our Hero out on the trail to the other part of the ongoing story, they’d flash a card or have a voice-over “Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…”

I was under the same apparently mistaken impression, as I know not of this book of which people speak.

But I thought Stan Lee deserved an Honorable Mention here for his ubiquitous insertions of “Meanwhile…” into thousand of Marvel comic panels. Excelsior! :slight_smile:

The thing is I’m not sure when this book was published…so maybe Polycarp and jr8 are correct.

Perhaps Cecil could look into this?

I don’t know which came first, the book or this joke, but I know the phrase from this:
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Tonto, cleverly disguised as a doorknob, came off in the Lone Ranger’s hand.

Yeah, I know. High marks for taste.

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch by Trina Hakes Noble, illustrated by Tony Ross - at Amazon.com came out in 1987. Still, I’m sure the phrase pre-dates this book by decades, as it was featured in Western serials with Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and other cowboy stars. Some support for this idea - “Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch” was the title of a movie assembling clips from those old Westerns.

The line I remember goes like this: “Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Hoss and Little Joe were sodomizing the cattle”.

I don’t think this line actually appeared in “Bonanza”, however.

I assumed that it came from radio broadcasts of Westerns when something to explain the transition from the saloon, etc., to the ranch.

But the silent movies would pre-date those, wouldn’t they?

Also, I think the New York Dolls had the phrase in one of their songs from the '70’s. The 1970’s. So silent movies would predate that instance by a little bit , too.

My vague recollection from a childhood long ago, is that it is from a voiceover from either the Roy Rogers movies or Roy Rogers TV show. The voiceover went something like "Meanwhile back at the ranch, Roy and Dale had just finished the spring avacado planting when…

“Meantime, back at the ranch…” is actually used to start a chapter in Zane Grey’s Riders of the Purple Sage, and this was a serial story that first ran in 1912.

Are you sure you’re not thinking of their use of “Meanwhile, back in the jungle…”/“Meanwhile, back in the states…” from their cover version of the Jayhawks’ “Stranded in the Jungle” (1957ish).

I remember the chart hit being by the Cadets. I’ve never heard of the Jayhawks.

I seem to recall that line frequently in the series, “Lassie”.

Nice catch, delphica! It’s in chapter VI, and it’s “Meantime, at the ranch, …”

The only thing left to figure out is whether silent films copied the idea from Grey, or did he steal it from silent films? I tend to support Grey using it first.