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Zack Lawson is the son of Hank Lawson, the owner of the town saloon, and Clarice, one of his prostitutes. He was introduced in the episode "The Secret", where Hank claims him as his illegitimate son. He is found in the house of Ruby Johnson, who had been taking care of him since his mother died, and is taken to town by Dr. Mike. It is revealed that Hank is his father, and when he shows signs of artistic talent, Hank sends him to an art school. He keeps in touch with his father.

He is played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Zack Lawson
Biographical Information
Status: Alive
Race: White
Origin: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Parents: Hank Lawson (father)
Clarice (mother)
Ruby Johnson † (adoptive mother)
Family: Ilsa Lawsenstrom (Great-Grandmother)
Production Details
Actor: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
First Appearance: The Secret
Last Appearance: The Secret
Episode Count: 1

Vital Information[]

  • Zack’s mother was one of the girls that worked for him. Hank loved her, even after she was dead.
  • He was called "simple" due to his trouble talking.
  • Zack had a talent for drawing.
  • Able to become friends with Brian.


Episode number 16 The Secret

Dr. Mike decides to check up on Ruby Johnson and they discover her dead. A young boy, Zack, was hidden in the closet. Just a child Mike takes Zack with her and confronts the townsfolk, who reluctantly admit to knowing the boy's mother, Clarice was one of Hank's "girls.” When she died they sent Zack when he was 5 to Mrs. Johnson because he was "simple." While Sully, Matthew and Brian are loading up the wagon with Mrs. Johnson's possessions, Brian finds a drawing that Zack did.

When Dr. Mike tries to get school clothes for Zack, Loren says he can't go to school because he's a "simpleton". Later, when she goes to get a hair cut for him, Jake calls him an "imbecile". In school, Olive is not sure it is right for him to attend but could try. Zack is laughed at, bullied and called an idiot by the other schoolchildren and runs away. When Sully and Brian go looking for Zack, Hank leaves town too. Myra asks if he was leaving to look for the boy.

Brian speaks to Zack about crying and he breaks down and is comforted by Brian. Dr. Mike is frustrated in her attempts to find a medical diagnosis and cure for Zack's condition.

Dr. Mike's further detective work reveals that Hank is Zack's father, although he tries to avoid the issue and tries tell Dr. Mike to mind her own business and stick to doctoring and she helps Hank own up to his responsibility. Zack now had a place in the town, working at the saloon sweeping up.

Later, as Zack revealed his artistic talent, by drawing his mother Clarice. Then walking over to give his father the picture but Hank just weeps quietly. The next day, Hank shows Dr. Mike the drawing of Clarice. He asks her what do I do now Michaela? Zack got all dressed up to Hank agrees to send him to an art school in Denver that Dr. Mike found when she thought Brian did the drawings. before Zack was accompanied by Hank, Hank agrees that may be he can bring Brian's drawing when he comes home for Christmas.

(mentioned) episode number 83 One Touch of Nature

As Thanksgiving approaches, Dr. Mike attempts to convince the townsfolk to share their feast with the impoverished Indians living at the Palmer Creek reservation. Jake slips into a depression. Jake hoped to celebrate with Loren and Hank. Loren was leaving to be with a relative. Hank answers he is taking the train to see his son Zack.

(mentioned) episode number 96 Woman of the Year

When Hank's grandmother visits on the train, he hopes to avoid her. Not even wanting the town to know his real name, since she called his Hans. He must maintain a façade of having Horace’s life to prevent her from discovering the truth about his sordid life. When his grandma’s health is in danger Hank does tell her who he really is. Also that he has a son Zack who is able to draw. They had an ancestor with that skill too.

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