The Virginian

The Virginian

1962 - United States

Based on a 1901 Owen Wister novel of the same name, The Virginian was TV's first feature length Western series, running at 90 minutes per episode and previously told thrice on the big screen, the most notable being a 1929 production that kick-started the career of Gary Cooper. 

Set on the Shiloh Ranch in Medicine Bow, Wyoming, the stories centred around the ranch foreman known only as The Virginian (James Drury) and his impulsive young friend Trampas (Doug McClure), one of a supporting cast of ranch hands. Originally Judge Henry Garth owned the ranch, (Hollywood screen star Lee J. Cobb) before passing into the hands of brothers John and Clay Grainger (Charles Bickford and John McIntire, respectively). 

With the arrival of the next owner (Colonel Alan McKenzie-another big Hollywood name-Stewart Grainger), the series setting was moved on to the 1890's and the show was re-titled The Men From Shiloh. Many other top stars of the day passed through and these included George C Scott, Robert Redford, Bette Davis, Charles Bronson, Telly Savalas, Lee Marvin and Ryan O'Neal. Even the production and writing teams were littered with famous names such as Sam Fuller, Ida Lupino and Glen A Larson. 

Trivia

Owen Wister's book was the first Western novel to be published, spurring a revolution in publishing that has not stopped to this day. The Western novel business has turned out more pages and earned more revenue than any other genre! 

"The Virginian" hotel in Medicine Bow, Wyoming, literally filled with antiques, was named after the novel in honour of Owen Wister. 

Published on February 11th, 2019. Written by Laurence Marcus (Trivia: Scott deBeaubien of Denver, Colorado) for Television Heaven.

Read Next...

Animal Magic

Presented by the inimitable Johnny Morris, the man who not only spoke to the animals, but also for them, Animal Magic was a firm children's favourite on BBC television for no less than 21 years.

Also released in 1962

Dr Finlay's Casebook

Based on a series of stories 'The Adventures of a Black Bag' by Dumbartonshire born novelist A. J. Cronin, Doctor Finlay's Casebook proved to be an instant hit with viewers in spite of stiff competition from US exports Dr Kildare and Ben Casey.

Also released in 1962

The Bulldog Breed

A single series of seven comedies about Tom, the perennial optimist, as he wanders through life leaving chaos in his wake totally oblivious to the problems he causes for everyone.

Also released in 1962

Fury

US & British co-production about a black stallion that no-one has yet been able to tame.

Also tagged Western Series

The Beverly Hillbillies

Classic US sitcom following the adventures of Jed Clampett and his family who, after discovering oil at the back of their Ozark ranch, pack up their things and move to Beverly Hills, much to the consternation of the local populace.

Also released in 1962

Checkmate

An expensive investigative agency operating in San Francisco protects the lives of people who had become targets of the criminal underworld.

Also released in 1962

The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok

"James Butler Hickok, mister" our hero would announce to all and sundry before his sidekick would elaborate, "That's Wild Bill Hickok, mister! The bravest, strongest, fightingest U.S. Marshal in the whole West!"

Also tagged Western Series

Already It's Tomorrow

After a road accident, an attractive girl recovers consciousness in a strange room. With her is a young man she has never seen before.

Also released in 1962

Branded

An innocent man is branded a coward in this classic US Western series

Also tagged Western Series