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...

Bonanza

Running for 14 years on it's native NBC network, Bonanza was set on the vast Ponderosa timber and cattle ranch in Nevada in the 1860's. The show was notable for being the first TV Western to be shot in colour.

Also tagged Western Series

Compact

Compact was the BBC's third adult soap opera.

Also released in 1962

The Cisco Kid

The Cisco Kid was nominated in 1953 for an Emmy Award for children's programming. By 1955 it was the most popular filmed television series among American children.

Also tagged Western Series

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

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 Big Valley

Set in California's San Joaquin Valley, The Big Valley was what the series 'Dallas' may have looked like if it had been set in the 1870s.

Also tagged Western Series

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