When The West Was Fun (1979)

188865Karen Lindsey kindly confirmed this photograph from the 1979 Western reunion show When The West Was Fun. It featured numerous Western stars including Neville Brand, Henry Darrow, Mark Slade, Linda Cristal, Chuck Connors, Clayton Moore and Lee Van Cleef. And most importantly, Doug McClure and James Drury back together again.

Author: PGreen

Published work in U.S.A. for McFarland & Co. Inc. : A History of Television’s The Virginian 1962-1971 (2006, 2009 Softcover edition) Pete Duel : A Biography (2007, 2009 Large Print edition; Kindle edition) Encyclopedia of Weird Westerns (2009) Jennifer Jones : Life and Films (2011)

17 thoughts on “When The West Was Fun (1979)”

  1. Hey Paul,

    This photo is from ‘How the West Was Fun’ (1972). TV Special hosted by Glen Ford.

    James Drury has on his Men From Shiloh duds. Only thing amiss is, you see his modern wrist watch. I don’t recognize Doug McClure’s attire.


  2. Thanks Karen. If only Doug had worn this outfit on “The Men From Shiloh.” He looks smart. And that awful mustache has disappeared. :))

  3. Paul,

    Sorry, I mis-typed the title of the show. The title is ‘When the West Was Fun’ (1972). It is a western reunion show. It’s got scads of western stars.


  4. Yes I have the general cast photo from this show Karen but have never seen this photo before. But my source for the show gives a 1979 broadcast date.

  5. I have a couple of articles on this reuion show, it was broadcast on the 5th of July, 1979. One has a color photo of all the western stars who took part, among them.:Dewey Martin, Johnny Crawford, Chuck Connors, Glenn Ford, Alan Hale Jr., Henry Darrow, Larry Storch, Neville Brand, Denver Pyle, Iron Eyes Cody, Harry Lauter, Jeanette Nolan, Linda Cristal, John Ireland, Darby Hinton, Pat Buttram, Milburn Stone, Dan Haggerty, Guy Madison, Rex Allen, Keenan Wynn, Jackie Coogan, George Montgomery, X Brands, Bill Williams, Michael Ansara, Slim Pickens, Ken Curtis, John Russell, Peter Brown, James Drury (Who he?!!!!!) Rod Cameron, Jock Mahoney, Jack Kelly, Tony Young, John McIntire, Ty Hardin, Mark Slade, Lee Van Cleef, Will Hutchins, Terry Wilson, Clayton Moore and some guy named ..Doug McClure! Quite a few Virginian geust stars there. I think this was the start of the cowboy reunion tv shows and movies, such as The Fall Guy ep Happy Trails, the Paradise ep with Hugh O’Brian and Gene Barry as Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson, The Luck of The Draw:The Gambler Returns and the big screen Maverick, all but one (Paradise) of which Doug appeared and two of which James Drury appeared in.

  6. Thanks for the info Nic. It sounds like it was a fun show. Sadly those Western reunion shows have all but vanished from our screens along with the TV Westerns in general.

    1. Believe it or not, this show is available on DVD. I bought a copy of it a couple of years ago at our local Fry’s store.

  7. I don’t remember what they did on the show. It’s been a while since I’ve looked at it. As I recall, they had a few lines but didn’t do much else except appear in a large group in a saloon. They had to share the screen time with the large cast, of course. Interestingly, two other ‘Virginian’ regulars also appeared; John McIntire and Jeanette Nolan, but they appeared as their ‘Wagon Train’ and ‘Dirty Sally’ characters.

    1. Thanks Bob. I have the cast photo with McIntire and Nolan among others. Interesting that they connected themselves with their other shows.

  8. In one of the articles I have on this, John Russell of Lawman gives a synopsis and details of the filming. “They’ve gathered clips from 130 different series, but it’s more than just a retrospective of the good old days when Westerns were the most popular shows on television. “The premise is that Larry storch – who starred in F Troop – has retired and now owns an old-fashioned saloon. He calls in all his old buddies for reunion. And they arrive dressed in their original wardrobe. “The cameras go from table to table for a few remarks from all of the boys, the last of the legends. It was very touching to see those actors again. It’s really a landmark event Neveragain will they be able to assemble this group. “There’s a running gag about “the guy and gal who do the singing” and as a finale Roy Rogers and Dale Evans sing “Happy Trails” with all the gang around a campfire. “they brought us together a couple of weeks ago. We shot the whole thing in two days, working 15 hours one day and 18 on the other. We posed in one big group shot that looks like a highschool reunion. Russell still works in moveis and Tv but seldom in Westerns for the simple reason that few are made anymore. Most of the old horse operas are in reruns in this country and abroad, dubbed in a dozen or more languages. Like most of the other TV cowboy stars, Russell laments the passing of horse operas. He would like to think they’llmake a comeback some day. “This business moves in trends and cycles. Right now the public seems to be more interested in contemporary shows. And no doubt the plethora of Westerns in the early ’60smade the stories less than credible. “There are only seven basic plots I read a book recently by an author who, after tremendous research, came up with 36 subplots. The Westerns did them all over and over again. “I’m like everybody else. I like good WesternsBut I hate bad Westerns I guarantee you, “When The West Was Fun” is one of them”. In the group photo, Johnny Crawford stands out like a sore thumb, he was either on his way to or from a tennis game and is wearing shorts, white shirt and socks and holding a tennis racket, whereas his screen Dad, Chuck Connors, is holding a rifle. All the others have blue jeans on, but Crawford looks as if he forgot his!

    1. Thanks for that comprehensive post Nic. The group shot looks like a hastily posed high school photo. Doug McClure’s face is partially hidden if I recall. And Johnny Crawford is as far removed from the Old West as you can get!

  9. Jim is standing in front of Doug and the top of his stetson obscures Doug’s chin, but you can see the rest of his face. Johnny Crawford’s one concession to the cowboy look is to wear a stetson, from the neck down, he looks completely out of place. The shorts are very short and you can’t even make out what color they are, they seem to be dark. There are all these denim clad legs, then two bare ones, as I said it looks like he forgot to put his pants on! John McIntire appears to be wearing a red shirt like the one he wore in The Virginian.

  10. Mr. Green
    I recently purchased your book The History of Television The Virginian 1962-1971 and found it to be very entertaining. I loved The Virginian as a kid and now am watching it again on DVD. Your book is an excellent source for material on each episode as well as producer changes, writers, directors, actors. The show in my opinion is timeless, love it. Thanks.

    William Comley

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