Since watching this clip on YouTube I keep humming this lovely theme by Ralph Ferraro. You’ll notice the familiar face of Tom Tryon who guest starred in quite a few episodes of The Virginian.
I always looked forward to the opening and end credits on The Virginian. This was in the days when a “Guest Star” listing was reserved for talent – unlike today when practically everyone on an episode is listed. It was also in the days when one Executive Producer ran a show.
Today we can’t even read the end credits as they are squeezed to make way for a preview of the following week’s episode. But they added greatly to the enjoyment of a show. How else would we know who created the outstanding music featured on The Virginian?
In the 1990s washed-up “B” movie actor Troy McClure featured on The Simpsons. Voiced by Phil Hartman the character quickly became one of the most popular secondary characters on the show.
Based on Troy Donahue and Doug McClure combined with physical characteristics of Phil Hartman the often desperate Troy McClure would accept any acting job to keep his career alive. A typical introduction would include a list of his screen credits.
“Hi, I’m Troy McClure. You may remember me from such classics as Invasion of the Giant Lobsters or Mice-Men From Mars.”
Doug McClure expressed his liking for the character. Troy McClure’s often mocking persona served as a reminder of the fickle and artificial nature of celebrity. The creators retired the character in 1998 following the tragic murder of Phil Hartman at the hands of his wife.
I recently came across this interesting station identification artwork for The Virginian. The official NBC glass slide is still available for sale on eBay. The seller Rozane kindly sent me a larger scan of the artwork for my blog. James Drury and Doug McClure are clearly visible but the third person resembles nobody from the cast. He has a passing resemblance to Jim Davis who we all remember as Jock Ewing in Dallas.
“I really enjoyed your book. It is comprehensive and a valuable resource for anyone interested in studying The Virginian.” – James Drury [The Virginian]
“The book was very interesting and very well written. I was fascinated.” – Randy Boone [Randy Benton]
“My husband is reading the book avidly and loving it. It’s a wonderful book.” – Sara Lane [Elizabeth Grainger]
“I am very impressed with it. You did a great job of research on The Virginian and it is certainly apparent in the book. It is a work that reflects your high standards.” – Frank Price [Executive Producer on The Virginian]
“Wonderfully detailed and nostalgic book…congratulations on this remarkable effort!”—Joel Rogosin [Producer, Writer, Director on The Virginian]
Interesting to watch this scene from the 1929 film adaptation of Owen Wister’s novel. Gary Cooper plays the Virginian and Walter Huston plays Trampas in a manner more in keeping with Wister’s original vision.
Unfortunately in this scene Huston comes across as a pantomime villain – lacking depth with his swaggering delivery. A legacy from the silent era when body movement was over emphasized to convey emotion. By contrast Gary Cooper manages to convey emotion with less effort. A skill in itself and more in synch with the new era of sound.
The Virginian featured some of the best composers in film and television. I cover them all in my book. Music has always been an integral part of Westerns both in television and film. The Virginian excelled in its choice of music with acclaimed composers such as Bernard Herrmann, David Shire and Leonard Rosenman composing scores for the show.
The partnership of Leo Shuken and Jack Heyes provided my favorite music in Season 5. Here are the opening title credits to Legacy of Hate (5:01) courtesy of YouTube.
Many fans of Tim Matheson were disappointed when his successful introduction in season 8 of The Virginian wasn’t carried over into The Men From Shiloh.
Matheson soon found work when he was added to the cast of Bonanza for its final season playing Griff King. He would follow this with work on the fondly remembered The Quest co-starring Kurt Russell. Matheson’s third Western series in a row would also prove to be his third one season project.
Matheson continues to be active as both actor, director and voice-over artist in a long and successful career.
James Drury starred as Captain Spike Ryerson of Engine Company 23 in the 30 minute series Firehouse in 1974. The 30 minute format resulted in a lack of characterization and formulaic scripts and doomed the show to early cancellation after only 13 episodes.