The Virginian – The Men From Shiloh

Was the choice of ditching Percy Faith’s distinctive theme and the familiar ride-in sequence in favor of Ennio Morriconne’s Spaghetti Western influenced theme and tinted images a mistake?  It’s a matter of opinion.  I like the new theme and graphics but feel they belong to a spin-off show and not the 9th season.  The departure is too radical and feels alien to the original concept of The Virginian TV series.

The definite mistake was Trampas’ new outfit and his mustache.  And a dry stoical ‘batman’ replacing any female regular at Shiloh Ranch.

The new format never had time to grow on audiences before the cancellation of The Men From Shiloh in 1971.  An era was at an end.

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)

27 thoughts on “The Virginian – The Men From Shiloh”

  1. I loved the change; the music and the new graphics – more sophisticated.

    Probably those die-hard ‘cowboy lovers’ couldn’t see the change in the media that was evident; that to keep up with those changes, bold and cosmopolitan stories were required to improve ratings.

    I think they missed the window, which is why the series ‘died’…..

    It’s one thing to love the ‘old wild west’ and the dirt; grit, and stink that went with it, but when you want to move away from that bawdy reality in order to draw an audience that ‘pays the bills’ (along with sponsors), you’re subjected to what the audience wants and what the ratings say – it’s all about $$$$$$$$$$$$.

  2. Hi Paul-
    I think the origional theme and familliar ride in had its origin connected to the frontier code in accordence with which companions would not ask to many questions or enquire into each others past.
    This is conveyed in the opening sequence by Trampus the Virginian and Steve riding into the screen together and then with a wave from the Virginian Trampus and Steve riding away respectivly to the left and right.
    This silent respect WAS THE SHOW. It conveyed men who judged by how they would silently endure the rigors of life.
    So to conclude the ORIGIONAL opening of the Virginian showed three men who could endure the rigors of life on a cattle drive.(Admittedly this opening was changed in variouse seasons and the men from Shiloh was part of that progression)

    Maybe to survive the show needed new charactors and a different format but this was only prolonging the inevitable cancellation that is the fate of all T.V shows.
    Iam certain most Virginian fans remember most fondly the Origional opening sequence. (Even if they preferd the show with Clu Culager or other additions to the show)
    Personally I found the Men From Shiloh music and opening sequence refreshing. The show itself in my opinion sucked.
    Regards Michael

  3. Yes, as I’ve mentioned previously, I also like the MFS title sequence and music. But the MFS episodes were often lacking. After nine years many shows become repetitive and performances a little jaded. James Drury was very good in MFS – Doug McClure very uneven. Lee Majors was a disappointment. It wasn’t Majors’ fault but the writers who never fully integrated him into the Shiloh family. His character always had the feel of a recurring guest star.

    1. I agree with you, MFS departed from the family style, life on the ranch and what that all entails. I don’t like how the characters aren’t in the same episode, each episode centered on 1 character and they weren t even on the ranch or had anything to do with Shiloh. Tate was made out to be a bad guy who did nice things. Only ones I really like are the ones that feature Stewart Granger and his assistant. That revolve around the ranch and his neighbors, Drury said he was foreman but he never actually did any work on the ranch. Trampas seemed like a traveling cowpoke who never heard of Drury, Majors, Trampas or Granger. No continuing storyline for women either. I liked when the girl was on there part of family.

  4. I liked the new theme and the graphics, and I also didn’t really mind the new costumes. It was time for a change as the series was getting a little long in the tooth.

    I did miss the female presence and the way the characters intermingled on the old show.

    That’s a good point about Lee Majors having “the feel of a recurring guest star.” Not once did he and Trampas appear in the same episode. With all their wanderings I wonder if they ever even met each other! LOL!

  5. I found this critic’s summary of THE VIRGINIAN:

    Theme” music by Ennio Morricone
    James Drury

    Doug McClure

    Lee J. Cobb

    Roberta Shore

    Television’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 2
    From the 50s and 60s – CD
    Has the Virginian theme song


    For More Doug McClure See: Checkmate
    Overland Trail

    For More Lee Majors
    See: Big Valley

    For More John McIntire
    See: Wagon Train

    For More Randy Boone
    See: Cimarron Strip

    James Drury appeared in 1 episode of Wagon Train

    External Links
    TV Guide’s Virginian Page, with TV Listings, Photos, Videos, Exclusive News and More. The Virginian Tidbits

    “When you call me that, smile.”

    Virginian was the first of the 90 minute Westerns. Taken from the Owen Wister novel,and four feature films, the show starred James Drury as the Virginian, and no, we never learned his real name.

    The Virginian was a man coping with change and trying to live by a strict moral code. The story is set toward the turn of the century in Medicene Bow, Wyoming.

    Foreman of the Shiloh Ranch, the Virginian is assisted by Trampas (Doug McClure) and the two are the only characters to complete the run of the show.

    The Shiloh Ranch changed hands several times. First we had Judge Henry Garth (Lee J. Cobb), then briefly Morgan Starr (John Dehner) and then the Grainger family moved in. At first it was John Grainger (Charles Bickford) but when Bickford died, his brother Clay (John Mcintire) took over. McIntire had just finished as wagonmaster on Wagon Train and for this show, brought along real life wife Jeanette Nolan as Holly Grainger.

    Then the powers than be in studio heaven decided to change the name of the show to Men From Shiloh in 1970. Don’t ask. Slumping ratings, demographics, the usual. They even got a new theme song written by Ennio Morricone. In what was to be the last season, the Virginian and Trampas greeted the newest owner, Col. Alan MacKenzie (Stewart Granger), an Englishman. Lee Majors, fresh from Big Valley, came over as Roy Tate.

    1. For some strange reason the critic failed to list Percy Faith as the composer of “The Virginian” theme Diane. They also didn’t include Gary Clarke in the cast credits. He was in the original ride-in title sequence. Gary played Steve Hill and was a key member of the Shiloh “family” in the early seasons.

  6. Hi, Paul, Diane and everybody else here, I’m back! I got a new computor and it took a little time.
    I have spoken before on the Virginian groups about my feelings on MFS. I like Morricone’s Spagetti western theme, even though I love Percy Faith’s original theme. I liked Trampas’ new look, but not the way his character was changed, he was always known as a fast draw on The V, but in TheBest Man is getting shooting lessons from James Farentino, as Paul has said, his character was “dumbed down” and made seem less intelligent and sometimes a bit mean. I would have liked to see Doug have a few dramatic eps instead of being the series “clown”, appearing only in light comedy eps. It would seem they said “We’ll let Jim, Lee and Jimmy Granger do the serious eps and give Doug the comic ones” No one looking at it would realise what a good dramatic actor Doug was. Doug was an excellent comic actor, but a few serious MFS eps would have shown his other side.

    Too much of the show was “From Shiloh”, with little or no links to Medicine Bow or the ranch. And it lacked the family touch that endeared it to so many viewers.

    Yes, it is more like a spin-off show than The V we had grown to love and one wonders how long the show would have lasted if it had stuck to the original format. Probably not much longer, westerns were on the way out when it started and by the end of the 60’s were more or less finished. The fact that it lasted until the end of the decade just shows what a great series it was.

    1. Welcome back Nicholas. Thanks for your interesting comments. I find “The Men From Shiloh” a subject of great fascination and frustration because it was such a departure. I know many shows are forced to change direction in the final seasons to boost ratings but the 9th season of “The Virginian” was one of the most radical revamps in television history.
      The great sadness for me was Trampas. The Virginian – James Drury episodes were often very good. I felt his character matured. Trampas regressed. The new producers of his episodes didn’t appear to have a handle on his character and ditched eight years of character development. I cannot relate to Trampas in “The Men From Shiloh” as being the same Trampas from the previous eight seasons. He was replaced by a doppelganger. 😦

    2. So nice to see Nic’s name and comments again!!! Since I’m on vacation and not back home until after the new year, I don’t do much ‘reading or writing’ on the I-net lately.

      I must say I’ve enjoyed getting outside; seeing the same mountains and open areas – trees, and wild ‘critters’, that were the ‘unpaid cast’ of THE VIRGINIAN.

      The nice thing is even though many films and television shows are shot in and around California; Nevada, Arizona, Montana and Wyoming (as examples), there are quite a few states who’ve turned the movie or television ‘sets’ into tourist sites.

      You can get this type of information from the web-site (now), but most of what I learned about, I had to actually stumble upon it myself. What’s fun is actually putting your feet on the same ‘ground’ and walking the identical spots that not only those who starred in THE VIRGINIAN, but all of the major movies/t.v. shows, that were based upon ‘open and wild country’………..

      I think it would be fun if Paul’s readers, might list some of the places they’ve visited (or lived – or live), that have featured their part of the ‘country’ as part of a t.v. series or a well-known movie.

      I know when I look at all the movies filmed in England, Wales, Ireland or Scotland, I find myself more interested in seeing the landscape; the terrain, and the architecture, than watching the characters play out their roles. Too often, I have to return to see the film one or two more times, simply because I was too dazzled by the location of the film; the topography; all about demographics, and the aesthetics of ‘nature’ or fascinating structures, etc.

      I hope Nic will start up a blog; a web-site, or find some way to share his art-work, because not only would I like to see his talent, but the subjects that he draws/paints, etc. Since Ireland is one place I’d love to visit in my life-time, I’d like to see Nic’s renditions.

      I’d love to see a documentary done on the Hereford cow; it could easily be made ‘part and ‘parcel’ of the Irish whiskey ‘history’ – while it might not be the ‘wild, wild west’ of the USA, I bet it would make a dandy and entertaining series – possibly 5 to 8 episodes; 2 hours long.

      What say you, Nic???? Are you ready to be a television star??? Do you see the twinkle in ‘me eye’, as I attempt to tease you?????

      Got to get back to the beautiful afternoon we’re enjoying; the sun is lowering and the mountains are so lovely this time of day…………

  7. Hi Diane,
    I went to the real Medicine Bow, Wyoming a few years ago. It looks nothing like what how they depict it on tv. It’s flat, barren and windswept. There is a museum there, which besides some frontier artifacts has some publicity photos of Jim and Doug and a ‘Virginian’ script on display.

    In my travels, I’ve managed to visit a couple of other sites that “inspired” tv shows: I went to Mount Airy, NC, Andy Griffith’s hometown, which is the prototype for Mayberry and also to New Rochelle, NY, where I located Bonnie Meadow Road, which is supposedly the home of Rob and Laura Petrie on ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show.’

  8. Hi – the interesting thing was a good deal of THE VIRGINIAN was shot up in northern California; tripping over into Nevada, so since I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Wyoming (seeing much of what you saw), possibly those who promoted THE VIRGINIAN series, didn’t really want to publize just how ‘close to home’ those scenes were.

    I live about 35 miles from Oatman, AZ – the hotel continues to draw many people who saw Clark Gable’s movies, and know that he and Carole Lombard spent their honeymoon at this particular hotel.

    I think the tourists drop plenty of money at this small town in Arizona; grabbing up reprints of the Gable/Lombard marriage and other items they ‘mass produce’ to keep that small town attracting newer tourists.

    You can visit Apache Junction, AZ – drive out to the Superstition Mountains and (again) find old movie sets; lots of ‘tourist traps’, and they capitalize on the Lost Dutchman’s Mine while also letting you pay money to go intot the ‘jail’ that has been used in more than one movie film.

    I think I’ve visited all the Jessee (or is that Jessie) James ‘hideouts’; tromped on lands where the Earp brothers originally lived and held their ‘gun fights’, and often wondered just how legitimate all those claims were.

    I remember visiting Plymouth Rock and thinking how small it was; it’s certain the ‘capitalists’ of this USA, know how to do it, and do it well.

    At least I was present when they shot one of the Rambo movies (my maiden name is Rambow); also was near the sets when they filmed ‘Sleepless in Seattle’, and was near the filming crew when they shot the story on BIGFOOT – as such, they at least got some of that right.

    Interestingly when they filmed, A STAR IS BORN, they filmed the very location where James Dean died, so anyone who saw that movie, knew there was a parallel of the remake of the movie, and a subtle reference to James Dean.

    I’ve traveled all the lower 48 states of the USA – into Canada and Mexico, so often I see familiar areas that are used in television and movies.

    Sadly, the ‘ugliest’ recognition is the television show called THE HOUSEWIVES OF ORANGE COUNTY – my husband used to be a security guard at Cota de Caza where a lot of the filiming takes place. it’s been a good way to promote Rancho Santa Margarita, CA when you see glimpses of places that the ordinary person has visited; lived, or enjoyed a good day at the beach (Laguna Beach, CA), so it’s always a ‘promotion’ – a ‘push’ for tourists to visit these spots, and that’s when you realize that not all television shows (or movies) are made solely with the idea of featuring the characters; often they are simply enticing people to spend money to visit the places that are glamorized on the ‘big or small screen’……..

    Then again, the USA are ‘masters’ at propaganda and capitalizing on those ‘hot spots’ – those ‘in-crowd’ spots, and helping the tourist industry pay its bills – again, all about $$$$$$$$.

    1. Hi Diane
      James Drury (and Randy Boone, Frank Price etc.) told me the majority of the series was shot in southern California and that they rarely went on location outside of local ranches. There was second unit location footage shot at other locations to incorporate into episodes but the cast didn’t generally film at locations outside of driving distance from Universal. A few episodes were filmed on location on San Bernardino. Some websites continue to include false information about The Virginian despite my detailed research talking to the people who really know – the cast and producers of The Virginian.
      They were producing a 75 minute show every nine days. Often three episodes at once. This intense schedule didn’t allow for the cast to film in northern California. There were also union rules that seriously ate into the budget if they had to stay overnight on location. Frank Price goes into detail about this in my book. They only filmed two episodes in Mexico on The Men From Shiloh to accommodate the demands of Stewart Granger.

  9. San Bernardino is not that far from where we live in Nevada; I should have written up in the northern part of SOUTHERN California, so I left out a key word I see (my mind’s not on those kind of details right now since we’ve had two deaths back-to-back this week, and I’m tired).

    Some people tend to draw different lines when it comes to northern and southern California; I usually think of Santa Barbara as being about the most ‘southern of northern’ California, but I’m sure others might consider that still a bit too far ‘north’ – it can get confusing, but after living in California for 20 years I got used to people using a number of terms that others didn’t always agree with.

    Just as Lake Tahoe has both a California ‘side’, some forget that there’s a Nevada ‘side’ – because they’re bordering states, you can drive (as we do) to California in about 12 minutes since we’re 11 miles from the border of southern, California.

    There’s also some confusion when people think of San Bernardino (the town); San Bernardino (the county), and San Bernardino (the range of mountains), but there are many beautiful places in the county and all conducive to providing back-drops for great ‘wild west’ filming.

    As for Stewart Granger, he’s been one of my favorite actors since I was a young girl; a very talented and able professional who could play so many different parts so well.

    The nice thing about Mexico butting right up to southern California, is you can catch Mexico; California, Arizona, and Nevada all in a day’s outing…….

    Maybe you and your wife can make an extended visit one day, so you can see some of the other sites where movies and other television shows have been filmed – it’s a fun adventure.

    1. I posted this same clip on my blog in October Diane. Great minds think alike. 🙂 Take a look in the archives for the various comments.

  10. I understand Diane. I’m a stickler for detail. 🙂 Thanks for explaining the local variations in what is defined as north and south.

    I’ve visited Los Angeles four times (twice in the past five years) and love to see the areas where The Virginian was filmed. But you can never find enough time to visit all the local ranches etc (if they still exist) in one visit. That would be a vacation in itself. You’re lucky to have lived relatively nearby.

  11. Hi – yes, I’m a stickler for details as well (which is why when you mention San Bernardino to someone, you have to qualify it by also adding whether it’s the mountains, county, or town).

    Also, it does get a bit ‘crazy’ when you live in California because the ‘true’ northern Californians like to think they’re much more sophisticated and worldly, than those in the southern region.

    Then they go so far as to designate whether they live in the ‘silicon valley’ region; the ‘wine region’, get really wound up as to whether they live IN CARMEL as opposed to NEAR CARMEL – what part of San Francisco; tend too put Oakland ‘down’ (in their status ladder) and even whether you live ON the Monterey Peninsula, or IN THE TOWN of Monterey.

    Just as you mentioned having seen Disneyland (which is in Anaheim), most people will call a visit to Disneyland, a visit to Los Angeles.

    More often, you will hear locals refer to Malibu; Hollywood, or Beverly Hills rather than mentioning that it all surrounds the city of Los Angeles (and most locals just call it LA, just as locals in our state of Nevada, call the city of Las Vegas, VEGAS).

    There is a huge post office in Rancho Palos Verdes with the 90210 zip code; they rent out boxes to people who live outside of Palos Verdes or Rancho Palos Verdes, just so they have that popular (and snobby) zip code – it’s quite an ‘affliction’ as I see it, to be so accutely hung up on where on lives.

    It’s the same way with Costa Mesa versus Newport Beach – if you go one street over into the Newport Beach ‘city’, you’ll triple your rental costs or the cost of homes as well as business rental fees are as much as 6 times higher.

    The same 2 bedroom apartment that rents for $1800/month in Laguna Beach, rents for half that amount if you just go south to Dana Point or a bit inland to San Juan Capistrano – you quickly learn to understand all this craziness, when you live there.

    I don’t know if any of those ranches still exist; it might be a fun bit of research if you used the I-net to look for locations that still maintain movie and television sites that weren’t shot on some lot at a movie studio.

    Now with the ‘green screen’ (or is that blue screen), they can create the illusion of a person being anywhere in the world, and I even read how they’ve recently used ‘crowd scenes’ to superimpose them on a television program to give the illusion of a mass gathering when necessary.

    I saw a documentary on how they also ‘fill the seats’ at events such as the Academy Awards and other huge events, and move the ‘real people’ toward the front, and then fill in the rest of the area with ‘people’ from other filmings to make the events always look crowded and successful.

    When you figure Star Wars was so successful building up miniature flight vehicles; planets, and the use of technology that gives such great and grand ‘illusions’, you realize that you shouldn’t expect everything to be as real as it appears.

    The way they do voice-overs so expertly, you almost wonder if you’re hearing the REAL voice of anyone anymore.

    Ah, to be Rich Little and be able to imitate a myriad of famous voices – how fun……….

      1. Okay, since there are so many gorgeous places in those mountains and still a slew of huge ranches, it probably would be difficult to find out if any specific locations were even constructed for the filming – more likely, they could have used a private homestead for any ‘ranch’ scenes if they didn’t already have one built on the ‘lot’.

        I shared a link with you that took you to Sandie’s paintings of her horses; the one you said you thought was so good. Sandie lives in the San Bernardino mountains, and all throughout the area where she lives, are huge parcels of land; horses in abundance, and scenery that is splendid.

        It also makes financial sense to have utilized this area, because it’s not a long drive from the film studios (nowadays, you can buzz on over on Highway 10 in about an hour to get to the mountains), and since you can go down the back-side to Palm Springs (where so many of the movie and television stars gathered back then; to party and owned homes in that area), it would have made good sense to get some R&R in Palm Springs after a long week (or day) of shooting.

        I know they’ve done some film shooting up in the Saddleback Mountain area; using the state park, and there’s no complaint from anyone when they use the park for commercial purposes.

        Also, since the San Gabriel Mountains are ‘next door’ to the San Bernardino mountains, and then both the Santa Ana and Santa Monica hills that all are beautiful and have easy access to the movie and television studios, I can now see why California has had such success with the film and movie/television industry.

        Actually, I think that’s why the states of Washington; Oregon, California, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona have been so desirable; you can find mountains or a desert – lush forests; beautiful lakes and rivers, and having the ocean not being that far away, means you can simulate the landscape that’s repeated around the world.

        I also love the California Oak trees that you often see in western movies; with the abundance of cactus on the many deserts that are covering more of the west coast than the mid-west or eastern states, you can really see the glory and beauty of this country.

        Of course if you’re doing a western series, it’s also much easier to find some native-Americans ready to play a part; Mexicans are a significant resource, so featuring the growth and development of the ‘wild west’ that goes along with the horses; huge ranches, cows and wild creatures that are still roaming around ‘these parts’, probably made it a better choice since authors like Zane Grey and others were writing fast and furious – from a book; to a radio program, and then to the ‘screen’.

        I wonder what percent of new movies and television programs are garnered from previously written books, and what percent is now written strictly for television and movie viewers.

        Still loving to read stories rather than watching them on t.v. or in movies (or DVD’s), I think I’m probably more apt to enjoy a well-written book than rely upon others to portray the characters as they ‘see them’.

        With books, you can envision your own images but still it’s wonderful when a person can see a landscape that’s new to them, and they don’t have to try to imagine what a Joshua Tree cactus looks like………..

  12. ……….sorry about the typos on the previous comment – as I said, I’m tired. One of my piano pupils died this week, and one of my 4-H students died the next day – both the age of my oldest daughter, so I haven’t had much sleep.

  13. Hi, Diane,
    I’m sorry to hear of the deaths of your students.

    Did you get the E-Card I sent for your birthday? A few people are getting my E-Mails, but I’m not getting theirs.
    Take care,

    1. Hi Nic! I haven’t been on the computer much these past couple weeks. With the holidays, comes family and friend time and lots of holiday cooking time.

      I appreciate your condolences, and as to my birthday card, the answer is ‘no’ – nothing came through.

      I’ll give you my e-mail again, since I don’t have any other way to answer you except here.

      If you’ll just send me a short e-mail, I’ll have your e-mail address as well; maybe then we can exchange cards and notes successfully.

      I am delighted you thought of me on my birthday; I did get many ‘regular’ cards, and a number of e-cards as well as good wishes on my Facebook page.

      I don’t know if you have a Facebook page, but I used my maiden name when I signed on. It’s Diane Rambow (if you try to look it up in the search window). Paul found me that way; he said there are 3 Diane Rambow’s, so the one you want is the picture of me wearing my Christmas outfit – holding my little bear.

      Got to get my ‘rear in gear’ – the calendar is full, and I’m running behind since I’m getting over pneumonia, and that really slows a person down.

      My best to you and my thanks to Paul for letting us use his web-site as a ‘meeting place’. Diane

  14. I’ve been watching the run of “The Virginian” on Encore Westerns and, as of Nov. 16, I’ve noted that the “Men From Shiloh” episodes will not air. It’s a shame as I have never viewed them and would be interested in doing so even though there have been discussions about the “spinoff”‘s validity. From what I researched, “TMFS” did garner a top twenty spot in the ratings which would have merited a tenth year, but perhaps was its axing due to the networks’ 1971 practice of getting rid of all the western rural themed programs or had the program simply run its course?

    1. It wasn’t a Spin-off show Will. I specifically asked Frank Price this. It’s season nine of The Virginian under a revamped format. The production numbers follow from season eight.
      Encore have really let the fans down not airing this season. How can it be syndicated in Ireland with season nine intact and season nine missing on Encore?
      Yes it was in the top twenty for 1971 but was axed partly because Westerns were falling out of favor at NBC. My book goes into detail about it thanks to James Drury’s and Frank Price’s insights.

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