The Virginian “The Executioners” (1:01) with Hugh O’Brian

The first episode of The Virginian, originally broadcast September 19, 1962, is a mediocre story that gives little hint of future heights.  Hugh O’Brian and Colleen Dewhurst dominate scenes while the regular cast are reduced to background players.

Even the Revue publicity still of the period emphasizes O’Brian over Roberta Shore and James Drury.

This episode premieres on Encore Westerns on January 1st followed by a January 4th broadcast at 4.30 p.m. EST.

To anyone watching The Virginian for the first time don’t be discouraged by this episode.  The first season is uneven in quality with the Charles Marquis Warren episodes heavily re-edited (see my book for complete background details to the turmoil at NBC as told to me by executive producer Frank Price).

The first season does include some excellent episodes and is also of interest for demonstrating the early and convoluted evolution of The Virginian television series.  Many episodes are atypical of the rest of the series and clearly owe a debt to 1950s Universal-International Westerns.

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)

10 thoughts on “The Virginian “The Executioners” (1:01) with Hugh O’Brian”

  1. All I can conclude is that “O`Brien” was used to bring fans from his show over to the Virginian.
    Remember between 1955 and 1962 O´Brien starred as Wyatt Earp in the Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp. It was indeed one of the top rated shows on US television during its seven year run.
    But as you said in your book “Throw a long Rope” was the show that introduced the audience to the Virginian cast.

  2. Actually Paul it was marketing at its best-
    A new television series is building an audience it doesnt have an established audience. To have wasted the excellent “Throw A Long Rope”An episode that not only introduced all the main charactors but did it in such away that included a brilliant supporting cast a excellent script,supeb directing and a fantastic musical score.
    Well in all truth it would have been criminal to have wasted that episode.
    Refering to an earlier post of mine, I think Hugh O Briens autobiography if completed ( Apparently he began it a few years ago)would be an interesting readBoth for his acting insight and humanitarian work.

  3. Hi Paul
    To my knowledge “Hugh öbrien” was writting his autobiography and the work was never completed.
    How much of the book was written I dont know?
    To me it seems a shame if those pages are lying dormat and are not resurrected.

    1. He’s still working on it Michael. The title is : “The Older I Get, the Better I Was, or Fate Is a Four-Letter Word.”

      His surname is spelled “O’Brian” by the way. 🙂

      1. Any update on the autobiography? Was it every published? And do you know where people get in touch with him these days? I’m working on a story about him.

      2. It doesn’t appear to have been published James. I don’t have contact details for him. Sorry.

  4. This is one of television ‘s best episode ‘s with O’Brien ‘s character being a trinity of icons. He was the conscience of the silent just like the Virginian, the avenger of the trangressors who could have prevented the execution of the innocent and the resurrection of his father, especially to the school mum who loved, yet abandoned the victin and needed that soul’s forgiveness.

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