Peter Breck (1929-2012)

Late last year I was very pleased to learn that cable station INSP were broadcasting all four seasons of The Big Valley (1965-69). As a long time fan of the show and its wonderful theme music I began watching episodes and became a fan all over again. Wonderful location photography, fine acting and thoughtful scripts plus some fine work from The Virginian’s L. Q. Jones who appeared in five episodes.

Of course the Barkley family was the backbone of the show. Barbara Stanwyck, Richard Long, Lee Majors (The Men From Shiloh), Linda Evans and Peter Breck as Nick Barkley. The hot tempered member of the family always ready for a fight but also willing to listen to reason. He was a sucker for a pretty girl and more often than not they led him into trouble.  The romantic life of a TV Western character was never easy.  Breck’s strong personality and personal integrity shone through the character of Nick Barkley. You symapthized with him. He stood up for himself and his family and wouldn’t tolerate fools gladly.

Peter Breck guest starred with James Drury in an episode of Black Saddle (1959) and also appeared in The Virginian episode “Rope of Lies” (2:25) and The Men From Shiloh episode “Hannah” (9:13). James Drury has recorded a wonderful tribute to Peter Breck which you can view on Peter Breck’s official website.

After watching The Big Valley re-reuns it was my intention to begin work on a book on the series. I contacted Peter Breck’s wife before his sad passing. She told me the company who owns the rights are very protective of their property and charge high fees for permission to publish photographs from the show. So I placed my project on hold. I would love to write a book on the series but for now fans can watch the TV show on DVD and INSP weekdays (three episodes per day).

Although Peter Breck is no longer here with us in the flesh his spirit lives on in his fine screen performances. Rest in Peace.


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)

4 thoughts on “Peter Breck (1929-2012)”

  1. Hi there, I’ve just rekindled my interest in the Virginian series.
    I remember watching it as a child on BBC on Fridays, I was born in December 1962, so didn’t see many, but would really like to see all 9 seasons and wonder where I can watch Classic Westerns series in the UK.
    Love your site!

    1. Thanks David. The Virginian is available on DVD here in America. You can find details elsewhere on this site.
      As for watching TV Westerns in the UK I’m sorry I can’t help you as I currently live in America. Maybe a UK fan will know which UK stations broadcast the old TV Westerns.

  2. Hi Paul,
    thank you for you swift reply.
    We do get The High Chapparal and Gunsmoke on both TCM and CBS Action both satellite statins here, but Id really like to see the likes of The Virginian, Wagon Train, Lancer and Bonanza shown somewhere in the UK, but it doesnt seem to be at the moment.
    Im surprised that there havent been any new series of Westerns, as most tv viewers are sick to the back teeth of reality tv and CSI type shows, a little variety wouldnt go amiss.
    I dont really remember much about the viewing times from when I was a little kid, but I think The Virginian was on Friday evenings on BBC1 and I also vividly recall the intro to another Western Series called The Iron Horse probably because I had to go to bed straight after the intro.

    1. Yes The Virginian was shown on BBC1 every Friday at 6.45 p.m. David – although original broadcasts began on BBC2 in 1964 before switching to BBC1 around 1967 and starting from the first season
      “Iron Horse” starring Dale Robertson was also broadcast on BBC1 in the late 1960s. There is a new Western series in America called “Hell On Wheels.” The first season was a success and the second season is currently being filmed. I’m not a big fan of the show as it tends to be negative and violent in tone with the lead character a “anti-hero.”

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