“The Awakening” (4:05) – Roberta Shore Leaves ‘The Virginian’

Shore“The Awakening” (4:05) directed by Leon Benson, written by Robert Crean and broadcast October 17, 1965, was a turning point for The Virginian and marked the end of the classic early period of the show (1962-1965). When Betsy Garth (Roberta Shore) married former minister David Henderson (Glenn Corbett), declared “I don’t need Shiloh anymore” and left for her new home in Pennsylvania as a preacher’s wife a vital character in The Virginian departed. Shore, a dedicated Mormon, was written out the show at her own request to concentrate on her own real-life marriage.

Roberta Shore would be replaced with a short one season run by Diane Roter. Sara Lane as Elizabeth Grainger would actually appear in more episodes than Shore but would never match her acting ability. Shore’s departure was a major loss for the show and one-half of a double body blow in the unsuccessful Season 4 when Lee J. Cobb also departed. The Virginian would never be the same again although the arrival of the Grainger family at Shiloh Ranch in Season 5 would see a return to form for The Virginian.

(Full details including author interviews with Roberta Shore, James Drury, Randy Boone, Frank Price and Joel Rogosin can be found in my book “A History of Television’s The Virginian 1962-1971” published by McFarland & Co.).

The Virginian (James Drury) and Trampas (Doug McClure) relect on Betsy's imminent departure from Shiloh Ranch in "The Awakening" (4:05).
The Virginian (James Drury) and Trampas (Doug McClure) reflect on Betsy’s imminent departure from Shiloh Ranch in “The Awakening” (4:05).

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)

81 thoughts on ““The Awakening” (4:05) – Roberta Shore Leaves ‘The Virginian’”

  1. The Virginian tells Betsy.that Trampas can’t be at her wedding because he blubbers at weddings….I think we all blubbered at this wedding…

    1. I have only started watching The Virginian this past year. I have missed out on a very good show. The awakening broke my heart seeing Roberta getting married and leaving the show. She is truly an amazing actress.

  2. True Leta. I clearly recall my mother crying back in the 1960s when we first watched this episode. Betsy’s leaving was a major event for the show. I only wish Roberta had filmed a reunion episode in a later season. And thankfully Trampas did appear at the marriage. 🙂

  3. I was glad they wrapped up the main story about the miners in this episode early. That gave them the last 15 minutes or so of the ep to concentrate on the wedding, which was much more interesting.

    1. Yes Bob – the mining story was a distraction. The way they handled Betsy’s departure was poignant. Randy handing her his gift and Betsy listening to his singing in the bunkhouse from her bedroom window was memorable. Roberta Shore’s fine acting played a major part of course.

  4. I watched this episode for the first time this past Saturday (July 20, 2013), Just started watching ‘The Virginian’ last Sept. so I did not know this was Roberta Shore’s last episode. What a shock!! I was expecting her boyfriend to ‘have to go back east’ or to become a ‘traveling’ union spokesman for Wyoming miners. Was waiting for his goodbye speech in the last 10 minutes of the show. BUT NO !!! I enjoyed the episode but felt bad for Judge Garth and Randy at the end! Did Roberta Shore ever make any ‘guest appearances’ after this?

    1. This was Roberta’s final appearance Kathy. She never made any guest appearances after this episode.

      1. Wow, I’m sorry to find that out! She was part of a ‘winning combination’ on the show!!! I’ll have to ‘google’ her and find out more about her career!! Thanks for all the info here about this episode! I enjoyed reading everything!!!

    2. I had never seen the episode where Betsy got married either and the Virginian was my favorite show. I had a manor crush on The Virginian.
      I was bummed when Betsy left because as a little girl, I always daydreamed about being surrounded by all of the handsome cowboys as Betsy was!
      Zowee! Lucky girl.
      Anyway, I’m glad to see that so many other people still enjoy watching is as well. I’m watching an episode right now! 🐴

      1. He became discontented with his role and wanted to return to acting on the stage and in movies.

      2. I grew up on Westerns and never watched this series. I started watching on Encore Westerns and watched every episode two times in a row. In the later years the show lost a lot but still enjoyed with all the great actors.

  5. Thanks Kathy. Yes Roberta was a vital part of the original “Shiloh family”. I interviewed her for my book and she’s as friendly and bright in real life as on screen.

  6. Perhaps someone can help me out. I heard there was an episode where Trampas accidentally refers to The Virginian, as Jim (no doubt he said the actors name by mistake and that they forgot to edit it in post production). Would anyone know what season and episode number and/or title? From what I read, you had to be listening close to have caught it. I’d love to watch that one tonight.

    1. I had a book that was published in the 1970’s (don’t remember the name of it) that was a sort of encyclopedia of television shows. The entry for ‘The Virginian’ said that he was referred to as “Jim” in some early episodes. In all the eps I’ve watched since then, I’ve never been able to find such an instance.

  7. I recall hearing Trampas say “Jim” under his breath – but I can’t recall the episode. If my memory is correct it was a bunkhouse scene. No way was he called “Jim” in multiple episodes.

    1. I have been watching reruns and sometime within the past month I heard Tramps call the Virginian by name. Wish I had reviewed the episode.

  8. Paul Greeen are anyone else for that matter, please tell me the episode where Roberta Shore sang the song “They’re hanging poor Billy tommorow”. It was kind of sad in one way and not sad in another way she sang the song. Any help would be appreciated.


    1. Amazon is selling a Season 4 boxed set Etolia. You can’t buy it individually. You may also see it on INSP network when they broadcast it again.

    2. If you have cable, you can see all 8 seasons, plus the only season of Men from Shiloh, through the on-demand function. I was a tot when The Virginian first aired, and now, in middle-age, watching two episodes a day (harder to binge with 75 minute episodes). Love every episode/

      1. My husband and I watch the Virginia every day 2 showings. We just watch the one where the Virginia comes to Shiloh!!! We love the show

  9. The Virginian is played throughout the day and night on Direct TV INSP Channel 364. Betsy sang Hang Poor Billy in Season 2 Episode 7 “Brother Thaddeus”. I remember Trampas calling the Virginian Jim and I also remember Judge Garth calling him Jim but I don’t recall the episodes!

    1. This is a common misunderstanding, Sheri. People think they hear things they really didn’t. A good example is the 1976 hit, “The Boys Are Back In Town” by Thin Lizzy. I’ve heard that song many hundreds of times thinking that on the final chorus they were singing “the boys are back in town, Jim.” In fact, it was “the boys are back in town again.” I would bet the ranch that if you go back and review those episodes and constantly played back what Trampas and Judge Garth actually said, you will hear them say something that rhymes with Jim that made more sense to the dialogue.

    2. Thanks Sheri, I am going to ultimately find that episode and watched it. For, some reason it left a sad feeling with me.. I couldn’t figure out if the song was suppose to be funny or serious. I don’t know why I want to see Betsy sing that song again because “hangings are part of western movies or TV series I never liked.

    3. Sheri, thanks for the information about Season 2, Episode 7, where Betsy sang the song “Hang Poor Billy”. That song left me feeling very sad and strange for some reason. I don’t remember if it was suppose to be a sad song or a funny song. Why I want to see it again, is beyond me. I love Westerns but I never liked hangings in Westerns.

    4. I watch it daily on INSP. I watched it and the Happy Chaporal. I remember them a little but I was young when they came on.

  10. Why doesn’t INSP show The Awakening again? I have been watching The Virginian waiting to see this episode for over a year and I have never seen it. Only saw it once but loved it

    1. Hope you got to see this episode last night (May 11,2017) on INSP at the 10p(eastern) time slot. ‘Perfect timing’ for your request!!
      Was reading here (because I got an email due to a previous comment I made in 2013 when I first saw this episode) and noticed your comment. I too, loved this episode, but was so ‘shocked’ to find out this was Roberta Shore’s last episode!!! …”No, not Betsy… leaving Shiloh!!!” … Wished they’d brought her back for ‘a visit’ sometime!!!
      She was a key part in the ‘original’ winning combination of people on The Virginian!!
      “Happy continued viewing Anne!”

      1. My first time to see it also last night. I immediately googled this morning to find out why she left so suddenly. A true shocker!

      2. Sylvia : My book covers Roberta’s departure in great detail. I interviewed Roberta Shore and executive producer Frank Price about her leaving the show.

  11. I was so surprised to see a major character in a western actually get married that I decided to look it up. Thanks for this informative article. I didn’t watch this show much as a youth; just in recent years. Weddings in the show I know better than The Virginian didn’t work out too well: Jarrod’s wife was shot and killed a few days into their marriage, and Nick’s bride-to-be never got to the altar (and he was much better off without her).

    1. Yes Betsy – the reason this marriage occurred was to provide a suitable departure from the series for the Betsy Garth character. Marriages of TV Western characters who continue to appear in the series usually end in tragedy as you mention. There was also Little Joe’s marriage on “Bonanza” (originally written for Dan Blocker who tragically died before filming began) that ended in his bride being murdered.

  12. I have just recently started watching the INSP channel, which has become my favorite channel, and the Virginian is my new favorite show.
    I know I used to watch this show, and all other westerns with my Dad when I was a kid. After watching an episode of season 5, I was lost , wanting to know why those three major stars left the show. Two of them have been answered, but no one said why Randy Boone left the show.
    I googled that question, and it led me to this page, which I am very grateful for, you people are to be commended for sharing your knowledge and thoughts on these rare but very valuable old tv programs.
    Thank you all,

    1. Hi Darrel: I interviewed Randy for my book. He told me he left the show because his contract wasn’t renewed after season 4. Luckily for him he found employment immediately on “Cimarron Strip” with Stuart Whitman.

      1. I’m sorry about the more than a year delay in responding, but thank you very much for the info.

      2. Hey Paul, maybe you can clear up some confusion for me. My favorites parts on certain episodes were, Trampas quick draw, I always loved the good guy fast gunfighters. In the second episode of season 9, James Farentino was teaching Trampas how to draw and shoot. Am I the only one that found this to be disappointing?

    1. Lucille: Although others have claimed to have heard this, I never have. The scripts were generally followed to the word. If Trampas or Judge Garth called the Virginian “Jim” it certainly wasn’t part of any script but a slip of the tongue that escaped continuity and editing.

    2. I’m not sure if anyone answered this (saw the question asked a few times). You may be thinking of the episode “The Handy Man” when Trampas yelled out “Jim” from the bunkhouse porch. But he wasn’t calling for the Virginian, he was calling for Jim the handy man. Don’t know if that helps at all and don’t know if that is actually the answer.

      1. Hi Bobbie, just watched that episode a couple nights ago, and I wondered the same thing while I was watching. My DVR is full of shows that I want to watch, but as long as I have The Virginian recorded, that’s all I can watch.

  13. I watched some episodes of the Virginian as a child. I loved cowboys, esp James Drury & horses. Now I get to see many episodes on Insp channel. Was shocked watching this one! really thought Betsy wouldn’t get married and leave Shiloh. I cried at the wedding scene felt so bad for Judge Garth and Randy.

  14. Why have they taken the Show off INSP…although I’m glad I can still catch it on starz but miss the time slots it was on with INSP … and was glad starz started with season 1

    1. Hi Duane: A message from INSP: At INSP, we know how much our viewers love Westerns. In particular, it has been exciting to see the enthusiasm for “The Virginian.” But it was a great disappointment when the company that owns this series informed us that they had sold the rights to another network. We never had the opportunity to try to get them to reconsider. We just didn’t have a choice. In our commitment to you and the many fans of our Westerns, we were pleased to be able to secure the rights to air a companion series: “The Virginian: The Men from Shiloh.” We hope that you will enjoy this series, and all the other great Western entertainment we provide. Thanks again for your comments. We really are trying to provide the programs you want.

      1. PGreen, I love your network, and I really appreciate your desire to provide the programs that you do provide. I believe your sincerity in your response to Duane. I am hoping that I will be able to intend to try and go to Audie Murphy, Ok. next May to meet and greet the stars of The Virginian, including but now limited to , James Drury.
        Thank you,
        Darrel Melton

      2. I started watching (DVRing) The Virginian on INSP in late 2018 and up to now (18Feb 2019). Just a couple days ago watched The Awakening and Betsy’s wedding. We loved Roberta Shore’s character Betsy.. looked upon her as though she could be a beautiful sweet grand daughter, lol. Most certainly sad that she left the show. We’re anxious to continue with INSP and view the chronological order currently being shown… two episodes daily including weekends. This is a wonderful show. BTW.. Insp has also brought us most all of the Gunsmoke episodes and post series movies too. A great tv channel!

  15. Like everyone else I miss the Virginian, hope you will be able to air the show again. I watch men from Shiloh,not enough of Mr. Drury.

  16. Just saw this last night…..it was a surprisingly good episode–I thought it would be a little slow….but it was interesting, still timely, and a little sad.

  17. I guess I took Betsy for granted, because once Mrs. Shore left the show I realized how much I missed her. However I was glad to hear she left on her own terms and for a good reason

      1. Thank you so very much! The song “Tomorrow” gives me chills it’s so beautiful!!!

  18. For several years, and hopefully for many more years, the cast , including James Drury have been attending the Cowboy Way May Fest-celebrating everything cowboy. It is a 4-5 day fest full of activities, this past May, it was held in Ardmore, Ok. Here is the link, http://www.cowboywayfest.com/ . Location : Held at the Market Place on Broadway,
    106 E. Broadway Street, Ardmore, OK 73401
    Cowboy Way Jubilee!
    May 2, 3, 4, & 5, 2019!
    I wanted to go this year, but I will go next year.

    Darrell Melton

  19. Good to hear Betsy (Roberta Shore) was as sweet off camera as she was on the show. A very classy lady and to learn that was who she really was is good to know. I see her age and she’s year older than I am. I started watching it again last year on the Western Channel and seeing some of the stars of the show has passed away is sad also.

  20. We watch The Virginian all the time. It’s our favorite program. Today was the first time to see The Awakening. I’m sure glad I had read recently that Betsy got married, and left the show. It was disappointing enough even though I knew ahead of time. The Virginian is one of a kind for sure. I’m also glad to know Mr. Drury is alive so he can see how much he is admired and how much The Virginian is loved. Thank you for airing it.

  21. I really did not like “The Virginian” growing up. It kinda creeped me out as a kid, but now I am watching al the episodes on DVR and I love it. Maybe I was just a strange kid. LOL

  22. The Show was never the same after she left – even though they beefed up the roles of the other main characters after Lee left.The episodes after Roberta and Lee were still watched by the faithful fan base.The Trampas and Virginian episodes were my favorites. Trampas was a fast gun – and I loved it when he was challenged in a gunfight to prove it.

  23. I’m new here and didn’t find a reply arrow on your question, Darrel. I totally agree with you about Trampas on Men From Shiloh! What happened to the young man who could “make a six gun jump like a fist full of diamonds?” Except for the crazy emphasis on the quick draw, this episode and “Hannah” were the only two I found that were true to the character of Trampas from the other seasons. The way I enjoyed the other MFS Trampas episodes was just to appreciate Doug McClure’s comedic talents.

    1. I agree with bobbie’s comments Darrel. The Trampas episodes on MFS were a big disappointment for me. They just discarded eight seasons of character building and started from scratch. You would think Doug McClure would have had some feedback into the continuity of his character.

      1. The entire season 9 was a sad disappointment, I appreciate you and Bobbie responding to me. I continue to watch the first 8 seasons, season 9, not so much. Doug was the breakout star of the series, and I loved Trampas, and though it is sad that he passed away, I enjoy watching because it is the only way to keep him alive.

  24. I can understand why Betsy quit the show and settled down. She is my favorite . The man who.married her was blessed.
    Glen. Kennedy
    Mayfield KY.

  25. I watched “The Awakening” for the first time tonight. I kept waiting for something to happen to mess up the wedding. Surely they weren’t going to actually get married and live happily ever after. No way. If I had done more research on the show…which I do for almost every show I am interested in…I would have known this was for real. I figured Betsy’s fiancee would be shot or something right before or after the wedding. In fact…even as their carriage was riding off at the end I was STILL waiting for something bad to happen, I didn’t realize that would be Betsy’s last appearance on the show.

    I love the show. That episode was truly the end of a glorious era of the show. It was still good afterwards ..just not the same…but still good. It was just so surprising to see the wedding actually happen.

  26. If this is a repeat comment I apologize. This wordpress thing didn’t appear to post my previous comment. I was shocked and surprised that this wedding actually happened. I kept waiting for Betsy’s fiancee to be shot or something. Right up until the wedding carriage rolled out at the end I STILL thought something bad would happen. Great show. Not as good after Lee J. Cobb and Roberta Shore left…but still good.

  27. Does anyone know what the song is called that Randy is singing in the bunkhouse while Betsy looks out her bedroom window? I have searched so much and can’t find the answer…

    1. I don’t know if it is “wandering, wondering” or just “wondering, wondering” – something like that because he’s wondering if he’ll ever see his home again. I don’t know if you can find that song on the net. Anyone else have an idea?

      1. gary, I just looked up “wanderin’, wonderin'” – that’s the name of the song. It says Randy Boone composed it and also recorded it on a 45 and a Decca LP called “Ramblin’ Randy” – I looked for it for sale and couldn’t find it, but maybe you could.

  28. Sorry to hog this conversation, but, Gary, if you were wanting the recording, you might try discogs.com – I saw the LP there but I’m not a registered user so I couldn’t “try” to purchase it.

  29. I loved the Virginian as a young girl and I was so excited to see it available on Starz. I absolutely adored James Drury. The list of guest stars is absolutely amazing! Even Bette Davis starred in one episode. Westerns rule!

    1. I agree Annette, I was for sure going to make it to the Cowboy Way Fest this year, just to get to shake the hand of the great James Drury, He recently passed away.

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