“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).

53 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. 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!!!

    1. 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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

    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.

  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

  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

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