Happy 55th Birthday to “The Virginian.”

An early publicity photo from 1962 featuring the original cast. Left to right: James Drury, Doug McClure, Pippa Scott, Gary Clarke, Roberta Shore and Lee J. Cobb.

“The Virginian” is 55 today. It was first broadcast on NBC September 19, 1962 where it was promoted as the first 90 minute TV Western (length before adverts approx. 74 min.). A testament to its lasting quality is the fact the show is still in syndication today.

Doug McClure Original Art For Sale

Allen D. Hiott recently contacted me with the following information:

Dougart1Doug McClure singed an original water color of himself on horseback with the Mesa Verde Mountains in the background and gave to my dad Ben Young who was friends with Doug. My dad did some construction work on Doug’s home in California back in 1991 which is the date he signed and gave to my dad on the back of the painting. My dad was also a small time actor back then and he became friends with Doug and his wife Diane. I can only assume that this water color was a gift between friends at that time. The front of the painting also has his signature dated 1988. I would love for someone that is a collector in the western art world to possibly buy it. dougartback

My dad passed away in 2010 and I required the painting at that point in time.

If anyone is interested in purchasing this original art from Allen please e-mail him at Allen.D.Hiott@Williams.com

“Barbary Coast” starring Doug McClure being released as a 4-disc set this June

285185RLJ Entertainment are preparing a June 3rd release of Barbary Coast on DVD! This 4-disc set with English subtitles will be priced at $59.99 SRP. The short-lived series from 1975 had 14 episodes, which included appearances by Michael Ansara, Lynda Day George, John Vernon, Bill Bixby, Pat Hingle, Lance LeGault, James Cromwell, Marcy Lafferty (Shatner’s wife at the time), Joan Van Ark, William Daniels, Francine York, Martin E. Brooks, Joseph Campanella, Tige Andrews, Severn Darden, Gretchen Corbett, Bernard Fox, John Dehner, and Judy Strangis. Package art isn’t available yet, but here’s the studio description of the title:

Golden Globe winner William Shatner (Star Trek, Boston Legal) is Jeff Cable, an undercover agent patrolling the wild streets of 1880s San Francisco. Filled with casinos and saloons, this bustling slice of post-Gold Rush California runs on corruption, greed, and violence. And it’s Agent Cable’s job to crack down on the numerous criminals who have made a home there. Even top public officials can’t be trusted, so Cable weaves elaborate ruses to uncover the Barbary Coast’s many plots.

He also relies on the slick but beleaguered Cash Conover (Doug McClure, The Virginian), proprietor of the Golden Gate Casino. Conover reluctantly puts his business and well-being on the line for Cable time and again. The charismatic pair often find the cards stacked against them, but that doesn’t stop them from having a rollicking good time as they police a town mired in vigilante justice. Also starring Richard Kiel (The Spy Who Loved Me), this Emmy-nominated series is a playful take on traditional Westerns with a terrific cast.

The Barbary Coast starring Doug McClure and William Shatner

Pre-dating The Quest by one year was another failed TV Western series featuring a star of The VirginianBarbary Coast (1975) was set among San Francisco’s Barbary Coast in the 1880s. Doug McClure played casino owner Cash Conover, friend to undercover federal agent and master of disguise Jeff Cable (William Shatner).

Unlike Matheson and Russell who complimented each other on The Quest Doug McClure and William Shatner lacked chemistry and the show soon found itself losing viewers. A clumsy mix of The Wild Wild West and Mission Impossible, Barbary Coast was yet another victim of early cancellation with only 14 episodes completed.

Doug McClure & Michael Landon Friendship

ffb3395f970ec7a71524d77e5b6c218dIt might not be common knowledge but Doug McClure and Michael Landon were good friends dating back to their early days on The Virginian and Bonanza. Both were born within a year of each other and receiving their big breaks on TV Westerns. Landon spoke affectionately of Doug McClure in the late 1980s and Doug returned the favor in an interview in 1990.

“Doug has always been one of the really nice people in the business. He was always like a kid,” Landon told freelance writer Tom Ito.

Doug told Ito, “The spirit of our friendship during those early years, I think, was the living of our dreams… there was a sense of friendly competition in the way that we were trying to do the best we could being Little Joe or Trampas.”

Sadly they would both succumb to cancer at a relatively young age. Micheal Landon in 1991 and Doug McClure in 1995.

As I was writing this post I learned of the death of Bonanza creator and producer David Dortort on September 5 at the age of 93.

Quotes are from Conversations With Michael Landon by Tom Ito. Copyright Contemporary Books, Chicago 1995.

Doug McClure in Recording Studio

Diana Blair kindly sent me this photograph of herself recording a duet with Doug McClure.  The song “One Too Many Times” was written by Diana and can be found on her compilation CD that can be ordered direct from Diana for $15.00 plus $5.00 shipping and handling at gem4song@yahoo.com

Tracks [12]: One Too Many Times (duet with Doug McClure), I’m Pretending, I’m the Girl. Happy (duet with Jim Dale), Look At Me Now, Do I Hafta Say Please?, Lucky For Me, Out in the Parking Lot, Telephone Blues, Angel, Ole Cowboy We Miss You (with Aaron Mesa)

Please contact Diana for further details.