“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.
“The Virginian” Shiloh Ranch owners Lee J. Cobb and Charles Bickford both starred with Jennifer Jones in “The Song of Bernadette” (1943). Following news of Bickford’s death in 1967 Jennifer Jones attempted suicide. He was her mentor and his death added to her already fragile mental state at the time. Full details in my biography of Jennifer Jones.
During my research for my latest book Jennifer Jones : The Life and Films I came across a sad connection between Jennifer Jones and Charles Bickford who was working on The Virginian at the time.
Jones viewed Bickford as a close friend having worked with him on The Song of Bernadette (1943) and Duel in the Sun (1946). When news of his death reached Jones on November 9, 1967 she took an overdose shortly afterwards and came with seconds of death on the Malibu coast overlooking Santa Monica Bay. I tell the full story in my book. Jones was still recovering in hospital from her near fatal suicide attempt when Bickford was cremated on Friday, November 10, 1967. There was no formal funeral service.
Jones also worked with another future Virginian actor on The Song of Bernadette – Lee J. Cobb.