“A History of Television’s The Virginian” Book Reviews

James Drury – The Virginian
“I really enjoyed your book. It is comprehensive and a valuable resource for anyone interested in studying The Virginian.”

Frank Price – Executive Producer
“I am very impressed with it. You did a great job of research on The Virginian and it is certainly apparent in the book. It is a work that reflects your high standards.”

Joel Rogosin – ‘The Virginian’ producer, writer & director
“I’m pleased to have added your wonderfully detailed and nostalgic book to my shelves. Congratulations on this remarkable effort! I’m having a great time leafing through it. All in all, what a treat!”

Randy Boone – Randy Benton
“In my humble opinion the book was very interesting and very well written. I was fascinated. Thank you for writing the book.”

Sara Lane – Elizabeth Grainger
“My husband is reading the book avidly and loving it. It’s a wonderful book.”

Freerein UK Summer 2008
“For those of you you who were fans of the programme, the book is an essential read but it also has a broader appeal for anyone interested in TV Westerns of that era.
…Green’s information came primarily from interviews with Frank Price, executive producer for a number of seasons, and the actors James Drury, Gary Clarke, Roberta Shore, Randy Boone, Sara Lane and Pippa Scott, which provide personal stories and candid, often humorous insights.” – Jane Lake.

Western Clippings 11/11/06
“If you care one whit about TV westerns, Paul Green’s A HISTORY OF TELEVISION’S ‘THE VIRGINIAN’ 1962-1971 is a magnificent must for you. No book yet written on a single western TV series (except for the Barabas book on Gunsmoke) comes close to approaching the scope and depth of Green’s treatise on The Virginian. Throughout its nine year run, The Virginian maintained quality production values, hiring only the best acting talent. Green’s history of the series takes us from Owen Wister’s 1902 novel to the failed ’57 Screen Gems pilot with James Drury on through the entire nine years of the 90 min. series documenting its 249 episodes with personal interviews of actors, creative personnel, producers, writers, directors etc. (including bios on all as well). Only Gunsmoke and Bonanza had longer runs on TV, yet The Virginian has had relatively little written about it. Green’s book remedies that, creating a full bodied history of an excellent series. Green’s research and writing receives WC’s (Western Clippings) highest praise.”

Wrangler’s Roost
“Fans of television westerns in general and The Virginian in particular will not find a better book than this on the subject. This hardcover really is a must have.”

Western Mail –  Feb. 2007 – Berlin, Germany
“Here the writer shows in a highly informative way every imaginable aspect of the very popular TV show, that made number 10 in the USA Nielsen Ratings in 1966-67 and could also be repeatedly found in the top 20.
The Hollywood productions were analyzed, the characters explained, the main actors and cast members introduced and every single episode talked over and listed in filmographical respects.”
[Translated from original German text by Regina Urban]


146 thoughts on ““A History of Television’s The Virginian” Book Reviews”

  1. I don’t think the author had a very positive opinion of Clu. He was the best actor in the series. H is dynamic, handsome and very talented.What more do you need? He may be hard to understand sometimes but we have a way to go back on the film to play it again. Lets hear it for Clu!

    1. Hello Mary: I gave Clu Gulager the opportunity to talk with me for my book but he never responded. Gary Clarke, Roberta Shore, James Drury, Randy Boone and Sara Lane were all happy to talk with me and speak of their own experiences.

      My chapter on Clu was therefore dependent of other people’s opinions of Clu Gulager. Frank Price knew him as well as anyone and spoke truthfully. I have a high opinion and positive opinion of Mr. Gulager’s acting earlier in his career but admit I’m not a fan of his later work in horror films. The sight of him sawing off a person’s head wasn’t a highlight of his career. His work on class films such as The Last Picture Show was. Likewise Doug McClure gravitated to horror films later in his career and tarnished his reputation to an extent.
      I think The Virginian is an ensemble piece and any actor cannot be singled out as the best. Clu Gulager is excellent. So are Doug McClure and James Drury.

  2. Hi, Paul,

    I’d just wondered whether you’d given Clu Gulager another opportunity to talk with you since your book has been published. Perhaps he might be more willing to record his thoughts with you now that he can see the book is published. He’s also talked to Timeless Media for their DVD reissue so he might be more approachable. Just a thought. I would find it interesting to hear his version of the contract dispute!

    Regards, Tony

    1. I approached him twice before my book was published Tony. I don’t usually chase after people if they express no desire to talk. I have to respect their privacy.

    2. Hi Tony, What happened with Clu’s labor dispute.? I am a late comer to The Virginian series. It shows 5 times per week on Encore Western station. I also bought the series copied in China via the internet.

      1. I thought you’d read my book Mary given your comments in your first post. I talk about the contract dispute in my book. Why did you say I didn’t have a positive opinion about Clu Gulager? Based on what?

        Glad you’re enjoying “The Virginian” anyway. 🙂

    1. You can purchase my book direct from my publisher McFarland and Co. or from Amazon or any online bookstore Ed. The McFarland link is on this site under Author Books.

  3. I did buy your book, but haven’t read all of it. I felt that the way you presented info re: Clu more or less branded him a failure. Did you need to comment about him cutting of someone’s head in a movie? I have viewed some of his movies after he left the Virginian and they didn’t appeal to me. I guess Clu doesn’t really care what anyone thinks about him.

    1. I mentioned that scene because that is a film that has made Clu Gulager a cult figure among horror film fans Mary. I think it’s of interest to Virginian fans to be aware of an actor’s post-Virginian career. I also mention his many good roles. I think he was an outstanding actor in his early career but I’m not a fan of his horror films. That’s a personal opinion.
      I talk about everyone’s post-Virginian careers in my book and have no agenda against Clu Gulager. He certainly isn’t a failure. He’s been in constant employment as an actor.

    1. Hi Mary: It’s pronounced Goo-la-ger. This is how Clu refers to himself in filmed interviews. A lady from a radio station in DC phoned me recently asking the same question. She hung up before I could find out why she asked the question.

  4. Clu is certainly an interesting person. On his web site I noted a picture of him in his white suit and hat with two other persons giving the “finger”.Interesting! I prefer to remember him as Ryker.

  5. In San Diego, Calif. The Virginian series has started all over again this week. It is interesting. to see all the actors much younger looking. My China DVDs of The Virginian are very pool quality and many of then have no sound. I guess you get what you pay for.

  6. Psychotronic.com has a seven page article on Clu telling of his life and achievements.So many of his web sites don’t contain much info.

  7. Have your book on order. Wife and I met up w/Drury at the Reno Western Fair this past Sept. Delightful !!Got great pics. Ordered all episodes from an online outfit recommended by Best Buy. Didn’t realize they were from China. Horrible quality. My credit card company did a charge back after I filed an official complaint. Notice to all. Don’t accept garbage…Where was the Shilo Ranch set located, and where was most of the filming done. We now record the show daily on the Western channel. Ar there any good quality DVD’s available ??

    1. Hi Joe: Sorry to hear about your experiences with the DVD. Beware of bootlegs. I have no idea why someone at Best Buy should recommend illegal DVDs in the first place. The official release of the first season is available from Amazon. I have full details on this blog.
      Shiloh Ranch was located on the Universal Studios backlot. Frank Price talks about the Shiloh Ranch location in detail in my book plus details of the various locations used in the show. These included various southern California ranches such as Iversons etc.

  8. I bought a China Virginian Series.on line. I complained in an e-mail and the company sent me back half the amount of money I paid. I bought a better DVD player and I get all the video but about a third of the audio is missing. I still get a lot of enjoyment watching

  9. Encore western TV channel has replaced Cheyenne with How the West was Won here in San Diego. This makes me wonder if they might replace the Virginian with another show sometime down the road? I hope not! Do you have any information about why it is taking so long for the other Virginian DVD sets to be available?

  10. Season Two has been released on DVD Mary. It’s a slow process. I wish I knew more but Timeless haven’t been co-operative when I’ve asked questions in the past.
    Yes The Virginian will eventually be replaced on Encore when the license to show episodes runs out. No idea when that will be.

    1. Season 3 DVD release has been announced for March.

      Actually, since they started releasing the Virginian DVD’s they’ve kept up a pretty good pace. My only hope is that it doesn’t peter out somewhere down the line and they give up before releasing the whole series. That’s happened to other shows.

  11. Is there any way fans of The Virginian can communicate with the owners of the series to show that a large number off people watch the shows on Encore TV and are willing to buy the whole series?

  12. Timeless Media own the rights to distribute The Virginian on DVD Mary. They’re releasing the seasons over time. Hopefully this will continue but it will be based on sales figures. The early seasons of most shows are more popular than the final seasons. This can result in the later seasons not being released. Only time will tell.

    1. Loved the book so much I have a print copy and Kindle version. Do you know why the ninth season (Men From Shiloh)is not linked to the first eight seasons on Encore and Inspiration channels.

      1. Thanks Bill. Regarding your question – I don’t have a definitive answer as “Men From Shiloh” was included in “The Virginian” syndication package when broadcast in Ireland a few years ago. My guess is the U.S. syndicators haven’t include MFS because they view it as a separate series. But as you know from my book, the production numbers continue from “The Virginian” season 8 into MFS – which is season 9. The producers of MFS have confirmed this to me as well. It’s unfortunate that MFS isn’t being shown – and very frustrating for fans.

  13. The Complete 3rd Virginian Series on DVD will be released on 3-15-11. I am interested in obtaining the 3rd, 4th, and 5th years. I think those were the best. FYI

  14. My son in law just set up Tivo so I can record all of The Virginian Series on the TV and watch them when ever I want to. Save the episodes you want and erase the others. Not very expensive and better then the China DVDs and cheaper then buying the authorized DVDs

  15. I first met randy boone in 1958 when he was over to my pastor’s house(reverent charles monroe) I use to hang out with his son. chuck monroe. since they were related. his mother was a sister of my pastors wife. so he was visiting he was so nice to talk to. since we both played guitar he showed me a run on the guitar. I think it was honky tonk. I really would like to talk to him again.

    1. Hi Jesse: Randy appears frequently at reunion conventions so you should be able to contact him through the organizers if you can’t attend in person.

  16. My husband and I just watched The Brothers. My husband said he heard that the brother who killed the guard had to serve 10 years. I didn’t hear that. Who was right?

  17. Interesting that in “Star Crossed” the hanging was to be in town but In “The Brothers” the older brother was taken away to be hanged. Guess they had a new director I remember in your book you commented about that.

    The writers were definitely the unsung hero’s!

    1. If they wanted to explain away the discrepancy, the murder in the Brothers was a federal crime, since it was a soldier that was killed. So it would be reasonable that he could be taken elsewhere for the hanging.

  18. If so then the feds should have taken the prisoner away from Ryker. The prisoner was tried by the local judge and found guilty

  19. Technically you may be correct Mary. But scripted shows often contain factual errors. Let’s call it artistic license. 🙂

  20. In your book you mentioned the need for Sara Lane to have a “modified bra” while riding a horse. I think in the late 1800’s that the ladies didn’t have cone shaped bosoms such a we see on all the ladies in the Virginian. Also I doubt the the ladies had false eyelashes. Those also come under the category of artistic license I suppose, and they certainly enhance the ladies beauty
    The 4th year of The Virginian DVD’s comes out mid May. Amazon gives a discount if ordered early.

    1. The Virginian was more historically accurate than many TV Westerns of the 1960s. I’m not an expert on female bra’s so I’ll pass on if they’re accurate to the late 1800s Mary. I think the majority of women wore corsets from this era.

    1. Yes Mary. that is the original Medicine Bow that author Owen Wister referred to in his novel “The Virginian.” There’s a photo of it in the first chapter of my book.
      Wister spent some time there. The Medicine Bow in the TV series resembles the real-life Medicine Bow in name only as it’s just a back lot at Universal Studios.

    2. The main building in the town of Medicine Bow is the Virginian Hotel. In the hotel there’s an “Owen Wister Dining Room.” Also in the town, the old railway depot has been converted into a museum. The museum has stuff like old clothing and farm implements, but it also has pictures of James Drury and Doug McClure and a script from one of the episodes.

      1. Thanks Bob. I recall you visited Medicine Bow a few years back. In Owen Wister’s day no Virginian Hotel existed of course.

  21. I live in Australia, and have recently found out about your book, is it available here, or could you let me know how I can get a copy

    1. Hi Bronwyn : The best way to receive my book at the moment is through Amazon UK who are offering free shipping to Australia until May 15. Other options are various online stores in Australia who have a copy in stock or may be able to order it for you.

  22. You can also order my book from :
    DA Information Services
    648 Whitehorse Road
    Mitcham 3132
    tel +61 3 9210 7777
    fax +61 3 9210 7788
    Their website lists my book for sale on the following link

  23. I just realized today you have a Kindle edition. I have the hardcover already, but do so much travelling around, it will be nice to have the Kindle with me for reference wherever I am watching.


    1. Good idea Betty – although personally I’m still a printed book fan – I can understand the ease of keeping my ebook edition handy. 🙂

      1. A good point. For the first time last week, I had the experience of going to an author’s book reading with my bookclub. I only had the Kindle edition, so I had nothing to get signed.

      2. Yes others have mentioned this drawback about ebooks Betty. Book signings become redundant. Not great for readers, publishers or authors.

      3. A few days ago I saw Mary McDonough (Erin from “The Waltons”) in our local Barnes & Noble. A very pleasant lady with lots of fans waiting to have their books signed. I guess they’ll work out a way for authors to sign a digital ebook (much like check out at Wal-Mart etc.). But we know how slippery they are to sign at present.

  24. If you are coming to Dillwyn when Jim comes in July, I will remember to bring the hard cover for signing 🙂


  25. Seems like the Westleys had good cause to sue the Railroad for harassment in “Letter of the Law”. Maybe there were fewer law suits in the late eighteen hundreds and they were simple people

  26. How do you go about getting info or tickets or information re: the 2012 Memphis for the 50th Anniversary of The Virginian? We hope to attend.

  27. Thanks for info. My husband and I plan to attend in 2012. Does any of the other actors ever contact Clu re:attending the Festival?.

    1. In the panel discussion, James Drury himself even said to the audience, “If any of you know a way we can get Clu Gulager to come to one of these, please do so!”

  28. There have been serious attempts by the organizers to try and get Clu Gulager to attend Memphis next year but so far no luck Mary. We can only hope that will change.

  29. Not sure if it’s mentioned here but digital channel 7Mate in Australia recently finished showing the full 249 episode run of The Virginian/Men From Shiloh. It is now repeating the series from episode 1. FANTASTIC!!!

  30. PG. I am getting your book tommorow! In November of 2010 I had part of my voice box and toungue cut out to remove cancer, In the last few months I have been watching(Netflix has all the series!!) The Virginian. It has helped me much as I have fatigue. The series thus far has been quite uplifting and has given a great perspective of life.. Thank you for writing your book!

    1. Yes The Virginian is a very positive series with great moral values. Sorry to hear about your cancer Mike. I hope you’re well on your way to a full recovery. Take care and enjoy my book. 🙂

  31. I’ve made my way thru your book and am still curious about what the various actors salaries were in The Virginian?

    1. Only Sara Lane discussed her specific salary with me Mary. Universal contract players were on fixed salaries according to experience etc. Nobody was earning a fortune like they do today and no residual fees existed. James Drury obviously negotiated better terms as he was the star of the show.

  32. I do mention Lee J. Cobb earning a large amount of money. He was the exception and I believe he was the highest paid actor on TV at the time.

  33. Wasn’t Clu gone from The Virginian for awhile due to salary disputes also? I wish I had been aware of The Virginian TV show the first time around!!! I was busy getting an education!

  34. Clu Gulager was involved in a contractual dispute Mary. Filming a weekly 75 minute TV show would have been very stressful over a long period of time so it isn’t surprising certain actors wanted better terms.

  35. Hello! I wanted to add that James Drury played a large role on an episode of Cheyenne in Season 3 called the “Imposter”. At the end he winds up the owner of a ranch. However for a part of it he was a foreman like he was on Shiloh.

  36. I’m glad to see The Virginian Series has started all over again today or Encore TV. I’ve been buying the DVD collection of each year about every 3 months from Amazon but haven’t heard anything about the 5th series.

  37. Paul, it is strange. Also interesting that while Amazon has the two series listed, TMG is yet to update its own site. Hope Amazon is right as earlier this year they had Blu-Ray editions of several seasons of The Virginian listed as coming soon, but removed the listings after a few weeks.

  38. The tvshowsondvd.com website says that is indeed the reason they’re issuing “Men From Shiloh” at this time; because it hasn’t been shown on Encore and the fans are clamoring for it.

  39. Makes sense Bob. Although for those who haven’t seen “The Men From Shiloh” or are only watching “The Virginian” on DVD – going from season four or five to season nine will be a big shock to the system.

  40. Paul is certainly right! The final season is radically different although in its own way endearing. I always liked Stewart Granger. The weakest part of the final season for me was the number of episodes which revolved around only one of the core characters. The ‘comraderie’ aspect of earlier series was often lost as a result.

  41. Totally agree Nigel. I know some find Stewart Granger a little aloof and cold in his manner but I happen to like him. Three factors spoilt the season for me. The lack of interplay between the characters, Trampas’ new outfit and a general dumbing down of his character in some episodes. James Drury episodes were among the best.

  42. I was absolutely thrilled when I accidently saw “the virginian” on oncore. I love westerns & have read over 100 of louis lamoure books. they are feel good books! I enjoyed the time in the u.s.a. 1930’s & 40’s’. people were very close & built poches in front of their homes instead of decks in the backyard with fences. this is the feeling i get watching this series.i’ve spent hours to find a website to tell me the walze they play at the saturday night dance, it’s played more often than any other song. one show “duel at shilo” with gary clark & brian keith whistling it.a beautiful song.thank you. bill s. in north weymouth,massachusetts 02191

    1. Hello William : John Williams of Star Wars, Superman and Harry Potter fame composed these themes, including the dance music which was originally composed for a Wagon Train episode. They are listed in more detail in my book.

  43. I just wrote Encore asking them to play new shows of VIRGINIAN, Wanted:Dead or Alive; The Rebel, & other tv westerns that all of us cowboy fans loved. Have met Drury, Boone, Clark & Shore at film festivals. All very gracious people.
    How old was Roberta when she started on the series? I found her superior to the other females.
    I called it a tie between Gary & Don Quine as far as acting went.
    I have nothing to do with the Memphis Festival but will add for the 2010 & 2011 festivals there were about 18 former cast members from various tv westerns there & the lineup for 2012 looks about the same. They scored a home run in 2010 by getting Clint Walker to show up.

  44. As a writer, “The Virginian” helped give me my start. And still writing after all these years I’m not sure whether to thank the producers or not. I do recall, however, with much pride and joy, meeting with the Producer and pitching my story. And more important his telling me he liked it, and asking the name of my agent. It was a different day. Like the o’ west…a better day. gerald sanford

  45. Mr Green

    Just bought the Kindle edition of your book and I’m looking forward to it. Although I am relatively new to the Virginian (just began to watch it at age 51) I remember when it was in first run on television in the 60s. I am a long time fan of television Western series (i.e. The Big Valley, The High Chaparral, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Iron Horse, etc.)

    Thanks for writing this book and I’m looking forward to reading it.


    1. Hope you enjoy reading it Steven. It includes many first hand accounts based on my personal interviews of the cast and producers. Better late than never when it comes to watching The Virginian. 🙂

  46. I will be purchasing the book, however I’m curious about the Katherine Crawford/James Drury friction on the set of the Virginian. What was that about?? Did they not like each other? How did Doug McClure and Ms. Crawford get along? I’ve always enjoyed McClure and liked him on the ‘Checkmate” t.v. series as well.

  47. I’m currently reading the book and enjoying it. But I feel compelled to comment on two issues regarding statements made by Frank Price. First is his comment stating that John McIntire was “miscast” as the head of Shiloh ranch, and that he “lacked authority comparing to his predecessors”; also “they compounded the mistake by putting his wife, Jeanette Nolan, in Shiloh ranch. The lack of an adult female was an essential part of the underlying psychology of our show. It created tension that worked for us with the women’s audience.” I disagree wholeheartedly with Mr. Price. First, John McIntire was wonderful as wagon master on “Wagon Train”; he brought believable authority as well as compassion to that role with a softness very different than his predecessor, Ward Bond. But it worked. I felt he brought those same qualities to “The Virginian”; I had no problems accepting him as head of Shiloh. And, as a woman, I welcomed Jeanette Nolan as Clay Grainger’s wife. Together they created a family atmosphere at Shiloh that I enjoyed watching. The show was in it’s sixth season and was ready for a change. The episodes with Clay & Holly Grainger are some of my favorites. I’ll write about my second disagreement (so far) with Mr. Price in a separate post.

    1. Hi Ruthie – As creator of the original TV format for The Virginian and executive producer of three seasons in total I have to respect Frank Price’s professional opinion of McIntire and Nolan’s characters. I personally didn’t care for John McIntire on “Wagon Train.” Although Ward Bond was a tough act to follow for anyone. He was okay in “The Virginian” but I never cared for Holly Grainger. But that’s my opinion and I know Holly has her fans.

  48. The second issue I strongly disagree with regarding Frank Price’s comments have to do with the episode, “A Flash of Blindness” (8:02), where the Virginian loses his eyesight. Mr. Price says, “The story could be faulted for eroding the strength of character that the Virginian displayed throughout the seven previous seasons. His vulnerability, exposed through blindness, veered toward helplessness as the Virginian stumbled, like a lost child, through the countryside. In marked contrast, a blind Elizabeth Grainger displayed a greater sense of calm in the previous season’s “Vision of Blindness.” I can’t tell you how much I disagree with that assessment! First of all, Elizabeth was not alone during her journey back home; she had John Saxon’s character there to guide her, feed her, tell her what was going on around her. When she first thought he was going to abandon her there alone, she did panic and begged him not to leave her, offering him money to take her home. She was helpless without him and said as much. That aspect greatly differentiates the two storylines. In “A Flash of Blindness”, the Virginian is left alone to wander in unknown country. There is a major difference between being guided by someone and being alone when your vision is suddenly taken from you. Yes, he was very vulnerable, but he certainly wasn’t helpless, using his sense of hearing to kill a rattlesnake before it attacked him. How helpless is that? In no way did that episode “erode the strength of character the Virginian displayed throughout the seven previous seasons”; it portrayed a brave man with human susceptibilities . Regarding the comment, “Elizabeth Grainger displayed a greater sense of calm”, the Virginian did display a great sense of calm when he was in the cabin and the young woman was taking care of him, much like Elizabeth was taken care of by John Saxon’s character. This is one of my very favorite episodes, as it shows that all men are vulnerable and how one man saves himself when at his most vulnerable. It also illustrates the closeness between the Virginian and Trampas, as Trampas would not give up searching for him, and how the Virginian was so relieved to hear Trampas’ voice. This brings to mind another episode where a young cowboy is pointing a gun at the Virginian, and the Virginian admits to being scared. Being scared does not “erode strength of character”; it’s a basic human emotion. It’s how you deal with that fear that shows sense of character. I feel the Virginian always handled his situation with bravery and tenacity, especially in “A Flash of Blindness”.

    1. I can sympathize with your reasoning regarding these comments Ruthie. I liked both episodes for different reasons. “A Flash of Darkness” for emphasizing the deep brotherly type bond between Trampas and the Virginian.

  49. I liked both episodes as well, but the only similarities between both episodes was that a main character was suddenly blinded. After that, the storylines were totally different, and I don’t feel they should have been compared, especially making a statement that “the story could be faulted for eroding the strength of character that the Virginian displayed throughout the seven previous seasons.” Elizabeth’s episode emphasized the relationship she developed with John Saxon’s character and how she affected him. The Virginian’s episode emphasized how he was left to survive on his own after losing his eyesight. Nothing against Mr. Price; I just feel it’s unfortunate that he views “A Flash of Blindness” in that way.

    1. I cannot let Frank Price take the blame for my comments Ruthie. I’ve re-read the comments in my book and see I made them. So blame me. “A Flash Of Blindness” isn’t a personal favorite of mine because – and please excuse me if I offend James Drury fans – it displays weaknesses in Mr. Drury’s acting. He isn’t totally convincing as a blind man. I personally found Sara Lane’s portrayal more convincing. That is my opinion. You have a different opinion Ruthie. This is what makes life interesting.

  50. That was my error, I do apologize. I don’t know why I got the impression that Frank Price made that comment. Yes, of course, you are entitled to your own opinion. And differing opinions does make for interesting interaction.

  51. Coincidentally, this episode was shown on TV this morning. I forgot about the scene where the blinded Virginian tackles a seeing man and takes his gun. Yes, we are all entitled to our opinions, but in seeing this episode again, the facts are the Virginian saves himself twice while blind, once against a rattle snake and again against a seeing man with a gun. I don’t understand how the words “helpless” can be applied to the Virginian in this episode. Vulnerable, absolutely. Helpless, no way. Sorry, Paul, I seem to be obsessing which I tend to do on occasion. I’ll stop now.

    1. Yes “vulnerable” is perhaps a more suitable word to describe the Virginian’s plight. Author’s aren’t perfect and it’s good to get feedback like this Ruthie. If there’s ever an update I’ll substitute vulnerable for helpless. 🙂

    1. I grew up watching all of these Western series Steve. They were all very popular on the BBC and ITV. I don’t understand why they are ignored today in the UK. Since moving to America I’ve been fortunate to see many classic Western shows again on cable TV over here. They are still entertaining and make a pleasant change from the numerous forensic crime shows that are popular today.

  52. Paul, was there much of a lag between episodes airing in the US and their UK showing? I was born in 1962, and The Virginian is perhaps my most powerful memory of TV viewing in the ’60s. I’m currently watching series 1 on DVD, and the episodes all seem strangely familiar – yet I would have been a small baby when they first went out in America.

    1. Hi Grant: The Virginian was first shown on BBC2 in 1964. They continued up until mid-way through season 5. Then it switched to BBC1 around 1967. BBC1 began from episode 1 – which must have been very frustrating for BBC2 viewers who now had to wait a few years for new episodes to be shown on BBC1. “Linda” from season 5 was the first new episode to be shown on BBC1. BBC broadcasts were always a few years behind the NBC broadcasts.

  53. Love The Virginian but I also loved Cimarron Strip. Thought Stuart Whitman was great in it.It did not click with viewers . What did you think
    of it. Would love to watch the Men From Shiloh one day.to compare it to the early shows.

    1. I wasn’t a big fan of “Cimarron Strip” Anthony. I watched episodes again a few years ago but have never cared for Stuart Whitman in the lead. Randy Boone was under-used compared to his work on “The Virginian.” As for “Men From Shiloh” it failed to capture the spirit of the original format, but did contain many good episodes – particularly those featuring James Drury. The Trampas episodes were uneven.

      1. Thanks for that .all down to personal taste. I well try and get your book.I see you wrote a book on Pete Duel . I thought it was a silly show. Am I wrong. I didn’t really ever get into Bonanza but loved The Virginian & Gunsmoke. A friend loved Bonanza but not The Virginan! As I have not got your book yet one question. Did Gary Clarke want to leave the show or was it the producers? And last how do you think The Virginian stands
        up against Gunsmoke. PS I did love Alias Smith and Jones when I was a
        kid. Westerns are the genre I like best. And I think the later Gunsmoke was not quite up to the standard of The Virginian. Cheers.

  54. Gary Clarke was effectively fired at the end of season two but was contracted to appear in a few episodes in season three. He had personal disputes with the people in charge and they decided it was time to let him go. Gary Clarke goes into much more detail in my book. He admitted to me that he could be his own worst enemy at this time in his life. I prefer the early b/w episodes of Gunsmoke with Dennis Weaver to the later color episodes. Arness was going through the motions in many later episodes and his character didn’t evolve. In the early episodes he came across as more fallible and human. As for Alias Smith and Jones it was a light-hearted comedy Western that was in the hands of Roy Huggins (John Thomas James). I wrote a biography of Huggins last year.

    1. I’ve brought your book finally but have not received it yet.Looking forward to getting it.Do you have any favorite episodes..I was touched by the Old Cowboy one. Also liked Showdown which was right after.Don’t always enjoy the light / funny Doug McClure episodes as much, although I like Trampas and prefer him in a good dramatic one. I think most fans of his would disagree !

  55. Got the book really enjoying it. Amazing the producer felt he had to let Gary Clark go because he was no good to him after he sided with Drury.Do you think Randy was a little bit bitter.What did you think of his comments that Bonanza was more realistic (Gun Holsters etc) and Cimarron Strip was better because they went out on far away locations more.Are you sure you can’t name 2 great episodes you would recommend .Anyway great book may get the Pete Duel one sometime.

  56. Randy Boone sent me a handwritten letter after he read my book saying he had a greater appreciation of The Virginian after reading how much effort went into the episodes. I don’t think anybody likes being let go from a show but Frank Price hired him originally and in Season 5 felt the show needed a change of direction. I personally don’t think Bonanza was more realistic and I wasn’t a fan of Cimarron Strip. Glad you’re enjoying my book. If you buy my Pete Duel biography be sure to buy the updated 2nd edition. It includes an interview with Sara Lane where she talks about the two Virginian episodes Peter Deuel starred in. James Drury also contributed.
    Two episodes to recommend? “Ride A Dark Trail” features the backstory of Trampas and “The Drifter” tells how the Virginian came to Shiloh.

    1. Were you always a Pete Duel fan. I liked him as a kid remember watching him in something about stealing a plane.Saw recently the episode Price Of Love of the Virginian. He was good. I always wished somebody would right a book on James Stacy. What a story but I know his reputation was blackened later on. Watching Season 4 of the Virginian half way though not that bad And also into season 9 of Gunsmoke. For a TV show early sixties does a good job of showing how grim and violent the west was(I presume it was!).Watched a couple Of Men From Shiloh, boy did they try and copy the Italian flicks. Thought Doug McClure didn’t come across nearly as well as when he was younger.Looking forward to season 5 of the Virginian as I think in your book Mr Drury said that was his best liked period of the show.

  57. I got to appreciate Pete Duel’s work as I watched him in a greater variety of roles. So sad that he died so young. Just watched “Last Grave at Socorro Creek” tonight from the 7th season. One of James Drury’s best episodes with a great Bernard Herrmann music score. I know you’ll like it. Fills in some of his back story.

  58. At the beginning of season 7 I thought James Drury had put on a bit of weight did you notice and ever ask him if he had a issue with keeping trim. I read he had to lose a few pounds before the show began in your book.Nothing against Don but I found it hard to warm to Stacy’s persona in the show.Did you like David Hartman? I thought Robert Lansing was very good in guest spots in westerns.Finally I do not agree
    with Mr Price ,I thought Sara lane was great. i now think the Virginian was the best TV western & Pete Duel was great in those 2 episodes.

    1. H Antony: Yes James Drury did get heavier as the seasons progressed. I never asked him about it though but as you say Jim Drury did refer to a weight issue in my interview with him. I noticed that Doug McClure also gained a little weight compared to earlier seasons. Regarding Stacy’s persona his character was meant to have a rough edge to him. He was at his warmest in interactions with Elizabeth. David Hartman wasn’t a perfect fit for The Virginian but some of his comedy episodes with Doug worked well. Yes I also liked Robert Lansing episodes. He was an intense actor. Sara Lane is a warm person on screen and in real life. She will always be compared to Roberta Shore of course which is a hard act to follow. Frank Price set very high standards for himself and was responsible for the new Grainger family at Shiloh Ranch. Season 5 was a great success and the highest rated of all the seasons.

  59. Hi Paul: I think they both slimmed back down! Last Grave At Socorro Creek was rather good.I’am into season 8 now only 5 left to go.Some favorites have been Family Man, Train Of Darkness (better Done than Tarantino) & Time Of Terror. I have enjoyed the John McIntire era .Have seen a lot of The Men From Shiloh and agree Drurys were the best but why did they take away the family feeling of the show that had served it so well.I used to like Lancer & The Outcasts. What did you think of those shows. Would love to get Outcasts on DVD but don’t think its available do you know if it is?

  60. Wonder how many people know that the entire series is available on the STARZ cable channel through their on demand programming and their app for devices like Roku and Chromecast.

    I am in the midst of season 3, episode 13.

    I have a couple of questions I want to ask; an observation or two I would like to share; and a bit of commentary I would like to pass on…

    First I have to admit, I have not read your book; I will order it, and I am sure my questions might be answered….but I am impatient.

    Why was Gary Clarke written out of the show?

    I understand that in episodic productions various characters are given story arch time with an absence of other main characters on occasion…but why were there so few episodes with all the main characters together?

    James Drury claims there are 296 episodes; I am sure he has evidenced this by royalties, hell maybe even paycheck stubs (per episode). As I said STARZ has the entire series on demand with a total count of 238 episodes (including season 9 TMFS). Wikipedia says there are 249 episodes…..so where are the lost 58 episodes?

    Was there a “series finale” episode; or did the show just not get renewed?

    James Drury originated the character in a one off episode built into the “Decision” series in 1958; I cannot seem to find that video online anywhere. I have seen a clip; but do you know of a link to watch the full episode?

    An observation….there must have been very few ranches to film at, since they used the same 4 or 5 ranches and House fronts throughout the entire series. The same could be said of repurposed locations in town with saloon and business names changed to reflect different towns….

    An observation….they used the same actors to play numerous characters over the series arc, to a point of monotony at times; I wonder why they didn’t use a greater pool of talent to keep the faces fresh.

    Clu Gulager….. his portrayal of the deaf / mute in the episode “Run Quiet” was outstanding; and I thought Emmy worthy for its time. When I watched that episode I had no idea that a season later he would be brought back as a recurring character; which spoiled my appreciation of the earlier role. I like you never had much appreciation for his work in later years. He always played a villain or an incompetent…but that role showed his range.

    I may return as I binge my way through the entire series; and I look forward to reading your book.


    1. Hi Wayne

      My book answers many of your questions including why Gary Clarke left the show. He explains in great detail why he left. As to why there were so few episodes involving all the leads together – the 9 day shooting schedule per 75 minute episode meant that there were multiple episodes being filmed at once. Hence different stars in different episodes.
      James Drury is wrong regarding the number of episodes. My book includes a complete episode guide to all nine seasons. There are no lost episodes.
      There wasn’t a series finale. The intention was to continue Men From Shiloh into more seasons. But NBC canceled the show.
      The Decision pilot isn’t available online.
      My book has a chapter on locations and specific sets used. That will answer all your questions.
      Universal had a contract policy at work so you see the same actors simply because they are under contract to Universal.
      Clu Gulager is better known to younger viewers for his horror movies. I agree, his early work is much better. He was also in a ‘Laramie’ episode pre-Virginian where he played an Army deserter. That’s worth watching.
      Hope you enjoy my book. It will answer most of your questions.

  61. Paul

    I just came across a story continuity issue in the series; Sheriff Abbott was killed in season 4: Episode 12 “The Laramie Road”, he was stabbed to death in the jail cells. This set up the story arc that brought Clu Gulager to the role of Sheriff.

    Then in season 5: Episode 1 “Legacy of Hate” Abbott has returned from the dead, and he is the Sheriff again…

    I have not received my copy of the book yet, so I do not know if this is addressed… although I thought it was a continuity issue, I had a second thought.

    Were production moves already taking place in the midst of season 4 that directly effected season 5? It seems that Episode 1 of season 5 was filmed before the death of Abbott in Episode 12 of season 4. So were two different production crews, i.e. the current Norman MCDonnald production VS the incoming Frank Price production operating at the same time?



  62. Hi Wayne

    Season 4 was a failure in the ratings and the show was re-booted with season 5. Frank Price returned to basically start the show from scratch again. There was no mention of Morgan Starr or Jennifer or Randy leaving. Continuity was always something of a problem with The Virginian. If you recall the Shiloh Ranch cook was killed in “The Intruders” only to re-appear alive in a season 4 episode. There is a major continuity error regarding the Grainger family in a key episode. The MacDonnell years and Frank Price years aren’t always compatible.

  63. Paul

    As I watch season 5 I have already noticed that in spite of the perception by audiences at the time, season four’s production value was much better than season five’s.

    I have already seen in S5: E8 “The Trail to Ashley Mountain” two coils of MCM 500 (electrical wire) and generator, and a camera grip holding a deflector in two respective scenes; and in S5: E9 “Dead Eye Dick” a powder blue, 66’ Chevy Apache panel truck in a wide angle shot of the road leading from the bunkhouse to the main Shilo entrance.

    By the way; which episode in S5 do I need to keep an eye out for the major continuity issue you spoke of?



    I hope I am not irritating, or boring the hell out of you with these posts.

  64. Wayne: Regarding the errors in the episodes you mention. In the 1960s the episodes were filmed according the TV screen ratio. So edge of scene shots where vehicles are visible etc. weren’t seen when originally broadcast. With the DVD and Wide Screen age we see more of the frame that was never meant to be seen.
    The continuity error isn’t in a season 5 episode. It’s in “The Girl in the Shadows” (7:24).

  65. Paul

    You sure? The 4:3 format shouldn’t have any larger viewing area today than on any other screen…it is 4:3 and black bared on either side. Even on my 65” I will still only see the 4:3 format.

    I have also noticed in many episodes where they use the same cut sequence over and over they blow up the resolution to exclude previous actors.

    For instance; the town dance from “Felicities Spring” and the song with Betsy and Randy in that scene was reused in a later episode; but since Steve Hill (Gary Clarke) was in a portion of that scene, you can watch as they “zoom in” on Trampasse’s face in a scene were Felicity and Steve are supposed to be walking into the room. So they used the entire scene as stock footage and just zoomed them out of the frame. There are multiple instances of that all through the show…but in each case they never exceeded the 4:3 format. It just made the scene larger and grainier.

    @Ronnie; thanks for following the conversation.

    I think Paul needs to start a Facebook page (or someone) so we can share these observances and concersations without compromising his blog or distracting him from other projects.


  66. Paul

    If Norman McDonald’s direction for the show in season 4 was so bad that they had to bring Frank Price back in to “right the ship” in season 5; why did they bring McDonald back as EP for season 6?


    1. Good question Wayne. As you know Norman MacDonnell was a producer of some note (Gunsmoke). Frank Price moved on to Universal’s new show “Ironside” in 1967 so they gave MacDonnell another chance. With the Grainger family intact at Shiloh ranch he had a ready made family that was so vital to the success of the show. The latter half of season four lacked any family feel because of Roberta Shore and Lee J. Cobb’s departure. That was a major reason for the dip in ratings.

  67. Paul

    I just finished watching Season 7: Episode 24 “The Girl In The Shadows”. This is the Episode where you said there was a major continuity conflict.

    I assume you are referring to the development where the “trust” is to be decided between Elizabeth and her cousin (if she were proven to be a cousin); in doing so they left out Stacey, Elizabeth’s Brother in the grand scheme of things….or did I miss something there?


    1. Wayne – Yes you missed something. 🙂 Clay Grainger reveals he has two brothers, neither of them John Grainger (Charles Bickford).

      1. OHH!

        I saw the photo of the “three of them” Charles, Clay….and I guess I just kind of glossed over the name of the last man, and assumed it was John. I will have to go back and re-watch that segment.

        Also Season 8: Episode 3 “Halfway Back From Hell”; using John Dehner as another character after his being Morgan Starr for an entire season…to me that just cheapened the series. To me it would be like Lee J. Cobb coming back to play another part besides the Judge.


      2. Ok; as I re-watch the segment with Clay and Elizabeth in the storage room, looking through the trunk and discovering the picture of “the three Grainger boys”, Clay says “that’s me on the right, and Charles in the middle”; to which Elizabeth replies “and my father on the right”.

        But we know that can’t be true…

        Clay is her Great Uncle….Brother to her Grandfather John (Charles Bickford) and Charles would have also been her Great Uncle…

        So the writers skipped an entire generation of Grainger children….

        Elizabeth’s father would not have been in the photo; and her grandfather John Grainger should have been the child on the left.


  68. As for John Dehner appearing as another character – I’m sure you recall Charles Bickford, Clu Gulager and John Dehner all making guest star appearances as other characters before they became regulars on the show. But that is different from appearing on the show after they had established a recurring role. It’s jarring to see Dehner acting as if Morgan Starr never existed.

    1. Paul

      Very true about it being jarring to see Dehner in another role….after Morgan Starr.

      My very first observation about the show on my FB page was watching Clu Gulager in his role of Jake, in the episode “Run Quiet”. I’m not sure if the Emmys existed back then, but I so Gulager should have won a BSA for that episode.


  69. Paul

    Well, it’s over… Season 8: Episode 24.

    I watched season 9 out of order before; not knowing it was part of the original series.

    I was surprised at how they ended season 8 and the revamped the program for season 9; especially after they burned Shiloh in Episode 16. I thought the stories began to get a little contrived again; like they were in McDonnell’s First tenure as EP. I thought Tim Matheson was the new glue to keep the chemistry going, likely better than before Steve was written out.

    My book seems to be on backorder from the publisher; but I found a gently used copy that will arrive soon. So I can fill in some of the blanks…

    I appreciate all the time you have spent on the forums here with me. I look forward to reading and maybe I will one day be able to thank you in person.

    Warmest Regards


  70. Wayne – I was surprised they didn’t carry over Tim Matheson to season 9. He was a youthful, bright talent who would have attracted the younger viewer so vital to sponsors. The Men From Shiloh lacked a sense of youthful optimism so obvious in the early years of The Virginian. Hope you enjoy my book Wayne.

  71. Hi There! I really love the Virginian. I tear up almost in every episode. Btw! I’m lucky that Directv offers the complte series in HD on Demand. I’m halfway through the 3rd season.
    I also love the score too.

  72. Paul and Virginian Fans

    I’m back! (For a moment)….

    I just wanted to provide a few links to you all. I found the original 30 minute episode of Decision: The Virginian; released on July 6th, 1958.

    The cut isn’t perfect; and the quality is just good enough for digital devices; but it is well worth watching.

    Included is the intro, and two 10minute segments.

    Intro: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dGfPfcX1Mgw

    Segment one: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dUt-eReRkSA

    Segment two: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hGEUE9FA-zw

    I also found links to the:

    1914 Cecil B. Demise silent version staring Dustin Farnham (who played the role for a decade on stage): https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fkOMa_XXQEA

    1923 Selena version staring Kenneth Harlan: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=7aNGsEePW1g

    1929 version staring Gary Cooper (which is available on STARZ as well): https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1j3omWoswek

    1946 version staring Joel McCrea: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2c6ysq

    2000 version staring Bill Pullman (with a cameo by James Drury): https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vE25cDitVzM

    2013 version staring Trace Adkins and Ron Perlman. I want to say something about the Adkins movie… I thought the production value sucked. I thought the editing sucked. I thought the majority of the acting sucked….except in some key sequences. But the interactions between Adkins and Brenden Penny were outstanding; Penny’s portrayal of a young Owen Wister dropped into the very heart of his own creation…was an outstanding directorial and production decision. Overall I give the movie 3***: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2c781a


    I know I said this before; but I have enjoyed very much our interactions here. I just could not cure my obsession with the character until I found the original episode so I could share it with everyone.

    My next endeavor? While I live in Kentucky, the bourbon capital of the world; where bourbon was invented…I quest to find The Virginian’s favorite whisky “Monongahela” a Pennsylvanian Rye that is just now coming back onto the market after being dormant for 120 years.

    Thanks again


    1. Thanks for the links Wayne. Having watched many of these versions James Drury’s Virginian remains my favorite. Not the 1958 version but the 1962-1971 version. Joel McCrea’s Virginian is bland. I enjoyed Dustin Farnum’s version for his playful sense of humor. It’s worth a look for anyone who hasn’t seen it.

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by Paul Green

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