Memphis Film Fair Western Stars Group Photo

Front Row:(seated) Lou Elias (stuntman brother of James Stacy leaning on chair) James Stacy, Michael Dante, BarBara Luna, James Drury, Roberta Shore, and William Smith. Middle Row: Peter Ford, Dennis Holmes, Johnny Washbrook, Don Quine, Randy Boone, Gary Clarke, and Jimmy Baird. Back Row: John Saxon, Tony Numkena, Robert Wolders, James Hampton, John Buttram, Roger Mobley, and Bobby Diamond. (Thanks to Ray Nielsen)

James Drury – Honorary Deputy

“Effingham County Sheriff John H. Monnet drove all the way down from Effingham , Illinois to personally present James Drury with a certificate designating him as an Honorary Deputy. Boyd Magers holds the microphone as the presentation is read at the Memphis Film Festival.” – Courtesy of Ray Nielsen.

The Virginian Reunion Photos – Memphis (June 2-4, 2011)

Memphis Film Festival organizer Ray Nielsen has kindly given me permission to post his photographs from the recent Virginian reunion in Memphis, Tennessee.  From left to right are : Don Quine, Gary Clarke, Roberta Shore, Randy Boone, James Drury and BarBara Luna (Doug McClure’s 2nd wife). This was the first time Don Quine had attended a Virginian reunion event.

How to Order “A History of Television’s The Virginian” in Australia & New Zealand

As all Australian viewers know The Virginian is currently being broadcast on cable on a regular basis in Australia. Great to see The Virginian enjoying a revival worldwide.

Readers in Australia and New Zealand can order my book from various local online bookstores such as Amazon or direct from Austrralia at:

DA Information Services
648 Whitehorse Road
Mitcham 3132
tel +61 3 9210 7777
fax +61 3 9210 7788
A History of Television’s The Virginian

Hugh O’Brian Discusses The Virginian

An interesting interview with Hugh O’Brian by Jennifer Howard, March 29, 2005, where he talks about filming the fight sequence with James Drury in the premiere episode of The Virginian, “The Executioners” in 1962. It begins 2:08 into the interview.

Original footage from The Archive of American Television website.

© 1995-2011 Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation All Rights Reserved

Reflections on writing A History of Television’s The Virginian

I thought I’d share with you some of my thoughts on the people I interviewed for my book.  Personalities stand out immediately when you conduct interviews.  James Drury is a commanding personality who speaks with great authority and care for his choice of words.  Gary Clarke is a great storyteller and a funny guy.  Roberta Shore still has the girlish charm that made her so memorable as Betsy.  Randy Boone was one of my favorite interview subjects.  Genuinely down-to-earth and humble about his achievements. Sara Lane is an enthusiastic, upbeat lady who I loved to interview. 

The most knowledgable person I interviewed was without doubt Frank Price. He knows more about The Virginian than anyone alive today, having written the original format for the show and serving as executive producer.  He literally gave me months of his time and many rare behind the scenes photographs for my book.  His wife, former actress Katherine Crawford was also extremely helpful.  She provided the story behind her on set friction with James Drury on “Felicity’s Spring” and working with Doug McClure.

It was obvious Tane McClure had great love and affection for her father Doug as she told me she was looking at his framed photograph on her desk as I interviewed her.  Tane also kindly provided family photographs.  I attempted to capture the personality of the people I interview by presenting my interviews in a Q&A format.  I hope it worked.

After my book was published a few people stand out in my memory.  I’ll always remember my wife telling me James Drury was on the phone as I came from our mailbox.  He told me how much he enjoyed my book.  I thought it very kind of him to take the trouble to call me personally.  Another pleasant surprise was receiving a handwritten letter from Randy Boone saying that he actually appreciated The Virginian more after reading my book.  I’ve posted the reaction of The Virginian cast and producers in my Reviews section.

Of course there were people who didn’t respond to my attempts to interview them.  That is always out of the control of any author.  Timing is a factor. People may be unavailable because of work or family commitments or they simply might not wish to talk.  I was able to contact Sara Lane with weeks left on my deadline.  So I am always extremely thankful for the people who agree to be interviewed on any of my projects.

Writing my book on The Virginian television series was not only a challenge, but also very rewarding on a personal level in that I got to speak with many of my favorite actors, actresses and producers about my favorite television Western series.  Back when I was watching The Virginian every Friday night on BBC 1 I never imagined I would one day speak with the cast and producers and write a history of the show.

James Drury “The Long Chase” Alias Smith and Jones DVD Release

One of James Drury’s first roles following the cancellation of The Men From Shiloh was the third season premiere episode of Alias Smith and Jones, “The Long Chase” (3:01). James Drury had previously featured as a guest star on the AS&J pilot episode playing Sheriff Lom Trevors. Once again he plays a sheriff, but this time it’s Sheriff Tankersley who is given the run around by Hannibal Heyes (Roger Davis) and Kid Curry (Ben Murphy) in a effort to restore the reputation of their long-time Bannerman Agency detective “friend’ Harry Briscoe (J.D. Cannon).

Timeless Media are releasing seasons 2 and 3 of Alias Smith and Jones in a 6 DVD set in June 2010. More information can be found on my Pete Duel Weblog.

The Virginian “The Executioners” (1:01) with Hugh O’Brian

The first episode of The Virginian, originally broadcast September 19, 1962, is a mediocre story that gives little hint of future heights.  Hugh O’Brian and Colleen Dewhurst dominate scenes while the regular cast are reduced to background players.

Even the Revue publicity still of the period emphasizes O’Brian over Roberta Shore and James Drury.

This episode premieres on Encore Westerns on January 1st followed by a January 4th broadcast at 4.30 p.m. EST.

To anyone watching The Virginian for the first time don’t be discouraged by this episode.  The first season is uneven in quality with the Charles Marquis Warren episodes heavily re-edited (see my book for complete background details to the turmoil at NBC as told to me by executive producer Frank Price).

The first season does include some excellent episodes and is also of interest for demonstrating the early and convoluted evolution of The Virginian television series.  Many episodes are atypical of the rest of the series and clearly owe a debt to 1950s Universal-International Westerns.

Re-mastering The Virginian

I recently came across this comment by Outlaw Territory writer Skipper Martin on the website.  He has excellent taste!

“Oddly enough, I’m having a new love affair with the western right now thanks to my day job.  I’m currently re-mastering the 1960’s classic “The Virginian” television series starring James Drury at Universal Studios.  I can honestly say I’m now an official fan of the wonderful Doug McClure in his signature role of Trampas.  Truly excellent show!”

Copyright © 2009 All rights reserved.

Gene Barry dies age 90

"The Name of the Game" cast: Robert Stack, Gene Barry, Tony Franciosa

Gene Barry (real name Eugene Klass) best known for the film War of the Worlds (1953) and the TV series Bat Masterson, Burke’s Law and The Name of the Game has passed way at the age of 90.

James Drury appeared with Gene Barry in the 1971 TV movie The Devil and Miss Sarah – a Western that qualified as an entry in my Encyclopedia of Weird Westerns book.

Doug McClure was a guest star in the revived Burke’s Law in 1995 on the episode “Who Killed the Highest Bidder?”  Doug played high bidder J. Ross Richardson in a small role broadcast a few months before his death in May 1995.