James Drury was perfect casting in the role of the Virginian. A gentleman of great charm with a rugged, tough edge when required. A man who lived by a moral code in a time when lawlessness was common. A natural leader and a team player who at heart was something of a loner with a past he kept close to his chest. Through nine seasons James Drury played the Virginian with integrity and remained faithful to the character.
Sara “Russell” Lane recently left this message for her fans. For those who don’t know she was critically ill a few months ago but thanks to excellent health care and much love is on the road to recovery. This is her message:
I had bad stomach poisoning and was so sick I blew a hole in my stomach. The Docs say they’ve seen this before. The result was peritonitis, renal failure and the need to spend a week intubated and sometimes in soft restraints so I didn’t pull the tubes out. My dear daughter, Sara, brought me everyone’s good wishes but could only stay for moments at a time. When I transferred to a skilled nursing facility I wasn’t yet able to turn over.
All of that is behind me now. I just got home and feel strong and optimistic again. What a glorious thing to be able to sit in the sun at home and have the luxury of time and strength to read and savor your posts and cards.
My thanks and love to you all.
I’m happy to announce my Roy Huggins book was published on Friday January 24. You can order it from my publisher McFarland & Co. with immediate effect or if you want an author signed copy please contact me. Amazon and Barnes & Noble online stores also have my book in stock.
A chapter on Huggins’ involvement in the first season of The Virginian is included with comments from executive producer Frank Price and director Richard L. Bare.
Huggins’ daughter Katherine Crawford, well known to fans of The Virginian, has also contributed to my book.
You can hear my one-hour long interview with Ed Robertson about The Virginian TV series and my book on the TV Confidential archives site. 24-hours access free of charge at: TV Confidential Archives Show # 204
“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.).
For your interest – a 1962 publicity photo of the cast from The Virginian. This photo includes Pippa Scott who was originally cast as the editor of the Medicine Bow Banner and the love interest of the Virginian. Her character was dropped mid-way through the first season when Roy Huggins took control of the series. One of the reasons being the Virginian needed to be free of a specific romantic attachment to allow for more love interests in future episodes. (Thanks to Betty Stamper for the photograph).