were popular as the Sixties began, Gunsmoke was number one in 1960 and
Bonanza on NBC dominated the ratings for almost the entire decade. Westerns
grew in popularity until the genre started to go bust in the latter part
of the decade.
is a small sampling of some horse operas from the Sixties - most made
it to a second season, some didn't.
fall previews and themes::
promotion, this western series was reminiscent of the mega-hit
show 'The Rifleman'. Leading actor John Russell even resembled
Chuck Connors. 'Lawman;' began in 1958 and ran until 1962 on ABC
The series followed the adventures
of Marshall Dan Tropp, Sheriff of the wild west town of Laramie.
Peter Brown co-starred as his young, unbridled Deputy, Johnny
The Big Valley
Originally known as 'The Saga
of the Big Valley', the title was changed just before the premiere.
The Big Valley starred film legend
Barbara Stanwyck as the widowed matriarch of the Barkley clan,
living in the Sacramento Valley following the Civil War.
The all-star cast featured Richard
Long ('Nanny and the Professor'), Peter Breck ('The Secret Empire'),
Lee Majors ('6 Million Dollar Man'),and Linda Evans ('Dynasty').
More talk than action, but one of the best
theme songs of all time.
1966-68 / ABC
bets his wad on a poker game and wins a railroad. Now he's got
to lay the track for it through the untamed wilderness of 1880's
Starring Dale Robertson and Gary
Collins, Iron Horse was renewed for a second season, but lasted
only until January 1968. Gary Collins went on to star in
The Sixth Sense in 1974. Dale Robertson took over the
hosting duties on 'Death Valley Days' in 1968.
Follows the trail of the T & T Circus on it's journey through
the brushlands to entertain the early settlers.
film comic Chill Wills starred in this hour-long series with John
Derek (Bo's future husband) as the owners of the travelling band.
1967-1969 / ABC
TV series for Walter Brennan ('Real McCoys'). This Aaron Spelling
western followed grandfather Will Sonnett (Brennan) and his grandson
Jeff (Dack Rambo) in search of the boy's pa - known as a no-good
gunslinger named Jim Sonnett (rarely seen Jason Evers) because
of a crime he didn't commit.
Grandfather and Grandson travelled
from place to place, encountering hostile townspeople that had
been wronged by the guy they were searching for.
The reunion finally did take place
in the last episode of the second season, with all three Sonnetts
joining forces to become lawmen for a third season that never
1966-67 / ABC
The story of orphaned
kids heading to Wyoming, where their parents had staked out land
(the parents died in the first episode). Along the way they befriend
an Indian who joins them and serves as protector and an evil land
baron who tries to trick them out of their father's land.
Anderson Jr., Barbara Hershey, Tammy Locke, Keith and Kevin Schultz,
Ron Soble and Ben Johnson, this one-hour drama lasted one season.
"I thought Michael Anderson Jr. was
the coolest brother in the world for protecting his orphaned siblings
from the evils of the Wild West." - (Janis Krautheim)
is the theme song
Second Hundred Years
1967-68 / ABC
'The Second Hundred Years',
a comedy from the 1967-68 season on ABC, was about a prospector
buried in an avalanche at the turn of the century... then coming
out of it 67 years later, alive and looking much younger than
his 67-year-old son - and exactly like his 33-year-old grandson.
The show starred Monte Markham
as Luke Carpenter and his grandson Ken, and Arthur O'Connell as
Luke's son Edwin.
Distributed by Screen Gems, 'The
Second Hundred Years' was a western in reverse - the rough edged
nineteenth-century prospector (who hasn't aged a day since being
frozen) must cope with the fast-paced life of America in the Sixties.
Frank Maxwell appeared as gruff Army Colonel Garroway, who has
to keep tabs on the old guy for the military.
1965-69 / CBS
'The Wild Wild
West' (there was only one 'Wild' in the title when the show was
first announced) starred Robert Conrad as Agent James West, Ross
Martin as Artemus Gordon and (occasionally) guest-starred Victor
Buono as Count Manzeppi and Michael Dunn as the diminutive, evil
Dr. Miguelito Loveless.
Despite relatively high ratings
(winning its Friday night spot the entire time it was on the air),
the series as canceled because of complaints about too much violence
It was that, or cancel the Viet
Nam war - and the war had already been renewed.
WILD, WILD WEST
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1957-1963 / ABC
James Garner started out as the
only Maverick on Maverick, but when production fell behind
on the popular series, Jack Kelly was introduced as brother Bart
and separate production teams went to work to meet demand.
James Garner left the show after
season three and Kelly was occasionally joined by brothers Beau
(Roger Moore) and Brent (Robert Colbert).
TV SERIES NOW!
Man Called Shenandoah
1965-66 / ABC
Horton stars in this half-hour western as a man roaming the west
- but who is he? A murderer? A lawman? All he knows is - he has
Other shows about men roaming
the west aimlessly: The Loner (Rod Serling show), Branded, The
Rebel, and so many others.
1952-1970 / syndicated
half hour western anthology recreating mostly true stories about
the pioneer days. A low budget production that began on radio
in 1930, the show ran so long because it had a built in sponsor,
no reoccurring characters and there was little else on to watch.
Andrews hosted from 1952-1966, Ronald Reagan from 1965-66 and
Robert Taylor from 1966-68. Sponsored by 20 Mule Team US Borax.
1959-1961 / ABC
Nick Adams starred as Johnny Yuma, former Confederate
soldier who went from town to town seeking acceptance and finding
a hostile reception to his peacekeeping attempts.
This cool 1960 spot attempts to
re-position this half-hour western series as relevant to "today's
youth". We're talking the Beatnick Generation - whatever happened
1955-63 / ABC
half hour Warner Brothers series. Starred Clint Walker, who walked
out on the show in 1958. When the show did just as well without
him, Walker returned in 1959.
Alternated with 'Bronco' and 'Sugarfoot'.
Based on the landmark movie and
starring David Carradine, this one season half-hour show preceded
Carradine's successful western show Kung Fu.
Did you know that Kurt Russell
was a child star? He played the title role in this hour-long Sunday
night western adventure (based on children's books) about a boy
(Russell), his rascally father (Dan O'Herlihy) and the wagon train
they travelled the frontier with.
The very young Osmond Brothers
(later to become teen idols) were seen as the little Kissel Brothers.
Omaha's Wild Kingdom
1963-1988 / NBC, Syndication
Not a Western, but a nature show
that featured a lot of western US locations - popular on Sunday
afternoons with the old folks.
More to come
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