The Virginian celebrated their 50th Anniversary in 2012
It has been over fifty years since The Virginian aired on NBC back in 1962. Celebrations have been enjoyed across the country to honor the great classic television western. In recent years it was aired on Encore Westerns every week day afternoon. After Encore dropped the show in 2011 fans were heart broken and gave their full opinions to the network and to other channels playing the classics in hope of bringing back The Virginian in time to celebrate its anniversary. INSP gladly obliged the fans of The Virginian and included it as part of their Saddle Up Saturday line up. It was a renewal of fame so well deserved. Values and excitement all in to one action packed drama enjoyed by millions of fans both young and old.
Congratulations to The Virginian and to it's talented cast and guest stars. May there be many more celebrations yet to come.
The series setting was the year 1886, based on the 1902 novel by Owen Wister. Wister’s story encircled its action packed adventures around a tough handsome cowboy who was foreman (James Drury) of a huge Wyoming spread called Sunk Creek Ranch near the town of Medicine Bow, Wyoming. Television has a slightly different version of Wister's original story, so they call their ranch Shiloh after a Civil War battle ground in Virginia. It kind of fits nicely seeing our lead character is from Virginia. As in the western novel the writers of the television series never gave their lead character a name. The man is always known to his peers as the Virginian. His cowhands will call him boss or Boss-man and on occasion you will hear him called Ramrod. James Drury himself could not tell you the character’s surname.
The Two Main Characters
Throughout the nine years many characters came and went. The Virginian (James Drury) and his top hand Trampas (Doug McClure) were the only two who stayed the entire run of the series. Where The Virginian was a serious firm talking man, his sidekick, best friend, Trampas was a high spirited, fun loving, character who could almost always bring a smile to his foreman’s face. Trampas was truly The Virginian’s opposite and it shows their audience what friendships really are all about. It is no wonder the two actors brought out the best in all nine seasons. Lucky for us Trampas is not a cattle rustling villain in television's The Virginian like he is in Wister's book and the movie's made from it.
Shiloh Changed Owners Four Times
Shiloh changed owners four times.Seasons 1-4, Judge Garth (Lee J. Cobb) and daughter Betsy (Roberta Shore) occupied the big ranch house.
Season 4, Judge Garth's orphaned niece, Jennifer Sommers (Diane Roter) came to live at Shiloh. Betsy gets married and the Judge is appointed governor of Wyoming as their characters depart and Morgan Star (John Dehner) came in to run the ranch and try out new ranching techniques at his own expense until Garth could sell it. Star and Jennifer, both leave before another season airs.
Seasons 5-6, John Grainger (Charles Bickford) with his granddaughter Elizabeth Grainger (Sara Lane) and grandson Stacey Grainger (Don Quine) moved in. The Graingers bring with them a family generated atmosphere.
Seasons 6-8, John’s brother, Clay Grainger (John McIntire) and his wife Holly (Jeanette Nolan, McIntire’s real life wife) took over the ranch and the care of their niece Elizabeth. A happily married couple gave Shiloh yet another well liked version of American values.
Season 9, newly named The Men From Shiloh, Col. MacKenzie (Stewart Granger) became Shiloh’s new owner. This was to be the last changing of the guards as the show lost something the last eight seasons tried so hard to keep. The characters and the actors were great, but something was missing. Could it be the family oriented story line was gone? Whatever happened, the show was canceled regardless of the reason.
Each new owner of Shiloh gave trust and respect to their head man, the Virginian. And in return he showed them loyalty as he carried out his duties as foreman. With time and changes season after season the Virginian treated his employers, their families and the men who worked under him like a sibling yet with the strength and the attitude of a leader which everyone looked to him for advice and answers.
Because the final season had a new name, (The Men From Shiloh) this could have caused enough confusion to bring the ratings down and therefore the end to a nine year run, but again this is only a guess.
Good Help is Hard to Find
Despite the many obstacles facing workers on a ranch of this size. The Virginian managed to keep track of a crew who not only respected him, but found their home there at Shiloh punching cattle for a dollar a day.
Trampas (Doug McClure) was his top hand with an easy going attitude not always in compliance with the Virginian's views, but always dealt with respect and close friendship.
Many a cowhand come and went like Steve Hill (Gary Clarke) who was another well liked character in the first three seasons. Steve also became a cowhand who the Virginian valued in a close friendship employee relationship. Owen Wister's original story has Steve as a friend his foreman catches stealing beef and is forced to hang. Television keeps him loyal until they write him out of the show altogether.
Years go by and one by one the cast is changed with other favorites like Randy Benton (Randy Boone), seasons 2-5, young and green as the Virginian brings him from his youth to a respected valuable cowhand and Beldon (L. Q. Jones), seasons 2-9, with his welcome comedy and short fused temper at times, gives the foreman a challenge to round out his work crew. Nothing the Virginian couldn't handle that a night in jail wouldn't cure after a Saturday night on the town.
Other cast included Harper (Harper Flanerty) who for six seasons cooked a mean plate of beans when beef stew wasn't on the menu. Dick (Dick Shane) was a character to be there at the Virginian's beck and call as a cowhand. This was a smart move on the maker's part because Dick Shane was a double and stuntman to the Virginian, making him a valuable cast member. He was there for five seasons.
In seasons 5-7 David Sutton (David Hartman) shone his way to the hearts of many fans as an eastern gentleman poked fun at until he earned respect as a well loved cowhand. In season 8, Jim Horn (Tim Matheson), a young cowhand with a background of a drifter was taken under the wings of the Virginian to mold into another well loved character. Jim respected his boss man and you could see the connection was a thought out appearance to give warmth to the drama.
By the time the Men From Shiloh became a new title to the series, so came more changes with yet another cowhand, sidekick, Roy Tate (Lee Majors).
Many a guest star played the role of a cowhand. Some were drifters for temporary positions, but many would return time and time again to be seen in episodes scattered throughout the series.
New name, new owner, new theme, but even with his new wardrobe and all that, the Virginian's character stayed well intact for season 9. His role as foreman is as much loved as ever before. New or not, one thing remains the Virginian is the lead man and it has always been his character the audience seeks. Regardless of the changes which brought him to carry strong only a few episodes alone that season, as they did the same with his sidekick Trampas, the show survives it's ninth season. Sadly, the curtain falls at the end of season nine making it the final run of the show.
The Virginian’s friend the sheriff deputy, Emmett Ryker (Clu Gulager) of Medicine Bow was a well liked character in seasons 3-6. The sheriff deputy was a young, but well respected lawman that did his best to provide justice in Medicine Bow and it's surroundings. The Virginian often helped Emmett fight off the bad guys. What would a good western be without bad guys? Many a guest star served their viewers well in these roles.
Sheriff Mark Abbott (Ross Elliot) appeared throughout the series from the beginning until the end although his deputy Sheriff Ryker carried far more episodes Sheriff Abbott was a much admired character giving the series a tasteful glimpse of how lawmen tamed the wild west. He highly respected the Virginian and the men he worked for.
In Loving Memory
In loving Memory of James Drury (April 18, 1934- April 6, 2020)
We lost a true legend on Monday, April 6, 2020. His memory lives on in all who admired him.
The Heavens surely gained another hero. I know the horse tales must be very interesting as he meets his co-stars that got there before him. What a party it will be as he celebrates his 86th birthday April 18th.
In these sad times, it’s our memories that keep us sane. God bless everyone.
Remember the cowboy way when you think of James Drury. He lived it. He was an inspiration to everyone.
The Cowboy Way: If it’s not true, don’t say it. If it’s not yours, don’t take it; and if it’s not right, don’t do it. The Virginian
Celebrate Fifty Years With THE VIRGINIAN
- Celebrate Fifty Years With THE VIRGINIAN
This is a poem to honor the 50th Anniversary of the classic western The Virginian.
I actually got to meet James Drury-The Virginian
- A TRIP TO REMEMBER
This hub was wrote about my trip to Ohio where I met my childhood hero.
A hub I wrote about writing The Virginian fan fiction that I've enjoyed doing..
- WRITE WHAT COMES FREELY
This new found form of writing has inspired me very much to write about the entertainment I loved as a kid and still love as an adult.
MAYBE IT'S THE COWBOYS
- MAYBE IT'S THE COWBOYS
Westerns were my dad's favorite shows when it came to entertainment. This is a memorial poem for my dad. His interest is still very much alive in me as I love to watch the old classic westerns,too. I've also added links to reviews I've wrote about my
Meeting the stars can start a whole new hobby for you.
- Collecting Autographs From the Classic Stars
My new found love is collecting autograph pictures of the classic television stars. I hope you enjoy the tour.
Remaking Owen Wister's The Virginian
- Remaking Owen Wister’s The Virginian
Pennsylvanian Owen Wister visited Wyoming and came away with a collection of ideas to put together a very unique western novel. The Virginian, the Horseman of the Plains gets even better with age.
Diana L Pierce (author) from Potter County, Pa. on September 13, 2014:
I'm glad the series is back on the air, too, Gramyennie. The Virginian never grows old. I love these shows.
Gramyennie on September 12, 2014:
My Hubby & l watch The Virginian on the new channel, we were so glad the show was picked up again. Life is good again.
Diana L Pierce (author) from Potter County, Pa. on September 15, 2012:
I have updated this hub with much more text. I hope I added enough to draw attention to the next generation. I feel they could learn as many valuable lessons from this classic western as my generation has.
Diana L Pierce (author) from Potter County, Pa. on April 23, 2012:
Thank you, dahoglund. I can go on and on about this show. Always loved it and always will, Encore may be airing it again by the end of the year. I hope.
Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on April 23, 2012:
I liked Doug McClure best. I hope to catch reruns. voted up, interesting and beautiful. I'll share this hub with followers
Diana L Pierce (author) from Potter County, Pa. on April 14, 2012:
Thanks for visiting my hub, GDiBiase. I must say I'm more hooked on the westerns and their stars today than I've ever been and I'm planning to attend the Memphis Film Festival this year to help celebrate their 50th Anniversary.
GDiBiase from Portland, ME on April 14, 2012:
Very cool indeed. I use to watch The Virginian with my dad. He loved that show.
Diana L Pierce (author) from Potter County, Pa. on April 08, 2012:
Thanks, Birgitt. If you buy DVDs on the Virginian's website, you can get them personally autographed by James Drury to you. He really loves accommodating his fans. I've never met anyone like him.
Birgitt on April 08, 2012:
I love this show. Like you, I watched this as a kid, but back then I wasn't too thrilled. When I saw the re-runs that completely changed and the series become a beloved favourite. Sadly, here in Germany the episodes were crudely cut to fit the 45-minute time-slots; the series was named "Die Leute von der Shiloh Ranch" which roughly translates to "The Men from Shiloh". Thanks for DVDs which are on my to-buy list.
Diana L Pierce (author) from Potter County, Pa. on March 30, 2012:
Thanks, Ruth. I love all those old shows, but The Virginian has always been a favorite.
Ruth on March 30, 2012:
Wonderful memories... always enjoyed the people from Shiloh!!!
Diana L Pierce (author) from Potter County, Pa. on October 21, 2011:
Me, too. I got to meet James Drury Oct. 1st and I'm still on cloud nine. He thinks so much of his fans and treats them all like old friends. They couldn't have asked for a better guest to have at a horse show. He was right in his element for sure.
David Dean on October 21, 2011:
The Virginian truly is a classic.The westerns are a great part of our past and heritage.I only wish that there were more westerns made for the big screen today.
Diana L Pierce (author) from Potter County, Pa. on September 27, 2011:
Most of the good ones were aired nearly fifty years ago. Back then there certainly was a selection of them. I'm glad they are able to rerun some of them today.
ruffridyer from Dayton, ohio on September 27, 2011:
I barely remember the show. Frankly I grew sick of all the western shows and movies. It seems like there were just too many.
Diana L Pierce (author) from Potter County, Pa. on September 03, 2011:
I'm addicted to the show myself. But James Drury has done so much more. An amazing talent, since he co-starred with Elvis in Love Me Tender, 1956, I've been hooked. I'm planning to get the chance to meet him in Swanton, Ohio, Oct. 1st at The 2nd Annual Charity Ride For Veterans Horse Show. I am so excited, hope nothing spoils my plans.
gshill from Greenup County, Kentucky on September 03, 2011:
We have this series on DVD. I love watching them over and over.
Diana L Pierce (author) from Potter County, Pa. on September 01, 2011:
The Virginian's motto: If it's not your's don't take it. If it's not true don't say it! And if it's not right don't do it.
I had nearly forgotten this motto, so I asked him on his facebook page.
Diana L Pierce (author) from Potter County, Pa. on September 01, 2011:
Thank you, Mr. Jay, I always welcome your opinion.
Reynold Jay from Saginaw, Michigan on September 01, 2011:
Yep--4:30 every afternoon I tune this in on Encore Western and just about everything else they show there. The stories are a tiny bit slow by today's standards and one can read a newspaper etc. and catch it all. I love it all. Gorgeos color, photography and settings---great acting--it goes on and on how wonderful this series was. UP and Awesome for this big country fan.
Diana L Pierce (author) from Potter County, Pa. on August 30, 2011:
You can't beat the classics.
banjodman from Alabama on August 30, 2011:
I loved these shows, and the picture quality was superb..the process was like making a feature film for each episode..Panaflex camera and celluloid....we don't get that in the digital age!
Diana L Pierce (author) from Potter County, Pa. on August 29, 2011:
The mystery did make for good entertainment. Thanks for reading my hub.
f on August 29, 2011:
Funny how the Virginian had no name.
Also, Trampas wasn't particlarly his first name or his surname: he was simply Trampas. I wonder if he was supposed to be of Native American heritage, with some French?
Diana L Pierce (author) from Potter County, Pa. on August 29, 2011:
Thank you. Thanks to tv channels that show the classics we can review hundreds of shows we may have forgotten as a child. Strange how after 40 years it's like watching something new.
Brenda Barnes from America-Broken But Still Beautiful on August 29, 2011:
What fun! Just the other week I caught an episode. I loved that show. You are awesome to bring back these memories in such a great way.
Diana L Pierce (author) from Potter County, Pa. on August 28, 2011:
Yes and I'm glad they changed his character for the television series.
shea duane from new jersey on August 28, 2011:
Trampas was a bad guy in the book.