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Songs Of The West, Vol. 4: Movie & Television Themes

 

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TV Western Shows


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TV WESTERNS on DVD
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The TV Western reigned supreme in the Fifties and Sixties. There were about 120 of them depending on what you consider a Western.

Like the post-war world in which they flourished, you could always tell the good guys from the bad. And none of the guns were fully automatic.

The earliest TV Westerns were mostly kiddy fare, typified by Roy Rogers. In the mid-Fifties Gunsmoke begin its 20 year run and was the first successful "adult" Western.As fast as you could say, "they went thataway, pardner" the airwaves were filled with Westerns. My personal favorite, Wagon Train debuts in 1957 along with Maverick and Have Gun Will Travel.

Studios quickly realized that the Western didn't just appeal to men and accordingly cast hunky leads, who often appeared shirtless, to please the women. No longer did the hero kiss his horse and ride off into the sunset. Now he got to kiss the girl too!

By the Sixties, the Westerns, led by ratings winner Bonanza, begin broadcasting in color. The Virginian, High Chaparral and Big Valley are typical of Sixties TV Westerns.

But the world was changing. There was that nastiness in Viet Nam. Sometimes even good guys seemed to wear black hats. Or maybe there is such a notion as too much of a good thing. By the end of the Sixties, the TV Western had just about disappeared.

Sadly, attempts to resurrect the genre have failed. Magnificent Seven was a valiant effort but they moved it around into about a half dozen time slots so nobody could find it. Westerns are expensive to make and younger studio executives just don't get it. They assume that we all want to watch sexy young actors and actresses who haven't eaten yet this month, talk about nothing in their apartments.

C'mon pards, let's grab our Peacemakers and call 'em out into the street!






Navigating these TV Western pages...
The big name, long lived TV Westerns have their own pages.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL LIST OF ALL TV WESTERNS

Westerns 1950-1954 Westerns 1955-1956 Westerns 1957
Westerns 1958 Westerns 1959 Westerns 1960-1964
Westerns 1964-1968    

Let's start here with TV Westerns from 1950-1954.





 






External Links
TV Guide's Hopalong Cassidy Page, with TV Listings, Photos, Videos, Exclusive News and More.

Hopalong Cassidy

6/24/1949 - 12/23/1951 NBC
Black and White - 30 minutes

Hopalong Cassidy Cast

William Boyd as Hoppy
Edgar Buchanan as Red Connors
Horse: Topper


William Boyd had created the character of Hopalong Cassidy for "B" movie features and the first episodes were adaptations of those. Later the character of Red Connors was added (Edgar Buchanan) and from 1951 to 1952, Hopalong rode for another 52 episodes. That's how popular the character had become.

Passings

William Boyd died in 1972 of Parkinson's disease and heart failure and Edgar Buchanan in 1979 of a stroke

Hopalong Cassidy and Hoppy, including all images and likenesses are registered trademarks of U.S. Television Office
CLICK HERE FOR
FULL LIST OF
ALL TV WESTERNS




HOPALONG CASSIDY
Topper and William Boyd
From the Doug Abbott Collection

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BUY Gene Autry
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Gene Autry

7/23/1950 - 8/7/1956 CBS
Black and White/Color - 30 minutes - 102 episodes

Produced by Flying A Productions at the Melody Ranch (Autry's own company)

Gene Autry Cast

Gene Autry with Pat Buttram
Horse: Champion

The singing cowboy, Gene Autry was a man of many talents and plenty of foresight. His early TV show was mostly an opportunity for him to sing a bit while he and Pat Buttram did silly things.

His success led him to see the future of TV Westerns and he formed his own production company, Flying A Productions, which also produced Annie Oakley, Range Rider, Buffalo Bill Jr. and others. His Melody Ranch was used as the "backlot" for many Western scenes in both television and film.

Passings

Gene Autry died in 1998 of lymphoma. Pat Buttram died in 1994 of kidney failure.





Gene Autry
Gene Autry and Champion
From the Doug Abbott Collection



CLICK HERE FOR
FULL LIST OF
ALL TV WESTERNS
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TV Classic Westerns: Bat Masterson/Death Valley Days/The Rifleman/Wagon


For More Dale Robertson See:
Tales of Wells Fargo
Iron Horse



Death Valley Days

1952-1970, Also 1974 Syndicated
Black and White/Color - 30 minutes - 532 episodes

Produced by Flying A Productions

Death Valley Days Hosts

Stanley Andrews from 1952-65 (as The Old Ranger)
Ronald Reagan 1965-1966
Robert Taylor 1966-1968
Dale Robertson 1968-1972
John Payne 1972-1975
Merle Haggard 1975


This anthology series ran for many years, presenting stories of the Old West, often filmed right in Death Valley.

Perhaps it is best known for two things, the host (Ronald Reagan) who became President of the United States, and the intro. (See right) Many people confuse this intro with that of Wagon Train. The tipoff is the MULES, as in 20 Mule Team Borax.

Passings

Stanley Andrews died in 1969 as did Robert Taylor of lung cancer. John Payne died in 1989 of congestive heart failure. Ronald Reagan died in 2004 of pneumonia after courageously battling Alzheimer's Disease for 10 years, he was 93. Dale Robertson died in 2013 after succumbing to lung cancer.




Death Valley - Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
From the Doug Abbott Collection


Death Valley Days
Original Intro
"As the early morning bugle call of the covered wagon trains fades away among the echoes, another true Death Valley Days is presented by the famous Borax family of products- 20 Mule Team Borax and Boraxo. "
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BUY Stories of the Century
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Westerns on DVD
1950s TV's Greatest Westerns




Stories of the Century

1954 Syndicated
Black and White - 30 minutes - 39 episodes

Stories of the Century Cast

Jim Davis as Matt Clark
Mary Castle as Frankie Adams
Kristine Miller as Margaret "Jonesy" Jones


This half-hour Western was about a pair of detectives for the Southwestern Railroad. What was unusual was that Jim Davis' partners were women! Also, this was one of the first syndicated TV shows to win a major Emmy - Best Western or Adventure Series for 1954!

Passings

Jim Davis died in 1981 while he was playing Jock Ewing on Dallas.
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Go to:
Westerns 1950-1954 Westerns 1955-1956 Westerns 1957
Westerns 1958 Westerns 1959 Westerns 1960-1964
Westerns 1964-1968

Index of All TV Shows
including TV Westerns

 

Stories of the Century
Jim Davis
From the Doug Abbott Collection



CLICK HERE FOR
FULL LIST OF
ALL TV WESTERNS

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