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The Virginian is a western-themed television series which aired on NBC from 1962 to 1971 for a total of 249 episodes. It was the first western to air in 90-minute installments each week (75 minutes excluding commercial breaks). Two other westerns later adopted the same 90-minute format: the seventh season of Wagon Train, which returned to a one hour format for its eighth and final season, and Cimarron Strip, which lasted for only a single season. The show differed from Wagon Train in that it was filmed in the color format from its inception.


Loosely based on the Owen Wister novel, the series revolved around a foreman, played by James Drury, who went by the name The Virginian; his real name was never revealed in the nine years the show was on the air. The series took place in Medicine Bow, Wyomingmarker, and revolved around The Virginian's quest to maintain an orderly lifestyle for the ranch he worked on, which was called Shiloh Ranch. Other key characters included Trampas (played by Doug McClure) and Steve Hill (played by Gary Clarke). The main horse on the show was named Joe D. As the show progressed, Trampas became the more recognizable of the characters, and continues to be the role for which actor Doug McClure is best known.

The ranch had four owners throughout the program's run: Judge Garth (played by Lee J. Cobb), the Grainger brothers (played by Charles Bickford and John McIntire) and Colonel Alan McKenzie (played by Stewart Granger). The theme song was titled "Lonesome Tree" and was written by Percy Faith and conducted by Revue musical director, Stanley Wilson.

In the final year, when Col. McKenzie took over Shiloh Ranch, the name of the program was changed to The Men from Shiloh, and the look of the series was completely redesigned, with much broader brims and higher crowns on the hats, beards and mustaches, and jauntier and more imaginative costumes for the characters. These changes were not considered "improvements" by most of the fan base for the series, and after nine years the series was near the end of its run, and there was little that could save it.


James Drury and Doug McClure were the only performers who appeared in all nine seasons of the series.

Notable guest stars

Guest stars included:


In April 1965 an episode of The Virginian called "We've Lost A Train" served as a backdoor pilot for the TV series Laredo.

References in popular culture

Translations of the Title

  • Germany : Die Leute von der Shiloh Ranch
  • French : Le Virginien
  • Spanish : El Virginiano

See also

  • The Virginian - Novel by American author Owen Wister
  • The Virginian - 1914 silent film directed by Cecil B. DeMille and starring Dustin Farnum
  • The Virginian - 1923 silent film directed by Tom Forman and starring Kenneth Harlan and Florence Vidor
  • The Virginian - 1929 film directed by Victor Fleming and starring Gary Cooper, Walter Huston and Richard Arlen
  • The Virginian - 1946 film

Further reading

  • A History of Television's The Virginian 1962–1971 by Paul Green, with a foreword by former executive producer Frank Price, (2006) ISBN 0-786-42613-6


External links

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