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Popular Western TV Shows
Have Gun, Will Travel
Have Gun – Will Travel is an American Western television series that aired on CBS from 1957 through 1963. It was rated number three or number four in the Nielsen ratings every year of its first four seasons. It was one of the few television shows to spawn a successful radio version. The radio series debuted November 23, 1958. The television show is presently shown on the Encore-Western channel. Have Gun – Will Travel was created by Sam Rolfe and Herb Meadow and produced by Frank Pierson, Don Ingalls, Robert Sparks, and Julian Claman. There were 225 episodes of the TV series, 24 written by Gene Roddenberry. Other contributors included Bruce Geller, Harry Julian Fink, Don Brinkley and Irving Wallace. Andrew McLaglen directed 101 episodes and 19 were directed by series star Richard Boone.
The Rifleman is an American Western television program starring Chuck Connors as rancher Lucas McCain and Johnny Crawford as his son, Mark McCain. It was set in the 1880s in the town of North Fork, New Mexico Territory. The show was filmed in black-and-white, half-hour episodes. "The Rifleman" aired on ABC from September 30, 1958 to April 8, 1963 as a production of Four Star Television. It was one of the first prime time series to have a widowed parent raise a child.
Follow the violent world of the Dutton family, who controls the largest contiguous ranch in the United States. Led by their patriarch John Dutton, the family defends their property against constant attack by land developers, an Indian reservation, and America’s first National Park.
Bat Masterson is an American Western television series which showed a fictionalized account of the life of real-life marshal/gambler/dandy Bat Masterson. The title character was played by Gene Barry and the half-hour black-and-white shows ran on NBC from 1958 to 1961. The series was produced by Ziv Television Productions, the company responsible for such hit series as Sea Hunt and Highway Patrol.
Maverick is an American Western television series with comedic overtones created by Roy Huggins. The show ran from September 22, 1957 to July 8, 1962 on ABC and stars James Garner as Bret Maverick, an adroitly articulate cardsharp. Eight episodes into the first season, he was joined by Jack Kelly as his brother Bart, and from that point on, Garner and Kelly alternated leads from week to week, sometimes teaming up for the occasional two-brother episode. The Mavericks were poker players from Texas who traveled all over the American Old West and on Mississippi riverboats, constantly getting into and out of life-threatening trouble of one sort or another, usually involving money, women, or both. They would typically find themselves weighing a financial windfall against a moral dilemma. More often than not, their consciences trumped their wallets since both Mavericks were intensely ethical. When Garner left the series after the third season due to a legal dispute, Roger Moore was added to the cast as their cousin Beau Maverick. Robert Colbert appeared later in the fourth season as a third Maverick brother, Brent Maverick. No more than two of the series leads ever appeared together in the same episode, and usually only one.
Wanted: Dead or Alive
Wanted: Dead or Alive is an American Western television series starring Steve McQueen as the bounty hunter Josh Randall. It aired on CBS for three seasons from 1958–61. The black-and-white program was a spin-off of a March 1958 episode of Trackdown, a 1957–59 western series starring Robert Culp. Both series were produced by Four Star Television in association with CBS Television. The series launched McQueen into becoming the first television star to cross over into comparable status on the big screen.
Billy the Kid
An epic romantic adventure series based on the life of famous American outlaw Billy the Kid — from his humble Irish roots, to his early days as a cowboy and gunslinger in the American frontier, to his pivotal role in the Lincoln County War and beyond.
The High-Sierra adventures of Ben Cartwright and his sons as they run and defend their ranch while helping the surrounding community.
Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre
Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre, sometimes simply called Zane Grey Theatre, is an American Western anthology series which ran on CBS from 1956 to 1961.
A dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the evolution of sin. Set at the intersection of the near future and the reimagined past, it explores a world in which every human appetite, no matter how noble or depraved, can be indulged.
Follow the Dutton family as they embark on a journey west through the Great Plains toward the last bastion of untamed America. A stark retelling of Western expansion, and an intense study of one family fleeing poverty to seek a better future in America’s promised land — Montana.
The Cisco Kid
The Cisco Kid is a half-hour American Western television series starring Duncan Renaldo in the title role, The Cisco Kid, and Leo Carrillo as the jovial sidekick, Pancho. Cisco and Pancho were technically desperados, wanted for unspecified crimes, but instead viewed by the poor as Robin Hood figures who assisted the downtrodden when law enforcement officers proved corrupt or unwilling to help. It was also the first television series to be filmed in color, although few viewers saw it in color until the 1960s.
Cheyenne is an American western television series of 108 black-and-white episodes broadcast on ABC from 1955 to 1963. The show was the first hour-long western, and in fact the first hour-long dramatic series of any kind, with continuing characters, to last more than one season. It was also the first series to be made by a major Hollywood film studio which did not derive from its established film properties, and the first of a long chain of Warner Brothers original series produced by William T. Orr.
Death Valley Days
Death Valley Days is an American radio and television anthology series featuring true stories of the old American West, particularly the Death Valley area. Created in 1930 by Ruth Woodman, the program was broadcast on radio until 1945 and continued from 1952 to 1970 as a syndicated television series, with reruns continuing through August 1, 1975. The series was sponsored by the Pacific Coast Borax Company and hosted by Stanley Andrews, Ronald Reagan, Robert Taylor, and Dale Robertson. With the passing of Dale Robertson in 2013, all the former Death Valley Days hosts are now deceased.
A Wyoming sheriff rebuilds his life and career following the death of his wife. Based on the “Walt Longmire” series of mystery novels written by best-selling author Craig Johnson.
The Outcasts is an American Western genre television series, appearing on ABC in the 1968-69 season. The series stars Don Murray and Otis Young. It is most notable for being the first television Western with an African American co-star.
The Big Valley
The Big Valley is an American western television series which ran on ABC from September 15, 1965, to May 19, 1969. The show stars Barbara Stanwyck, as the widow of a wealthy nineteenth century California rancher. It was created by A.I. Bezzerides and Louis F. Edelman, and produced by Levy-Gardner-Laven for Four Star Television.
How the West Was Won
The Macahans, a family from Virginia headed by Zeb Macahan, travel across the country to pioneer a new land and a new home in the American West.
State Trooper is an American crime drama set in the 1950s American West, starring Rod Cameron as Rod Blake, an officer of the Nevada Department of Public Safety. The series aired 104 episodes in syndication from September 25, 1956, to June 25, 1959.
When Calls the Heart
Elizabeth Thatcher, a young school teacher from a wealthy Eastern family, migrates from the big city to teach school in a small coal mining town in the west.
Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
Dr. Michaela Quinn journeys to Colorado Springs to be the town's physician after her father's death in 1868.
Into the West
The lives of two families, one white American, one native American, become mingled through the momentous events of American expansion, between 1825 and 1890.
Daniel Boone is an American action-adventure television series starring Fess Parker as Daniel Boone that aired from September 24, 1964 to September 10, 1970 on NBC for 165 episodes, and was made by 20th Century Fox Television. Ed Ames co-starred as Mingo, Boone's Cherokee friend, for the first four seasons of the series. Albert Salmi portrayed Boone's companion Yadkin in season one only. Dallas McKennon portrayed innkeeper Cincinnatus. Country Western singer-actor Jimmy Dean was a featured actor as Josh Clements during the 1968–1970 seasons. Actor and former NFL football player Rosey Grier made regular appearances as Gabe Cooper in the 1969 to 1970 season. The show was broadcast "in living color" beginning in fall 1965, the second season, and was shot entirely in California and Kanab, Utah.
The Wild Wild West
The Wild Wild West is an American television series Developed at a time when the television western was losing ground to the spy genre, this show was conceived by its creator, Michael Garrison, as "James Bond on horseback." Set during the administration of President Ulysses Grant, the series followed Secret Service agents James West and Artemus Gordon as they solved crimes, protected the President, and foiled the plans of megalomaniacal villains to take over all or part of the United States. The show also featured a number of fantasy elements, such as the technologically advanced devices used by the agents and their adversaries. The combination of the Victorian era time-frame and the use of Verne-esque style technology have inspired some to give the show credit for the origins of the steam punk subculture.
Hell on Wheels
The epic story of post-Civil War America, focusing on Cullen Bohannon, a Confederate soldier who sets out to exact revenge on the Union soldiers who killed his wife. His journey takes him west to Hell on Wheels, a dangerous, raucous, lawless melting pot of a town that travels with and services the construction of the first transcontinental railroad, an engineering feat unprecedented for its time.
The series initially starred veteran movie supporting actor Ward Bond as the wagon master, later replaced upon his death by John McIntire, and Robert Horton as the scout, subsequently replaced by lookalike Robert Fuller a year after Horton had decided to leave the series. The series was inspired by the 1950 film Wagon Master directed by John Ford and starring Ben Johnson, Harry Carey Jr. and Ward Bond, and harkens back to the early widescreen wagon train epic The Big Trail starring John Wayne and featuring Bond in his first major screen appearance playing a supporting role. Horton's buckskin outfit as the scout in the first season of the television series resembles Wayne's, who also played the wagon train's scout in the earlier film.
Bret Maverick is a 1981-82 American Western television series starring James Garner in the role that made him famous in the 1957 series Maverick: a professional poker player traveling alone year after year through the Old West from riverboat to saloon. In this sequel series, Maverick has settled down in Sweetwater, Arizona Territory, where he owns a ranch and is co-owner of the town's saloon. However, Maverick is still always on the lookout for his next big score, and continues to gamble and practice various con games whenever the chance arises. The series was developed by Gordon Dawson, and produced by Garner's company Cherokee Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television.
Sugarfoot is an American western television series that aired on ABC from 1957 to 1961. The series stars Will Hutchins as Tom Brewster, an Easterner who comes to the Oklahoma Territory to become a lawyer. Jack Elam is cast in occasional episodes as sidekick Toothy Thompson. Brewster was a correspondence-school student whose apparent lack of cowboy skills earned him the nickname "Sugarfoot", a designation even below that of a tenderfoot.
Diego de la Vega, the son of a wealthy landowner, returns from his studies in Spain and discovers that Los Angeles is under the command of Capitan Monastario, a cruel man who relishes in the misuse of his power for personal gain. Knowing that he cannot hope to single-handedly defeat Monastario and his troops, Diego resorts to subterfuge. He adopts the secret identity of Zorro, a sinister figure dressed in black, and rides to fight Monastario's injustice.
The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin
The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin is an American children's television program. Beginning in October 1954 until May 1959, 166 episodes originally aired on ABC television network. It starred child actor Lee Aaker as Rusty, a boy orphaned in an Indian raid, who was being raised by the soldiers at a US Cavalry post known as Fort Apache. He and his German shepherd dog, Rin Tin Tin, helped the soldiers to establish order in the American West. Texas-born actor James Brown appeared as Lieutenant Ripley "Rip" Masters. Co-stars included veteran actor Joe Sawyer and actor Rand Brooks from Gone with the Wind fame.
Walker, Texas Ranger
Modern-day Texas Ranger, Cordell Walker's independent crime-solving methods have their roots in the rugged traditions of the Old West. Walker's closest friend is former Ranger, C.D. Parker, who retired after a knee injury, and now owns "C.D.'s," a Country/Western saloon/restaurant. Rookie Ranger, James "Jimmy" Trivette is an ex-football player who bases his crime-solving methods on reason and uses computers and cellular phones. Alex Cahill is the Assistant DA who shares a mutual attraction with Walker, but often disagrees with his unorthodox approach to law enforcement.
The Lone Ranger
The Lone Ranger is an American western television series that ran from 1949 to 1957, starring Clayton Moore with Jay Silverheels as Tonto. The live-action series initially featured Gerald Mohr as the episode narrator. Fred Foy served as both narrator and announcer of the radio series from 1948 to its finish and became announcer of the television version when story narration was dropped there. This was by far the highest-rated television program on the ABC network in the early 1950s and its first true "hit".
The Tall Man
The Tall Man is a half-hour American western television series about Sheriff Pat Garrett and the gunfighter Billy the Kid that aired seventy-five episodes on NBC from 1960 to 1962, filmed by Revue Productions.
Branded is an American Western series which aired on NBC from 1965 through 1966, sponsored by Procter & Gamble in its Sunday night 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time period, and starred Chuck Connors as Jason McCord, a United States Army Cavalry captain who had been drummed out of the service following an unjust accusation of cowardice.
The tale of trail boss Gil Favor and his trusty foreman Rowdy Yates as they drives cattle across the old west. Along the way they meet up with adventure and drama.
In 2071, roughly fifty years after an accident with a hyperspace gateway made the Earth almost uninhabitable, humanity has colonized most of the rocky planets and moons of the Solar System. Amid a rising crime rate, the Inter Solar System Police (ISSP) set up a legalized contract system, in which registered bounty hunters, also referred to as "Cowboys", chase criminals and bring them in alive in return for a reward.
The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp
The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp is a television western series loosely based on the life of frontier marshal Wyatt Earp. The half-hour black-and-white program aired for 229 episodes on ABC from 1955 to 1961 and featured Hugh O'Brian in the title role.
A chronicle of the Texas Revolution, the uprising against the tyranny of Mexican dictator Santa Anna, from the battle of the Alamo to the battle of San Jacinto, and the rise of the Texas Rangers.
Black Saddle is an American Western television series starring Peter Breck that aired 44 episodes on ABC from January 10, 1959 to May 6, 1960. The half-hour program was produced by Dick Powell's Four Star Television, and the original pilot was an episode of CBS's Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater, with Chris Alcaide portraying the principal character, Clay Culhane. For syndicated reruns, Black Saddle was combined with three other Western series from the same company, Law of the Plainsman starring Michael Ansara, Johnny Ringo starring Don Durant and Mark Goddard, and the critically acclaimed creation of Sam Peckinpah, The Westerner with Brian Keith, under the umbrella title, The Westerners, with new hosting sequences by Keenan Wynn.