From the moment I saw my first western on TV at about age 5, I was hooked. I watched many of the western series that aired during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Restless Gun, Wagon Train, Bonanza, Wanted Dead or Alive, Maverick, The Virginian, Big Valley, Lancer and High Chaparral were among my favorites. But my favorite western of all, from the very first episode that aired in 1962, was The Virginian. I was so taken with it that I read the novel by Owen Wister, and it has been my favorite book ever since. I have re-read it at least a dozen times over the years, and with every reading I notice something I missed before. (In fact, after the tragic events of September 11, 2001, I grabbed the book off the shelf one more time, so I could forget about the horror for just a few minutes each day. It was good therapy.)

In the summer of 2001, I discovered a website dedicated to Doug McClure’s portrayal of Trampas, another one documenting The Virginian episodes, and even James Drury’s official website. I also began collecting and watching the old episodes on tape, and found that I was still in love with the show and its star! I decided I wanted to put up a website that would reflect exactly how I felt; I especially wanted to honor James Drury as being the ideal choice to portray Owen Wister’s hero.

One day, while watching “The Big Deal” (Episode 1.04), I excitedly noticed that three of the scenes were borrowed from the book, and mentioned this to a fellow fan. She told me that “The Accomplice” (Episode 1.13) contains the famous line ‘When you call me that, smile!’ so I obtained a copy and watched it. I began to notice more and more similarities between the book and the shows, and the theme for this website was born. I am having fun constructing it, and it is my sincere hope that fans of the series will find it entertaining and informative.

I’m extremely grateful to Barbara Townsend, the fellow fan whose Trampas Gallery led to an email correspondence which has delighted and inspired me, and who urged me to incorporate my knowledge of the book in my tribute. Thanks are also due to Take One Video for providing this fan with access to an extensive collection of Virginian episodes on tape, and to The Hallmark Channel and Encore Westerns for finally airing the series in my neck of the woods. I'm happy to report that starting in 2010, Timeless Media began releasing all 9 seasons of The Virginian on DVD, and the quality is excellent.

Most of all, I'm grateful to the originators, producers, writers, directors, stars and guest stars, music composers, and production staff of The Virginian, and especially James Drury, for combining their talents to create the highest calibre western series I have ever seen on TV.

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(© 2002 by Alice Munzo. All rights reserved.)
(rev. November 13, 2003)
(rev. May 27, 2011)