Zane Grey Theatre
|1956 - 1962
Western anthology series hosted by Dick
Powell and featuring adaptations of the works of
famed American writer Zane Grey (1875-1939) and
other western authors.
Four Star Productions, the program began
with the narrator proclaiming: "From out of the
West, Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater."
Here is a sample introduction by host Dick
"These were among the last weapons of Bill
Longley, a gunman credited with killing 32
people. Bill retired to become a farmer, I guess
he figured it was time to stop raising
cane and star raising a few beans. It didn't
last long though, so he was hanged October 11,
1878. His newspaper epitaph read: 'Bill Longley
got the rope today. Gave up the farm for
gunplay. Should have stayed behind the plow.
He's pushing up the daisies now.' In the story we have chosen for you this
week, "Gift From a Gunman", we'll see how
difficult it is for a gunman to retire."
Opening Narration & Music
Beside providing commentary for the series,
Dick Powell starred in a number of the programs
as various characters, including Sgt. Major
Dravo ("The Deserters"), Sheriff Morgan Winter
("The Open Cell"), Dr. Mike Reynolds ("Let the
Man Die"), and Colonel Blackburn ("Ambush").
The series was also a testing ground for a number of TV westerns
and unsold pilots, including:
- Black Saddle - Episode: "Threat of
Violence" (May 23, 1958 - 1st unsold pilot)
starring Chris Alcaide as Clay Culhane. Peter
Breck earned the role for the series.
- Doc Holliday - Episode" "Man of
Fear" (March 14, 1958 - unsold pilot) starring
Dewey Martin as Doc Holliday. Martin later
starred as Daniel Boone in four frontier
adventures segments produced for Disneyland.
- Duffy - Episode: "See of Evil"
(April 7, 1960 - unsold pilot) starring
Raymond Massey as Malachi West. The proposed
series was to star Myron Healey.
- Hardcase - Episode: "The Sunday
Man" (February 25, 1960 - unsold pilot)
starring Brian Donley as Fred Childress. Dean
Jones was slated to star in the series.
- Johnny Ringo - Episode: "Man
Alone" aka "The Loner" (March 5, 1959)
starring Don Durant as Johnny Ringo.
- The Man from Denver - Episode:
"Checkmate" (April 30, 1959 - unsold pilot)
starring James Whitmore as Joel Begley.
- The Rifleman - Episode: "The
Sharpshooter" (March 7, 1958) starring Chuck
Connors as Lucas McCain
- Trackdown - Episode: "Badge of
Honor" (May 3, 1957) starring Robert Culp
as Hoby Gilman.
- The Westerner - Episode:
"Trouble at Tres Cruces" March 26, 1959
starring Brian Keith as Dave Blasingame.
Zane Grey Theatre was created by
Luke Short and Charles A. Wallace. It featured
stories written by western author Zane Grey, but
also contained material written by other
authors, including Aaron Spelling who went on to
become one of Hollywood's most successful
Episodes of Zane Grey Theatre
were repackaged and shown as a CBS summer
replacement series entitled Frontier Justice
that aired 1958, 1959 and 1961 with hosts Lew
Ayres, Melvyn Douglas and Ralph Bellamy,
Another repackaging of the series was called
The Westerners. It featured newly filmed
introductions with Keenan Wynn who replaced the
old Dick Powell portions of the program.
Four Star Productions also produced the
classic western series: Big Valley,
Law of the Plainsman ( spin-off of The
Rifleman), Stagecoach West,
Wanted: Dead of Alive (spin-off of
Trackdown) and The Westerner.
A museum dedicated to Zane Grey is located in
the town of Zanesville, Ohio.
Obituaries: Dick Powell: 01/02/1963.
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