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How the West
Was Won


ABC Network
1978 - 1979
60/120 Minutes

Led by mountain man Zeb Macahan (James Arness), the series followed the saga of the Macahans, a Virginia family setting out west in search of a new life and homestead in Oregon.

The story begins when Zeb Machan, a frontier cavalry scout returned home from a ten year stint in the Dakota Territory just as his relatives were planning to move west. Add to the drama, the Civil War begins. Unfortunately, Zeb's Timothy (Richard Kiley) left to fight it the war and his wife, Kate (Eva Marie Saint) died soon after in an accident. Consequently, Zeb adopted the remaining family members, and trekked west to find a new home for all of them. They eventually found a ranch in the Tetons and raised Appaloosa horses.

The members of the Macahan clan who traveled west included:

  • Fionnula Flanagan as Aunt Molly Culhane, Kate's widowed sister who came from Boston to help the family move west.
  • Bruce Boxleitner as Luke Macahan, the oldest son who killed accidentally killed three men in self defense and was now a fugitive on the run. He was also an army deserter.
  • Kathryn Holcomb as Laura Macahan, a beautiful young girl who was flowering into a woman.
  • William Kirby Cullenas  Josh Macahan, the youngest brother who was anxious to be a man and help his family.
  • Vicki Schreck as Jessie Macahan, a tomboyish twelve-year-old.

The Macahan Family - HOW THE WEST WAS WON

TRIVIA NOTE: The series was loosely based on the movie How The West Was Won (1962) directed by John Ford. The Macahan family first appeared in the 1977/1978 TV miniseries of the same name.

The TV special WHEN THE WEST WAS FUN: A WESTERN REUNION (1979) featured many classic TV western characters, including: Neville Brand (Laredo), Chuck Connors (The Rifleman), Linda Cristal, Henry Darrow and Mark Slade (The High Chaparral), James Drury and Doug McClure (The Virginian), Jack Kelly (Maverick), Jock Mahoney and Dickie Jones (The Range Rider), Clayton Moore (The Lone Ranger), John Russell (Lawman), Slim Pickens (Custer), as weel as film actors Glenn Ford (3:10 to Yuma), and Lee Van Cleef (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly).  The 60-minute program was dedicated to actor John Wayne who was in the hospital at the time.

The documentary How the West Was Lost aired on the Discovery Channel in 1993. Taped in 25 states, Mexico and Canada, this six-part  p.o.v. documentary told the Indian side of American History from Revolutionary times to the present interspersed with comments from descendants from such proud Tribes as the Cherokee and Iroquois Nations. It was  narrated by Peter Thomas.

The TV movie How the West Was Fun (1994) starred the Olsen twins as Suzie and Jessica Martin who travel to the contemporary Wild West and experience adventures on a dude ranch owned by their granny Natty Martin.

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