Birth of the TV Westerns

Day 48 of Colourisation Project – June 24

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication. 

Attention all baby boomers! How many of the cowboys in today’s photo can you recognise? (Answers at end of today’s post.)

Today, June 24 marks the day the very first Television Western was aired on American TV in 1949 with Hopalong Cassidy. What baby boomer doesn’t remember Hopalong Cassidy, starring the clean-cut William Boyd?

As a genre the Western was the most American of genres. Although they have now outworn their use-by dates, Television Westerns were a sub-genre of film Westerns, with their plots and action taking place in the later half of the 19th century in the American Old West. Very quickly they became a staple of small-screen entertainment, not only in the USA but here in Australia as well.

A number of long-running TV Westerns became classics in their own right, notably SugarfootThe Lone RangerBonanzaCheyenneWyatt Earp, The RiflemanLaramieWanted: Dead or AliveGunsmokeHave Gun, Will Travel,  The VirginianWagon TrainMaverick, The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok, The High ChaparralThe Gene Autry Show, and Tales of the Texas Rangers to name a few.

Television Westerns hit their peak in 1959, when 26 such shows aired during prime-time.

Publicity Still – Warner Bros Studios – All their TV Western Stars – 1959 Coloured by Loredana Crupi

TV Westerns launched the careers of many fine actors. Rawhide which aired from 1959 to 1966 launched the career of Clint Eastwood. It was the fourth longest-running American TV western, beaten only by nine years of The Virginian and Wagon Train, 14 years of Bonanza, and 20 years of Gunsmoke

1968 was the last season for any new TV Westerns. By 1969, strong lobbying from parental advocacy groups brought an end to the TV genre, claiming Westerns were too violent for young children. All three of the major US networks acquiesced and stopped airing new Westerns making way for new TV sub-genres; sitcoms, detective and reality shows.


Today’s photo features from left; Will Hutchins Brewster – Sugarfoot), Peter Brown (Johnny McKay – Lawman)Jack Kelly (Bart Maverick – Maverick) Ty Hardin (Bronco Laine – Bronco) James Garner (Bret Maverick – Maverick) Wade Preston (Christopher Colt – Colt .45)John Russell (Dan Troop – Lawman)

This entry was posted in Colorization, Colourisation, History, Television, TV Westerns, USA and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Birth of the TV Westerns

  1. Thom Hickey says:

    Give me a TV Western and a cold beer and I’m in heaven! Regards thom


  2. Pingback: Wild Bill Hickok | Random Phoughts

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