James “The Virginian” Drury
My lengthy conversation with James Drury regarding the release of a spectacular tin box set of the first season of the long-running film-quality ‘60s western series “The Virginian” made me wonder why James Lipton never selected him for a segment of “Inside the Actor’s Studio.” Drury has had a great career, possesses incredible insight into the art of acting, and expresses a rare regard for his fellow humans.
Drury also won me over based on his regard for Barbara Eden, who is one of my all-time favorites and was very gracious when I interviewed her a few years ago. Drury’s remark that actors are similar to magicians in that that they have to create “the illusion of reality” led to a discussion about “I Dream of Jeannie.”
Drury shared that he co-starred with Eden in her first professional acting job, which was a production of the play “The Voice of the Turtle” at a Laguna Beach, California, theater. He praised Eden strongly and stated that “she was eager to learn about the reality of illusion.” I just know that she is responsible for me keeping my eyes open for genie bottles during my Plum Island walks in Massachusetts.
“The Virginian” enjoyed the distinctions of being the unusual length of 90 minutes and being one of the few color series when it premiered in 1962. It tells the story of The Virginian, played by Drury, who did not have a name and who was the foreman of a 50,000 acre ranch in 1890s Wyoming.
Anyone who has had the privilege of speaking with Drury can understand why the producers selected him for the role. I would still want him to run my ranch if I owned one, and I know that he would have my back in a fight.
Drury’s response to my first question got our discussion off to a great start. I had asked him if the fact that The Virginian wore a black hat and a black vest indicated that he had been a bad guy in the past. Drury responded that “that just made him a poorer target in the evening” and added that that was important when you were involved in a gun fight.
We additionally discussed the incredible roster of first season guest stars, which included Bette Davis and George C. Scott. Drury stated that the great writing and the rare opportunity to be on film for 45 minutes attracted the stars. He commented also that just watching this people work taught him a great deal about acting.
Drury shared as well that Davis befriended him after her appearance but simply stopped calling him after Joan Crawford appeared in an episode in a later season. Based on what I saw in “Mommie Dearest” regarding Crawford’s disdain for being reduced to working on television in the ‘60s, I asked Drury if she was difficult. He replied that she was very professional and pleasant. I neglected to ask if the wardrobe staff had placed Crawford’s costume on a wire hanger and if that had upset her.
Channeling Lipton, I directed the conversation to the process of making each nearly 72 minute episode. Drury shared that classic Warner Brothers films, such as “Casablanca” and “Beau Geste,” were approximately 72 minutes long and were made in 6 days. He then commented that each episode of “The Virginian” required 8 days.
Drury stated too that part of the illusion of reality is creating an effect that causes the audiences to respond “I don’t know how they did that.” He cited studio tours as one factor in making achieving that more difficulty and commented that that requires that modern filmmakers “reach further in their bag of tricks to create illusions.”
Drury stated further that “I love magic and could watch it all day long, but I don’t want to know how it was done.”
Drury and I additionally discussed studio politics, and he shared that an unwritten rule was that a guest star could not appear on both “The Virginian,” which Universal produced, and the Paramount studios-produced series “Bonanza.”
Drury commented too that his fights for the quality of the show resulted in his making enemies with top studio executives. Conflicts included not allowing use of an expensive camera crane and allowing Universal Studios tours on the set while the show was filming. The fact that Drury won these battles demonstrates his well-deserved star power.
Hearing Drury’s passion for the show and westerns in general prompted me to ask how he felt when the changing TV climate in the ‘70s prompted cancelling virtually every show in that genre. He replied “styles change, tastes change, audience expectations change” and that “dramatists are drawn to what is occurring in real life.”
Anyone who wants to share their own memories of Drury or “The Virginian” is encouraged to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Virginian on DVD!
Lost Kid Shows / Movie Stars on TV / Saturday Morning Shows / Video Vault / Classic Christmas Specials / Fabulous Fifties / Unseen Scenes / Game Shows / Requested Forgotten TV Shows / The Super Sixties / The New * * Shows / 1980's Wrestling / TV Blog
|TV's Embarrassing Moments / Action Shows of the Sixties / TVparty Mysteries and Scandals / Variety Shows of the 1970s / The Eighties / The Laugh Track / 1970's Hit Shows / Response to TVparty / Search the Site / Add Your Comments|
1960's TV Seasons: 1961 / 1964 / ABC 1966 / 1967 / 1968 / 1969 / Fall Previews / The UN Goes to the Movies / Life With Linkletter / Matt Weiner Interview / 1961 CBS Fall Season / The Good Guys / James Drury of The Virginian / Pat Buttram & Green Acres / 1960's Nightclub Comic Rusty Warren / That Girl / Supermarionation / The Virginian's Clu Gulager / William Windom / Court Martial / Cast Changes on Bewitched and Green Acres / Sammy Davis Jr. Show / Sunday Morning Cartoons / Naked City Joe E. Ross / Alan Young Interview / Sherwood Schwartz Interview / Walter Cronkite Moon Landing / The Farmer's Daughter / Petula-Clark /
|Classic TV Commercials / 1950's TV / 1960's TV / Punk Book / / 1970's TV / TV Games / Honey Boo Boo / Lucy Shows / Classic Cars / John Wayne / Gene Roddenberry / Rockford Files / Sea Hunt / Superman on DVD / Toy Gun Ads / Flip Wilson Show / Big Blue Marble / Monty Hall / Carrascolendas / Mr. Dressup / Major Mudd / Chief Halftown / Baby Daphne / Sheriff John / Winchell & Mahoney / Fireball X-L5 / Mr. Wizard / Captain Noah / Thanksgiving Day Specials / Disney's First Christmas Special / Saturday Morning Cartoons / The Magic Garden / Amahl & the Night Visitors / Holiday Toy Commercials / Lucy & Desi's Last Christmas Show / Joey Heatherton / Fat Albert / The Virginian / Bewitched / Death of John Wayne / 1974 Saturday Mornings / Chuck McCann / Rudolph Collectables / Shrimpenstein / Local Popeye Shows / New Treasure Hunt / 1966 ABC TV Shows / 1967 TV Shows / 1968 TV Shows / Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes & Baby Doll / Fridays / TV Moms / Red Skelton / Star Wars / KISS / Lancelot Link / Saturday Morning Cartoons / The Magic Garden / Wonder Woman / Classic Comic Books / Andy Griffith / Cher / TV Shows on DVD / Outtakes & Bloopers / 1967 TV Shows / Romper Room / ABC Movie of the Week / The Goldbergs / Daws Butler Commercials / Saturday Morning Commercials / Captain Kangaroo / Chicago Local Kiddie Shows / Boston Local TV / Philly Local TV / NYC Local Kid Shows / Amos 'n' Andy / Electric Company / Bette Davis / Judy Garland / Christmas Specials / Redd Foxx / Good Times / Sitcom Houses / What's Happening! / Winky Dink & You / Sonny & Cher / Smothers Brothers / Commercial Icons of the 1960s / Soupy Sales / The Carpenters / Route 66 / Bozo / The Carpenters Christmas Specials / Local Kid Shows / Death of TV's Superman / Wonderama / Sesame Street / Bob Hope Specials / Little Rascals / 1980's Retro Gay T-Shirts / 1980's TV Wrestling / Fess Parker / Howdy Doody / TV Blog / Lost In Space / Pinky Lee / 1980's LA Punk Rock / Alex Toth Book / TV Terrorists / Irwin Allen / The Untouchables / Carol Burnett Show / Batman TV Show / Green Hornet / Today Show History / Our Gang / Doris Day Show / 1970's Commercials For Women / Bill Cosby in the 1970s / The Golddiggers / Lola Falana / 1970s TV Shows / David Bowie on TV / Hudson Brothers / Jackie Gleason / Hollywood Squares / Match Game / Bob Keeshan / Gumby / The Flip Wilson Show / Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour / The Bobby Darin Show / The Richard Pryor Show / George Burns / Lucy's Lost Christmas Special / Classic Christmas Toy Commercials / Cricket On The Hearth / 1950's Holiday Shows / Amahl and the Night Visitors / A Christmas Carol on TV / The Yule Log / Celebrity Commercials / Rudolph / Movie Posters & More!|
Looking for classic TV DVDs?/See below:
|TV Commercials on DVD||Wrestling DVDs||Classic TV Books|