Cheyenne (1955 TV series)
After seven seasons, Cheyenne put up the saddle after saving a studio, a network, and forever changing American entertainment. Under the auspices of William T. Orr and creator/developer Roy Huggins, Cheyenne established the one-hour continuing drama as a pop-culture staple, eventually emerging as the dominant narrative force in American fiction. Helped in no small part by the charms of its star, the Big Man himself, Clint Walker, and the show’s blend of high adventure, drama and romance – all of which may be found in high abundance in this complete 13-Episode Collection. From shotgun marriages to abominable mountain-monsters. From range wars to the state senate. From amnesiac gunslingers to blind saloon singers, Cheyenne Bodie faces them all as he delivers his two-gun mix of justice and mercy across the plains. Long may he ride!
Cheyenne is an American western television series of 108 black-and-white episodes broadcast on ABC from 1955 to 1963. The show was the first hour-long western, and in fact the first hour-long dramatic series of any kind, with continuing characters, to last more than one season. It was also the first series to be made by a major Hollywood film studio which did not derive from its established film properties, and the first of a long chain of Warner Brothers original series produced by William T. Orr.
The series began as a part of Warner Brothers Presents, a program that alternated three different series in rotation. In its first year, Cheyenne traded broadcast weeks with Casablanca and Kings Row. Thereafter, Cheyenne was overhauled by new producer Roy Huggins and left the umbrella of WBP. The show starred Clint Walker, a native of Illinois, as Cheyenne Bodie, a physically large cowboy with a gentle spirit in search of frontier justice who wanders the American West. The first episode, about robbers pretending to be Good Samaritans, is titled “Mountain Fortress” and features James Garner (who had briefly been considered for the role of Cheyenne) as a guest star, but with higher billing given to Ann Robinson as Garner’s intended bride. The episode reveals that Bodie’s parents were massacred by Cheyenne Indians, who then reared him. In the series the character Bodie maintains a positive and understanding attitude toward the Native Americans despite the slaughter of his parents.
Cheyenne ran from 1955 to 1963, except for a hiatus when Walker went on strike for better terms (1958–1959); among other demands, the actor wanted increased residuals, a reduction of the 50-percent cut of personal appearance payments that had to be turned over to Warner Brothers, and a release from the restriction of recording music only for the company’s own label. The interim saw the introduction of a virtual Bodie-clone called Bronco Layne, played by Ty Hardin, born in New York City but reared in Texas. Hardin was featured as the quasi main character during Bodie’s absence. When Warners renegotiated Walker’s contract and the actor returned to the show in 1959, Bronco was spun off as a show in its own right and became independently successful.
For most of their runs, Cheyenne, Bronco, and Sugarfoot, starring Will Hutchins, alternated in the same time slot. Cheyenne was the senior partner of the three. Only a snippet of the Bronco theme song was heard in the opening credits, as a kind of aural footnote to that of Cheyenne. Occasionally Cheyenne, Bronco, and Sugarfoot appeared together in the same episode of each other’s series. In the 1961 Cheyenne episode “Duel at Judas Basin,” Walker, Hardin, and Hutchins join forces to stop a trapper (Jacques Aubuchon) from selling guns to the Sioux Indians. The trapper has also framed Tom “Sugarfoot” Brewster of murder.
Even after returning to the program — having been prohibited from seeking other work during the long contract negotiation — Walker was unhappy to continue to play a role which he felt he had already exhausted. He told reporters that he felt like “a caged animal.”Though Cheyenne aired for seven years, the series made only 108 episodes because it was in repeated alternation with other programs and was out of production during Clint Walker’s contract dispute.
At the conclusion of the sixth season, a special episode was aired, “A Man Named Ragan,” the pilot for a program called The Dakotas, starring Larry Ward, Chad Everett, Jack Elam, and Michael Greene, that was to have replaced Cheyenne in the middle of the next season. However, because Cheyenne Bodie never appeared in “Ragan”, the two programs are only tenuously linked.
Walker reprised the Cheyenne Bodie character in 1991 for the TV-movie The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw and also played Cheyenne in an episode of Kung Fu: The Legend Continues in 1995.
Episodes – List of Cheyenne Episodes
Claude Akins was cast as tough-minded Sheriff Bob Walters, with Gail Kobe as Della Carver, a crestfallen mother whose son has disappeared, in the episode “The Long Search” (1958).
Chris Alcaide appeared as Deputy Hack in “Star in the Dust” (1956) and as Harry Thomas in “The Quick and the Deadly” (1962).
Evelyn Ankers appeared as saloon owner Robbie James, who tries to keep her daughter from learning about her occupation, in the episode “Gambler” (1958).
R. G. Armstrong was cast as Nathanael Grimm in “The Return of Mr. Grimm” (February 13, 1961). In the story line, the wealthy Grimm seeks the hanging of Sheriff Cheyenne Bodie for the justifiable homicide of Grimm’s wayward son, who was fleeing from a posse. Grimm closes the businesses he controls in town, and the threatened townsmen demand that Bodie stand trial though no crime has been committed. Anita Sands appears as Grimm’s secret daughter-in-law, Grace Evans, who unknown to him is carrying his grandson.
Barry Atwater played George A. Custer, with Liam Sullivan as Marcus Reno, in the two-part episode, “Gold, Glory, and Custer – Prelude” and “Gold, Glory, and Custer – Requiem” (1960). In the story line, Cheyenne Bodie guides a party led by Custer into the Black Hills, an area protected by a treaty with the Sioux, in apparent search of gold.
Trevor Bardette was cast in six episodes, beginning with the role of Amarillo Ames in “Lone Gun” (1956).
Dan Barton played Jim Ellis, a schoolmaster with a questionable past who claims to have killed a bank robber, in the 1957 season premiere episode, “Incident at Indian Springs”.
Whitney Blake, prior to Hazel, was cast as Beth Tobin in “Riot at Arroyo Seco” (1960), an episode which focuses on how a water shortage threatens to destroy a town.
Dan Blocker, prior to Bonanza, appeared as Pete in “Land Beyond the Law” (1957) and as Deputy Sam in “Noose at Noon” (1958).
Peter Breck, who played Nick Barkley on The Big Valley, appeared in three different roles, as James Abbot in “Legacy of the Lost” (1962), Sheriff Matt Kilgore in “Indian Gold (1962), and Tony Chance in “Dark Decision” (1962).
Peter Brown, prior to Lawman, appeared as Jed Wayne in “Renegades” (1958). In the story line, Wayne enlists in the United States Army after his father is killed in an attack by Comanche renegades. Olive Sturgess guest stars as Kathy Donovan, who takes an interest in young Wayne and is the daughter of the fort commander, Colonel Ralph Donovan (Bartlett Robinson), who distrusts the Indians. This episode also focuses on the spirit and endurance of Wayne’s mortally lame horse and the wisdom of the Comanche chief Little Elk (Steve Darrell).
Ellen Burstyn (billed as Ellen McCrae) appeared as Emmy Mae in “Day’s Pay” (1961).
Edd Byrnes appeared as Clay Rafferty in “The Brand” (1957).
Jean Byron was cast as newspaperwoman Fay Kirby, with Frank DeKova as Chief Sitting Bull in “The Broken Pledge”, a story of betrayal of the Sioux. Also cast are Whit Bissell as George Armstrong Custer, William Fawcett, Gary Vinson, and John Dehner (1957).
Ahna Capri as Mary Randall in “Trouble Street” (1961).
Philip Carey as Cole Younger in “One Way Ticket” (1962).
John Carradine as Delos Gerrard in “Decision at Gunsight” (1957).
Mary Castle as Alice Wilson in “Test of Courage” (1957).
Peggie Castle appeared as the devious southern belle Mary “Mississippi” Brown in the episode “Fury at Rio Hondo”, set in Mexico (April 17, 1956), and as Amy Gordon in “The Spanish Grant” (1957).
Joan Caulfield appeared as Darcy Clay, the owner of a herd of sheep, who clashes with cattlement in the series finale, “Showdown at Oxbend” (December 17, 1962).
Billy Chapin, former child actor, appeared in the second episode of the series, “Julesburg” (October 11, 1955) as Tommy Scott, whose older brother is crushed to death in a stampede as he tries to save Tommy.
Robert Colbert in “Two Trails to Santa Fe” (October 28, 1960) plays Army Corporal Howie Burch, who tries to steal gold from miners working a claim near the fort where he is stationed. Burch is also trying to win back the affection of his former wife (Randy Stuart), whose husband (Richard Webb), is one of the miners. Then the Army decides to abandon the fort, an action which places the miners in jeopardy from Indian attacks.
Tim Considine was cast as Billy McQueen, with Connie Stevens as Clovis in “Reprieve” (1959).
Russ Conway appeared as Marshal Stort in the 1958 episode “Ghost of Cimarron”.
Richard Crenna appeared as Curley Galway in “Hard Bargain” (1957).
Walter Coy appeared in various roles in four different Cheyenne episodes, “The Bounty Killers,” as Sheriff Sam Townley in “Town of Fear”, “Apache Blood”, and “Savage Breed” between 1956 and 1960.
Ronnie Dapo, a child actor, appeared as ten-year-old Roy Barrington in the 1962 episode “One Way Ticket”.
Francis De Sales guest starred twice in 1957, as Lieutenant Quentin in “Land Beyond the Law” and as a sheriff in “The Brand”.
Angie Dickinson appeared as Jeannie Trude in “War Party” (1957).
James Drury was cast as Bill Magruder in “The Imposter” (1959).
Andrew Duggan plays the outlaw Black Jack in “The Angry Sky” (1958) and the stern cattleman Ed Foster in the series finale, “Showdown at Oxbend”.
Dean Fredericks appeared three times, including as Yellow Knife in the episode “Quicksand” (1956) and as Little Chief in “The Broken Pledge” (1957).
James Garner, later to play Bret Maverick on “Maverick” and Jim Rockford on “The Rockford Files,” appeared as Lt. Forsythe in “Mountain Fortress” (1955), the first episode of the series; as Lt. Rogers in “Decision” (1956), episode eight; and also as Rev. Bret Mailer in “The Last Train West” (1956), which was episode fifteen of season one.He also appeared as Peake in “War Party” (1957) in the second season.
Jock Gaynor (later of NBC’s Outlaws) as Johnny McIntire, with Joan O’Brien as his intended, Selma Dawson, in “Incident at Dawson Flats” (1961)
Lorne Greene as Colonel Bell in “Gold” and “Glory” (1960)
Tod Griffin as Sheriff Frank Day in “The Empty Gun” (1958) and as Rafe Donovan in “The Greater Glory” (1961)
Alan Hale, Jr. as folksy rancher Les Bridgeman in “Hired Gun” (1957). In the story line, Bridgeman hires Cheyenne Bodie, who has gone undercover for the local sheriff, to work on the Bridgeman Ranch, unknowing that Bridgeman’s wife Lilli (Whitney Blake) has hired a professional assassin to kill her husband so that she can instead marry a competing rancher, Kiley Rand (Don Megowan)
Ron Hayes (later of The Everglades) as the Durango Kid in “Town of Fear” (1957)
Kelo Henderson made his screen debut as Doc Pardes in “The Brand” (1957).
Dennis Hopper appeared as an arrogant young gunfighter, the Utah Kid, in the episode “Quicksand”; in the story line, he gave Cheyenne Bodie no choice but to kill him in a gunfight. He also appeared in an episode called “The Iron Trail” in season two (1957) as Abe Larson, the leader of a gang of youths planning to kidnap the President of the United States.
Ron Howard played “Timmy” (uncredited) in “Counterfeit Gun”, Season 5, Episode 2 (1960).
Brad Johnson appeared as Sheriff Dan Blaisdell in the 1960 episode “Home Is the Brave”.
I. Stanford Jolley appeared seven times, the last having been as Ezra in “The Quick and the Deadly” (1962).
Sally Kellerman played the marriage-minded Lottie Durango in “The Durango Brothers,” the seventh (and final) season opener in 1962.
Douglas Kennedy portrayed Blake Holloway in “The Spanish Grant” (1957).
George Kennedy portrayed Lee Nelson with Madlyn Rhue as Ellen Lassiter in “Prisoner of Moon Mesa” (1959).
Robert Knapp appeared as Frank Thorne in “Massacre at Gunsight Pass” (May 1, 1961) and as Deputy Rankin in “Wanted for the Murder of Cheyenne Bodie” (December 10, 1962).
Harry Lauter appeared three times, the last having been as Walt Taylor in “The Vanishing Breed” (1962).
Robert Karnes (a regular on NBC’s crime drama The Lawless Years) as Matt Walsh in “Man Alone” (1962)
Wright King appeared in three episodes from 1956 to 1958 and once each on the Cheyenne spin-pff series, Sugarfoot and Bronco.
Michael Landon in the episode “The White Warrior” (1958) appeared as White Hawk or Alan Horn, a young white man who like Cheyenne Bodie was raised by Indians after the massacre of his parents. White Hawk rises to the occasion to help Cheyenne as he heads a wagon train to California amid the threat of the Apaches. Randy Stuart appeared in this episode as Clara Bolton, a single woman on the wagon train who takes a liking to White Hawk. Peter Whitney played the brutal Eli Henderson, who tries to remove Cheyenne as the wagon master. Earlier, Landon played a trooper in “Decision” (1956).
Ruta Lee, as Lenore Walton Hanford in “Wanted for the Murder of Cheyenne Bodie” (1962), the penultimate episode of the series. Bodie is mistaken for a notorious gunfighter and framed for his “own” murder. The episode also stars Dick Foran, Richard Webb, and Gregg Palmer.
Dayton Lummis portrayed as Frank Collins in “The Young Fugitives” (1961). Richard Evans played his son, Gilby Collins, a burgeoning outlaw. Anne Whitfield portrayed Nita, Gilby’s new-found girlfriend, who convinces him to turn himself in to authorities.
Scott Marlowe played Mickey Free in “Apache Blood” (1960), the story of a young white man captured by Indians who tries to return to his own people.
Donald May and Merry Anders appeared in dual roles in “The Long Rope”; May as Fred Baker/Randy Pierce, and Anders as Ruth Graham/Fay Pierce (1960).
Ann McCrea was cast as Faith Swain, whose herd Cheyenne is driving to market under the alias Ace Black, in the 1958 episode “Wagon-Tongue North”. Unknown to Faith, Cheyenne had earlier killed her husband in self-defense.
Frank McGrath, cast a year later on Wagon Train, made a brief appearance in the same episode as a ranch foreman, John Pike, who is killed by the Comanches. (1956)
Patrick McVey appeared three times as law enforcement officers between 1957 and 1961.
Tyler McVey appeared as Henry Toland in the 1960 episode “Gold, Glory, and Custer”.
Joyce Meadows as Madaline De Vier in the episode “Cross Purpose” (1961)
Roger Mobley (earlier of NBC’s Fury and later on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color) as Billy in “Sweet Sam” and as Gabe Morse in “The Idol” (both 1962)
Christopher Olsen, as Chris Olsen, appeared as Kenny in the episode, “Incident at Indian Springs” (1957).
Gregg Palmer appeared as Dillard in the 1961 episode “The Frightened Town”.
John M. Pickard guest starred as Ben Cask in “Dark Decision” (1962).
Slim Pickens appeared as Gary Owen in “Big Ghost Basin” (1957).
Mike Ragan appeared in “The Last Train West”, “Lone Gun”, and “Hard Bargain” (1956-1957).
Gilman Rankin appeared as Ringo in “The Mutton Punchers” (1957) and as Price in “Trouble Street” (1961).
Hayden Rorke (I Dream of Jeannie) appeared as Major George Early in “The Long Winter” (1956).
John Russell (later of Lawman) portrayed Matt Reardon, a gunslinger befriended by Cheyenne Bodie in “The Empty Gun” (1958). In the story line, Reardon tries to make amends to Martha Fullerton (Audrey Totter), the widow of the first man that he killed in a challenge. Standing between them is her vengeful son, Mike (Sean Garrison), who calls out Reardon for a final gunfight. Tod Griffin plays Sheriff Frank Day.
James Seay appeared as Duke Tavener in “Gambler” (1958).
Robert F. Simon appeared as Chad Wilcox in the episode “Born Bad” and as Hub Lassiter in the segment “Prisoner of Moon Mesa.”
James Stacy was cast as Luther James in the series finale, “Showdown at Oxbend”, along with his later Lancer co-star Andrew Duggan.
Harold J. Stone appeared as the brutal loudmouth Rafe Larkin, “The Last Comanchero,” in the first episode of 1958. Edd Byrnes appears again in the series in this episode as Benji Balton, whose parents in the New Mexico Territory were murdered by Larkin and whose girlfriend is being held hostage by Larkin’s only surviving son.
Randy Stuart, in addition to “Two Trails to Santa Fe”, was cast in three other episodes “The White Warrior”, “The Long Search” (as saloon owner Margaret “Peg” Ellis, who takes an interest in Cheyenne), and “Retaliation.”
Rod Taylor as Clancy and Edward Andrews as Duncan in “The Argonauts” (November 1, 1955). Gold dust miners are the best of friends until they strike it rich, only to have Indians attack and their valuable dust cast to the wind because of the greed of Duncan.
Vaughn Taylor stars as Doc Johnson, an unusual outlaw known as “The Ghost of the Cimarron” (1958). Cheyenne must ally temporarily with Johnson to clear his own name with the law, as officers think Cheyenne is part of the gang. Peter Brown appears in this episode as Billy Younger; Wright King, as the Kiowa Kid.
Ray Teal, later the sheriff on Bonanza, appeared in “Julesburg” as a ruthless cattle baron. Cheyenne comes to the lawless town to aid honest settlers.
Dawn Wells appeared as Sarah Claypool in “Lone Patrol” (1961).
Terry Wilson of Wagon Train appeared in an uncredited role as a robber in “Death Deals the Hand” (1956).
Jeff York was cast as Nick Avalon in “Trial by Justice” (1959).
Tony Young appeared twice, as the Indian Yellow Knife (uncredited) in “Two Trails to Santa Fe” (1960) and as the Indian Johnny Brassbuttons in “Johnny Brasbuttons” (1962). In between those episodes, he appeared in the short-lived CBS western Gunslinger.
ABC televised the show from 1955 to 1962: September 1955-September 1959 Tuesday 7:30-8:30 P.M.; September 1959-December 1962, Monday 7:30-8:30 P.M.; April 1963-September 1963, Friday 7:30-8:30 P.M. The series finished #13 in the Nielsen ratings for the 1957-1958 season, #18 for 1958-1959, #17 for 1959-1960 and #28 for 1960-1961.
In its last season, Cheyenne still drew good enough ratings to force the cancellation of the new comedy/drama It’s a Man’s World on NBC, co-starring Glenn Corbett, Michael Burns, Ted Bessell, and Randy Boone. In the spring of 1960, Cheyenne outdistanced singer Kate Smith’s return to television on CBS’s The Kate Smith Show, which was canceled after some six months on the air.
Cheyenne is now shown twice every weekday on the Encore western channels.