The Golden Age of Hollywood

The show chronicles the adventures of a wagon train as it makes its way from Missouri to California. There were 284 episodes in 8 seasons: the first aired on September 18, 1957.

Each week it told the story of one of the travelers on an 1870's "wagon train" making its way across the American West. This format thus combined the sweeping backdrop of an ever-changing frontier with the small, personal story of a single individual.

So popular did the show become that it attracted an impressive array of "guest stars" -- Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, Leslie Nielsen, Lee Marvin, etc.

Bette Davis appeared in three episodes as different characters; as Bettina May (1961), Ella Lindstrom (1959) and Madame Elizabeth McQueeney (1959).

Barbara Stanwyck guest starred in "The Kate Crawley Story" (1964).
I'm one big fan of this TV series.

I appreciated all the famous guest stars this series seemed to attract.

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Comment by Tony Rosa on April 17, 2018 at 8:50am

Thank you Rosie, for sharing this experience!

Among the guest stars over the years: the very first one, Ernest Borgnine, as a drunken, washed-up boxer in the show's pilot. Others throughout the years included Bette Davis, Ronald Reagan; and future western stars like Lorne Green and Dan Blocker (Bonanza), James Drury (The Virginian), Leif Erickson and Linda Cristal (both of The High Chaparral), Linda Evans and Peter Breck (who would later join Barbara Stanwyck on The Big Valley), and Chuck Connors and Johnny Crawford, who would play father and son on The Rifleman.

Two other regulars joined and stayed for the remainder of the series: Michael Burns as Barnaby West (the youngest member of the train) in 1960, and Denny Scott Miller (a former movie Tarzan who I remember from two appearances on Gilligan's Island) as Duke Shannon.

Comment by Rosie Sayer on April 13, 2018 at 1:48pm

So glad this exists, and thanks, Tony, for bringing it to our attention. I vaguely remember some shows from that era, and when I was young I had no idea that the stars were previously in movies. I knew Barbara Stanwyck from The Big Valley, Fred MacMurray and William Demarest from My Three Sons, Eddie Arnold from Green Acres, and Orson Welles from a Paul Masson wine commercial. It was much later that I discovered their glorious pasts. I love all the "Golden Age" greats.

Comment by M.T. Fisher on January 18, 2018 at 7:18pm

Alas, I haven't watched an episode in years.  Why, I don't know, as I enjoyed it whenever I did.  I got all the Columbia House VHS tapes, and need to watch them again.  

My favorite story about the show was when Lou Costello appeared on the show.  He played a kind-hearted man who was unjustly appeared of murder.  When they were shooting his close-up, Costello was on the mark, his lines something along the line of, "But you can't think I'd do anything like that," et al.  He was doing fine, when it was obvious Costello had all of sudden forgotten his lines.  He was going "er, um," and all of a sudden, he blurted out, "How ya doin, Ward," cracking everyone up.

Comment by Ktrek on January 18, 2018 at 2:47pm

I honestly haven't watched this series since I was young. I see it's on MeTV or GetTv or Grit or something but just have not taken the time to watch it. One of our members, Mickey Fisher, may have more to offer as he is a huge Western fan. I'm only moderately so.


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