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Cheyenne is a 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.

Series history

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 King's 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 wandering the American West.

The first episode, about robbers pretending to be Good Samaritans, is entitled "Mountain Fortress" and features James Garner as a guest star.  The episode reveals that Bodie's parents were massacred by Cheyenne Indians, who then reared him.  Bodie maintained a positive and understanding attitude toward the American Indians.

Cheyenne ran from 1955 to 1963, except for a hiatus when Walker went on strike for better terms (19581959); 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, 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, a native of 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.

The two series alternated in the same time slot from 1958 to 1962, with Bronco as the junior partner (only a snippet of his theme song was heard in the opening credits, as a kind of aural footnote to Cheyenne's). Occasionally both Cheyenne and Bronco appeared together in the same episode, both deadly serious as they worked together. Even after returning to the program having been prohibited from seeking other work during the long contract negotiation Walker was unhappy continuing to play a role he felt he had exhausted, complaining to reporters that he felt like "a caged animal."

Though Cheyenne aired for seven years, the series had only 108 episodes because it was in repeated alternation with other programs and was out of production for many episodes during Clint Walker's contract dispute with Warner Brothers.

At the conclusion of the sixth season, a special episode was aired.  Called "A Man Named Ragan", it was a pilot for a program called The Dakotas, starring Chad Everett, Jack Elam, and Larry Ward, that would replace 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.

Guest stars

Guest stars on Cheyenne included:

  • Chris Alcaide appeared as Deputy Hack in "Star in the Dust" (1956) and as Harry Thomas in "The Quick and the Deadly" (1962).

  • Dan Blocker appeared as Pete in "Land Beyond the Law" (1957) and as Deputy Sam in "Noose at Noon" (1958)

  • Ellen Burstyn (billed as Ellen McCrae) appeared as Emmy Mae in "Day's Pay" (1961)

  • John Carradine appeared 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)

  • Russ Conway appeared as Marshal Stort in the 1958 episode "Ghost of Cimarron".

  • Richard Crenna appeared as Curley Galway in "Hard Bargain" (1957)

  • Edd Byrnes appeared as Clay Rafferty in "The Brand" (1957)

  • Walter Coy appeared in various roles in four different Cheyenne episodes, "The Bounty Killers," "Town of Fear", "Apache Blood", and "Savage Breed" between 1956 and 1960.

  • Ronnie Dapo, a child actor, appeared as Roy Barrington in the 1963 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)

  • 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 appeared 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 season two.

  • Jock Gaynor (later of NBC's Outlaws) as Johnny McIntire 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)

  • Ron Hayes (later of The Everglades) as Durango 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).

  • Harry Lauter appeared three times, the last having been as Walt Taylor in "The Vanishing Breed" (1962).

  • Christopher Olsen, as Chris Olsen, appeared as Kenny in the episode, "Incident at Indian Springs" (1957).

  • Slim Pickens appeared as Gary Owen in "Big Ghost Basin" (1957)

  • 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)

  • Robert Karnes (a regular on NBC's crime drama The Lawless Years) as Matt Walsh in "Man Alone" (1962)

  • Michael Landon appeared as White Hawk, a young man whose history was similar to Cheyenne's in that he was raised by the Comanche after his parents were killed by them in "The White Warrior". Also as a trooper in "Decision" (1956).

  • Dayton Lummis appeared 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 as Mickey Free in "Apache Blood" (1960)

  • 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)

  • Gregg Palmer appeared as Dillard in the 1961 episode "The Frightened Town".

  • John M. Pickard guest starred as Ben Cask in "Dark Decision" (1962).

  • Hayden Rorke (I Dream Of Jeanie) appeared as Major George Early in "The Long Winter" (1956)

  • Gilman Rankin appeared as Ringo in "The Mutton Punchers" (1957) and as Price in "Trouble Street" (1961).

  • Robert F. Simon appeared as Chad Wilcox in the episode "Born Bad" and as Hub Lassiter in the segment "Prisoner of Moon Mesa".

  • 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 cast their dust to the wind.

  • Ray Teal, later the sheriff on Bonanza, appeared in "Julesburg" (October 11, 1955) 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)

Broadcast history

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.

In its last season, Cheyenne still drew good ratings that forced 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 was a co-winner of the 1957 Golden Globe Award for Television Achievement.

More History

History of Western Films & TV
Western Stars
TV Westerns

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