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This classic Western series was inspired by the book "The Virginian" by Owen Wister and centred on life at Shiloh Ranch, Medicine Bow, Wyoming, which at the start of the series was owned by Judge Henry Garth (Lee J. Cobb). It told the stories not only of the Judge and his family - and also of later owners - but of the hands who worked at the ranch, largely the mysterious foreman known only as 'The Virginian' (James Drury) and the free-spirited and sometimes irreponsible cowboy Trampas (Doug McClure). Many actors appeared in minor roles who afterwards became extremely well-known in their own right; these included (separately) Pete Duel and Ben Murphy, Tim Matheson and Kurt Russell, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan and Grace Lee Whitney, and young unknowns named Lee Majors, Bruce Dern, Charles Bronson and Harrison Ford.
James Drury had previously played 'The Virginian' in 1958 in a failed TV pilot, and has continued to return to the role at intervals ever since; in The A Team episode 'Happy Trails' and (although not named as such) also in Mel Gibson's 1994 movie of Maverick. In both of these he appeared alongside Doug McClure, who died in 1995. He also had a guest role in the 2000 film version of the Wister novel which starred Bill Pullman.