Home Television Drama Big Valley, The

Big Valley, The

1 9 6 5 – 1 9 6 9 (USA)
112 x 50 minute episodes

Rich but hard-headed widow Victoria Barkley (Barbara Stanwyck) ran a huge 30,000-acre ranch in California’s San Joaquin Valley in the 1870s, with the help of her four sons (bashful 19-year-old son, Eugene, was seen only occasionally in early episodes) and her daughter.

Eldest son Jarrod (Richard Long) was a successful San Franciscan lawyer, who handled the family’s legal affairs, and second-born Nick (Peter Breck) ran the ranch.

Heath (Lee Majors) was the illegitimate son of Victoria’s late husband Tom and an Indian squaw and threatened to leave the family home regularly. Ultimately iron-willed Victoria would calm him down by reassuring him that he was indeed a Barkley, and then he’d stay.

Heath was Majors’ first acting job after only six weeks of drama school.

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Completing the family was Linda Evans (in her pre-Dynasty days) as Victoria’s daughter Audra. She was beautiful, proud and sensuous, but impetuous and had a tendency to fall for men with shady backgrounds – for example, Brother Love, a dishonest faith healer (played by Robert Goulet).

Audra did volunteer work at the Children’s Orphanage (located next to the Old Mill) and was fiercely protective of the land her father died for.

Napoleon Whiting played Silas, the Barkley’s loyal black retainer, who was treated more like a member of the family.

The Barkley’s were a feisty group who were determined to hold on to their sprawling spread of land no matter what the cost. They constantly battled crooked bankers, murderers, outlaws, and even Mexican revolutionaries to hold on to what was theirs.

The Big Valley was created as an attempt to rival both Bonanza and The Virginian but unfortunately only lasted four seasons.

Victoria Barkley 
Barbara Stanwyck
Jarrod Barkley

Richard Long
Nick Barkley

Peter Breck
Heath Barkley

Lee Majors
Audra Barkley

Linda Evans
Silas

Napoleon Whiting
Sheriff Fred Madden

Douglas Kennedy
Eugene Barkley

Charles Briles