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 cattle 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 quick-tempered second-born son Nick (Peter Breck) ran the ranch.
Heath (Lee Majors) was the illegitimate son of Victoria’s late husband Tom (killed by railroad officials trying to rob him of his land) 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.
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 Barkleys 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.
Sheriff Fred Madden