1 9 6 3 – 1 9 6 4 (USA)
26 x 60 minute episodes
This western drama series starred Kurt Russell as 12-year-old Jamie McPheeters, a young boy who joins a Wagon Train on a westward-bound journey in 1849.
His stovepipe-hatted father, Doc Sardius McPheeters (Dan O’Herlihy), was an irresponsible MD who had snuck them out of Paducah, Kentucky, just ahead of their creditors to join the wagon train.
Also travelling in the train were 17-year-old orphan, Jenny (Donna Anderson); the God-fearin’ Kissel family (whose children, Micah, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and Lamentations, were portrayed by the Osmond Brothers who also sang the theme song for the show); and blue-blooded Henry T. Coe (Hedley Mattingly) and his valet, Othello (Vernett Allen III).
Constant danger was posed by the Bible-quoting but cunning thief Murrel (James Westerfield), and his shady partner, Baggott (Sandy Kenyon).
Adventure followed as the wagons made their way north to St. Louis, west across the North Platte River to Ft. Bridger, down to Salt Lake City, across the Humboldt Sink and the Sierra Nevada to the Feather River and finally the goldfields of California.
Wagonmaster Buck Coulter (Michael Witney) lasted only a few weeks until he was trampled to death in the process of saving Jaimie’s life.
Linc Murdock (Charles Bronson), a powerful but troubled man, then became the wagonmaster for the remainder of the show’s single-season journey.
Commenting on the young Kurt Russell, Dan O’Herlihy said; “He really wasn’t interested in acting back then. He talked about football all the time, but he was completely professional – he wouldn’t get into conversations sometimes that might have been a bit off-colour.”
The series was based on Robert Lewis Taylor’s 1958 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name.
‘Doc’ Sardius McPheeters
Henry T Coe
Vernett Allen III