Wagon Train

Wagon Train

Infobox Television
show_name = Wagon Train


caption = "Wagon Train" cast (1964)
format = Western
camera =
picture_format =
audio_format =
runtime = 60 or 90 mins.
creator =
developer =
producer =
executive_producer =
starring = Ward Bond
Robert Horton
John McIntire
Robert Fuller
Michael Burns
Frank McGrath
Terry Wilson
Denny Scott Miller
narrated =
theme_music_composer =
opentheme =
endtheme =
country = USA
language =
network =
first_aired = 1957
last_aired = 1965
num_episodes =
list_episodes =
chronology =
preceded_by =
followed_by =
website =
imdb_id = 0050073
tv_com_id =

"Wagon Train" is a television Western series on NBC from 1957-1962 and then on ABC from 1962-1965. The show debuted at #15 in the Nielsen Ratings, rose to #2 in the next three seasons, and peaked at #1 in the 1961-1962 television season. After moving to ABC in the autumn of 1962, the ratings began to decline, and "Wagon Train" did not again make the Top 20 listing.

The show was based on the 1950 film "Wagon Master" directed by John Ford and starring Ben Johnson, Harry Carey Jr., and Ward Bond.

The show chronicles the adventures of a wagon train as it makes its way from Missouri to California. There were 284 episodes: the first aired on September 18, 1957, and the final segment was broadcast on May 2, 1965. Some of the actors appearing on "Wagon Train" included Ward Bond as wagon master Major Seth Adams (seasons 1-4), Robert Horton as scout Flint McCullough (seasons 1-5), John McIntire as wagon master Christopher Hale (seasons 4-8), Robert Fuller as scout Cooper Smith (seasons 7-8), Denny Scott Miller as Duke Shannon (seasons 5-7), Michael Burns as Barnaby West (seasons 4-8), Frank McGrath as Charlie Wooster (cook, seasons 1-8), and Terry Wilson as Bill Hawks. McIntire replaced Bond as wagon master upon Bond's death, and Fuller replaced Horton as scout when Horton opted to depart, an obvious choice since Fuller had already played a lead in another western series ("Laramie" on NBC) and physically resembled Horton. The eight-season one-hour show was filmed in black and white except for its seventh season, which was 90 minutes and in color.

When the Ward Bond episodes were broadcast weekday afternoons on ABC in 1963, a new series name and theme would have to be used to separate the two airings and avoid viewer confusion because "Wagon Train" was still on the ABC evening schedule. "Trailmaster" was the name given and a new theme song, the "Trailmaster Theme," was written and conducted by Stanley Wilson.

One of Ward Bond's first films had been a small but ubiquitous speaking part in the lavish widescreen 1930 epic "The Big Trail", directed by Raoul Walsh and starring John Wayne in his first leading role, as a wagon train scout dressed similarly to Flint McCullough in a light-colored buckskin shirt. Bond's long screen career could be said to have begun and ended on a wagon train.

When pitching "Star Trek" to network TV executives in the mid-60s, Gene Roddenberry referred to his outer-space series as "a "Wagon Train" to the stars." [cite web
url=http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/R/htmlR/roddenberry/roddenberry.htm
title="Roddenberry, Gene"
work=The Museum of Broadcast Communications
accessdate=2007-06-04
]

Cast

*Ward Bond — Major Seth Adams (1957-1961). He died of a heart attack on November 5, 1960, in the middle of the fourth season and was replaced by John McIntire as wagon master. No explanation was ever given on the show.
*Robert Horton — Flint McCullough (1957-1962)
*John McIntire — Christopher Hale (1959-1965)
*Robert Fuller — Cooper Smith (1959-1965)
*Frank McGrath — Charlie Wooster (1957-1965)
*Terry Wilson — Bill Hawks (1957-1965)
*Denny Miller — Duke Shannon (1961-1964) He played this role over only twenty-nine episodes.
*Michael Burns — Barnaby West (1960-1965)
*Ernest Borgnine played Willy Moran in the pilot episode, broadcast September 18, 1957.

Theme music

The first season theme "Wagon Train" was written by Henri Rene and Bob Russell, and lyrics were not used. The theme was conducted by Revue musical director Stanley Wilson. In the second season, a new more modern sounding theme was introduced. "(Roll Along) Wagon Train" was written by Sammy Fain and Jack Brooks and sung by Johnny O'Neill. About midway through the second season this was replaced with an instrumental version by Stanley Wilson. In the third season a more traditional sounding score was introduced. "Wagons Ho!" was written and conducted by Jerome Moross. This theme would last through the series run and is the most remembered "Wagon Train" theme. Stanley Wilson re-recorded "Wagons Ho!" for the last two seasons.

Episodes

*The episode "Alias Bill Hawks", available on DVD, is a story of townspeople covering for a murder and trying to dig a needed artesian well. Terry Wilson, as the real "Bill Hawks", arrives to put the puzzle together.
*The episode "The Malachi Hobart Story" features Franchot Tone as a traveling preacher who loses confidence in his own message.
*Another episode features Theodore Bikel as a traveling musician who is transporting a mysterious shipment of dynamite to San Francisco for the Army.

Footnotes

External links

* [http://www.fiftiesweb.com/wt/wagon-train.htm Wagon Train Website]
* [http://www.tvtome.com/tvtome/servlet/ShowMainServlet/showid-521/Wagon_Train/ Wagon Train]
*imdb title|id=0050073|title=Wagon Train


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