The American West in Film and Television: TV Westerns Grow Up: 1955-1968

In the early days of television, children were the primary audience for most westerns. Between 1955 and the late ‘60s, an explosion of Westerns for grownups took over the TV screen – shows such as “Rawhide,” “Bonanza,” “Gunsmoke,” “Cheyenne,” “The High Chaparral,” “Wagon Train” and “The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp.” At one point, 26 westerns were airing in prime time.

The presence of westerns on the small screen faded following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy in 1968, as parental advocacy groups reacted by demanding a reduction in violent programming.

In this presentation, Arizona’s Official Western Film Historian Charlie LeSueur discusses the mass appeal and evolution of TV westerns. In addition, he provides behind-the-scenes revelations about some of the most beloved programming in television history.