How the West Was Won (TV series)

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How the West Was Won
How the West Was Won title screen small.jpg
Also known as The Macahans
Genre Western
Directed by Bernard McEveety
Irving J. Moore (one episode)
and others
Starring James Arness
Bruce Boxleitner
Fionnula Flanagan
Kathryn Holcomb
William Kirby Cullen
Vicki Schreck
Composer(s) Jerrold Immel
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 3 + pilot
No. of episodes 25 (List of episodes)
Original channel ABC
Original run 1976 (pilot) / 1977 (series) – 1979

How the West Was Won is an American western television series that starred James Arness, Eva Marie Saint, Fionnula Flanagan, Bruce Boxleitner, and Richard Kiley.[1] Loosely based on the 1962 Cinerama film of the same name, it aired as a mini-series in 1977, and as a regular series in 1978 and 1979. A 2 hour long pilot episode, The Macahans, ran in 1976.[1] A total of 25 episodes were aired.

The show was a great success in Europe, apparently finding a larger and more lasting audience there than in the United States. It has been rebroadcast many times on various European networks, e.g. in France, Germany, Italy and Sweden, and has built a cult following.[2] It was released on DVD in Europe in November 2009.

A sequence of paintings by Charles Marion Russell were shown during the end credits.


Zebulon Macahan is a mountain man, trapper/trader and scout working for the U.S Army in the Indian Territories. In the early 1860s, when the Civil War breaks out, he's reminded that he has family back in Virginia that he hasn't seen in far too long. He journeys back there, and when the war comes too close to home, convinces his brother Tim to pack up his wife (Kate), two sons (Seth (Luke) and Josh) and two daughters (Jessie and Laura) and make the move out west. Once out west, Tim leaves the family to return to Virginia to bring his and Zeb's parents away from the war while the family winters in the Indian Territories. When he's gone too long Seth (Luke) goes back as well to look for him. Seth (Luke) finds his father, dying, and his grandparents dead. He then winds up conscripted into the Civil War. Attempting to leave, he's involved in the wounding of a local law officer, and is forced to spend most of the rest of the series fleeing pursuit (not being cleared of the charges until the final season). The remainder of the series involves the rest of the family and their lives as the settle in and build up their farm. The matriarch of the family, Kate, dies between seasons, and is replaced by her sister Molly Culhane, who's journeyed back out west to look after her nieces and nephews.


In the pilot episode, Bruce Boxleitner's character is called Seth and William Kirby Cullen's character is called Jed.

Guest stars included Ricardo Montalban as Satangkai, a Chief of the Sioux Nation, Ron Hayes as Sheriff Pinter, Rodolfo Hoyos, Jr., Harry Lauter as Sheriff Charlie Benton, Gregg Palmer as Loman, Tom Simcox as Marshal Logan, Read Morgan as Morton in "The Slavers", and John M. Pickard as Colonel Caine and Jim Turner (three episodes). Actors Richard Basehart, Ken Curtis, Michael Conrad, and Jack Elam also guest starred on this series.

DVD releases[edit]

How the West was Won has been released in Scandinavia as Familjen Macahan (Macahan Family) in 5 boxes: Box 1 - November 25, 2009 (4 episodes including Pilot); Box 2 - February 24, 2010 (5 episodes); Box 3 - May 12, 2010 (5 episodes); Box 4 - September 8, 2010 (5 episodes) and Box 5 - December 1, 2010 (6 episodes). The series were released remastered during 2012, also in 5 boxes (Box 1 – August 31; Boxes 2-5 - September 25), as well as a complete box November 21, 2012.

Warner Home Video released the complete first season on DVD in Region 1 on July 9, 2013.[3] Season 2 will be released July 15, 2014.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Jackson, Ronald; Abbott, Doug (2008). 50 Years of the Television Western. Bloomington: AuthorHouse. pp. 288–89. ISBN 978-1-4343-5925-4. 
  2. ^ Nordström, Andreas (11 February 2010). ""Familjen Macahan" är en storsäljare". Expressen (in Swedish). Retrieved 28 June 2010. 
  3. ^ 1st Season DVDs with James Arness, Eva Marie Saint, and Bruce Boxleitner
  4. ^ DVD Date, Cost and Info for 'The Complete 2nd Season'

External links[edit]