The Westerner (TV series)

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The Westerner
Brian Keith The Westerner 1960.JPG
Brian Keith as Dave Blassingame and Spike as Brown, 1960
Created bySam Peckinpah
Written byJack Curtis
Bruce Geller
Tom Gries
Robert Heverly
Sam Peckinpah
Directed bySam Peckinpah
André de Toth
Tom Gries
StarringBrian Keith
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes13
Executive producer(s)Hal Hudson
Producer(s)Sam Peckinpah
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time25 mins.
Production company(s)Four Star Productions
Distributor20th Television
Original networkNBC
Picture formatBlack-and-white
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseSeptember 30 (1960-09-30) –
December 30, 1960 (1960-12-30)

The Westerner is a highbrow American Western series that aired on NBC from September 30 to December 30, 1960. Created, written and produced by Sam Peckinpah, who also directed some episodes, the series was a Four Star Television production. The Westerner stars Brian Keith as amiable, unexceptional cowhand/drifter Dave Blassingame, and features John Dehner as rakish Burgundy Smith, who appeared in three episodes.


Dave Blassingame was a basically decent, ordinary man who was handy with a gun and his fists. A cowboy and drifter, he could sometimes behave amorally in his quest to get enough money together to buy his own ranch, but always did the right thing in the end, and remained true to himself.

His equally amiable dog Brown was played by Spike, which was trained by Frank Weatherwax and is best known for playing the title role in Old Yeller. Brown figured prominently in a number of episodes, appeared in all of them, and was always seen faithfully following Blassingame in the end credits.


Main cast[edit]

  • Brian Keith as Dave Blassingame
  • Spike (dog) as Brown
  • Hank Gobble as Digger
  • Jimmy Lee Cook as Band Member
  • Michael T. Mikler as Band Member
  • Marie Selland as Addie McKeen
  • John Dehner as Burgundy Smith

Guest cast[edit]

Guest stars included Malcolm Atterbury, Ben Cooper, Katy Jurado, and John M. Pickard, and one episode (the first, "Jeff") memorably featured Warren Oates as a drunk quietly passing out at a table.



The pilot for The Westerner appeared on CBS's Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater. The musical score was largely the work of Four Star's Herschel Burke Gilbert.

Syndication as The Westerners[edit]

For rerun syndication it was grouped with three other short-lived Western series from the same company, Black Saddle starring Peter Breck, Johnny Ringo starring Don Durant, and Law of the Plainsman starring Michael Ansara, under the umbrella title The Westerners, bracketed with hosting sequences featuring Keenan Wynn.


No. Title Director Writer(s) Airdate
1 Jeff Sam Peckinpah Robert Heverly, Sam Peckinpah Sep 30, 1960
2 School Days André De Toth Robert Heverly, Sam Peckinpah Oct 7, 1960
3 Brown Sam Peckinpah Bruce Geller Oct 21, 1960
4 Mrs. Kennedy Bernard L. Kowalski John Dunkel, Sam Peckinpah Oct 28, 1960
5 Dos Pinos Don McDougall E. Jack Neuman Nov 4, 1960
6 The Courting of Libby Sam Peckinpah Bruce Geller Nov 11, 1960
7 Treasure Ted Post Cyril Hume Nov 18, 1960
8 The Old Man André De Toth Jack Curtis, Sam Peckinpah Nov 25, 1960
9 Ghost of a Chance Bruce Geller Milton S. Gelman Dec 2, 1960
10 Line Camp Tom Gries Tom Gries Dec 9, 1960
11 Going Home Elliot Silverstein Jack Curtis Dec 16, 1960
12 Hand on the Gun Sam Peckinpah Bruce Geller Dec 23, 1960
13 The Painting Sam Peckinpah Bruce Geller Dec 30, 1960


The critically acclaimed series ran for 13 episodes, but it was cancelled because of low ratings (due to being placed in the same time slot as The Flintstones and Route 66).

Spin-offs and remakes[edit]

The Losers (1963)[edit]

An unsuccessful attempt to update and revive the hardbitten series aired as a January 1963 episode of The Dick Powell Theater, "The Losers", directed by Peckinpah and featuring Lee Marvin as Dave Blassingame and Keenan Wynn as Burgundy Smith, but set in the modern West. Rosemary Clooney portrayed the leading lady.

Will Penny (1968)[edit]

One of the episodes of "The Westerner", "Line Camp", was the basis for the 1968 Charlton Heston film Will Penny.

The Gambler Returns (1991)[edit]

Brian Keith briefly played the same character again in 1991's The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw, which featured a number of 1950s and 1960s television Western series leads reprising their roles in quick cameo appearances (Gene Barry as Bat Masterson, Hugh O'Brian as Wyatt Earp, Jack Kelly as Bart Maverick, Clint Walker as Cheyenne Bodie, David Carradine as Kung Fu's Caine, Chuck Connors as The Rifleman, and so on).

Home media[edit]

A two-DVD set of the complete series was released by Shout! Factory in February 2017.[1]


  1. ^ "The Westerner: The Complete Series". Shout! Factory. Retrieved November 10, 2017.

External links[edit]