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Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre
Dick Powell with Loren Grey
StarringDick Powell
Theme music composerJoseph Mullendore
ComposerEarle Dearth
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes146 (list of episodes)
ProducerHal Hudson
Production locationsApacheland Studios, Gold Canyon, Arizona
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time25 minutes
Production companies
Original release
ReleaseOctober 5, 1956 (1956-10-05) –
May 18, 1961 (1961-05-18)

Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre is an American Western anthology television series broadcast on CBS from October 5, 1956 until May 18, 1961.[1]


Many episodes were based on novels by Zane Grey,[2] to all of which Four Star Films held exclusive rights.[3] Dick Powell was the host and the star of some episodes.[1] Many of the guest stars made their TV debuts on the program.[3]

Powell said that working with Grey's stories proved to be both a benefit and a challenge. While he spoke of "the vast output of wonderful action stories from Zane Grey's pen", he acknowledged the challenge of "trying to compress a novel into half an hour of storytelling on television."[4] Some stories could be adapted relatively easily, while others had to be skipped or only parts of them could be used for scripts.[4] Over time, script writers used up the supply of adaptable material from Grey and began to adapt other authors' stories.[5]


SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedRankRatingAverage viewership (in millions)
First airedLast aired
129October 5, 1956 (1956-10-05)June 21, 1957 (1957-06-21)
229October 4, 1957 (1957-10-04)June 6, 1958 (1958-06-06)2127.911.7[6]
329October 4, 1958 (1958-10-04)June 4, 1959 (1959-06-04)1328.3[a]12.4[7]
429October 1, 1959 (1959-10-01)May 5, 1960 (1960-05-05)2124.4[b]11.2[8]
530October 6, 1960 (1960-10-06)May 18, 1961 (1961-05-18)



The Zane Grey Radio Show had run for one season beginning in 1947 and had little in common with the stories of Zane Grey. The television series, however, began as an attempt to dramatize adaptions of Zane Grey's short stories and novels. Four Star Films acquired the rights to at least 40 Zane Grey works before filming began. However, it soon became evident that Grey's stories were too complex to fit into a 30 minute episode, and so with few exceptions, the scripts were all original.[9]

Four Star Films was the producing company,[10] with Powell as executive producer.[3] Producers included Helen Ainsworth, Hal Hudson,[1] and Aaron Spelling.[11] Directors included Felix Feist,[2] William D. Faralla, James Sheldon, and Budd Boetticher.[11] Writers included Marion Hargrove.[12]

Sponsors included Johnson Wax.[3]


A preview of the show in the trade publication Billboard indicated that it would appeal to women viewers as well as to men. It noted that among the stories adapted from Grey's work "There will usually be strong love interests."[13]



Season Time
1 (1956–57) Fridays at 8:30–9:00 PM
2 (1957–58)
3 (1958–59) Thursdays at 9:00–9:30 PM
4 (1959–60)
5 (1960–61) Thursdays at 8:30–9:00 PM

Note:All times Eastern

Zane Grey Theatre first aired on Fridays when it replaced Our Miss Brooks in the fall of 1956, then it moved to Thursdays during its third season.[5]

In the summer of 1959, episodes of the program were repeated on a "rerun subsidiary" titled Frontier Justice, with Melvyn Douglas as host, on Mondays from 9 to 9:30 P.M. ET.[14]

In August 1961, Zane Grey Theatre was one of four programs whose episodes were sold to Procter & Gamble to be broadcast in Canada.[15]

Zane Grey Theatre ended when Powell moved to NBC's, The Dick Powell Show, CBS replaced it with The New Bob Cummings Show that fall.[16]

They reran the show again in the summer of 1962.[5]

Home media

DVD Name Ep# Release Date
The Complete First Season 29 June 9, 2009
The Complete Second Season 29 September 30, 2014
The Complete Third Season 29 December 2, 2014
The Complete Fourth Season N/A
The Complete Fifth Season N/A


In early February 1957, Billboard evaluated Zane Grey Theatre as "one of the strong contenders for the title of most important new show, according to many of its ratings."[17]

TV Guide called the show "an educated 20th century view of the Old West".[9]

After five seasons, CBS ran a sixth season composed of reruns of the best episodes.[9]


Five television Westerns began as episodes of Zane Grey Theatre: Trackdown, starring Robert Culp ("Badge of Honor"), The Rifleman, starring Chuck Connors ("Sharpshooter"), Johnny Ringo, starring Don Durrant ("The Loner"), The Westerner, starring Brian Keith ("Trouble at Tres Cruces"), and Black Saddle starring Chris Alcaide ("A Threat of Violence"). Alcaide was replaced by Peter Breck in the principal role when Black Saddle was sold as a series. The “lineage” of Zane Grey Theatre also includes the NBC series, Law of the Plainsman, which originated from a February 17, 1959 episode of The Rifleman starring Michael Ansara as Marshal Sam Buckhart (The Indian).


  1. ^ a b c McNeil, Alex (1996). Total Television: the Comprehensive Guide to Programming from 1948 to the Present (4th ed.). New York, New York: Penguin Books USA, Inc. p. 939. ISBN 0-14-02-4916-8.
  2. ^ a b Hawes, William (2001). Filmed Television Drama, 1952-1958. McFarland. p. 136. ISBN 978-0-7864-1132-0. Retrieved March 17, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d Miller, George (August 24, 1958). "Dick Powell and June Allyson Visit Officials of S. C. Johnson & Son, Inc". Racine Sunday Bulletin. p. 7. Retrieved March 17, 2022 – via
  4. ^ a b "Dick Powell Dons Chaps For Zane Grey Chores". Hartford Courant. November 11, 1956. p. 137. Retrieved March 19, 2022 – via
  5. ^ a b c Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (1999). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946-Present (7th ed.). New York: The Ballentine Publishing Group. p. 257. ISBN 0-345-42923-0.
  6. ^ "TV Ratings - 1957".
  7. ^ "TV Ratings - 1958".
  8. ^ "TV Ratings - 1959".
  9. ^ a b c Yoggy, Gary A. (1995). Riding the Video Range: The Rise and Fall of the Western on Television. McFarland. pp. 83–84. ISBN 978-0-7864-0021-8.
  10. ^ Adams, Val (May 24, 1956). "'Zane Grey' show may bow in fall". The New York Times. p. 63. Retrieved March 17, 2022.
  11. ^ a b Nott, Robert (2018). The Films of Budd Boetticher. McFarland. p. 183. ISBN 978-1-4766-6707-2. Retrieved March 17, 2022.
  12. ^ "First Comes the Word" (PDF). Television Digest. September 12, 1960. p. 5. Retrieved March 19, 2022.
  13. ^ "Zane Grey Theatre, CBS-TV" (PDF). Billboard. August 18, 1956. pp. 32–33. Retrieved March 19, 2022.
  14. ^ Adams, Val (June 7, 1959). "TV-Radio Notes:Fred Astaire Scheduled For At Least One More Turn on TV". The New York Times. p. X 11. Retrieved March 17, 2022.
  15. ^ "Film sales . . " (PDF). Broadcasting. August 21, 1961. p. 117. Retrieved March 19, 2022.
  16. ^ "12 Shows Evicted" (PDF). Television Digest. January 30, 1961. p. 5. Retrieved March 19, 2022.
  17. ^ "More Cowhands on Horizon For Webs' Fall Schedules" (PDF). Billboard. February 9, 1957. p. 3. Retrieved March 19, 2022.
This page was last edited on 14 July 2024, at 04:38
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