James Drury, who starred in one of the longest running Westerns in TV history, “The Virginian,” has died. He was 85.
His assistant, Karen Lindsey, shared the news on Facebook Monday, writing that he “passed away this morning of natural causes.” TheWrap reached out to his agent for additional comment.
While his most famous role was “The Virginian,” Drury also starred in Westerns on the big screen, including 1959’s “Good Day for Hanging,” 1960’s “Ten Who Dares” and “Ride the High Country.” His other credits include “Love Me Tender,” alongside Elvis Presley, and “Bernardine,” opposite Pat Boone.
“The Virginian” was based on Owen Wister’s 1902 novel of the same name and ran on NBC for nine seasons, from 1962 to 1971. It was launched by executive producer Roy Huggins (“Maverick,” “The Fugitive”) and his father-in-law Frank Price, who would go on to run Columbia and Universal Pictures. Drury, along with co-star Doug McClure, was the only cast member to appear on all 249 episodes.
Drury was born on April 18 in New York City and, at the age of 10, contracted polio. Just two years later, he began his professional acting career in a tour company of “Life With Father.” He then signed a contract with MGM in 1954, where he had roles in “The Tender Trap” with Frank Sinatra and Debbie Reynolds and the sci-fi classic “The Forbidden Planet.”
Additional TV credits include the series “Richard Diamon, Private Detective,” “Black Saddle,” “Death Valley Days,” “The Rebel,” “Wagon Train,” “Bourbon Street Beat” and “Perry Mason.”
In 1991, Drury was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
See the Facebook post below.
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