Do you know what the following names had in common? Eddie Albert, Mary Astor, Ralph Bellamy, Ernest Borgnine, Beaulah Bondi, Walter Brennan, Lloyd Bridges, Rory Calhoun, Lee J. Cobb, Wendell Corey, Robert Culp, John Derek, Bobby Driscoll, Jack Elam, John Forsythe, Beverly Garland, James Garner, Sterling Hayden, Celeste Holm, John Ireland, David Janssen, Carolyn Jones, DeForest Kelley, Cloris Leachman, Jack Lemmon, Julie London, Ida Lupino, Strother Martin, Ralph Meeker, David Niven, Jack Palance, Robert Ryan, Robert Vaughn, Stuart Whitman, and James Whitmore?
Besides being accomplished and well-respected actors, they all appeared in the first season of Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theatre. The show ran for five seasons on CBS and this great lineup lit up TV screens in 1956 and 1957.
Wonderful tales of the Old West laden with history and adventure were presented each week in a half-hour western anthology series. Dick Powell, who served as the host for the entire series, also starred as various characters in 15 episodes.
The series was originally based on the short stories and novels of western author Zane Grey, but as the series continued, new material was added. Aaron Spelling, who later became a legend in Hollywood, wrote twenty of the Zane Grey episodes.
The popular show was also ground-breaking for producing five episodes which were spun-off into subsequent TV series: (1) Trackdown (2) The Rifleman (3) Black Saddle (4) Johnny Ringo & (5) The Westerner. In addition, Wanted: Dead or Alive, with Steve McQueen playing the bounty hunter Josh Randall, was a CBS spinoff of Trackdown, and Law of the Plainsman, starring Michael Ansara as a Harvard-educated, Native American U.S. Marshal was an NBC spin-off of The Rifleman.The entire first season of 29 episodes has been digitally remastered and restored by VCI Entertainment and includes some vintage TV commercials.
Besides restoring Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theatre, VCI is also offering the re-transfer and restoration of Buck Rogers, the 12-episode serial from 1939 in a 70th anniversary edition re-release.
More great news for serial fans… VCI has also released the two The Green Hornetserials from the 1940s, The Green Hornet and The Green Hornet Strikes Back. They went back to Universal to have the elements of some of the chapters completely restruck from the nitrate negatives… and the Black Beauty looks great!
We were able to find an old trailer for The Green Hornet serial. Enjoy a slice of nostalgia from 1940: