One of the longest running and most popular of all the television westerns, Wagon Train topped the ratings for eight seasons in the late 1950s and 1960s. Inspired by John Ford's classic 1950 film, Wagon Master, Wagon Train debuted on Wednesday, September 18, 1957 on the NBC Television network. Ward Bond, who starred in Wagon Master, re-created his role from the film as Wagon Master Major Seth Adams. He was joined by costars Robert Horton as Head Scout Flint McCullough, Frank McGrath as the cook Charlie Wooster, and Terry Wilson as Assistant Wagon Master Bill Hawks, who all brought their skills as horsemen as well as wonderful western actors to the show, giving Wagon Train a special, western flavor.
Each well-crafted episode focused on a personal story of courage and perseverance of not just the main cast, but of the westward-bound emigrants as they made the perilous journey by Conestoga wagon from the banks of the Mississippi to California's Pacific shores in the face of great odds. The cast was joined each week by Hollywood's brightest stars in guest roles.
The ensemble acting, wonderful scripts and great western scenery soon made Wagon Train a fixture in American homes on Wednesday nights, as millions of Americans of all ages tuned in to NBC for classic family entertainment. When Ward Bond passed away during the 4th season, he was replaced by John McIntire as Christopher Hale, who took over as the new Wagon Master, a role he played till the series ended in 1965. There were other cast changes as well. Denny Scott Miller took on the role of assistant scout Duke Shannon in 1961, and when Robert Horton left the show in 1963, the producer Howard Christie brought in Robert Fuller (Laramie) as the new scout, Cooper Smith. Christie also brought Michael Burns onboard the wagon train as Barnaby West, a teenager looking for his lost father on the trail. One-time stunt man Frank McGrath's character Charlie Wooster, Wagon Train's irrepressible cook, was the only cast member to remain with the show for its entire run.
Another big change to Wagon Train in 1963, its 7th season, was the expansion from a one-hour format in black and white, to 90 minutes in color. In its longer format, the 7th season combined both expanded story lines and remarkable color photography of the scenic western landscape, and allowed for greater character and plot line development. Guest stars continued to grace Wagon Train, including performances by Barbara Stanwyck, Ronald Reagan, Peter Falk, Suzanne Pleshette, Bruce Dern, Rhonda Fleming, Burgess Meredith, Neville Brand, Annette Funicello and many, many more!
These 32 color episodes of that 7th season are fully restored and mastered from the original NBC Universal masters by TMG, which is proud to present them for the first time on DVD.
Bonus DVDs: 16 Classic Episodes of Wagon Train on 4 DVD discs - These classic episodes of Wagon Train span the entire series, from Season 1 with Ward Bond and Robert Horton, to season 8, when the series returned to a one-hour, black and white format with John McIntire, Robert Fuller and Denny Scott Miller. Reproduced from NBC Universal's original masters, these 16 black and white episodes have never before been released on DVD. Many fine guest stars appear in these stories of the great westward migration of the 1800s, including Anne Bancroft, Harry Carey Jr., Dan Duryea, Harry Von Zell and Ann Sheridan.
Bonus DVD: Interviews - An exclusive look behind the scenes with two of Wagon Train's most memorable actors, Robert Fuller and Denny Scott Miller, who played Scout Cooper Smith and Duke Shannon. These two stars speak freely about the family of creative people who brought you Wagon Train, from the wranglers and stunt men, to the stars and the producers of the hit series.