Cheyenne is an American western television series of 108 black-and-white episodes broadcast on ABC (American Broadcasting Company) from 1955 to 1963. The show was the first hour-long western, and in fact the first hour-long dramatic series of any kind, with continuing characters, to last more than one season. It was also the first series to be made by a major Hollywoodfilm studio which did not derive from its established film properties, and the first of a long chain of Warner Brothers original series produced by William T. Orr.
Cheyenne ran from 1955 to 1963, except for a hiatus when Walker went on strike for better terms (1958–1959); among other demands, the actor wanted increased residuals, a reduction of the 50-percent cut of personal appearance payments that had to be turned over to Warner, and a release from the restriction of recording music only for the company's own label. The interim saw the introduction of a virtual Bodie-clone called Bronco Layne, played by Ty Hardin, a native of Texas. Hardin was featured as the quasi main character during Bodie's absence. When Warners renegotiated Walker's contract and the actor returned to the show in 1959, Bronco was spun off as a show in its own right and became independently successful.
The two series alternated in the same time slot from 1958 to 1962, with Bronco as the junior partner (only a snippet of his theme song was heard in the opening credits, as a kind of aural footnote to Cheyenne's). Occasionally both Cheyenne and Bronco appeared together in the same episode, both deadly serious as they worked together. Even after returning to the program — having been prohibited from seeking other work during the long contract negotiation — Walker was unhappy continuing to play a role he felt he had exhausted, complaining to reporters that he felt like "a caged animal."
Though Cheyenne aired for seven years, the series had only 108 episodes because it was in repeated alternation with other programs and was out of production during Clint Walker's contract dispute with Warner Brothers.
At the conclusion of the sixth season, a special episode was aired. Called "A Man Named Ragan", it was a pilot for a program called The Dakotas, starring Larry Ward, Chad Everett, Jack Elam,and Michael Greene, that was to have replaced Cheyenne in the middle of the next season. However, because Cheyenne Bodie never appeared in "Ragan", the two programs are only tenuously linked.
Trevor Bardette was cast in six episodes, beginning with the role of Amarillo Ames in "Lone Gun" (1956).
Dan Barton played Jim Ellis, a schoolmaster with a questionable past who claims to have killed a bank robber, in the 1957 season premiere episode, "Incident at Indian Springs".
Whitney Blake, prior to Hazel, was cast as Beth Tobin in "Riot at Arroyo Seco" (1960), an episode which focuses on how a water shortage threatens to destroy a town.
Dan Blocker, prior to Bonanza, appeared as Pete in "Land Beyond the Law" (1957) and as Deputy Sam in "Noose at Noon" (1958).
Peter Breck, who played Nick Barkley on The Big Valley, appeared in three different roles, as James Abbot in "Legacy of the Lost" (1962), Sheriff Matt Kilgore in "Indian Gold (1962), and Tony Chance in "Dark Decision" (1962).
Peter Brown, prior to Lawman, appeared as Jed Wayne in "Renegades" (1958). In the story line, Wayne enlists in the United States Army after his father is killed in an attack by Comanche renegades. Olive Sturgess guest stars as Kathy Donovan, who takes an interest in young Wayne and is the daughter of the fort commander, Colonel Ralph Donovan (Bartlett Robinson), who distrusts the Indians. This episode also focuses on the spirit and endurance of Wayne's mortally lame horse and the wisdom of the Comanche chief Little Elk (Steve Darrell).
Ellen Burstyn (billed as Ellen McCrae) appeared as Emmy Mae in "Day's Pay" (1961).
Edd Byrnes appeared as Clay Rafferty in "The Brand" (1957).
James Drury was cast as Bill Magruder in "The Imposter" (1959).
Andrew Duggan plays the outlaw Black Jack in "The Angry Sky" (1958).
Dean Fredericks appeared three times, including as Yellow Knife in the episode "Quicksand" (1956) and as Little Chief in "The Broken Pledge" (1957).
James Garner, later to play Bret Maverick on "Maverick" and Jim Rockford on "The Rockford Files," appeared as Lt. Forsythe in "Mountain Fortress" (1955), the first episode of the series; as Lt. Rogers in "Decision" (1956), episode eight; and also as Rev. Bret Mailer in "The Last Train West" (1956), which was episode fifteen of season one.He also appeared as Peake in "War Party" (1957) in the second season.
Tod Griffin as Sheriff Frank Day in "The Empty Gun" (1958) and as Rafe Donovan in "The Greater Glory" (1961)
Alan Hale, Jr. as folksy rancher Les Bridgeman in "Hired Gun" (1957). In the story line, Bridgeman hires Cheyenne Bodie, who has gone undercover for the local sheriff, to work on the Bridgeman Ranch, unknowing that Bridgeman's wife Lilli (Whitney Blake) has hired a professional assassin to kill her husband so that she can instead marry a competing rancher, Kiley Rand (Don Megowan)
Kelo Henderson made his screen debut as Doc Pardes in "The Brand" (1957).
Dennis Hopper appeared as an arrogant young gunfighter, the Utah Kid, in the episode "Quicksand"; in the story line, he gave Cheyenne Bodie no choice but to kill him in a gunfight. He also appeared in an episode called "The Iron Trail" in season two (1957) as Abe Larson, the leader of a gang of youths planning to kidnap the President of the United States.
Ron Howard played "Timmy" (uncredited) in "Counterfeit Gun", Season 5, Episode 2 (1960).
Brad Johnson appeared as Sheriff Dan Blaisdell in the 1960 episode "Home Is the Brave".
I. Stanford Jolley appeared seven times, the last having been as Ezra in "The Quick and the Deadly" (1962).
Wright King appeared in three episodes from 1956 to 1958 and once each on the Cheyenne spin-pff series, Sugarfoot and Bronco.
Michael Landon in the episode "The White Warrior" (1958) appeared as White Hawk or Alan Horn, a young white man who like Cheyenne Bodie was raised by Indians after the massacre of his parents. White Hawk rises to the occasion to help Cheyenne as he heads a wagon train to California amid the threat of the Apaches. Randy Stuart appeared in this episode as Clara Bolton, a single woman on the wagon train who takes a liking to White Hawk. Peter Whitney played the brutal Eli Henderson, who tries to remove Cheyenne as the wagon master. Earlier, Landon played a trooper in "Decision" (1956).
Ruta Lee, as Lenore Walton in "Wanted for the Murder of Cheyenne Bodie" (1962)
Dayton Lummis portrayed as Frank Collins in "The Young Fugitives" (1961). Richard Evans played his son, Gilby Collins, a burgeoning outlaw. Anne Whitfield portrayed Nita, Gilby's new-found girlfriend, who convinces him to turn himself in to authorities.
Scott Marlowe played Mickey Free in "Apache Blood" (1960), the story of a young white man captured by Indians who tries to return to his own people.
Donald May and Merry Anders appeared in dual roles in "The Long Rope"; May as Fred Baker/Randy Pierce, and Anders as Ruth Graham/Fay Pierce (1960).
Ann McCrea was cast as Faith Swain, whose herd Cheyenne is driving to market under the alias Ace Black, in the 1958 episode "Wagon-Tongue North". Unknown to Faith, Cheyenne had earlier killed her husband in self-defense.
John Russell (later of Lawman) portrayed Matt Reardon, a gunslinger befriended by Cheyenne Bodie in "The Empty Gun" (1958). In the story line, Reardon tries to make amends to Martha Fullerton (Audrey Totter), the widow of the first man that he killed in a challenge. Standing between them is her vengeful son, Mike (Sean Garrison), who calls out Reardon for a final gunfight. Tod Griffin plays Sheriff Frank Day.
James Seay appeared as Duke Tavener in "Gambler" (1958).
Robert F. Simon appeared as Chad Wilcox in the episode "Born Bad" and as Hub Lassiter in the segment "Prisoner of Moon Mesa".
Harold J. Stone appeared as the brutal loudmouth Rafe Larkin, "The Last Comanchero", in the first episode of 1958. Edd Byrnes appears again in the series in this episode as Benji Balton, whose parents in the New Mexico Territory were murdered by Larkin and whose girlfriend is being held hostage by Larkin's only surviving son.
Randy Stuart appeared four times in different roles in the 1958-1961 episodes "The White Warrior", "The Long Search" (as saloon owner Margaret Peg" Ellis, who takes an interest in Cheyenne), "Two Trails to Santa Fe," and "Retaliation".
Rod Taylor as Clancy and Edward Andrews as Duncan in "The Argonauts" (November 1, 1955). Gold dust miners are the best of friends until they strike it rich, only to have Indians attack and cast their dust to the wind.
Vaughn Taylor stars as Doc Johnson, an unusual outlaw known as "The Ghost of the Cimarron" (1958). Cheyenne must ally temporarily with Johnson to clear his own name with the law, as officers think Cheyenne is part of the gang. Peter Brown appears in this episode as Billy Younger; Wright King, as the Kiowa Kid.
Ray Teal, later the sheriff on Bonanza, appeared in "Julesburg" (October 11, 1955) as a ruthless cattle baron. Cheyenne comes to the lawless town to aid honest settlers.
Dawn Wells appeared as Sarah Claypool in "Lone Patrol" (1961).
Terry Wilson of Wagon Train appeared in an uncredited role as a robber in "Death Deals the Hand" (1956).
Jeff York was cast as Nick Avalon in "Trial by Justice" (1959).
Tony Young appeared twice, as the Indian Yellow Knife (uncredited) in "Two Trails to Santa Fe" (1960) and as the Indian Johnny Brassbuttons in "Johnny Brasbuttons" (1962). In between those episodes, he appeared in the short-lived CBS western Gunslinger.
Cheyenne is now[when?] shown twice every weekday on the Encore western channels.
Warner Home Video has released the first season on DVD in Region 1. Seasons 2-7 have been released via their Warner Archive Collection. These are manufacture-on-demand (MOD) releases on DVD-R discs. The seventh and final season was released on November 12, 2013.
^ClassicThemes.com, Season 1 featured the Warner Brothers Presents opening theme and a closing theme by Jerry Livingston and Mack David. However, once the show came out of the WBP "umbrella", the Lava/Jones theme, "Bodie", was exclusively employed.