While returning to the ranch with a horse he just purchased, Heath becomes side tracked and ends up taking home a baby after the mother dies. The father, an outlaw, eventually heads for the Barkley's...
With the Barkley family on the way to the State Fair, Audra is stricken with appendicitis and the only doctor aboard has his own problems- men are out to kill him for revenge. The doctor has a rather...
Stories of the journeys of a wagon train as it leaves post-Civil War Missouri on its way to California through the plains, deserts, and Rocky Mountains. The first treks were led by gruff, ... See full summary »
Bret and Bart Maverick (and in later seasons, their English cousin, Beau) are well dressed gamblers who migrate from town to town always looking for a good game. Poker (five-card draw) is ... See full summary »
The Shiloh Ranch in Wyoming Territory of the 1890s is owned in sequence by Judge Garth, the Grainger brothers, and Colonel MacKenzie. It is the setting for a variety of stories, many more ... See full summary »
The Cannon family runs the High Chaparral Ranch in the Arizona Territory in 1870s. Big John wants to establish his cattle empire despite Indian hostility. He's aided by brother Buck and son... See full summary »
Victoria Barkley heads her adult brood on the Barkley Ranch in California's San Joaquin Valley, near Stockton, in the 1870s. Heath is the illegitimate son of Victoria's husband, Tom (who is dead at the time of the series). Bank robbers, horse thieves, revolutionaries, and land grabbers keep the Barkleys hopping.Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
According to "Wildest Westerns Magazine", Peter Breck was able to draw his gun in 16/100 of a second, making the character of Nick Barkley the fastest draw in television history. See more »
The fashions worn in the series reflected the 1960s filming era rather than its 1880s setting. For example, a proper woman such as Victoria Barkley would have never worn pants and nearly all of the men's clothing is period inappropriate. See more »
Throughout the series, Lee Majors was always introduced as Heath in the credits, no last name. This was because, even though he was accepted as a member of the family, there was always the question of whether he was a true Barkley or not. See more »
Some second season syndication prints now have the first season's main title sequence. While similar in style, they use different shots. Such prints were aired in 2006-2008 on the Encore Westerns Channel and 2007-2009 on the American Life TV Network. See more »
I just read a biography of Barbara Stanwyck and one thing that was made abundantly clear, the woman really liked westerns. She loved doing them from the earliest time in her career right up to her stint with The Big Valley. In fact one of the great disappointments in her life was not doing a film with John Wayne. Who knows why that didn't happen because the two of them were in sync politically.
But she did a bunch of them with co-stars like Joel McCrea, Ronald Reagan, Walter Huston, Barry Sullivan, Ray Milland, etc. So when it came time to choose a television project, Barbara went west.
The Big Valley cast her as Victoria Barkley, matriarch of the Barkley ranch with three sons and a daughter to hold the fort against all comers. The pilot of the show introduced her husband's illegitimate son into the household played by young Lee Majors. Her children were Richard Long, Peter Breck, Linda Evans, and Charles Briles.
Briles got dropped after eight episodes as the youngest, Eugene. They just sent him off to college in the east and he wasn't heard from again. Reading the IMDb notes on him, I find he got himself drafted. All I can say is BUMMER.
Richard Long as Jarrod was also college educated, an attorney, which was a good plot device allowing the show to get off the ranch and into town. Peter Breck was Nick, who was a tough son of a gun. I met Peter Breck a few years before The Big Valley. His family lived in Rochester, New York across from my grandparents house and he was visiting while starring in another shortlived series Black Saddle. My siblings and cousins got to meet him then. A very gracious and nice man.
Of course Linda Evans and Lee Majors both had really great careers after the show. Linda as Audra was a sweet and innocent child, not anything like Crystal Carrington. And Lee Majors got to be The Fall Guy and The Six Million Dollar Man after he was Heath Barkley. I would love to have that man's residuals.
Richard Long did Nanny and the Professor and tragically died right after the run of that show. He was always a player of great class and I enjoyed seeing him in anything he did.
The Barkleys ran into all manner of people and were constantly helping them out of their various predicaments. They were pretty rich of course, as rich as Bonanza's Cartwrights. But I really think they outdid themselves even more than Ben and his sons. Every episode seemed to end with some financial assistance to help somebody get on their feet. I'm surprised Jarrod didn't run for office with all those potential voters available.
With Lee Majors, Linda Evans, and Peter Breck still with us and even Charles Briles, I'm not sure why a Big Valley reunion hasn't been attempted. I'd like to see the Barkleys ride the range into the 20th century.
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