Here are the favorite episodes of six Western stars

See what Michael Landon, James Arness and more selected as their favorite pieces of work.

We all have our favorite episodes of television shows. You might gather ten Gunsmoke fanatics in a room and get ten different answers. That's the beauty of classic TV.

Well, the stars themselves have their favorites. It could be because of the finished product itself, or it could be a fond memory of making the show. 

Although, in some cases, actors cherished episodes that were an ordeal to craft. Let's take a look!

Watch Bonanza on MeTV!

Monday - Saturday at 2 PM

*available in most MeTV markets

1. James Arness's Favorite 'Gunsmoke' Episode: "Chato"

Considering Gunsmoke churned out 635, it's remarkable that James Arness, Matt Dillon himself, could single out a favorite, let alone remember them all. That's 20 years of work! Actually, it was one of the later tales that stood out in his mind. It was the 16th season opener! "The episode 'Chato' is probably my all-time favorite show," Arness told the Chicago Tribune in 2005. "Matt is sent out of his territory to stop the Apache, whose family was killed by U.S. cavalry, and we wind up having a certain understanding and friendship as the story evolves." Like "Space Seed," which some might claim as their favorite Star Trek episode, this story featured the inimitable Ricardo Montalban as a guest-star. 

2. Michael Landon's Favorite 'Bonanza' Episode: "The Wish"

Landon's Little Joe barely makes an appearance in this tenth-season episode. The spotlight squarely shines on Hoss, as the big-hearted Cartwright helps a Black family dealing with prejudice in the post-Civil War era. Landon named it his favorite. That could have something to do with the fact that the actor both wrote and directed this installment. In fact, it was just his second directing credit on the series (and his second time behind the camera in his career overall).

3. James Garner's Favorite 'Maverick' Episode: "Shady Deal at Sunny Acres"

Perhaps some of this had to do with the fact that Garner got to spend the episode comfortably whittling in a rocking chair. It's also a flat-out brilliant piece of television, which carries many similarities to the classic film The Sting. Maverick would typically alternate episodes about Bret (Garner) and episodes about Bart (Jack Kelly). Thus, the outings with both Bret and Bart Maverick working together are quite special. It's charming that both actors selected collaborative episodes as their personal favorites, rather than a solo story.

4. Jack Kelly's Favorite 'Maverick' Episode: "Two Beggars on Horseback"

Remember, Garner was not the only star of Maverick. The show divided its time between brothers Bret and Bart. His co-headliner, Jack Kelly, cherished their time onscreen together, it seems. Kelly cited "Two Beggars on Horseback," as his favorite episode in the series. Well, to be honest, despite the story featuring both Bart and Bret, the plot centered around their rivalry, as they race to Deadwood on horseback through hostile territory for the chance of cash. Like "Sunny Acres," it is an ideal entry point for newcomers, as it showcases the two leads' personalities — and the show's varying tones.

5. Johnny Crawford's Favorite 'Rifleman' Episode: "The Vision"

It's a fan favorite, as the audience finally got a look at Lucas' dead wife and Mark's mother in a dreamy flashback. In a 1982 interview with TV Collector, series star Johnny Crawford named this episode as his favorite in the long run of The Rifleman. "At the time I remember thinking that it was very imaginative and unusual," Crawford said. "Also, at that time, one of my favorite shows was The Twilight Zone, so that was where my tastes were." Indeed, it is an outlier in the series. When young Mark falls ill, he experiences fever dreams. The actor himself was suffering from high temperatures during filming. Despite the hardship — or perhaps because of it, in hindsight — he held this particular work close to his heart.

6. James Drury's Favorite 'Virginian' Episode: "Felicity's Spring"

Don't be fooled by the hug. Virginian star James Drury and guest Katherine Crawford had an icy relationship behind the scenes. "It was a very bittersweet, poignant love story," Drury told Inspiration late in his life. "Well, at the time, I couldn't stand Katherine Crawford. I couldn't stand to be in the same soundstage with her." The feeling was mutual. They would finish a scene and scurry off to separate corners of the studio. They later became friends. "Despite that, we did some of the best acting in the show," Drury admitted with a smile. Perhaps that change of heart is what led the late actor to pick this story as a favorite.

 
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

16 Comments

Post a comment
FrankCollins 17 days ago
best mavericks


The saga of waco williams, with wayde preston, written by gene coon

a fellow's brother

pappy

gunshy, spoof of gunsmoke

three queens full, spoof of bonanza, with jim backus

hadley's hunters, bart, edgar buchanan, robert wilke, george kennedy, floyd, herb vigron, doug of time tunnel, cameos of other tv western stars

all episodes with diane brewster, or kathleen crowley, or patricia crowley

Duel at Sundown, with Clint Eastwood, Edgar Buchanan, and Abby Dalton

The Day They Hanged Bret Maverick, with Roy Coffee as the crooked funny sheriff, great humor

The Rivals, with Roger Moore and Vandergelt, and Patricia Crowley


Best Bonanzas

1) Dead and Gone. Hoyt Axton plays the guitar and sings with Adam. Hoyt is in jail for murder,
singing sad songs while awaiting his hanging, and Roy Coffey asks him if he can't sing something
cheerful. He then sings, "I don't got a worry, I don't got a care, goin' to my hangin', all my
friends are there." Hoyt plays a thief and killer. Hoyt Axton was an accomplished singer and writer, and wrote a blockbuster number one hit for Three Dog Night, "Joy To The World."

2) The Saga of Muley Jones. Bruce Yarnell, a real life opera singer, sings Beautiful Dreamer
and other songs. He plays an eccentric cousin of the Cartwrights.

3) Hoss and the Leprechauns. While fishing, Hoss sees a little man in a green suit,
and finds his strongbox of gold dust. Later the Cartwrights see several other little men
in green suits, after they are told they are real leprechauns by a con man. The leprechauns
are played by the original Munchkins from the Wizard of Oz.

4) No Less a Man. The town council wants to fire Sheriff Roy Coffey, as they feel his job
performance is slipping due to old age, and a gang of robbers is in the area. Adam agrees
to be Roy's helper/deputy. Roy outfoxes the gang and captures them all.

5) The Ride. Adam witnesses a robbery and murder, and insists he knows who did it, although
the man had a complete face mask, and an alibi.

6) The Wooing of Abigail Jones. Adam sings "Early One Morning...." teaching someone to sing,
so he can win over Abigail.

7) The Actress. Joe falls in love with Patricia Crowley.

8) Enter Thomas Bowers. William Marshall, a real life opera singer, plays an opera singer
suspected of being a runaway slave, but ends up singing opera at the end.



MarshaStapleton 17 days ago
My favorite Bonanza episode is "The Crucible," guest-starring the late great Lee Marvin. Intriguing story and fantastic acting by Marvin and Pernell Roberts!
ncadams27 19 days ago
Growing up in the Fifties and Sixties, my favorite Western episode had lots of action and no mushy stuff.
BrittanyDale 20 days ago
My Favorite Virginian episode is Season 8 Episode 2 Flash of Darkness where the Virginian goes blind after being thrown from his horse... great episode!!!
ncadams27 BrittanyDale 19 days ago
Every dramatic series that ran more than one year had an episode where one of the lead characters is temporarily blinded.
daDoctah ncadams27 19 days ago
And one where he gets amnesia, and one where he discovers that he has an evil twin.
AnnieM ncadams27 17 days ago
I don't know the title, but remember the Bonanza ep where Little Joe goes blind? The woman he fell in love with who taught him all those techniques to navigate blindness? To this day I still use the toe-bump whenever I go up a flight of stairs in the dark.
MaryMitch AnnieM 17 days ago
And listening to the sound a liquid makes as you pour it into the cup... That was "The Stillness Within", with Jo Van Fleet as the teacher. He didn't fall in romantic love, but you could argue that he learned to love and appreciate her.
FrankCollins ncadams27 17 days ago
And a lead character gets stranded in the desert......
Wackydoglady 20 days ago
My favorite episode of Mavrick was the episode where they spoofed the show Gunsmoke. I laughed so hard throughout the entire show!
cperrynaples 20 days ago
Shady Deal At Sunny Acres features many of the Maverick guest stars and has the perfect villian in John Dehner ["If you can't trust your banker, who can you trust?"]! Fun Fact: It was broadcast November 23rd, 1958, the day Dehner turned 43 AND began playing Palladin in the radio version of Have Gun Will Travel! AND it's also my birthday,,,LOL! Yep, I'm turning 62!
birddog cperrynaples 18 days ago
Happy B-Day Young Lady!!!
cperrynaples birddog 17 days ago
I guess since I've revealed everything else about myself, you should know I'm a man! i'll let it slide because i never said the C stands for Charles!
birddog cperrynaples 17 days ago
Sorry!! Happy Birthday Young Man.
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?