Cheyenne (1955 TV series)


Title screen
Also known as ''Warner Brothers Presents ... Cheyenne
Cheyenne: Bronco
The Cheyenne Show: Bronco and Sugarfoot[1][2]
Genre Western
Developed by Roy Huggins
Directed by Irving J. Moore
Starring Clint Walker
Theme music composer William Lava
Stanley D. Jones[3]
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 7
(including the first season on Warner Brothers Presents)
No. of episodes 108 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) William T. Orr

Roy Huggins
Arthur W. Silver
Sidney Biddel
Burt Dunne
William L. Stuart
Oren W. Haglund (production manager)
Harry Blackledge (wardrobe)

Gordon Bau (make-up)
Location(s) California
Running time 48 mins.
Original network ABC
Picture format Black-and-white
Audio format Monaural
Original release September 20, 1955 (1955-09-20) – December 17, 1962 (1962-12-17)
Preceded by Warner Brothers Presents
Followed by The Dakotas
Related shows Bronco
L. Q. Jones (Smitty) and Clint Walker (Cheyenne)
Clint Walker as Cheyenne Bodie

Cheyenne is an American western television series of 108 black-and-white episodes broadcast on ABC 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 Hollywood film studio which did not derive from its established film properties,[4] and the first of a long chain of Warner Brothers original series produced by William T. Orr.

Series history

The series began as a part of Warner Brothers Presents, a "wheel program" that alternated three different series in rotation. In its first year, Cheyenne traded broadcast weeks with Casablanca and Kings Row.[5] Thereafter, Cheyenne was overhauled by new producer Roy Huggins and left the umbrella of WBP. The show starred Clint Walker, a native of Illinois, as Cheyenne Bodie, a physically large cowboy with a gentle spirit in search of frontier justice who wanders the American West. The first episode, about robbers pretending to be Good Samaritans, is titled "Mountain Fortress" and features James Garner (who had briefly been considered for the role of Cheyenne) as a guest star, but with higher billing given to Ann Robinson as Garner's intended bride. The episode reveals that Bodie's parents were massacred by Indians, the tribe of which is unknown. He was taken by Cheyenne Indians when he was ten years old, who then raised him and he left them by choice when he was 18 years old (Series 1, Episode 10: West of the River). In the series the character Bodie maintains a positive and understanding attitude toward the Native Americans despite the slaughter of his parents.

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 Brothers, and a release from the restriction of recording music only for the company's own label.[6] The interim saw the introduction of a virtual Bodie-clone called Bronco Layne, played by Ty Hardin, born in New York City but raised in 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.

For most of their runs, Cheyenne, Bronco, and Sugarfoot, starring Will Hutchins, alternated in the same time slot. Cheyenne was the senior partner of the three. Only a snippet of the Bronco theme song was heard in the opening credits, as a kind of aural footnote to that of Cheyenne. Occasionally Cheyenne, Bronco, and Sugarfoot appeared together in the same episode of each other's series. In the 1961 Cheyenne episode "Duel at Judas Basin," Walker, Hardin, and Hutchins join forces to stop a trapper (Jacques Aubuchon) from selling guns to the Sioux Indians. The trapper has also framed Tom "Sugarfoot" Brewster of murder.[7]

Even after returning to the program having been prohibited from seeking other work during the long contract negotiation Walker was unhappy to continue to play a role which he felt he had already exhausted. He told reporters that he felt like "a caged animal."[6] Though Cheyenne aired for seven years, the series made only 108 episodes because it was in repeated alternation with other programs and was out of production during Clint Walker's contract dispute.

At the conclusion of the sixth season, a special episode was aired, "A Man Named Ragan", the 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.[2]

Walker reprised the Cheyenne Bodie character in 1991 for the TV-movie The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw and also played Cheyenne in an episode of Kung Fu: The Legend Continues in 1995.


Guest stars

Broadcast history

ABC televised the show from 1955 to 1962: September 1955-September 1959 Tuesday 7:30-8:30 P.M.; September 1959-December 1962, Monday 7:30-8:30 P.M.; April 1963-September 1963, Friday 7:30-8:30 P.M. The series finished #13 in the Nielsen ratings for the 1957-1958 season, #18 for 1958-1959, #17 for 1959-1960 and #28 for 1960-1961.[9]

In its last season, Cheyenne still drew good enough ratings to force the cancellation of the new comedy/drama It's a Man's World on NBC, co-starring Glenn Corbett, Michael Burns, Ted Bessell, and Randy Boone. In the spring of 1960, Cheyenne outdistanced singer Kate Smith's return to television on CBS's The Kate Smith Show, which was canceled after some six months on the air.

As of September 2015, Cheyenne is shown twice every weekday on the Encore western channel. Cheyenne episodes with the Bronco character airs on COZI TV.

DVD releases

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.[10]

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
The Complete First Season 15 June 6, 2006
The Complete Second Season 20 July 5, 2011
The Complete Third Season 20 January 10, 2012
The Complete Fourth Season 13 October 16, 2012
The Complete Fifth Season 13 March 5, 2013
The Complete Sixth Season 14 July 30, 2013
The Complete Seventh Season 13 November 12, 2013


Cheyenne was a co-winner of the 1957 Golden Globe Award for Television Achievement.[11]


  1. CTVA entry for Bronco
  2. 1 2 CTVA entry for Cheyenne
  3., 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.
  4. Trivia about Cheyenne at IMDB
  5. Ronald Jackson and Doug Abbott. "Cheyenne, starring Clint Walker," 50 Years of the Television Western, AuthorHouse, 2008, page 76. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
  6. 1 2 Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh. "Cheyenne (Western)," The complete directory to prime time network and cable TV shows, 1946-Present, Random House, 2007, page 246. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
  7. "Duel at Judas Basin". Internet Movie Data Base. January 30, 1961. Retrieved October 13, 2014.
  8. "The Return of Mr. Grimm". Internet Movie Data Base. February 13, 1961. Retrieved October 14, 2014.
  11. Cheyenne at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association
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