About How The West Was Won
Loosely based on the 1962 film, How The West Was Won brought cinematic Western storytelling to 1970s primetime television,
As the Civil War looms, mountain man Zebulon Machan (James Arness) returns home to Virginia to rescue his family from the war’s path. Before they can head West to safety, his brother Tim (Richard Kiley) and nephew Luke (Bruce Boxleitner) are unwillingly conscripted into the Union Army with tragic results. Tim’s wife Kate (Eva Marie Saint) struggles to hold the family together: young son Jed (William Kirby Cullen) and daughters Laura (Kathryn Holcomb) and Jessie (Vicki Schreck).And Kate’s sister Molly Culhane (Fionnula Flanagan) joins the brood as they journey across country and eventually settle in Wyoming.
Due in part to the epic nature of the production, How The West Was Won was broadcast as a “limited series.” The pilot — originally titled The Machans — aired first in January of 1976. Three more episodes followed a year later, then fourteen in season two, and eleven in season three. All had the pacing and production value of a feature film.
Saint and Flanagan both scored Emmy nominations, as did guest star Ricardo Montalban.
Although the series reduced the multi-narrative scope of the original film’s story, it did retain one hallmark of the movie: a narrator (William Conrad).
Notable guest stars:
Lloyd Bridges, Christopher Lee, William Shatner, , Brian Keith, Fernando Lamas, Keye Luke, David Huddleston, Michael Conrad, Ed Lauter, Jared Martin, Harris Yulin, Jack Elam, Iron Eyes Cody, Alvy Moore, Dub Taylor, Anthony Zerbe, Don Murray, Ramon Bieri, Royal Dano, Mel Ferrer, John Dehner, John Beck, Bradford Dillman, Ken Curtis, James Best, Beverly Garland, L.Q. Jones, Denver Pyle, Wilford Brimley, Kim Cattrall, Noble Willingham, Woody Strode, Gerald McRaney, Richard Moll, Craig T. Nelson, Don Shanks, Sab Shimono
Created by Jim Byrnes, Albert S. Ruddy