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James Drury dead: The Virginian TV star and Western film actor dies aged 85

Western film and TV actor James Drury has died at the age of 85 of natural causes. He starred in The Virginian, which was one of the longest-running Westerns in television history.

James’ assistant, Karen Lindsey, confirmed the sad news of his death on Facebook.

The Hollywood actor also appeared in several Western movies, including Ten Who Dares in 1960 and Ride the High Country in 1962.

He rose to fame as the no-nonsense foreman of the Shiloh Ranch in The Virginian.

James also starred alongside Elvis Presley in the singer’s 1956 movie Love Me Tender and with Pat Boone in 1957’s Bernardine.

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“We had 79 minutes and 30 seconds worth of film, which was as long as a lot of feature films of the day.

“It was a very radical concept. I know Wagon Train went to a 90-minute format for one season, and there may have been other attempts. 

“But no one has ever been successful with 90 minutes for a Western series except The Virginian.”

He continued: “It’s a very difficult thing to do logistically, it’s a lot of film to get through. You have to have good stories and good writers. 

“It’s easier to spot a bad script in an hour show than it is in a half-hour show. 

“And it’s a lot easier to spot a bad script in a 90-minute show than it is in an hour-long show.”

James went on to play Texas Ranger captain Tom Price in the first three episodes of Walker, Texas Ranger in 1993 and had a cameo in TNT’s 2000 movie adaptation of The Virginian, which starred Bill Pullman as the man with no name.

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James’ third wife, Carl Ann, died in August. They were married for 40 years. 


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