James Drury, the Virginian

Drury was born in New York, New York, where his father James Sr. was a New York University professor of marketing. He grew up in both New York and Oregon.

After a series of bit parts and playing second-lead for Walt Disney, in 1962 Drury got a substantial role as a lascivious gold prospector in the early Sam Peckinpah western Ride the High Country. In the same year, he also landed the top-billed leading role of the ranch foreman on The Virginian, a lavish series which ran for nine seasons. The show was based on Owen Wister's classic novel, and the various screen versions that had been filmed since. It has been rumored that Drury was possibly cast because of a vague resemblance to Gary Cooper, who had played the part in an early movie version. Director Andrew J. Fenady stated Drury was offered the lead role in the series due to his impressive performance in an unsuccessful television pilot The Yank that was inspired by The Rebel In the series, as the novel, the actual name of "The Virginian" is never revealed.

Other Drury costars on The Virginian included Lee J. Cobb, Randy Boone, Roberta Shore, Gary Clarke, Clu Gulager, Diane Roter and toward the end of the run, Tim Matheson. Drury also had a cameo role in the 2000 TV movie of The Virginian starring Bill Pullman. The film followed Wister's novel more closely than had the television series. Drury appeared in a number of films and other television programs, including The Young Warriors and the TV cowboy reunion movie The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw with Doug McClure, who played the fun-loving cowhand, Trampas for the entire run of The Virginian.

In 1991 Drury was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. In 1997 and 2003, he was a guest at the Western Film Fair in Charlotte, North Carolina. At the 2003 show, he was reunited with his Virginian co-stars Gary Clarke, Randy Boone, and Roberta Shore.

Drury was in the oil and natural gas business in Houston at the turn of the 21st century. His son, Timothy Drury, is a keyboardist, guitarist and vocalist who has played with The Eagles and also with Whitesnake. Drury was a close friend of the Houston marksman Joe Bowman, who trained numerous actors on how to use weapons.

1 comment:

  1. Why is James Drury's oldest son Jim not mentioned?