Gene Watson Peer’s Quote from James Drury (‘The Virginian’): June 2018

Gene Watson’s Peers within the country music industry believe in the sheer talent of this unassuming man from east Texas, so much so that Gene is regarded by many of them as ‘the singer’s singer’ – and rightly so!

All of Gene Watson’s Peers, who were contacted during 2018, were most gracious with their time and words.

It is here, within this special part of The Gene Watson Fan Site, that you have an opportunity to read a quote from James Drury (‘The Virginian’), which he submitted to this site on Thursday 28 June 2018.

Sean Brady would like to take this opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to James Drury (‘The Virginian’) who made a special contribution to this unique part of this online ‘celebration of a Lone Star Hero’.

Karen Lindsey and James Drury ('The Virginian')

Sean Brady would like to take this opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to Karen Lindsey, Assistant to James Drury (‘The Virginian’), without whom this Gene Watson ‘Peer’s Quote’ would not have been possible.

James Drury ('The Virginian')

James Drury (‘The Virginian’)
This quote was submitted on Thursday 28 June 2018.

‘Gene Watson sings the songs I want to hear and he sings them beautifully.

He is a National Treasure’

Thank you, James Drury (‘The Virginian’), for your support of Gene Watson.

About James Drury (‘The Virginian’)…

James Drury (‘The Virginian’) was born James Child Drury on Wednesday 18 April 1934 in New York City, where his father was a Professor of Marketing at New York University.

When James Drury was six weeks old, his mother, a native of Oregon, and the family went to the home ranch.  There were many trips back and forth from their home in New York and Oregon.  Through the years, James Drury spent a great deal of his boyhood on the family ranch.

James Drury grew up with a love for horses and the outdoor life.  James’ maternal grandfather taught him woodsman skills and marksmanship and was a great influence on the shaping of his values.

The acting bug first bit James Drury at the age of eight, when he played King Herod in a children’s Christmas play.

James Drury made his professional acting debut at the age of twelve in a touring company of ‘Life With Father’.

Trained as a classical actor at New York University and credited with twelve major Shakespeare roles and eighteen major Shaw roles, James Drury left the theatre in New York and went to Hollywood in 1954.

James Drury worked in such classic films as ‘Blackboard Jungle’, ‘Forbidden Planet’, ‘The Tender Trap’, ‘Love Me Tender’, ‘The Last Wagon’, ‘Pollyanna’, ‘Ride The High Country’ and many others.

'Love Me Tender' (American black & white CinemaScope motion picture, released by 20th Century Fox on Thursday 15 November 1956) (William Campbell, Elvis Presley and James Drury)

William Campbell (Tuesday 30 October 1923 – Thursday 28 April 2011), Elvis Presley (Tuesday 8 January 1935 – Tuesday 16 August 1977) and James Drury, in ‘Love Me Tender’ (20th Century Fox, 1956)

‘Love Me Tender’ was a 1956 American black-and-white CinemaScope motion picture, which was directed by Robert D. Webb, and released by 20th Century Fox on Thursday 15 November 1956.  The film, named after the hit song, starred Richard Egan (Friday 29 July 1921 – Monday 20 July 1987), William Campbell (Tuesday 30 October 1923 – Thursday 28 April 2011), Debra Paget, James Drury, and Elvis Presley (Tuesday 8 January 1935 – Tuesday 16 August 1977) in his acting debut.

‘Love Me Tender’ was in the Western genre with musical numbers.  As Elvis Presley’s movie debut, it was the only time in his acting career that he did not receive top billing.

In ‘Love Me Tender’, James Drury played the part of Ray Reno.

‘Love Me Tender’ was originally to be titled ‘The Reno Brothers’, but when advanced sales of Elvis Presley’s ‘Love Me Tender’ single passed sales of one million, a first for a single, the film’s title was changed to match.

‘Love Me Tender’, which was written by Kenneth Lorin Darby (13 May 1909 – Friday 24 January 1992) and Elvis Presley (Tuesday 8 January 1935 – Tuesday 16 August 1977) was No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop music singles chart for five weeks in November / December 1956; the track also reached No.11 on the United Kingdom pop music singles chart in 1956, and No.3 on the Billboard R&B Chart in 1956, a position it remained in for three weeks.

James Drury was a guest star in numerous television series, including ‘Playhouse 90’, ‘Gunsmoke’, ‘Rifleman’, ‘Cheyenne’, ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’, ‘Wagon Train’, ‘Rawhide’ and ‘Death Valley Days’, before being chosen for the role of ‘The Virginian’ in 1962.

'The Virginian' (NBC Television Network: 1962 - 1971) (249 episodes)
'The Virginian' (NBC Television Network: 1962 - 1971) (249 episodes)

Averaging thirty 90-minute episodes a season, ‘The Virginian’ series had one of the most demanding production schedules in television history.

‘There were times when we had five Virginian episodes shooting on the same day’, James Drury recalls.  ‘I would literally ride on horseback from set to set to give two lines here, three lines there, then over here to do ten pages of script’

The Official Website of James Drury - 'The Virginian'

‘The Virginian’, which was slightly repackaged as ‘The Men From Shiloh’ in its final year, was an American Western television series, which starred James Drury, Doug McClure (Saturday 11 May 1935 – Sunday 5 February 1995) and Lee J. Cobb (8 December 1911 – Wednesday 11 February 1976).

‘The Virginian’ aired on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) television network from 1962 to 1971 for a total of 249 episodes.

It was a spin-off from a 1958 summer series called ‘Decision’.  Filmed in colour, ‘The Virginian’ became television’s first 90-minute Western series (75 minutes excluding commercial breaks).

‘The Virginian’ ran for nine seasons, becoming television’s third longest running western, behind ‘Bonanza’ at 14 seasons and 430 episodes, and ‘Gunsmoke’ at 20 seasons and 635 episodes.

'The Virginian: Horseman of The Plains' / written by Owen Wister (14 July 1860 - Thursday 21 July 1938) / published by Macmillan Publishers Limited in 1902

‘The Virginian’ was loosely based on ‘The Virginian: Horseman of The Plains’, a western novel by Owen Wister (14 July 1860 – Thursday 21 July 1938), which was published by MacMillan Publishing in 1902.

The theme tune to ‘The Virginian’ was composed by Percy Faith (7 April 1908 – Monday 9 February 1976).

After portraying ‘The Virginian’ for nine years, between 1962 and 1971, James Drury returned to the theatre across the United States in the 1970s.

James Drury’s stage credits are diverse with not only Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw, but also a long line of well-known classics, including ‘The Odd Couple’, ‘The Rainmaker’, ‘A Thousand Clowns’, ‘Once More With Feeling’, ‘Forty Karats’ and ‘Prisoner of Second Avenue’.

In 1974, James Drury starred in the television series ‘Firehouse’.

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 1700 Northeast 63rd Street, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

In 1991, James Drury was inducted into The Hall of Great Western Performers at The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, which is located at 1700 Northeast 63rd Street in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

James Drury appeared as a special guest in numerous films and television shows, including ‘Alias Smith & Jones’ (1971), ‘The Adventures of Brisco County Junior’ (1993), ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’ (1993), ‘Kung Fu: TLC’ (1994 and 1995), the film ‘The Virginian’ (2000) and ‘Hell To Pay’ (2005).

Known for his distinctive voice, James Drury voiced many documentaries and audio books.

James Drury held rank of Lieutenant Commander in the United States Naval Reserve and participated in many recruiting films and public appearances for United States Navy.

James Drury’s interests were many; an avid sportsman, he enjoyed scuba diving, tennis, golf, snow skiing and sailing.

James Drury competed successfully in Cutting Horse Competitions, as well as Polo and Dressage.

In July 2003, James Drury was a guest at The Western Film Fair in Charlotte, North Carolina, along with his Virginian co-stars Randy Boone, Roberta Shore, Clu Gulager and Gary Clarke.

In 2012, James Drury appeared with fellow Virginian cast members Randy Boone, Gary Clarke, L.Q. Jones, Roberta Shore, Clu Gulager (Friday 16 November 1928 – Friday 5 August 2022), Diane Roter, Sara Lane and Don Quine at 50th Anniversary celebrations at Memphis Film Festival and Autry National Center & Museum.

On Saturday 22 September 2012, ‘The Virginian’ began a three-year agreement to run on the Inspiration Network cable channel.

In 2013, Cozi TV, the NBC Universal classic television digital specialty network, began airing episodes of ‘The Virginian’.  MeTV also aired episodes of ‘The Virginian’ in selected viewing areas in the United States.

On Friday 28 March 2014, James Drury attended, as a guest star, Cowboy Up For Vets Horse Show with fellow Virginian cast members, including Randy Boone, Roberta Shore, Gary Clarke, Clu Gulager (Friday 16 November 1928 – Friday 5 August 2022), Diane Roter, Sara Lane and Don Quine.  The show, which was held in Swanton, Ohio, also included a special celebration of James Drury’s 80th birthday.

On Friday 22 April 2016, Saturday 23 April 2016 and Sunday 24 April 2016, James Drury attended, as a guest star, the largest cast reunion of ‘The Virginian’ assembled at Cowboy Up For Vets Horse Show, which was held in Swanton, Ohio.  Other cast members who attended included Randy Boone, Roberta Shore, Gary Clarke, L.Q. Jones, Clu Gulager (Friday 16 November 1928 – Friday 5 August 2022), Diane Roter, Sara Lane, Don Quine and Joe Cannon.

James Drury, and his wife, Carl Ann, resided in Houston, Texas.  James Drury enjoyed an extensive traveling schedule to Western Events, Festivals and Autograph Shows across the United States speaking about the West and how cowboy values shaped America and how those values still hold true to those who adhere to them.

On Monday 6 April 2020, it was announced that James Drury (Wednesday 18 April 1934 – Monday 6 April 2020), who was best known for his role on the Western television series, ‘The Virginian’, had died (that day) at the age of 85.

James Drury’s passing was announced on his Facebook page by his assistant, Karen Lindsey.

The post started by saying, ‘The Cowboy took his last ride.  It is with immense sadness that I let you all know that James Drury, our beloved Virginian, and dear friend, passed away this morning of natural causes, Monday, April 6, 2020’

James Drury ('The Virginian')

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