Wonderful tales of the Old West laden with history and adventure are presented in Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre, a half-hour western anthology TV series that debuted on CBS, October 5, 1956 and ran for 5 whole seasons. Dick Powell served as the host for the entire series and also starred as various characters in 15 episodes. The series was originally based on the short stories and novels of western author Zane Grey, but as the series continued, new material was included. Aaron Spelling, who later became a legend in Hollywood, wrote twenty Zane Grey episodes. Zane Grey Theatre was also ground-breaking for producing five episodes which were spun-off into subsequent TV series: (1) Trackdown (from Season one's "Badge of Honor") starring Robert Culp as Texas Ranger Hoby Gilman, (2) The Rifleman (from Season 2's "The Sharpshooter") with Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain, (3) Black Saddle (from Season 2's "Threat of Violence" with Chris Alcaide instead of series star Peter Breck as Clay Culhane), (4) Johnny Ringo (from Season 3's "Man Alone") starring Don Durant, and (5) The Westerner (from Season 3's "Trouble at Tres Cruces") starring Brian Keith as Dave Blassingame. In addition, Wanted: Dead or Alive, with Steve McQueen playing the bounty hunter Josh Randall, was a CBS spinoff of Trackdown, and Law of the Plainsman, starring Michael Ansara as a Harvard-educated, Native American U.S. Marshal was an NBC spin-off of The Rifleman.
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