Wagon Train is a western TV series which aired on NBC from 1957 to 1962 and on ABC from 1962 to 1965. It starred Ward Bond, John McIntire, Michael Burns, Robert Horton, Robert Fuller, Frank McGrath, Scott Miller, and Terry Wilson. The show became a big hit back in the days that’s why in this article, we are going to find out some facts about this famous western TV show during the 60s.
- Wagon Train was inspired by a movie – It was a 1950s movie entitled Wagon Master which sparked the flames to create this iconic TV series. The said film was directed by John Ford and it starred Harry Carrey Jr, Ben Johnson, and also Wagon Train’s lead star, Ward Bond.
- Wagon Train had a total of eight seasons – The western TV show had a total of eight seasons with 284 episodes that aired from September 18, 1957, to May 2, 1965.
- The show helped promote colored TV sets – For most of its run, Wagon Train was in black-and-white but during the show’s fifth season in 1961 to 1962 in NBC, the network briefly aired five of the show’s episodes in colored to promote the sales of it RCA’s color television sets. But on its sixth season, the show returned to its original black-and-white format. Making it the first series that switch to color then revert to black and white.
- Wagon Train had three theme songs – During the first season of the show, it had an instrumental theme song entitled “Wagon Train” which was written by Bob Russell and Henri Rene. The show introduced a fresh tune during the second season and it’s entitled “(Roll Along) Wagon Train” which was written by Jack Brooks and Sammy Fain and performed by Johnny O’Neill. The following season, Wagon Train introduced a new theme song entitled “Wagons Ho!” and this song stuck around the show until its final episode.
- An episode in Wagon Train featured Ward Bond in crutches – This was after the actor suffered an injury in a car accident where he was hit by a car while he was on his way to John Wayne’s wedding. But this tough man didn’t let his friend down because he was still able to perform his best man duties on crutches.
- Ward Bond was part of the approval process for Wagon Train’s scripts – Wagon Trains associate producer Frederic Shore happily recalls that they have to submit every script in advance to get the approval of the censors and NBC which included Ward Bond. He also said that Bond was the one that toned down the violence in the show and helped steered it in a family-friendly direction.
- John Ford directed an episode of Wagon Train – Legendary director John Ford directed the season four episode of the show entitled “The Colter Craven Story.” Which became one of his few TV credits. Apparently, Ford used some footage from the movie Wagon Master as stock photos on the said episode.
- Ronal Reagan’s made his last acting appearance on Wagon Train – Ronald Reagan was said to be winding down his acting career when he guested on Wagon Train’s episode two of season seven entitled “The Fort Pierce Story.” Two years after his guesting, Reagan announced that his campaign for governor of California.
- Leonard Nimoy portrayed a Spanish man, a Native American, and Mexicans on Wagon Train –Before playing the role of Spock in Star Trek, Leonard Nimoy was seed as Cherokee Ned, Bernabe Zamora, Emerterio Vasquez, and Joaquin Delgado in four episodes of Wagon Train between 1959 and 1962.
- Creator Gene Roddenberry pitched Star Trek as “Wagon Train to the stars” – The show’s creator, Gene Roddenberry, pitched and explained Star Trek to studio executives as “Wagon Train in space” and that powerful and promising line helped the studio executives to wrap their heads and interests around the irregular concept.
- Ward Bond died midway through the show’s fourth season – Bond reportedly died of a heart attack on November 5, 1960, and during Wagon Train’s fourth season. The show gave no explanation for Major Adam’s disappearance and replaced him with John McIntire.
Those are some of the fun facts about Wagon Train that we gathered for you. Which one did you like the most?