James Drury

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James Drury
James Drury The Virginian 1971.JPG
James Drury in a publicity photo for The Virginian (1971)
Born James Child Drury Jr.
(1934-04-18) April 18, 1934 (age 83)
New York, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actor; voice talent, oil and natural gas businessman
Years active 1955–2005
Spouse(s) Carl Ann Head Drury (1979–present)
Phyllis Mitchell (1968–79; divorced)
Cristall Orton (1957–64; divorced)
Children 2 (including Timothy Drury)

James Child Drury Jr. (born April 18, 1934) is an American actor best known for his success in playing the title role in the 90-minute weekly Western television series The Virginian, broadcast on NBC from 1962–1971.


James Child Drury Jr. was born on April 18, 1934, in New York City, where his father was a New York University professor of marketing.[1] He grew up in both New York and Oregon. Drury contracted polio at the age of ten.[1]

In 1959, Drury was cast as Harding, Jr., in the episode "Murder at the Mansion" of Richard Diamond, Private Detective.[2] On May 9, 1959, early in his career, Drury appeared as Neal Adams in the episode "Client Neal Adams" of ABC's western series Black Saddle. In the story line, Adams is an old friend of series protagonist Clay Culhane, a gunfighter-turned-lawyer played by Peter Breck. Adams has robbed a bank of $8,000 and was subsequently shot in the back by a pursuing bounty hunter, played by Charles Aidman. Adams asks Culhane for help and makes the false claim that the bounty hunter is the brother of a man whom Adams had earlier killed in self-defense.[3]

In 1960, Drury appeared in different roles in two episodes, "Fair Game" and "Vindication" of another ABC western series, The Rebel, starring Nick Adams as a Confederate adventurer roaming through the post-Civil War American West. On November 16, 1960, Drury played young pioneer Justin Claiborne in the episode "The Bleymier Story" of NBC's Wagon Train, broadcast just days after the death of series lead Ward Bond. Robert Horton as the scout Flint McCullough struggles to get a wagon train through a Sioux burial ground. Dan Duryea played the mentally unstable Samuel Bleymier who is obsessed by demons and superstitions.[4]

In 1960, Drury portrayed Joe Darle in the episode "Wall of Silence" of the ABC/Warner Brothers detective series, Bourbon Street Beat, set in New Orleans and starring Andrew Duggan. He made a memorable guest appearance on the CBS drama series Perry Mason in 1961, as he played the role of musician and defendant Eddy King in "The Case of the Missing Melody," with Raymond Burr.

Drury as the Virginian

He appeared in secondary roles for Walt Disney. In 1962, he was cast in a substantial role as a lascivious gold prospector in the early Sam Peckinpah western Ride the High Country opposite Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea. Also, in 1962, Drury landed the top-billed leading role of the ranch foreman on The Virginian, a lavish series which ran for nine seasons.[citation needed]

In 1993, Drury had a guest-starring role as Captain Tom Price on the first three episodes of Walker, Texas Ranger, opposite Chuck Norris and Clarence Gilyard. 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 character Trampas during 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.[citation needed]


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 rock groups The Eagles and Whitesnake.[5]

Select filmography

Television series


  • River Invaders: The Scourge of Zebra Mussels - (1994) - PBS special
  • Sturgeon: Ancient Survivors of the Deep - host/narrator - (1995) - PBS special
  • A Vanishing Melody: The Call of the Piping Plover - (1997) - PBS special


  1. ^ a b "James Drury". Archived from the original on May 22, 2011. Retrieved December 2, 2016. 
  2. ^ ""Murder at the Mansion", Richard Diamond, Private Detective, March 29, 1959". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved March 30, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Black Saddle: "Client Neal Adams", May 9, 1959". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved September 4, 2012. 
  4. ^ "The Bleymier Story". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved May 21, 2012. 
  5. ^ "News Radio 610 WTVN". Radio 610 WTVN. Archived from the original on June 24, 2013. Retrieved June 21, 2017. 
  6. ^ "The Texan". Classic Television Archive. Retrieved February 1, 2013. 

External links

  • James Drury: The Virginian Official Website
  • James Drury on IMDb
  • The Virginian Website
  • Picture of Drury in Oregon
  • Interview with Kirby Jonas and James Drury
  • Actor James Drury tells of next generation Virginian, newsok.com, June 26, 2014; accessed June 21, 2017.
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