Cheyenne is a western television series of 108 black-and-white episodes broadcast on ABC from 1955 to 1962. The show was the first hour-long western, the first series to be made by a major Hollywood film studio which did not derive from its established film properties, and the first of a long chain of Warner Brothers original series produced by William T. Orr.
The series strength was its charismatic star and TV western icon, Clint Walker, who dominated the screen with his powerful physique. Off the set, Walker battled the studio over his contract, making Cheyenne one of the more tempestuous productions in the history of television.
The series began as a part of Warner Brothers Presents, a program that alternated three different series in rotation. In its first year, Cheyenne traded broadcast weeks with Casablanca and King's Row. Thereafter, Cheyenne was overhauled by outgoing producer Roy Huggins and left the umbrella of WBP. The show starred Clint Walker as Cheyenne Bodie, a physically huge cowboy wandering the Old West. The show ran from 1955 to 1963, except for a hiatus when Walker went on strike for higher pay (1958-1959). The interim saw the introduction of a virtual Bodie-clone called Bronco Layne, played by Ty Hardin. Hardin was featured as the quasi main character during Bodie's absence. When Warners renegotiated Walker's contract and the actor returned to the show in 1959, Bronco was spunoff as a show in its own right and became independently successful.
The two series alternated in the same time slot from 1958 to 1962, with Bronco as the junior partner (only a snippet of his theme song was heard in the opening credits, as a kind of aural footnote to Cheyenne's). Occasionally both Cheyenne and Bronco appeared together in the same episode, both deadly serious as they worked together.
At the conclusion of the sixth season, a special episode was aired. Called "A Man Named Ragan", it was a pilot for a program called The Dakotas that would replace Cheyenne in the middle of the next season. However, because Cheyenne Bodie never appeared in "Ragan", the two programs are only tenuously linked.
Clint Walker as main character Cheyenne Bodie is the only series regular. L. Q. Jones appears as Cheyenne's sidekick Smitty in three first-season episodes. Thereafter, no recurring characters make appearances as Cheynne's circumstances change with every episode and he relocates as his drifter tastes and lifestyle dictate. Diane Brewster first appears as Samantha Crawford, the swindler with a fake southern accent, in an episode called "Dark Rider" before the character migrates to Maverick to become the Maverick brothers' most celebrated nemesis.