September 2014: The Old West
by Laura Sampson
Station's Archived Memories
Research materials and photographs from Station's Archived Memories (SAM)
During the 1960’s, programs about the Old West and its cowboys, ranchers, miners, farmers, guns and horses were the most popular genre of television. During the 1950s and 1960s, several hundred TV Westerns aired on commercial stations including such icons as Bat Masterson, The Big Valley, Bonanza and the #1 longest running western series, Gunsmoke, that ran from 1955-1975.
But, did you know that KRMA-TV (now Rocky Mountain PBS) also produced its very own local cowboy program? Yes, indeed! The locally produced Cowboys West was shot at KRMA studios and was distributed to National Educational Television in September 1961. Hosted by Max Morath, Cowboys West depicted cowboy life between 1868-1890 when the Texans drove longhorns into Kansas.
The 15 programs that were produced were only 8.5 minutes each. Although the programs were intended as a children’s program, adults also loved and watched it. Jim Case, producer of the program, said Max Morath was chosen as the program host “for his sincerity and an uncondescending quality. He doesn’t talk down to kids.”
Max Morath himself said during a 2001 interview for the Rocky Mountain PBS archives, “I was given scripts and memorized them. I worked with a wonderful local actor named Robert Benson. There were other actors and singers that came in and I tell you, we had fun.”
Enjoy browsing (below) a few of the archived photographs from the set of Cowboys West.
The program was shot at KRMA-TV, 1261 Glenarm Place, Denver, CO
Photos and article content from Station's Archived Memories (SAM) of Rocky Mountain PBS.
Notice the KRMA cameras, the old studio lights, the elaborate sets, and more