Since the beginning of television, Westerns have been playing on the small screen. From the mid-1950s until the early 1960s, they were one of TV's most popular genres, with millions of viewers tuning in to such popular shows as Rawhide, Gunsmoke, and Disney's Davy Crockett. Though the cultural revolution of the later 1960s contributed to the demise of traditional Western programs, the Western never actually disappeared from TV. Instead, it took on new forms, such as the highly popular Lonesome Dove and Deadwood, while exploring the lives of characters who never before had a starring role, including anti-heroes, mountain men, farmers, Native and African Americans, Latinos, and women.
Shooting Stars of the Small Screen is a comprehensive encyclopedia of more than 450 actors who received star billing or played a recurring character role in a TV Western series or a made-for-TV Western movie or miniseries from the late 1940s up to 2008. Douglas Brode covers the highlights of each actor's career, including Western movie work, if significant, to give a full sense of the actor's screen persona(s). Within the entries are discussions of scores of popular Western TV shows that explore how these programs both reflected and impacted the social world in which they aired. Brode opens the encyclopedia with a fascinating history of the TV Western that traces its roots in B Western movies, while also showing how TV Westerns developed their own unique storytelling conventions.