American actor James Drury rose to prominence as the “Virginian” after starring in 90-minute color western TV series, The Virginian. After appearing in a handful of hit movies and TV shows, he took retirement from acting in 2005. So, what it the star of the 60s up to now?
Early Life and Career
Born on April 18, 1934, Drury made his stage debut at the age of 8 as King Herod in a Christmas production at Greenwich Village house. Benched by Polio at the age of 10, he utilized the time reading plays and often acting out the characters.
At the age of 12, Drury made his professional acting debut in a road company's production of Life with Father. He trained as a classical actor at NY University, where he was credited with 2 major Shakespeare roles and 18 major Shaw roles in plays. In 1954, he was signed by MGM, but crashed his contract after a few minor roles and joined the 20th Century.
He appeared in movies like Blackboard Jungle, Forbidden Planet, The Last Wagon and Love Me Tender alongside Elvis Presley. He also guest starred in TV series like Playhouse90, Gunsmoke, Rifleman, Cheyenne and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Drury starred in The Virginian from 1962 to 1971, which had one of the most demanding production schedules. He recalls,
“There were times when we had five Virginian episodes shooting on the same day. I would literally ride on horseback from set to set to give two lines here, three lines there, then over here to do 10 pages of script.”
In 1991, he was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. Further, he guest starred in TV shows like The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (1993) and Walker, Texas Ranger (1993).
James Drury Now
Nowadays, the 85-year-old is a regular participant in shooting sports such as skeet, trap and cowboy shooting. He says,
“Cowboy Action Shooting is the best way I know to promote our Second Amendment rights. It teaches all kinds of people; men and women, young and old, to handle firearms and shoot safely and responsibly. We share a sense of history and connection with the Old West.”
In an interview on June 23, 2019, the actor recalled many of his friends and co-stars of the set of The Virginian and said, "The old westerns were morality plays that showed the triumph of good over evil, and I think that’s important for young people to see onscreen these days because it will inspire them to live their lives that way.” He also appreciates the well-wishes from fans and feels wonderful to know that the show is still viable after all these years.
He currently resides in Houston, TX with his third wife Carl Ann Head Drury (married on July 30, 1979). He shares two children, including Timothy Drury, with first wife, Cristall Orton (1957-1964). He then got married to Phyllis Mitchell in 1968 until they divorced in 1979. As of 2019, James Drury has an estimated net worth of $1.5 million.