The entertainment industry lost one of its most recognizable western stars. The publicist for James Drury, who starred in NBC's The Virginian, announced that the actor had passed away at the age of 85. He died of natural causes while at his home in Houston, Texas on Monday. He leaves behind two sons with his wife, Carl Ann, who passed away last year. He also had three stepchildren, four grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.
"The Cowboy took his last ride," said his assistant, Karen Lindsey, on a post on the actor's website. "It is with immense sadness that I let you all know that James Drury, our beloved Virginian and dear friend passed away this morning of natural causes, Monday, April 6, 2020. He will be missed so much. It is beyond words." In addition to The Virginian, Drury also starred in Gunsmoke and The Rifleman, among others.
R.I.P. James Drury/the Virginian in The Virginian 1962-1971. He was 85 years old. Do you remember watching The Virginian? pic.twitter.com/BMLOsQBj1c— TV and Film Stars (@TVandFilmStars) April 7, 2020
Drury, who was born and raised in New York, played the title role on The Virginian from 1962-71. In an interview the Mansfield News Journal, Drury shared the lasting impact his role in the NBC series has had not just on himself but viewers of the show.
"It still holds up," Drury 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 on screen these days because it will inspire them to live their lives that way."
"People now tell me about their grandkids who discover the show on cable and start watching it," he continued. "It's a wonderful feeling to know the show is still viable after all these years."
Fans of his sure seemed to back up his belief that those shows still lived on all those years afterwards. After learning of his death, fans across social media left their thoughts and prayers, while sharing memories of the late actor.
James Drury passed away. THE VIRGINIAN, I have that theme song rolling around in my head. You never find out his name in the series, he was just called THE VIRGINIAN. Dies at age 85. I also remember him in the Richard Widmark movie THE LAST WAGON.— Scott Jones (@scottjones0131) April 7, 2020
"I remember as a kid always looking up to him as a role model, of what being a man really means," one user tweeted. "Very sad news indeed."
Photo Credit: Ron Galella, Ltd./Getty Images