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The Big Valley (ABC Western Drama, Barbara Stanwyck)



The Big Valley is set in the 1870s in California’s beautiful San Joaquin Valley and tells the story of Stockton’s richest and most prominent family, the Barkleys. They reside on a large expanse, led by the family matriarch Victoria (Barbara Stanwyck), and their assets include everything from mines to logging camps, citrous groves, and the cattle with which they began.

Her adult children are Jarrod (Richard Long), a successful lawyer with offices in both Stockton and San Francisco, and Nick (Peter Breck), the more fiery and outspoken part of the family. Then there’s Audra (Linda Evans), the youngest and only daughter of three protective brothers, and Heath (Lee Majors), the gentle and thoughtful illegitimate son of Victoria’s late husband Tom, whom she has embraced and loves as one of her own. (A fourth younger son, Eugene, appeared in the first season but then vanished without explanation.) They share their joy and laughter, as well as their heartbreak and grief, and all in between.

The Barkleys have their fair share of troubles and adventures, from property disputes, squatters, bank robbers, and horse thieves to anthrax, accidents, illness, and even the occasional kidnapping.

production details
USA / ABC – Four Star Television / x50 minute episodes / Broadcast September 15, 1965, to May 19, 1969

Creators: A.I. Bezzerides, Louis F. Edelman / Executive Producers: Arthur Gardner, Arnold Laven, Jules Levy, Lou Morheim

Cast: Barbara Stanwyck (Victoria Barkley), Linda Evans (Audra Barkley), Lee Majors (Heath Barkley), Peter Breck (Nick Barkley), Richard Long (Jarrod Barkley), Charles Briles (Eugene Barkley)