- This four-act play adapted from Owen Wister's story by Wister and Kirke La Shelle opened on 5 January 1904 at the Manhattan Theatre for 138 performances, later playing a brief return engagement at the Academy of Music in 1905. Its popularity stemmed mostly from Dustin Farnum's characterization of "The Virginian," a gentlemanly cowboy in frontier Wyoming, and the rich local color of the play's setting. "The Virginian" staves off various difficulties with rough cowboys and cutthroat cattle rustlers and, despite his toughness, maintains his decency as demonstrated when he gently courts a Vermont schoolmarm, Molly, who accepts his marriage proposal. The Virginian has rarely been revived, but has proven remarkably resilient on screen, with several motion picture versions (1914, 1923, 1929, 1946), a television* movie (2000), and a long-running television series that began in 1962.
The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. James Fisher.
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