The Loner

The Loner is an American western series that ran for one season on CBS from 1965 to 1966, under the alternate sponsorship of Philip Morris and Procter & Gamble. The series was created by Rod Serling a year after the cancellation of The Twilight Zone. It was one of the last TV series on CBS to air in black-and-white.

The Loner
Lloyd Bridges The Loner 1965.JPG
Lloyd Bridges as William Colton, 1965
Created byRod Serling
StarringLloyd Bridges
Theme music composerJerry Goldsmith
Composer(s)Alexander Courage
Jerry Goldsmith
Nelson Riddle
Fred Steiner
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes26 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)William Dozier
Producer(s)Bruce Lansbury
Andy White
Running time30 mins.
Production company(s)Greenway Productions, in association with Interlaken Productions and 20th Century-Fox Television
Distributor20th Century-Fox Television
Original networkCBS
Picture formatBlack-and-white
Original releaseSeptember 18, 1965 (1965-09-18) –
April 30, 1966 (1966-04-30)


The series was set in the years immediately following the American Civil War. Lloyd Bridges played the title character, William Colton, a former Union cavalry captain who headed to the American west in search of a new life. Each episode dealt with Colton's encounters with various individuals on his trek west.

Rod Serling was the series' creator. Longtime TV Guide critic Cleveland Amory wrote that Serling "obviously intended The Loner to be a realistic, adult Western," but the show's ratings indicated it was "either too real for a public grown used to the unreal Western or too adult for juvenile Easterners." Serling had expressed an open distaste for some of the television Westerns of the time in an editorial that set up the premise for "Showdown with Rance McGrew", an episode of The Twilight Zone in which a primadonna Western actor encounters the ghost of Jesse James; in that editorial, he is quoted as saying: "it seems a reasonable conjecture that if there are any television sets up in cowboy heaven and any of these rough-and-wooly nail-eaters could see with what careless abandon their names and exploits are being bandied about, they're very likely turning over in their graves - or worse, getting out of them."

The Loner aired Saturday nights at 9:30 Eastern. It debuted on September 18, 1965; the final episode aired March 12, 1966; selected repeats continued through April 30.

Home media releaseEdit

In June 2016, Shout! Factory, in conjunction with Timeless Media Group, released The Loner as a Region 1 4-DVD set containing all 26 episodes of the series plus a featurette, The Wandering Man's Burden: Making "The Loner".[1] The DVD set was initially made available in North America as a Walmart exclusive (both in-store and online).

In 1998, Jerry Goldsmith's theme music and his two episode scores ("An Echo Of Bugles" and "One Of The Wounded") were released by Film Score Monthly on a limited edition soundtrack album alongside his score for Stagecoach.[2]

Episode listEdit

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1"An Echo of Bugles"Alex MarchRod SerlingSeptember 18, 1965 (1965-09-18)
Colton stands up for a wounded Confederate veteran (Whit Bissell) being taunted by a young bully (Tony Bill), provoking the brash young man to challenge Colton to a duel. Colton reluctantly agrees to duel, but is deeply saddened by the prospect of possibly killing the young man. Colton recalls in flashback his service in the Civil War, revealing insights into Colton's behavior and philosophy. John Hoyt, Lou Krugman and James Sikking also guest star.
2"The Vespers"Leon BensonRod SerlingSeptember 25, 1965 (1965-09-25)
Colton visits an old friend who saved his life during the Civil War. This friend is now Rev. Booker, a Christian minister who has renounced his gun and the use of violence. Colton intercedes when gunman Deneen comes to avenge an earlier killing by Booker. Guest starring Jack Lord, Joan Freeman, Ron Soble, and Bill Quinn.
3"The Lonely Calico Queen"Allen H. MinerRod SerlingOctober 2, 1965 (1965-10-02)
Colton finds a letter on a dead man, who turns out to be a mail-order bridegroom for a dance hall girl named Angela Wheeler. Guest starring Jeanne Cooper, Tina Hermensen, and Edward Faulkner.
4"The Kingdom of McComb"Leon BensonRod SerlingOctober 9, 1965 (1965-10-09)
Colton intercedes on behalf of a Mennonite sect of pacifists when they run afoul of McComb, the town's ruthless power broker. Guest starring Leslie Nielsen, Tom Lowell, Ken Drake, and Ed Peck.
5"One of the Wounded"Paul HenreidRod SerlingOctober 16, 1965 (1965-10-16)
Colton is hired as a farmhand by a desperate wife whose husband is a catatonic Union army veteran, a man emotionally scarred by the horrors of the Civil War. Guests starring Anne Baxter, Paul Richards, and Lane Bradford.
6"The Flight of the Arctic Tern"Don TaylorAndy WhiteOctober 23, 1965 (1965-10-23)
A romantic triangle ensues when Colton rescues a friend's beautiful fiancée from a runaway horse. Guest starring Janine Gray, Tom Stern, and Larry Ward.
7"Widow on the Evening Stage"Joseph PevneyRod SerlingOctober 30, 1965 (1965-10-30)
Colton helps to collect the dead following an Indian massacre of local citizens. Among the dead was a man he knew in the war, and Colton befriends the man's grieving father. Complications and conflicts ensue when the dead man's wife arrives in town and turns out to be an Indian woman with an infant son. Guest starring Katharine Ross, Lloyd Gough, Bill Zuckert, and Alan Baxter.
8"The House Rules at Mrs. Wayne's"Allen H. MinerRod SerlingNovember 6, 1965 (1965-11-06)
Abner Wayne, a friend of Colton's, was murdered trying to defend his wife's honor. Mrs. Wayne's reaction is to forbid guns and any talk of guns around her young son Jamie for fear he'll tread the same violent path. Colton must choose between keeping his promise or teaching Jamie what it means to be a man. Guest starring Nancy Gates, Lee Phillips, Lindy Davis, Jonathan Kidd, and Dick Wilson.
9"The Sheriff of Fetterman's Crossing"Don TaylorRod SerlingNovember 13, 1965 (1965-11-13)
Colton has second thoughts after signing on to serve as deputy to bungling Sheriff Walton Tetley. A lighthearted change-of-pace episode spoofing the iconic Western film High Noon. Guest starring comedian Allan Sherman, Harold Peary, Dub Taylor, and Hank Patterson.
10"The Homecoming of Lemuel Stove"Joseph PevneyRod SerlingNovember 20, 1965 (1965-11-20)
Colton befriends black Union soldier Lemuel Stove (Brock Peters) who is returning home to see his father. Upon arriving, however, Stove learns his father was lynched the previous evening by the Avengers, a Klan-like hate group. Russ Conway and Don Keefer also appear in this celebrated episode scripted by Rod Serling.
11"Westward, the Shoemaker"Joseph PevneyRod SerlingNovember 27, 1965 (1965-11-27)
Colton befriends Hyman Rabinovitch (David Opatoshu), an immigrant shoemaker with his life savings and an indomitable dream to open a cobbler's shop. Warren Stevens and Al Checco also guest star.
12"The Oath"Alex MarchRod SerlingDecember 4, 1965 (1965-12-04)
Erstwhile The Tall Man and future The Road West star Barry Sullivan plays a surgeon who, having lost the use of his right hand, must guide Colton verbally through surgery to remove a gunfighter's ruptured appendix. Also guest starring Joby Baker and Viviane Ventura.
13"Hunt the Man Down"Tay GarnettMilton S. GelmanDecember 11, 1965 (1965-12-11)
Colton is enlisted to join a posse hunting down an old mountaineer. Guest starring four-time Twilight Zone alum Burgess Meredith, Jason Wingreen, and future Shane co-stars Bert Freed and Tom Tully.
14"Escort for a Dead Man"Norman FosterRobert LewinDecember 18, 1965 (1965-12-18)
Three gunmen complicate Colton's efforts to help an Army deserter turn himself in. Guest starring Jack Lambert Sheree North, Corey Allen, and Hal Lynch.
15"The Ordeal of Bud Windom"Paul HenreidNorman KatkovDecember 25, 1965 (1965-12-25)
Colton escorts fugitive Barney Windom (Sonny Tufts) to prison, only to be confronted by Windom's son Bud (Jeff Bridges), who is determined to clear his father's name. LLoyd Bridges' real-life son Jeff Bridges co-stars in the title role. Also appearing are Allen Jaffe, Bryan O'Byrne, and John Craven.
16"To the West of Eden"Allen H. MinerEd AdamsonJanuary 1, 1966 (1966-01-01)
Colton reluctantly allows a Mexican girl to accompany him across the desert. Guest starring Ina Balin, Stewart Moss, and Zalman King.
17"Mantrap"Allen H. MinerGerald SanfordJanuary 8, 1966 (1966-01-08)
Outlaws are out to silence Colton after he witnesses a double murder. Guest starring Bethel Leslie, Pat Conway, and Meg Wylie.
18"A Little Stroll to the End of the Line"Norman FosterRod SerlingJanuary 15, 1966 (1966-01-15)
Colton is deputized to protect rabble-rousing Preacher Whatley (Robert Emhardt) from ex-convict Matthew Reynolds (Dan Duryea). Bart Burns and Norman Leavitt also appear.
19"The Trial in Paradise"Allen ReisnerRod SerlingJanuary 22, 1966 (1966-01-22)
Colton defends Major Dichter (Curt Conway), the commander of an ill-fated Civil War mission, against three maimed survivors of the mission who lure Dichter to the ghost town of Paradise to stand trial in a kangaroo court. Guest starring Robert Lansing, Edward Binns, Joe Mantell, and Deanna Lund.
20"A Question of Guilt"James B. ClarkLes CrutchfieldJanuary 29, 1966 (1966-01-29)
Colton must figure out why the soldier he killed attacked him in the dark of night. Guest starring James Gregory, Jean Hale, Chuck Hayward, and Frank Gerstle.
21"The Mourners for Johnny Sharp: Part 1"Joseph PevneyRod SerlingFebruary 5, 1966 (1966-02-05)
As young gunman Johnny Sharp (Beau Bridges) lays a'dying in a cave, Bob Pierson (Pat Hingle) plots to steal his loot. James Whitmore also guest stars in the series' only two-part episode. Beau Bridges is the son of series star Lloyd Bridges.
22"The Mourners for Johnny Sharp: Part 2"Joseph PevneyRod SerlingFebruary 12, 1966 (1966-02-12)
Colton receives instructions stating that the four people closest to Johnny Sharp are to meet at the undertaker's parlor. Guest starring James Whitmore, Skip Homeier, John Doucette, and Joyce Van Patten.
23"Incident in the Middle of Nowhere"Joseph PevneyAndy WhiteFebruary 19, 1966 (1966-02-19)
Colton's horse is stolen during a stagecoach robbery, but he later finds a young girl riding it, prompting him to search for the robbers. Guest starring Peter Mark Richman, Beverly Garland, and Cindy Bridges (daughter of series star Lloyd Bridges).
24"Pick Me Another Time to Die"Alex MarchEd AdamsonFebruary 26, 1966 (1966-02-26)
Colton discovers a sheriff's body, only to be accused of murdering him! Guest starring Martin E. Brooks, Mike Mazurki, Lewis Charles, Ed Peck, and Joan Adams.
25"The Burden of the Badge"Larry PeerceNorman KatkovMarch 5, 1966 (1966-03-05)
Colton is recruited by a group of reformed outlaws to fight a cattle baron. Guest starring Victor Jory, Lonny Chapman, Dorothy Rice, John Daniels, and William Henry.
26"To Hang A Dead Man"Alex MarchMilton S. GelmanMarch 12, 1966 (1966-03-12)
In the final episode of the series, Colton joins a sheriff to track down the outlaw gang that burned down a town. Guest starring Howard Da Silva, Bruce Dern, Beverly Allyson, and Jim Drum.


  1. ^ Rod Serling’s The Loner Now Available on DVD. Television Obscurities. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
  2. ^ [1] Retrieved May 7, 2017.
  • Amory, C. (1966, January 15–21). Review: The Loner. TV Guide, p. 2
  • Brooks, T. & Marsh, E. (1979). The Complete Directory To Primetime Network TV Shows. New York: Ballantine Books, p. 357

External linksEdit