A Man Called Shenandoah is an American western series that aired Monday evenings on ABC-TV from September 13, 1965 to September 5, 1966. It was produced by MGM Television. Some of the location work for the 34 half-hour black and white episodes was filmed in California's High Sierras and Mojave Desert. When reruns aired on Turner Network Television in the 1990s, only 29 of the 34 episodes were rebroadcast. In February 2014, Warner Archive Instant offered all 34 uncut episodes as part of their streaming service, but they still are not available on DVD.
The series starred Robert Horton, who had costarred on Wagon Train from 1957 to 1962. He left that series, vowing to never do another television western, but agreed to star in A Man Called Shenandoah because he felt the show would be a great opportunity for him as an actor.
The series, set in 1870, is about an amnesiac facing hardship and danger while trying to unravel his identity and his past. Similar plots have frequently been used in films and television before and since, most recently in the 2015 NBC drama Blindspot. The show is being seen on the U.S. broadcast network, GetTV, on the weekends as part of a Western themed programming block.
Robert Horton plays a man who was shot and left for dead. Two buffalo hunters find him out on the prairie and, thinking he might be an outlaw, take him to the nearest town, in hopes of receiving reward money. When he regains consciousness he has no recollection of who he was, or why anyone would want to harm him.
The doctor who treated his wounds gives him the name "Shenandoah," stating the word means "land of silence." For the remainder of the series Shenandoah roams the West in search of clues to his identity. He learns that he had been a Union officer during the Civil War, and comes to believe he had been married.
The last episode, "Macauley's Cure", ends with Mrs. Macauley telling Shenandoah: "It's not always important who you are; it's always important what you are".
"Unfortunately, stiff timeslot competition doomed Shenandoah after 34 half hour episodes. CBS had the established Andy Griffith and NBC aired the popular Andy Williams. Even though Shenandoah was preceded from 8:30-9 by another Western, The Legend of Jesse James, it too faced insurmountable competition from Lucille Ball on CBS and Dr. Kildare on NBC. It seems Shenandoah’s search for his identity was as futile as ABC’s search for ratings and the series was cancelled, offering no resolution to Shenandoah’s search for truth, after 34 episodes on May 16, 1966" ().
Among the guest stars were Claude Akins, Ed Asner, Jeanne Cooper, John Dehner, Bruce Dern, Elinor Donahue, Leif Erickson, Beverly Garland, Sally Kellerman, DeForest Kelley, George Kennedy, Martin Landau, Cloris Leachman, John McIntire, Martin Milner, Leonard Nimoy, Jeanette Nolan, Warren Oates, Joyce Van Patten, and Michael Witney.
The show's theme song was the traditional American folk tune "Oh Shenandoah", with new, specialized lyrics written by Horton himself. Horton, who had performed in musical theater, also sang the song. His recording became a Columbia single in 1965. It is from Horton's Columbia album The Man Called Shenandoah (Cs-9208, stereo; Cl-2408, mono; both 1965).
The series is surprisingly popular on Rhodesian Television (RTV) in central Africa, and the song, reworked by local talent Nick Taylor, reached Number 3 on the Rhodesian Broadcasting Corporation hit parade.