The 1989 western TV-miniseries Lonesome Dove, based on the classic novel by Larry McMurtry, was one of the most beloved American TV-westerns of all time. Starring Tommy Lee Jones, Robert Duvall, Danny Glover, Robert Urich, Diane Lane, Ricky Schroder, Steve Buscemi and Anjelica Huston, the miniseries tells the story of two former Texas Rangers who help residents of a small Texas town take a cattle drive to Montana. After airing on CBS, the show gained a cult following.
Still considered one of the best westerns of all time and a point of pride for any Texan, here are eight very cool things you didn't know about Lonesome Dove.
1. Tommy Lee Jones is a real cowboy
The actor, who owns a ranch in Texas, refused to have a stunt double do any of his character's riding scenes. Jones saddled up and did everything himself.
2. Jones and Duvall had their roles reversed
Originally, Tommy Lee Jones was set to play Augustus McCrae and Robert Duvall was cast as Woodrow Call. However, after reading the book, Duvall (who was the bigger star) decided he wanted to play ole Gus McCrae.
3. Lonesome Dove was a ratings hit but didn't win all the awards it should have
Lonesome Dove lost out on the Emmy to War and Remembrance. Easily one of the times the Emmys can look back and say they made a mistake.
The Golden Globes, however, did not make the same mistake. The Hollywood Foreign Press gave the miniseries its top award and gave Robert Duvall the best actor award.
4. 'Lonesome Dove' is based on a book that was originally written as a movie
Lonesome Dove writer Larry McMurtry originally wrote the story as a movie script and hoped to have John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda star. However, Wayne turned the project down and the script was shelved for ten years. Eventually, McMurtry bought the rights back and turned it into a book.
It was a good call considering the western novel went on to win the Pulitzer Prize.
5. The 'Lonesome Dove' cast has a whole lot of hardware
The cast features four Academy Award winners -- Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper, and Anjelica Huston -- and two Oscar nominees in Frederic Forrest and Diane Lane.
6. The cattle getting electrocuted by lightning is a real thing
Called "St. Elmo's Fire," cattle getting struck by lightning and passing the fatal charge onto each other through their horns, as is depicted in the book and miniseries, is a real phenomenon.
7. The miniseries is so beloved by Texans that costumes from the series are on display at a university in Texas
Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas has the costumes and more on display in its library as part of the Wittliff Collection.
8. Tommy Lee Jones wasn't the first (or second) choice for the miniseries
Originally Charles Bronson was asked to be in the series but he declined. James Garner was cast next but had to drop out for health reasons. Finally, Jones got the nod. We can't imagine anyone else as Captain Call.
This article was originally published in 2019.
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