Early next year will mark 25 years since an unprecedented 26 million households tuned in to watch the premiere episode of the Lonesome Dove miniseries that ran for six hours spanning four nights.
Beginning in January, Fort Worth will play host to a six-month silver anniversary celebration as well as a gala in the Historic Fort Worth Stockyards that will reunite most of the star-studded cast and crew of the 1989 miniseries.
Robert Duvall, who played Capt. Augustus “Gus” McCrae, and Tommy Lee Jones, who played Captain Woodrow F. Call, are among 17 actors and actresses confirmed to attend the reunion gala March 31 at River Ranch in the Stockyards.
It is being billed as a “once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
The Lonesome Dove Reunion and Trail is being presented by Texas State University in San Marcos to benefit the Wittliff Tomorrow Fund and the Wittliff Collections, an archival, educational and creative center that furthers the region’s cultural history through literary and photographic arts.
The Lonesome Dove Trail kicks off Jan. 15 and includes museum exhibitions, a miniseries screening in Sundance Square Plaza over two nights, panel discussions with some of the cast and a symposium. One exhibit will feature the costumes, props, photographs and other items on loan from the Lonesome Dove Production Archive, which is permanently held at the Wittliff Collections. The activities are open to the public.
Events will be held at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, the Cattle Raisers Museum, the Fort Worth Library, the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, the Sid Richardson Museum, Sundance Square Plaza and Texas Christian University.
‘A perfect venue’
Matt Flores, Texas State’s assistant vice president for University Advancement-Communication, said the university needed to look beyond San Marcos for a city with plenty of “perfect venues” to be the host. He said he expects the events to be well-attended.
“Fort Worth is a perfect venue, a perfect companion to host this,” Flores sa id.
The Lonesome Dove Reunion and Trail is being announced today by the university, and Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau executives who are in New York touting Fort Worth to travel writers and editors.
Mitch Whitten, vice president of marketing with the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the Lonesome Dove event will be a huge draw for visitors to Fort Worth next year. The CVB jumped at the chance to be the host city about six months ago, he said.
“We saw this as an opportunity to shine a light on Fort Worth,” Whitten said.
It also serves well as a lead-in for the sesquicentennial of the Chisholm Trail in 2017, Whitten said. The trail, one of three majors trails, was used by Texas cattle ranchers to drive their herds north.
Lonesome Dove is the story of two Texas Rangers on an epic 2,500-mile cattle drive from the Rio Grande to Montana. The 843-page book eulogizes the Texas past. The series won seven Emmy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards and a Peabody Award, among others.
Lonesome Dove is also believed to be based on the story of Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving who moved cattle along the Goodnight-Loving Trail, that ran through West Texas from Austin and north into Colorado.
Bill Wittliff, who wrote the screenplay of the 1985 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Larry McMurtry, will be on hand for the events. Wittliff also co-produced the series. Photographs he took during production will be displayed at the Cattle Raisers Museum.
A year before Wittliff wrote the Lonesome Dove screenplay, he and his wife, Sally, founded the Southwestern Writers Collection archive at Texas State, according to the university.
Sandra Baker: 817-390-7727, @SandraBakerFWST
Lonesome Dove Trail – Exhibitions and Events
Lonesome Dove: The Art of the Story, Sid Richardson Museum, Jan. 15 – June 19.
Bullets and Bustles: Costumes of Lonesome Dove, National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, Feb. 19 – April 17.
Photographs from Lonesome Dove by Bill Wittliff, Cattle Raisers Museum, Feb. 19 – April 17.
Screening of Lonesome Dove Miniseries, Sundance Square Plaza, Parts 1 and 2: March 28, and Parts 3 and 4, March 29.
Panel Discussion with the Cast and Crew, 6 p.m., March 30, Texas Christian University, and 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., March 31, Amon Carter Museum of American Art.
Lonesome Dove Reunion Gala, March 31, River Ranch.
Vaqueros, Cowboys and Cowgirls: Texas Cattle Trails to the World symposium, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., April 2, Fort Worth Central Library.
Lonesome Dove Exhibition, May 1 — July 15, Old Jail Art Center, Albany.
Source: Texas State University