Best Western Romances

Match Made on the Frontier

The flashes from gun barrels at high noon weren’t the only sparks that flew in the Old West. The secret loves! The whirlwind romances! The deep love that simmers and grows over time. Let’s take a look at some favorite INSP characters—and a few real-life historical couples—who fell hard when Cupid drew back his bow!

1. George Washington “GW” McLintock and Katherine Gilhooley McLintock

John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara in McLintock
John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara


Why we love them: No doubt, John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara electrify the screen whatever movie they star in. McLintock! is no exception—and it’s hilarious. When his ex returns west, GW’s love for her rekindles. Can this aging, set-in-his-ways, wealthy rancher win back the heart of his estranged, high-society city wife, hellbent on divorce? Take aim, Cupid!

2. Marshal Matt Dillon and Miss Kitty Russell

James Arness and Amanda Blake in Gunsmoke
James Arness and Amanda Blake

Why we love them:
 Matt Dillon, tall and handsome. Miss Kitty, stunning and alluring. The screen heats up when they’re together. But are they a couple? Or aren’t they? Both are strong, yet vulnerable characters who surely have a deep and abiding relationship. But are they in love? Find out. Get the scoop in A Dodge City Love Affair.

3. Conn Conagher and Evie Teale

Sam Elliott and Katharine Ross in Conagher
Sam Elliott and Katharine Ross

Why we love them: The leads are played by real-life husband and wife Sam Elliott and Katharine Ross. Be still our fluttering hearts! On screen, Conn Conagher is a rough cowboy and gunslinger, who, despite his loner lifestyle, falls for widow Evie Teale, a gutsy woman determined to make a life on the frontier for herself and her kids. They’re an unlikely pair, but Cupid has them in his sights. Learn more about the mesmerizing Sam Elliott. Read The Sam Elliott Story.

4. Paul and Martha Cable
Last Stand at Saber River

Tom Selleck and Suzy Amis in Last Stand at Saber River
Tom Selleck and Suzy Amis

Why we love them:
 The smoldering feelings, just below the surface, between Paul and Martha are palpable. Martha’s pent-up resentment when she discovers the husband, she thought was dead, has returned from the war—quite alive—is fraught with secrets and unspoken anger. Paul’s determination to fight for his relationship and his family in the face of insurmountable odds takes the couple on a powerful journey of forgiveness and love.

Tom Selleck loves the Western genre—and he can be picky!

Read Tom Selleck—Western Perfectionist.

5. The Kid and Louise McCloud
The Young Riders

Ty Miller and Yvonne Suhor in The Young Riders
Ty Miller and Yvonne Suhor

Why we love them:
Who doesn’t like to be in on a big secret—and to cheer on a charming romance when the couple is in danger of being found out? And this is a doozy of a double-barreled secret! Ty Miller and Yvonne Suhor play the young sweethearts in this action-filled, funny, and poignant series about The Pony Express. Learn more about the whole cast in The Young Riders: Cool Facts about the Cool Cast.

Real Romances on the Range

The Sundance Kid and Etta Place

The Sundance Kid and Ethel “Etta” Place
The Sundance Kid and Ethel “Etta” Place


Bullets and sparks flew when The Wild Bunch Gang, with outlaw The Sundance Kid and his girl, Etta rode into town! The longest crime spree in history secured a place in history for Etta Place. Their notoriety inspired the 1969 movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, starring Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and Katharine Ross, plus a compelling episode of Wild West Chronicles on INSP. Read about this mystery woman in Wild West Boss Ladies: Etta Place.

Annie Oakley and Frank E. Butler

Annie Oakley
Annie Oakley


Annie Oakley learned to shoot as a child so she could hunt and provide for her impoverished family. She was so good at it by the time she was 15, she entered a competition against the best sharpshooter around, Frank E. Butler. But it was Cupid who hit the bullseye! The two fell in love and spent a lifetime touring the world. Learn more about Oakley in Wild West Boss Ladies: Little Sure Shot, and the Wild West Chronicles episode, “Annie Oakley: Rise of a Shooting Star.”

Sacagawea and Toussaint Charbonneau

Sacagawea with Lewis and Clark
Sacagawea with Lewis and Clark in a detail from the mural, “Lewis and Clark at Three Forks,” located in the lobby of the Montana House of Representatives.


There was no falling madly in love and starting life in wedded bliss for young Sacagawea. She was sold to fur trader Toussaint Carbonneau—as his second wife! But they made a life together—and history, as they guided explorers Lewis and Clark on their famed expedition in search of the Northwest Passage. Read about her bravery and daring deeds in Wild West Boss Ladies: Sacagawea.