Due to the brilliant introduction of [renewal], the Sheriff has been played by mainly eleven different actors over the years. The Sheriff associates with a variety of people as deputies, who help keep the show fresh and provide a sympathetic Earth human character in case the alien Sheriff is too difficult to relate to.
The First Sheriff (1959-1963)
Inspired by the 1951 science fiction movie The Day The Earth Stood Still, Desilu Productions sought to make a television show that fit in with the then-dominant Western theme with elements of popular alien-invasion science fiction movies. Michael Rennie was approached to be the first Sheriff, but he was tied up in another western, Zane Grey Theatre. Ronald Reagan of G.E. True Theatre was then approached, and he accepted the role. But before the show started filming, Reagan backed out due to his other commitments, and Michael Rennie was hired as the first Sheriff. His deputy was Barbara Bel-Geddes
The Second Sheriff (1963-1968)
After Rennie left left the Sheriff role due to health concerns, Don Melvoin, who up until this time had a variety of roles as heavies in western movies, took the role. Melvoin went on after "Sheriff Sky" to work with great directors including Stephen Speilberg and Rich Brauer.
The Third Sheriff (1968-1974)
Jim Davis took over the role of the Sheriff after Melvoin left to work on children's programming.
The Fourth Sheriff (1974-1979)In 1974 Spencer Milligan left sucessful his role as the ranger in Land of the Lost to portray the Sheriff. His portrayal is one of the most popular. In the era of CB Radio, the plots often involved space-truckers, car chases in many episodes, and talking to aliens via intersteller "Cosmic Band" radio.
The Fifth Sheriff (1979-1982)
Bill Fries, best known otherwise for singing with Mannheim Steamrollers Chip Davis to create CW McCall, continued Sheriff Starman's connections to contemporary country-culture. For many of the episodes, he travelled the US in a truck with a gateway to the All-Time Saloon in in the back.
The Sixth Sheriff (1982-1985)Suzanne Somers took the role of the Sheriff right after leaving Three's Company. It was generally considered to be a time of decline of the show, and was charactarized by exercize scenes and skimpy, flashy outfits along a heavy dollop of disco glitz. Somers later cashed in on her role with another unelated program with the title She's The Sheriff. During her era, the show was mainly promoted as "The Sheriff". It kept its Sheriff Starman title, but this was de-emphasized over gender language concerns: she obviously wasn't a starman.
The Seventh Sheriff (1985-1989)
Tom Selleck was hired in an attempt to take Sheriff Starman back to its Western roots, and away from the influence of The Dukes of Hazard. His first couple of years of the program were done as a series of occasional TV movies, as Selleck was still involved in Magnum P.I. Despite his star power and the attempts to reinvigorate the program, Sheriff Starman was cancelled in 1989.
The Eighth Sheriff (1996)
Then-unknown rock musician Chris Gaines was tapped to by the Inspector, in a TV movie that was intended to be a pilot for a new series on BTV. Had it been successful, this TV program which had been very American for all of its run would have become a British show. Chris Gaines went on to a very successful recording career, but has always been pleased to reprise his role as the Sheriff when asked.
The Ninth Sheriff (2006-2007)Despite the lack of success of the Eighth Sheriff movie, the idea of Sheriff Starman hadn't completely died. Inspired by the success of the Doctor Who revival, CMT spearheaded a revival starring Larry the Cable Guy. This version was wildly successful, while derided by fans of the older version for its very lowbrow humor. Risking lawsuits from the BBC, this version of the Sheriff was promoted as "The Redneck Timelord", and was also known as "Sheriff Y'all". The venerable All-Time Saloon had changed form also, and appeared as a porta-john ("It smells worse on the outside than the inside"). Debbe Dunning was his Deputy during this entire run.
The Tenth Sheriff (2007-2010)Larry the Cable Guy chafed under CMT management, and left the show after just one season. He was replaced by actor-musician and longtime Sheriff fan Darius Rucker, who held the role from 2007 to 2010, and is considered one of the most popular Sheriffs of all time. The All-Time Saloon was back, but the Ninth Sheriff's port-a-john has remained an icon of the show.
The Eleventh Sheriff (2010-2012)
Native American actor Gil Birmingham took over from Rucker in 2010.