Western Actors - Hall of Fame

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1.
James Arness
American leading man famed as the star of one of the longest-running shows in U.S. television history, Gunsmoke. Born of Norwegian heritage (the family name, Aurness, had formerly been Aursness) in Minneapolis, Minnesota to Rolf and Ruth Duesler Aurness. His father was a traveling salesman of medical supplies and his mother later became a newspaper columnist...
 
2.
Gene Autry
Orvon Gene Autry is considered by many to be the greatest western star of all time. He earned the designation of "America's Favorite Cowboy". He was "discovered" by Will Rogers while working as a telegrapher. One of his stars on the Walk of fame is for Live Performance (including rodeo), not live theater...
 
3.
Richard Boone
Actor, Medic
Richard Allen Boone was born in Los Angeles, California, to Cecile Lillian (Beckerman) and Kirk Etna Boone, a wealthy corporate lawyer. His maternal grandparents were Russian Jewish immigrants, while his father was descended from a brother of frontiersmen Daniel Boone and Squire Boone. Richard was a college student...
 
4.
Don 'Red' Barry
Donald Barry went from the stage to the screen. After four years of playing villains and henchmen at various studios, Barry got the role that changed his image: Red Ryder in the Republic Pictures serial Adventures of Red Ryder. Although he had appeared in westerns for two years or so, this was the one that kept him there...
 
5.
William Boyd
The son of a day laborer, William Boyd moved with his family to Tulsa, Oklahoma, when he was seven. His parents died while he was in his early teens, forcing him to quit school and take such jobs as a grocery clerk, surveyor and oil field worker. He went to Hollywood in 1919, already gray-haired. His first role was as an extra in Cecil B. DeMille's Why Change Your Wife?...
 
6.
Walter Brennan
In many ways the most successful and familiar character actor of American sound films and the only actor to date to win three Oscars for Best Supporting Actor, Walter Brennan attended college in Cambridge, Massachusetts, studying engineering. While in school he became interested in acting and performed in school plays...
 
7.
Rod Cameron
The well-worn phrase "Tall in the saddle" is certainly one easy way of describing (and perhaps pigeon-holing) leathery, wiry-framed 1940s and early 1950s western film star Rod Cameron, although he proved quite capable in crime stories, horrors and even swing-era musicals. The 6'4" Canadian-born actor was born Nathan Roderick Cox on December 7...
 
8.
Jeff Chandler
Jeff was born in Brooklyn and attended Erasmus High School. After high school, he took a drama course and worked in stock companies for two years. His next role would be that of an officer in World War II. After he was discharged from the service, he became busy acting in radio drama's and comedies until he was signed by Universal...
 
9.
Johnny Mack Brown
Actor, Coquette
An All-American halfback while attending the University of Alabama, Johnny Mack Brown chose the silver screen over the green grass of the football field when he graduated. Signed to a contract with MGM in 1926, Brown debuted in Slide, Kelly, Slide with William Haines in a film about - baseball. This was followed by The Bugle Call...
 
10.
Rory Calhoun
Actor, The Texan
Rory Calhoun was born Francis Timothy McCown in Los Angeles, the son of Elizabeth Cuthbert and James McCown. Rory starred in over 80 films and 1,000 television episodes. Before becoming an actor he worked as a boxer, a lumberjack, a truck driver and a cowpuncher. Tall and handsome, he benefited from a screen test at 20th Century-Fox...
 
11.
Harry Carey
Born in New York City to a Judge of Special Sessions who was also president of a sewing machine company. Grew up on City Island, New York. Attended Hamilton Military Academy and turned down an appointment to West Point to attend New York Law School, where his law school classmates included future New York City mayor James J...
 
12.
Gary Cooper
Actor, High Noon
"Dad was a true Westerner, and I take after him", Gary Cooper told people who wanted to know more about his life before Hollywood. Dad was Charles Henry Cooper, who left his native England at 19, became a lawyer and later a Montana State Supreme Court justice. In 1906, when Gary was 5, his dad bought the Seven-Bar-Nine...
 
13.
Clint Eastwood
Perhaps the icon of macho movie stars, and a living legend, Clint Eastwood has become a standard in international cinema. Born May 31, 1930 in San Francisco, the elder of two children in a middle-class family, Eastwood stayed in high school until the comparatively late age of nineteen and worked menial jobs over a period of several years before enrolling at Los Angeles City College...
 
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15.
Glenn Ford
Actor, Superman
Legendary actor Glenn Ford was born Gwyllyn Samuel Newton Ford in Sainte-Christine-d'Auvergne, Quebec, Canada, to Hannah Wood (Mitchell) and Newton Ford, a railroad executive. His family moved to Santa Monica, California when he was eight years old. His acting career began with plays at high school, followed by acting in West Coast, a traveling theater company...
 
16.
William S. Hart
A storybook hero, the original screen cowboy, ever forthright and honest, even when (as was often the case) he played a villain, William S. Hart lived for a while in the Dakota Territory, then worked as a postal clerk in New York City. In 1888 he began to study acting. In 1899 he created the role of Messala in "Ben-Hur"...
 
17.
Hoot Gibson
Actor, Action
A pioneering cowboy star of silent and early talking Westerns, Hoot Gibson was one of the 1920s' most popular children's matinée heroes. In his real life, however, he had a rather painful rags-to-riches-and-back-to-rags career, a problem that seemed to plague a number of big stars who fell victim to their high profile and wound up living too high on the hog...
 
18.
Richard Harrison
Musclebound actor Richard Harrison was one of a slew of handsome young American pectoral hunks of the late 50s whose career in Hollywood amounted to little more than brawny bits until being lured to Italy and churning out the sword-and-sandal pictures that became an early 60s craze. Harrison would end up making over 100 films due to this lucky trek abroad...
 
19.
Terence Hill
Actor, Don Matteo
Terence Hill was born as Mario Girotti on March 29, 1939 in Venice, Italy to a chemist. His mother was German, and as a child the family lived near Dresden, Saxony, Germany where they survived the Allied bombings of World War II. Italian film-maker Dino Risi discovered him at a swimming meet and he made his first film at the age of 12...
 
20.
Buck Jones
Buck Jones was one of the greatest of the "B" western stars. Although born in Indiana, Jones reportedly (but disputedly) grew up on a ranch near Red Rock in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), and there learned the riding and shooting skills that would stand him in good stead as a hero of Westerns. He...
 
21.
Tim Holt
Born Charles John Holt III, he was given the nickname of Tim as a child. As a toddler Tim had an imaginary friend named "Casey," which was also the name of his favorite childhood dog. His father, Jack Holt, was "King of the Rodeo" at the 1924 Fresno Rodeo and was accompanied by five-year-old Tim riding in the parade as the "Crown Prince." In an article for Western Stars magazine in 1950...
 
22.
Ben Johnson
Born in Oklahoma, Ben Johnson was a ranch hand and rodeo performer when, in 1940, Howard Hughes hired him to take a load of horses to California. He decided to stick around (the pay was good), and for some years was a stunt man, horse wrangler, and double for such stars as John Wayne, Gary Cooper and James Stewart...
 
23.
Joel McCrea
One of the great stars of American Westerns, and a very popular leading man in non-Westerns as well. He was born and raised in the surroundings of Hollywood and as a boy became interested in the movies that were being made all around. He studied acting at Pomona College and got some stage experience at the Pasadena Community Playhouse...
 
24.
Klaus Kinski
Klaus Kinski was born Nikolaus Günther Nakszynski in Zoppot, Free City of Danzig (now Sopot, Poland), to Susanne (Lutze), a nurse, and Bruno Nakszynski, a pharmacist. He grew up in Berlin, was drafted into the German army in 1944 and captured by British forces in Holland. After the war he began acting on the stage...
 
25.
Alan Ladd
Actor, Shane
Alan Walbridge Ladd was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas, the only child of Ina Raleigh (aka Selina Rowley) and Alan Ladd, a freelance accountant. His mother was English, from County Durham, and his paternal grandparents were Canadian. His father died when he was four. At age five, he burned his apartment playing with matches...
 
26.
Allan Lane
Most western action film heroes begin and end their career in the saddle. Not so for cowboy idol Allan "Rocky" Lane, who started as a leading man in major studio dramas, only to segue into "B" serials and sagebrush sagas in later life. The Indiana native was born in 1909 (some sources claim 1904). He studied at Notre Dame University where he excelled as a varsity letter athlete in football...
 
27.
Ken Maynard
Image is everything in Hollywood. Few stars were ever as disliked within the business but held in such high regard by fans as Ken Maynard. To never have met Maynard was reportedly a blessing. And despite his innumerable personality shortcomings, no other western star of the period had so many opportunities thrown his way...
 
28.
Tim McCoy
One of the great stars of early American Westerns. McCoy was the son of an Irish soldier who later became police chief of Saginaw, Michigan, where McCoy was born. He attended St. Ignatius College in Chicago and after seeing a Wild West show there, left school and found work on a Wyoming ranch. He became...
 
29.
Tom Mix
The son of a lumberman, Tom Mix joined the army as a young man and was an artillery sergeant during the Philippine campaign from 1898 to 1901, though he never saw action. In fact, Mix deserted from the army and carefully kept the facts about his military service a closely guarded secret. About 1903 he was drum major with the Oklahoma Cavalry Band...
 
30.
Robert Mitchum
Robert Mitchum was an underrated American leading man of enormous ability, who sublimated his talents beneath an air of disinterest. He was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to Ann Harriet (Gunderson), a Norwegian immigrant, and James Thomas Mitchum, a shipyard/railroad worker. His father died in a train accident when he was two...
 
31.
Audie Murphy
Audie Murphy became a national hero during World War II as the most decorated combat soldier of the war. Among his 33 awards was the Medal of Honor, the highest award for bravery that a soldier can receive. In addition, he was also decorated for bravery by the governments of France and Belgium, and was credited with killing over 240 German soldiers and wounding and capturing many more...
 
32.
Clayton Moore
Clayton Moore grew up in Chicago, Illinois and although his father wanted him to become a doctor, he had visions of something a little more glamorous. Naturally athletic, he practiced gymnastics during family summer vacations in Canada, eventually joining the trapeze act The Flying Behrs at 19. During the 1934 Chicago World's Fair...
 
33.
Roy Rogers
Roy Rogers (born Leonard Slye) moved to California in 1930, aged 18. He played in such musical groups as The Hollywood Hillbillies, Rocky Mountaineers, Texas Outlaws, and his own group, the International Cowboys. In 1934 he formed a group with Bob Nolan called Sons of the Pioneers. While in that group he was known as Leonard Slye...
 
34.
Franco Nero
Blue-eyed and well-built Italian actor in international cinema, Franco Nero, was a painting photographer when he was discovered as an actor by director John Huston. He has since appeared in more than 200 movies around the world, working with Europe's top directors, such as Luis Buñuel, Rainer Werner Fassbinder...
 
35.
Jack Palance
Actor, Batman
Jack Palance exemplified evil incarnate on film -- portraying some of the most intensely despised villains witnessed in 50s westerns and melodrama. He received two Best Supporting Actor nominations early in his career, but it would take a grizzled, eccentric comic performance 40 years later for him to finally grab the coveted statuette...
 
36.
Randolph Scott
Handsome American leading man who developed into one of Hollywood's greatest and most popular Western stars. Born to George and Lucy Crane Scott during a visit to Virginia, Scott was raised in Charlotte, North Carolina in a wealthy family. After service with the U.S. Army in France in World War I, he attended Georgia Institute of Technology but...
 
37.
Robert Ryan
Distinguished U.S. actor and longtime civil rights campaigner Robert Bushnell Ryan was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Mable Arbutus (Bushnell), a secretary, and Timothy Aloysius Ryan, whose wealthy family owned a real estate firm. His father was of Irish ancestry, and his mother was of English and Irish descent...
 
39.
Bud Spencer
Bud Spencer, the popular Italian actor who starred in innumerable spaghetti Westerns and action-packed potboilers during the 1960s and 1970s, was born Carlo Pedersoli on October 31, 1929, in Naples. The first Italian to swim the 100-meter freestyle in less than a minute, Spencer competed as a swimmer on the Italian National Team at the Olympic Summer games in both Helsinki...
 
40.
Bob Steele
The son of director Robert N. Bradbury, Bob Steele began his show-business career early: he was part of his family's vaudeville act at age two, and toured with them all over the West Coast. At age 14 he and his twin brother Bill Bradbury made their film debuts in a series of comedy shorts directed by their father...
 
41.
Charles Starrett
While on the Darmouth College football team, Charles Starrett was hired to play a football extra in The Quarterback. Impressed by the job, Starrett got the acting bug and next went into vaudeville, then regional stage work and finally to Broadway. Spotted by a Paramount talent scout, Starrett was signed to play the romantic lead in Fast and Loose...
 
42.
James Stewart
James Maitland Stewart was born on 20 May 1908 in Indiana, Pennsylvania, to Elizabeth Ruth (Johnson) and Alexander Maitland Stewart, who owned a hardware store. He was of Scottish, Ulster-Scots, and some English, descent. Stewart was educated at a local prep school, Mercersburg Academy, where he was a keen athlete (football and track)...
 
43.
Anthony Steffen
For the spaghetti western aficionados, Saturday June 5th was a very sad day due to Anthony Steffen's passing. Born in Rome, on 21st July of 1930, at the Brazilian embassy, son of Formula 1 champion and then ambassador Manoel de Teffe; he was named Antonio Luiz and became the Baron de Teffe. The de Teffe family had a noble origin but during Second World War...
 
44.
Lee Van Cleef
One of the great movie villains, Clarence Leroy Van Cleef, Jr. was born in Somerville, New Jersey, to Marion Lavinia (Van Fleet) and Clarence LeRoy Van Cleef, Sr. His parents were both of Dutch ancestry. Van Cleef started out as an accountant. He served in the U.S. Navy aboard minesweepers and subchasers during World War II...
 
45.
Robert Taylor
Born Spangler Arlington Brugh, Robert Taylor began displaying a diversity of talents in his youth on the plains of Nebraska. At Beatrice High School, he was a standout track athlete, but also showed a talent for using his voice, winning several oratory awards. He was a musician and played the cello in the school orchestra...
 
46.
John Wayne
John Wayne was born Marion Robert Morrison in Iowa, to Mary Alberta (Brown) and Clyde Leonard Morrison, a pharmacist. He was of English, Ulster-Scots, and Irish ancestry. Clyde developed a lung condition that required him to move his family from Iowa to the warmer climate of southern California, where they tried ranching in the Mojave Desert...
 
47.
Clint Walker
Actor, Cheyenne
Clint Walker was born Norman Eugene Walker in Hartford, southwestern Illinois, to Gladys Huldah (Schwanda), a Czech immigrant, and Paul Arnold Walker, who was from Arkansas. Walker almost single-handedly started the western craze on TV in the 1950s as Cheyenne Bodie in Cheyenne. Growing up in the Depression era meant taking work wherever you could get it...
 
48.
Eli Wallach
One of Hollywood's finest character / "Method" actors, Eli Wallach was in demand for over 60 years (first film/TV role was 1949) on stage and screen, and has worked alongside the world's biggest stars, including Clark Gable, Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, Marilyn Monroe, Yul Brynner, Peter O'Toole, and Al Pacino, to name but a few...
 
49.
Richard Widmark
Richard Widmark established himself as an icon of American cinema with his debut in the 1947 film noir Kiss of Death in which he won a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nomination as the killer "Tommy Udo". Kiss of Death and other noir thrillers established Widmark as part of a new generation of American movie actors who became stars in the post-World War II era...
 
50.
Giuliano Gemma
Actor, Tenebre
Giuliano Gemma was born in Rome on 2 September 1938, grew up in Reggio Emilia but came back to Rome with his parents in 1944. While he was playing on the grass he found a WW II bomb that exploded and today the signs of injury are still visible on his face. He practiced many sports in his life, boxing...