The Best of the Western Actors - Many long gone now, and shouldn't be forgotten!
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 finished high school at the comparatively late age of 19 and worked odd jobs for several years before enrolling at Los Angeles City College...
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...
The archetypal screen tough guy with weatherbeaten features--one film critic described his rugged looks as "a Clark Gable
who had been left out in the sun too long"--Charles Bronson was born Charles Buchinsky, one of 15 children of struggling parents in Pennsylvania. His mother, Mary (Valinsky)...
Prematurely white-haired character star who began as a supporting player of generally vicious demeanor, then metamorphosed into a star of both action and drama projects, Lee Marvin was born in New York City to Lamont Waltman Marvin, an advertising executive, and his wife Courtenay Washington Davidge...
Warren Oates was an American character actor of the 1960s and 1970s and early 1980s whose distinctive style and intensity brought him to offbeat leading roles. Oates was born in Depoy, a very small Kentucky town. He was the son of Sarah Alice (Mercer) and Bayless Earle Oates, a general store owner...
An American stuntman who, after more than 30 years in the business, moved into acting and became an acclaimed and respected character actor, Richard Farnsworth was a native of Los Angeles. He grew up around horses and as a teenager was offered an opportunity to ride in films. He appeared in horse-racing scenes and cavalry charges unbilled...
Harry Dean Stanton
Prolific character actor Harry Dean Stanton's drooping, weather-beaten appearance and superb acting talent have been his ticket to appearing in over 100 films, and 50 TV episodes. Stanton was born in West Irvine, Kentucky, to Ersel (Moberly), a cook, and Sheridan Harry Stanton, a barber and tobacco farmer...
Powerful and highly respected American actor Jason Nelson Robards, Jr. was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Hope Maxine (Glanville) and stage and film star Jason Robards Sr.
He had Swedish, English, Welsh, German, and Irish ancestry. Robards was raised mostly in Los Angeles. A star athlete at Hollywood High School...
Kevin Michael Costner was born on January 18, 1955 in Lynwood, California, the third child of Bill Costner
, a ditch digger and ultimately an electric line servicer for Southern California Edison, and Sharon Costner
(née Tedrick), a welfare worker. His older brother, Dan, was born in 1950. A middle brother died at birth in 1953...
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...
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...
Tall, thin, wiry Sam Elliott is the classic picture of the American cowboy. Elliott began his acting career on the stage and his film debut was in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
. Although his future wife, Katharine Ross
co-starred in the film, the two did not meet until they filmed The Legacy
Together. Over the years there would be few opportunities to act in feature westerns...
Thomas William Selleck is an American actor and film producer, known for his starring role as Hawaii-based private investigator "Thomas Magnum" on the 1980s television series, Magnum, P.I.
. Selleck was born in Detroit, Michigan, to Martha S. (Jagger), a homemaker, and Robert Dean Selleck, a real estate investor and executive...
Woody Strode was a respected actor with strong African and Native American ancestry. He was Cree and Blackfoot on his father's side and Cherokee on his mother's. While some reviewers and historians claim he could have been a more well-known and cast minority actor if not for his size and physically strong appearance...
Lanky, charismatic and versatile actor with an amazing grin that put everyone at ease, James Coburn studied acting at UCLA, and then moved to New York to study under noted acting coach Stella Adler
. After being noticed in several stage productions, Coburn appeared in a handful of minor westerns before being cast as the knife-throwing...
Gruff, burly American character actor. Born in 1903 in Benkelman, Nebraska (confirmed by Social Security records; sources stating 1905 or Denver, Colorado are in error.) Bond grew up in Denver, the son of a lumberyard worker. He attended the University of Southern California, where he got work as an...
Colorful American character actor equally adept at vicious killers or grizzled sidekicks. As a child he worked in the cotton fields. He attended Santa Monica Junior College in California and subsequently became an accountant and, at one time, manager of the Bel Air Hotel. Elam got his first movie job by trading his accounting services for a role...
Tall, rangy Jim Davis spent much of his early career in westerns, mainly at Republic Pictures. The Missouri-born and -raised Davis' relaxed, easygoing manner and Southern drawl easily fit most moviegoers' image of the cowboy, and Republic put him in a ton of them over the years (the fact that, unlike a lot of movie cowboys...
Chief Dan George
Chief Dan George was born with the names Geswanouth Slahoot (which was anglicized as Dan Slaholt) to a tribal chief on Burrard Indian Reserve No. 3 in North Vancouver. His last name was changed to George when he entered a mission boarding school at the age of 5, where the use of his native language was discouraged, if not forbidden...
From small-town Oklahoma native to internationally acclaimed actor and musician, Wes Studi credits his passion and multi-faceted background for his powerful character portrayals that forever changed a Hollywood stereotype. Within a few years of his arrival in Hollywood, Studi caught the attention of the public in Dances with Wolves
Iron Eyes Cody
Iron Eyes Cody was born Espera or "Oscar" DeCorti, the son of two first-generation immigrants from Italy. In 1924 he moved to California, changed his name from "DeCorti" to "Corti" to Cody, and started working as an actor, presenting himself as a Native American. He married an Indian woman, Bertha Parker...
World-famous, widely popular American humorist of the vaudeville stage and of silent and sound films, Will Rogers graduated from military school, but his first real job was in the livestock business in Argentina, of all places. He transported pack animals across the South Atlantic from Buenos Aires to South Africa for use in the Boer War (1899-1902)...
Gregory Peck first film, Days of Glory, was released in 1944. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor five times, four of which came in his first five years of film acting: for The Keys of the Kingdom (1944), The Yearling (1946), Gentleman's Agreement (1947), and Twelve O'Clock High (1949)...
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