What makes someone a Western Legend? Legendary people are those who make such a profound and lasting impact that they will continue to shape future generations. This is true of Clint Walker. Clint Walker almost single-handedly started the Westerns craze on television in the 1950s, thus inspiring the courageous cowboy spirit in places and hearts where it had never been before.
But, there were many twists and turns on the path that would eventually lead Clint to Hollywood.
Clint Walker was born May 30th 1927 in Hartford, Illinois to Gladys Huldah (Schwanda), a Czech immigrant, and Paul Arnold Walker, who was from Arkansas. Growing up in the midst of the Great Depression meant taking work wherever you could get it to put food on the table. Clint found himself working as a Mississippi River deckhand, carnival roustabout and golf caddy. He also wanted to serve his country, so at the young age of seventeen Clint joined the Merchant Marines. He had several assignments in the Merchant Marines and served on a transport ship that took grain to the troops in North Africa and the Aleutian Islands.
Once WWII was over, he worked in the oil fields in Brownwood, Texas, and from there wound up in California, where he worked as a carpenter, a club bouncer and as an undercover agent for a private detective agency. After a while, he took a job as a security officer at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. There, he met many celebrities who encouraged him to try his luck in Hollywood. He did just that.
As luck would have it, Clint was quickly introduced to Cecil B. DeMille who offered him a part in his latest film, The Ten Commandments. Shortly thereafter, Clint was cast in the role of “Cheyenne Bodie” in the series Cheyenne, which ran for eight years. Cheyenne became television’s first hour-long western.
When Clint decided to quit the show, he was cast in a number of films, including None But The Brave, The Great Bank Robbery, The Dirty Dozen, Send Me No Flowers, The Night of the Grizzly, Fort Dobbs, Yellowstone Kelly, and Gold of the Seven Saints.
Clint, who has a beautiful singing voice, also recorded an album of songs and ballads. Here is a YouTube Playlist of some of the songs he recorded.
Just because his movie career had taken off didn’t mean that Clint had said good-bye to television forever. Clint went on to make another television series, Kodiak. He also made a number of features, appearances and movies for television, including The Bounty Man, Yuma, The Lucy Show, and Snowbeast.
Clint had to take a brief hiatus from filming in 1971 after a freak skiing accident at Mammoth Mountain, where a ski pole pierced Clint’s heart. But always one to ‘cowboy up’, a mere two months later he was back at work in Spain co-starring with Telly Savalas in another western, Pancho Villa.
Since then Clint has been involved in other projects, such as The Gambler Returns, a Kung Fu episode, and he joined some of his pals from The Dirty Dozen to do voices for the production of Small Soldiers.
Both the man he is and his body of work testify that Clint Walker is a true Western Legend. We are honored that he is scheduled to appear at the 2015 Western Legends Round-Up. We hope you will also be able attend and shake hands with Clint and our other Hollywood Heroes.
Clint Walker’s other appearances:
Jack Benny Show – 1963
As Tarzan in 1954’s Jungle Gents
An interview with Clint Walker