Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Late Great Clint Walker

Clint Walker, who played the title role in the classic TV  Western Cheyenne and appeared in such films as Send Me No Flowers (1964) and The Dirty Dozen (1967), died today at the age of 90. The cause was congestive heart failure.

Clint Walker was born Norman Walker in Hartford, Illinois. He left school at age 16 to work for a living. He worked in a factory, and then on riverboats before finding work in the merchant marine. He and his family later moved to Long Beach, California where he worked as a port security guard a nightclub bouncer. He then moved to Las Vegas where he served as a deputy sheriff who provided security for the Sands Hotel. It was there that actor Van Johnson suggested Mr. Walker go into acting. It was studio head Jack Warner who renamed him "Clint Walker"

Clint Walker made his film debut in an uncredited role as a Tarzan-type character in The Bowery Boys film Jungle Gents (1954). He appeared as a Sardinian Captain in The Ten Commandments (1956). Clint Walker was then cast as Cheyenne Bodie in the TV Western Cheyenne. Debuting in 1955, Cheyenne was the first hour long Western, the first of Warner Bros.' successful line of Westerns (which included Maverick and Sugarfoot), and one of the first adult Westerns. Along with Gunsmoke and The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, it sparked a cycle towards Westerns that lasted for five years. The show proved highly successful, making Clint Walker a household name nearly overnight. Mr. Walker had a cameo as Cheyenne in the Maverick episode "Hadley's Hunters" (the Warner Bros. Westerns and even their detective shows took place in the same shared universe, years before the Marvel Cinematic Universe). While still starring on Cheyenne, Clint Walker appeared in the films Fort Dobbs (1958), Yellowstone Kelly (1959), and Requiem to Massacre (1960).

In the Sixties Clint Walker played the role of millionaire Bert in Send Me No Flowers (1960) and the role of the quiet and meek Samson Posey in The Dirty Dozen (1967). He also appeared in the films Gold of the Seven Saints (1961), None But the Brave (1965), The Night of the Grizzly (1966), Maya (1966), More Dead Than Alive (1969), Sam Whiskey (1969), The Great Bank Robbery (1969), and The Phynx (1970). On television he guest starred on 77 Sunset Strip, Kraft Suspense Theatre, and The Lucy Show.

In the Seventies Mr. Walker starred in the short-lived TV series Kodiak. He appeared in the mini-series Centennial. He appeared in the TV movies Yuma, Hardcase, The Bounty Man, Scream of the Wolf, Killdozer, Snowbeast, and Mysterious Island of Beautiful Women. He appeared in the films Pancho Villa (1972), Baker's Hawk (1976), The White Buffalo (1977), and Deadly Harvest (1977).

In the Eighties Clint Walker appeared in the films Hysterical (1983) and The Serpent Warriors (1985). He guest starred on the TV show The Love Boat and appeared in the TV movie The All American Cowboy. In the Nineties he provided the voice of Nick Nitro in the movie Small Soldiers (1998). He guest starred on the TV shows Sweating Bullets and Kung Fu: The Legend Continues. He reprised his role as Cheyenne in the TV movie The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw.

Clint Walker was perfect as Cheyenne Bodie, the quiet spoken drifter who could use his firsts or his gun when the time came. It should be little surprise that most of the roles played by Mr. Walker resembled Cheyenne to some degree or another. Bert in Send Me No Flowers was so soft spoken, kind, and good natured that he was perhaps the only man who could be considered as a serious rival to Rock Hudson. In The Dirty Dozen Samson Posey was soft spoken and even meek, but can become very angry when pushed too far. Certainly Clint Walker played soft spoken, good natured heroes well. He was certainly suited to the part. Good natured in real life and an enormous man (he was 6 foot 6 inches tall), he was a striking figure. It should be little wonder that Cheyenne  would play a role in sparking the cycle towards Westerns on television in the late Fifties.

1 comment:

Caftan Woman said...

This passing brought a tear.