More than four decades ago, NBCs studios introduced the world to Laramie, a series that centered around the lives of brothers Slim and Andy Sherman. The duo looked after their family ranch in Wyoming, once belonging to the late Matthew Sherman.
The star actors of the series, John Smith, Robert Crawford Jr., and Hoagy Carmichael, convincingly portrayed the characters that run things around the Sherman ranch and relay station.
However, it is the constant stream of guest stars that made the series a riveting watch.
Below, we pay homage to several talented guest stars such as Vera Miles and John Mitchum, who over the years appeared on Laramie before it ended in May 1963.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Caruso was always sought after on television in Western series. Caruso appeared in more than 120 motion pictures and 110 television shows in a career that spanned 50 years.
Greg Gregory was born December 23, 1911, in the Bronx and raised in New Rochelle. He quit his job as a stockbroker to pursue a career as an actor.
Gregory’s first film role was an uncredited bit in The Naked City (’48). After performing on stage until 1950, Gregory began to work in the early days of living and filmed television. Between 1959 and 1960, he starred in The Lawless Years, set during the halcyon 1920s of New York City prohibition, as Lt. Barney Ruditsky.
Charles Drake was born Charles Ruppert in New York City on October 2, 1917. After graduating from Nichols College in 1937, he worked as a salesman until 1939, when he began playing in small theatrical performances. He changed his stage name to the more appropriate Charles Drake and landed a contract with Warner Brothers in the late 1930s.
Some of his many roles are Dr. Sanderson in Harvey (1950), the villain in You Never Can Tell (1951), and Shelley Winters’ cowardly boyfriend in Winchester ’73 (1950). He did not become a superstar despite appearing in over 80 films (mainly dramatic material) between 1939 and 1975.
Toward the end of his career, he worked in TV.
76-year-old Drake died in 1994.
Charles Bronson was born Charles Dennis Buchinsky in Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania, the eleventh of fifteen children into a Roman Catholic family of Lithuanian descent.
The American actor often played cops, gunfighters, or vigilantes in revenge dramas. A long-time collaborator of Michael Winner and J. Lee Thompson, he appeared in fifteen films with his second wife, Jill Ireland.
Bronson became internationally famous with European westerns and crime films, including Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) and Rider on the Rain (1970).
He was even awarded an honorary Golden Globe in 1972 as a “World Film Favorite.”
In a 43-year career, Coburn, the son of a Nebraska mechanic and a schoolteacher, appeared in over 100 films, many of which stereotyped him as a hardened brawler, even though he claimed never to have been in a genuine fight.
He established his name in The Magnificent Seven, opposite Steve McQueen and Yul Brynner, as a knife-throwing desperado. Coburn had a limited number of lines, but he made the most of them, establishing himself as a brooding film presence. He starred in several Sam Peckinpah westerns, including Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, and received an Oscar for his performance in Affliction in 1999.
Ted De Corsia
Edward Gildea de Corsia was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1905.
De Corsia’s stature, gruff New York street demeanor, and loud, gravelly voice made him ideal casting for street thugs and criminal gang leaders, notwithstanding his occasional sympathetic parts as sheriff, judge, or prison warden.
As a youth, he worked with traveling road companies, which led to a well-known career in radio during the 1940s. He left radio in the early 1950s as film and television work began to take up more of his time.
Over half of his hundreds of TV credits are westerns, ranging from The Lone Ranger to Gunsmoke.
De Corsia may not appear to be the type, but as he grew older, he became quite adept at portraying Indian Chiefs, which he frequently did in films such as New Mexico, Mohawk, and Oklahoma Territory, as well as on television shows such as Sugarfoot, Rawhide, Daniel Boone, High Chaparral, and Have Gun, Will Travel.
Carleton Leonard Young, known professionally as Tony Young, was born in New York City on June 28, 1937. His father was Carleton G. Young, who was the voice of the original “Ellery Queen” on the radio.
Tony moved to Los Angelos in the 1950s and graduated from Los Angelos City College. Young reportedly served in the US airforce before becoming a fellow at NBC’s Universal Studios.
Young began landing some acting gigs in 1959 on Western shows such as Overland Trail (1960), The Deputy (1959), Bronco (1958), and as Cleem Reeves on Laramie (1959).
Young secured bit parts in the films Walk Like a Dragon (1960) and The Marriage-Go-Round (1961). From 1961 to the 1990s, when he retired as an actor, Tony pigeonholed himself as a western actor with quite the acting stride.
In 2002, Tony succumbed to cancer. His second wife and co-star Madlyn Rhue died a year after, in 2003, of pneumonia and heart failure.
Myron Healey was born in Petaluma, Calif, on June 8, 1923. From his teenage years, Healey got an early introduction to a career in music and acting, singing on local radio, giving violin and piano recitals, and appearing on stage productions in high school in Santa Rosa.
He moved to Hollywood in the early 40’s so that he could study acting and went on to appear in musicals for the Armed Forces Victory Committee.
Despite landing a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios in 1942, Healey’s career took a twist when he became enlisted in the Army Air Forces in 1943 and saw combat in World war 2, navigating on a B-26 Marauder.
After the war, he jungled appearing in western films and serving in the Air Force Reserve until 1962. His first big deal western feature was in a 1948 low-budget Western Hidden Danger.
As per the Los Angelos Times, soon after, Healey became popular as one of the most recognizable heavy hitters on B-westerns and burgeoning days of the TV western.
Known for playing bad guy roles, he starred in films and series including the Bomba and Jungle Jim series, the syndicated television series Stories of the Century, not to mention The adventure of Kit Carson and Colt.
Myron Healey made occasional appearances on Laramie playing the role of Lieutenant Reed.
With his roles throughout his career too extensive to detail, Healey collectively appeared in 140 films, including 81 westerns and three serials. Sadly, in 2005 Healey died, from a fall to his hip at the age of 82.
Before Denny Miller’s name appeared on several headlines as the first blonde Tarzan, his popularity in the tv and film industry stems from his roles in classic Western TV. Born Dennis Linn Miller, in Bloomington, Indiana, the American actor was a basketball player for the UCLA Bruins before being discovered on Sunset Boulevard by a Hollywood agent who signed him with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Although he is best recognized for his role as Duke Shannon on Wagon Trains, his guest-star appearances on Gilligan’s Island, and Charlie’s Angels, and his role as Tarzan, Miller cemented himself as an acting heavyweight when he appeared in numerous television shows including, Will Travel, The Rifleman, Ben Casey, Have Gun, and The Fugitive.
He also appeared as Howard Wilkie on an episode titled License to Kill on Laramie.
Ronald Robert Harper was born on January 12, 1936, in Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania.
Harper was a valedictorian of his senior class and won an academic scholarship to Princeton University. While at Princeton, he supplemented his academic studies by featuring in plays and musical comedies.
Later, Harper earned a fellowship to study law at Harvard. However, Harper chose to follow his passion for acting and moved to New York, where he studied with Lee Strasberg.
Harper then, for a stint, joined the United States Navy before returning to New York to continue with his acting career.
Following numeral disappointments, Harper earned a job as Paul Newman’s understudy in Sweet Bird of Youth.
Soon after, Harper’s Hollywood dream became a reality, and he appeared in a succession of television series, including 87th Precinct (1961), The Jean Arthur Show (1966), Wendy and Me (1964), Garrison’s Gorillas (1967), and Planet of the Apes (1974).
Jock Mahoney was born to Charles and Ruth O’Mahoney and is of French and Irish descent. He went to the University of Iowa, where he took on swimming, basketball, and football.
During World War II, he was enlisted as a Marine fighter, pilot, and instructor.
His experience led to him becoming a stuntman in Hollywood, doubling for actors such as Errol Flynn and Gregory Peck.
In 1951, he got signed by Gene Autry to play the lead on The Range Rider tv series. Jock was reportedly also set to play Tarzan before being replaced by Lex Barker.
However, he got his shot to feature in several remakes of the movie, taking on the heavy in Gordon Scott’s Tarzan the Magnificent and assigned as the stunt coordinator on the 1981 film Tarzan the Ape-Man.
After his contract ended with the film, Mahoney went to guest star in episodes of television programs BJ and the Bear and The Fall Guy. Mahoney died in Bremerton, Washington, after suffering a stroke.
Adam West was born on September 19, 1928, in Walla Walla, Washington, to Otto Anderson, a farmer, and Audrey Volenne, an opera singer and concert pianist. West saught to be like his mother and told his father he intended to go to Holywood after he completed school. However, destiny had other plans.
Directly after completing his bachelor’s degree in literature at the University of Puget Sound, he served in the military before moving to Hawaii to pursue a career in television.
He obtained a role as a sidekick in a local television program, The Kini Popo Show. In 1959, he moved with his wife and two children to Hollywood and appeared in films like The Young Philadelphians and is, of course, well known for his portrayal of Batman in the TV series of the same name.
He also starred in several television westerns.
Jocelyn Brando was born on November 18, 1919, in San Francisco, California, to Marlon Brando Sr. and his wife, Dorothy Pennebaker.
Jocelyn lived with her parents and sisters Marlon and Frances on a farm near Evanston, Illinois, and it was reported that her parents were quite the alcoholics.
According to her brother’s friend, Karl Malden, Jocelyn became an alcoholic like her parents, derailing her potential career.
Despite this, she managed a career that spanned five decades in theater, film, and television. The actress made her stage debut in productions under the direction of her mother, who was a principal in a community theater group that included Henry Fonda.
In 1942, she made her Broadway debut in The First Crocus at the Longacre Theatre.
Later, she starred in over a dozen motion pictures, including Fritz Lang’s The Big Heat opposite Glenn Ford in 1953.
She played movie queen Joan Crawford in the 1981 film Mommie Dearest, which starred Faye Dunaway.
Her television appearances didn’t fall short. Brando featured in Actors Studios in 1948, making occasional appearances on Laramie in 1961 in the role of Sarah Willoughby, to being a regular fixture on Dallas.
Ernest was born Ermes Effron Borgnine to Italian immigrants in Connecticut. Ernest studied theatre while serving in the Navy during World War II.
He was discharged from the Navy in 1941, before rejoining the force when Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor prompted the United States to join World War II.
Ernest played Boone Caudie, an outlaw courting a kind widow in a 1960 episode of Laramie.
He also stared in the 1962 sitcom McHale’s Navy and was a regular on Airwolf, a 1980s television drama.
The gap-toothed, thick-set actor received credits in over 200 television and film projects during his career and has won numerous awards for his work, including a lifetime achievement award from Screen Actors Guild in 2010. He died in 2012 at the age of 95.
John McIntire was born in Spokane, Washington, to Byron Jean McIntire and Chastine Uretta Herrick McIntire. Growing up in Eureka, Montana, around ranchers inspired his performances in film and television westerns.
He began his acting career on the radio in Tarzan and the Diamond of Asher and met his wife, Jeanette Nolan, through his work on radio.
He started obtaining roles in theatre and, while there, pursued a film and television career. In 1947, at around 40 years old, McIntire debuted on the big screen in The Hucksters. After his role on The Hucksters, he featured in more films and television series, often portraying police chiefs, judges, or eccentric loners.
Eddie Waller began his career in vaudeville and the theater before switching to movies in 1936. He garnered roles almost immediately after the transition.
During the 1940s, Waller was a mainstay in westerns for Republic Pictures, working with cowboy actors from Tim Holt to Rocky Lane.
In the movie starring Lane, Eddy was second billing, playing the old prospector Nugget Clark, adding comic relief to the film. Unfortunately, as B-western died out in the 1950s, Eddie’s career came to an end as well.
Jack Elam was born to Millard Elam and Alice Amelia Kirby in Miami in Gila County in South Central Arizona. Jack’s mother passed away when he was aged three, and he began living with his father, his stepmother Flossie Varney and older sister Mildred. Jack grew up picking cotton.
Jack got his trademark off-kilter eye from a fight he had with a boy scout that resulted in Jack being stabbed in one eye, leaving him blind.
Before his break on television, Jack worked several jobs including, as a bookkeeper, an auditor, an accountant, and then serving two years during world war II in the United States Navy.
Elam made his screen debut on She Shoulda Said No! In the 1950s and 60s.
Elam made several guest appearances on television westerns including, Gunsmoke, Laramie, Cheyenne, Bonanza, Lawman, and The Rifleman.
Ben Cooper was born on September 30, 1933, in Hartford, Connecticut. His acting career began when he was an adolescent on Broadway stages.
As an adult, Cooper became known for his boyish looks, which naturally got him roles portraying young hotshots.
His breakthrough into Westerns television was when he portrayed the bandit Turkey Ralston in The Johnny Guitar. Cooper later appeared in Bonanza, Wagon Train, and Laramie as a guest actor in a 1962 episode titled Gun Duel.
Cooper has played countless roles since Laramie but is remembered for his more recent portrayal of District Attorney Alexander Waverly on The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo.
Cooper died at the age of 86, in Memphis, Tennessee, after suffering a long illness.
Although popularly known for portraying Dr. Bill Corter in the 1962 film The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, New York City native Jason Evers has done a lot of work in Hollywood.
His breakthrough on the big screen was in 1960 in Wrangler, followed by roles in Pretty Boy Floyd, House of Women, Channing, and Laramie, where he portrayed Carl Sanford in an episode where John Sanford seeks revenge over the killing of his son.
In total, Evers appeared on TV more than 65 times. Evers was a regular sight on screen until the 1990s. He died in 2005 of heart failure.
Chuck Courtney, who is one of the world’s greatest stuntmen, was born on July 23, 1930. Courtney had a four-decade-long acting and stuntman career, with his most memorable role being when he played Dan Reid, performing captivating stunts on Lone Ranger.
His other acting credits include leading roles in Born To the Saddle, Billy the kid VS Dracula, and guest features in Two Guns and a Badge, Cow Country, 26 Men, Shotgun Slade, Virginian, and Laramie. On Laramie, Courtney shared his stuntman stage with fellow stuntman Robert Fuller, who plays popular Deputy Marshal Jess Harper, and the two quickly became friends.
Although Courtney was a legend in his own right, the actor was underappreciated for his work as a stuntman. Thankfully, with stuntmen receiving more appreciation in recent years, Courtney was honored with a Golden Boot Award for Excellence in his profession.
Despite having just suffered a stroke at the time of his award ceremony and still being too sick, his long-time friend Fuller spoke on Chuck’s behalf.
Paul Carr was born and raised in Marrero, Louisiana, to Elaine Grace (Coulon), of French descent, and New Yorker Edward Sidney Carr, who worked in publishing.
From an early age, Paul showed interest in both music and acting. After bagging a few acting gigs locally, Paul decided to move to New York and studied acting at the American Theatre Wing.
Like many of the guest stars on this list, Carr also served in the US Force, however only for a short period, with the United States Marine Corps.
Carr made his acting debut with a role in Herman Melville’s Billy Budd. In the 1950s, he began working on live television in New York City, including appearances on Studio One and Kraft Television Theater, while continuing theatrical work.
He made his film debut in 1955 with a small uncredited role in Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller The Wrong Man. The same year, he appeared in the New York Theatre Guild production of Time Limit on Broadway as a prisoner of war.
Carr secured a major role in Alfred Werker’s The Young Don’t Cry in 1957 and in that same year appeared in the Warner Bros. rock and roll jukebox movie Jamboree.
Throughout the late 1950s and early 1960s, he starred in several western television series, including appearances on Trackdown and Laramie.
Duryea was born and raised in White Plains, New York, and graduated from White Plains High School in 1924 and Cornell University in 1928.
During his time at Cornell, Duryea was elected into the Sphinx Head Society, the oldest senior honor society at Cornell. Duryea majored in English and had an imminent interest in drama.
In his senior year, he succeeded Franchot Tone as president of the college drama society.
Despite having achieved many accolades in drama during school, Duryea became an advertising executive instead of an actor after his parents prohibited him from pursuing an acting career.
Stress-filled for six years working as an advertising executive, he suffered a heart attack and was sidelined for a year.
Duryea decided to return to his earlier passion of acting and the stage, making a name for himself on Broadway in the play Dead End, followed by The Little Foxes, in which he portrayed Leo Hubbard. He also appeared in Many Mansions (1937) and Missouri Legend (1938), to mention only a few.
His television credits are just as impressive, starring as the lead character, China Smith, in the television series China Smith and appearing as the alcoholic gunfighter in The Twilight Zone. He also guest-starred on NBC’s The Barbara Stanwyck Show and Laramie as Luke Gregg.
In 1968, Duryea died a year after his wife Helen from cancer at the age of 61.
Veteran actor Lloyd Nolan, a product of San Francisco, was the son of James Nola, a hard-working shoe manufacturer.
During his time as a student at Santa Clara College (then a junior college), Lloyd became obsessed with acting. In the process, he gained valuable theater experience, earning his AA.
Nolan left school to pursue acting and also gave up his father’s shoe business.
In 1927, the Pasadena Playhouse offered him the opportunity to hone his acting skills. His next stop was Broadway, where he landed a role in a musical revue, “Cape Cod Follies,” at the end of 1929.
With high expectations of success in Hollywood, he went back to Tinsel Town.
Sporting an unforgettable voice, rock-solid looks, and somewhat sympathetic face, Nolan quickly became a hit with audiences and went on to appear in over 150 productions.
After being born in Louisiana, Nelson grew up in North Carolina. He received an education at Edwards Military Institute and Camp Lejeune High School. He began acting while he was studying at Tulane University.
After dropping out of college to study at the New York School of Radio and Television Technique, he was hired as a radioman for the US Navy but left to pursue acting in Los Angeles.
In 1956 he became a stuntman under B-movie producer Roger Corman on the films Swamp Women, Attack of the Crab Monsters, Rock All Night, Carnival Rock. Later, he appeared in The Brain Eaters and Devil’s Partner.
His television career included many guest-starring roles, such as the talented, arrogant Dr. Wade Parsons in the 1962 Doctor on Horseback and jealous outlaw gang leader Gill Harrison on Laramie. His son Christopher S. Nelson is also a big-time Hollywood actor, following in his father’s footsteps.
An actor with a distinct voice, James Best was born Jewel Franklin Guy on July 26, 1926, in Kentucky. After his mom, Lena, died when James was aged three, he was sent to live in an orphanage and then adopted by Armen Best and Essa Myrtle, relocating to Indiana.
James Best served in the United States Army Forces during World War II. When stationed in Germany, he stopped working for the military police and joined the army unit of actors, who traveled around Europe performing for troops.
His experience with acting in the army led to a contract with Universal Studios, where he took on several uncredited roles before attaining recognition in the westerns Winchester 73, Comanche Territory, and Kansas Raiders. James Best became a staple staring in several more westerns films and guest-starring in more than 280 various television series.
Lee Van Cleef
Known for playing many villains in westerns, spectators might agree Lee’s eyes of steal and rugged features made him destined for television.
Lee Van Cleef was born in Somerville on January 9, 1925. Before landing work as an actor, he worked as a farmworker and then an accountant in Somerville before making his debut in a 1952 film, High Noon.
He went on to play a plethora of gunmen on different series, was the bad guy in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, and took on other chilling roles in A Fistful of Dollars, and on Laramie, as the leader of a notorious gang.
In the 60s, his career took a dive, and he almost gave up acting when Sergio Leone cast him to star in For a Few Dollars More in 1965.
Fay Spain was born in Phoenix, Arizona, and was the youngest of two daughters born to Robert C. Spain and Arminta Frances “Mickie” Cochran. At 14, Fay left home to live with her English teacher, who so happened to have a daughter working in the acting industry. She gave Fay a job at an acting stock company.
At sixteen, she moved to New York City and worked in a tie shop with gossip columnist Walter Winchell. He mentioned her name in a column, which led to Fay receiving a call from Columbia Pictures.
Unfortunately, she has not rewarded a contract because she was not pretty enough.
Within two months after being rejected by Columbia Pictures, she became a recipient of a college scholarship but rather chose to pursue a stock company apprenticeship. Pursuing acting wasn’t an easy run as she was criticized for not being photogenic.
By the 1950s, Spain got her to break, attaining consistent roles in television and film.
Dubbed the little lady with the baby doll voice, in the middle and late 50s and 60s, Spain appeared in Bonanza, Cheyenne, Gunsmoke, Rawhide, The Texan, The Rat Patrol, and guest-starred in Laramie.
Don Beddoe was the son of the world-famous Welsh tenor, Dan Beddoe. He was raised in New York City and Cincinnati, Ohio, where he took an interest in theatre, becoming involved with amateur theatre companies at the time. In 1929, Beddoe made his Broadway debut.
After a decade of appearing on different stages, he moved on to film work. On film, Beddoe often took on the role of either a fast-talking reporter or as a mousey sort.
Although he mainly received small roles, his steady career made him a recognizable face on stage and television. His acting credits are on tv shows such as Maverick, Have Gun Will Travel, Laramie, Mr. Adams, and Eve and Lawman.
Born in Foraker, Oklahoma, Benjamin “Son” Johnson, Jr. was a rodeo cowboy, actor, and stuntman. Johnson, who was a son of a rancher, was first drawn into horse breeding and rodeos while still a young man.
His acting career began after Johnson bought horses from the ranch where his father was foreman to transport them to northern Arizona where The Outlaws was filming.
Apart from transporting the horses, he got a role as a stuntman in the movie. Johnson continued to do stunt work involving horses throughout the 40s. In 1948 he worked with director John Ford in the 1948 film Fort Apache.
While filming, horses pulling a wagon with three men stampeded, and Johnson, who happened to be close by, saved the men.
For his heroic act, Ford rewarded Johnson with a seven-year acting contract. Amongst the roles cast by Ford were the lead in Wagon Master (1950) and appearances in the 1949 films Mighty Joe Young and John Wayne: She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. Johnson also played roles in The Wild Bunch, Major Dundee, and Have Gun Will Travel.
Harry Dean Stanton
Known as Dean Stanton during the 50s and 60s, Harry Dean Stanton was born in a small town in Kentucky on July 14, 1926, to Sheridan Harry Stanton, a tobacco farmer and barber, and Ersel Stanton, a hairdresser and cook.
After graduating from Lafayette Senior High School in 1944, he served in the US Navy during World War II. Upon returning, Harry Dean Stanton went to the University of Kentucky to study journalism and radio, and while there became interested in acting.
Following playing Alfred Doolittle in college, he dropped out and went to act alongside Gene Hackman and Robert Duvall at the prestigious Pasadena Playhouse. Four years later, Stanton, who wasn’t just an impeccable actor, but a good singer, toured America with music group The American Male Chorus.
After his tour, work in film and television started flooding in, and he received roles in projects such as Cool Hand Luke (1967), Kelly’s Heroes (1970), Dillinger (1973), The Godfather Part II (1974), Alien (1979), Escape from New York (1981), Christine (1983), Repo Man (1984), One Magic Christmas (1985) and Laramie. In Laramie, he portrays Vern Cowan, a murderer prosecuted by Walter Coy.
In 2014, he was nominated for three Best Picture Oscars: How the West Was Won (1962), The Godfather: Part II (1974), and The Green Mile (1999). Only The Godfather: Part II (1974) won in this category.
On September 15, 2017, Stanton died at the age of 91.
Arthur Hunnicutt attended Arkansas State Teachers College in his native state, Massachusetts, but had to drop out after his third year due to financial difficulties.
In need of some extra money, he joined a theatre company in Massachusetts, then moved to New York, where he began to act on Broadway.
He has appeared in various productions, including the lead role in Tobacco Road. He took up a few roles in small films in the early 1940s before returning to the theatre stage. Upon returning to Hollywood permanently in 1949, he began a long career as a reliable supporting actor.
He vibrantly played a role in the 1952 Howard Hark’s western, The Big Sky, which brought him acclaim and an Oscar nomination for supporting actor.
He continued to portray characters of sympathetic demeanor for the remainder of his career. In 1979, he died after battling cancer of the tongue.
Chris Alcaide is best known for portraying villain characters in many film noirs and westerns. His steal gaze, tall appearance, and deep voice gave top-tier actors like Glenn Ford, Lorne Green, and Elvis Presley a run for their money.
He featured in several films and westerns, including Laramie as Will Brent in the episode Death Wind, where Slim Sherman, Jess Harper, Andy Sherman, and Jonesy are pressed to get the Sherman ranch ready for an impending tornado.
In 2003, he was recognized for his contribution to the acting industry with a Crystal Samuelian Golden Boot.
The actor, who once played Santa Claus in a school play, was born of Welsh ancestry in Los Angelos on February 13, 1916. At an early age, Griffith learned to play the saxophone and clarinet.
He got introduced to stages by performing in local bands and school plays. In 1939 he played his first role in a small theatre in a production called, They Can’t Get You Down.
Unable to sustain his acting career, Griffith found work at Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica before serving in the Marine for six years.
After marriage and having a child, a chance meeting with bandleader Spike Jones led to a six-month tour with Jones’s band playing the saxophone.
He broke into the film industry in 1948 with a role in the murder drama Blonde Ice. Griffith seldom found work in the industry until the 50s when he began bagging numerable roles in films such as Fighting Man of the Plains (1949), Jesse James vs. the Daltons (1954), and notable westerns like The Big Valley, Bonanza, Death Valley Days, and Wagon Train.
Griffith died at age 77 of cancer on September 17, 1993.
Sue England, daughter of James Jeffrey Evans and Jean Delsa Mansker, was born in Oklahoma on July 17, 1928.
She reportedly dropped her parent’s last name, opting for her grandfather’s last name. England is best known for appearances in Funny Face (1957), Teen-Age Crime Wave (1955), and Broken Arrow (1956).
She is also remembered for her several guest appearances as Deborah on Laramie with Robert Clarke (Jack Farnum) and Simon Oakland (Vernon Kane).
Television and film’s future villain hailed from Sydney, Australia. Michael Pate started his career as an interviewer on the radio. Pate got his first experience acting in Australia before moving to the US to further his career.
Soon he would be cast as a native American in westerns like the supporting role for John Wayne in Hondo (1953).
After portraying several roles on television and film, Pate returned to Australia, where he continued with his acting career.
The Ohio native’s acting career began when he participated in plays for Little Theatre. McClean took a break from acting to serve in the military during World War II. He returned to acting after moving to Los Angelos. Apart from his acting career, McClean also drew sketches and cartoons.
He guest-starred three times on Laramie and featured in several television programs and feature films such as the 1961 movie X-15, The Strangler, and Kingdom of the Spiders.
Jacqueline had an early start to her showbiz career, winning a tap-dancing competition aged three.
At 17, she started her professional acting career with a small St. Louis community theatre company. She got her breakthrough performing for bigger platforms like in The Wooden Dish on Broadway.
In the same year, Jacqueline was cast in more plays, including Inherit the wind. From the 50s to the 70s, she took up many roles, including Donna Kimble Taft, sister of David Jansen’s man-on-the-run in The Fugitive (1963), the wife of an astronaut in The Twilight Zone: The Parallel, and the chimpanzee physician Dr. Kira in Planet of the Apes.
Jackie’s frequent appearances in westerns included Laramie, Have Gun- Will Travel, Gunsmoke, and Bonanza.
In 1935, James Frances Beck Jr. was born in Hale County, Texas, USA. As an actor, his most recognizable appearances were in Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955), Rescue 8 (1958), and 40 Guns to Apache Pass (1967). Aged 86, the American actor died on January 6, 2009, in Chatsworth, California.
Frank De Kova
Frank De Cova was born in New York City in 1910. He was a teacher at a New York school but gave up teaching to pursue a career in acting. His acting career began with De Cova taking up roles in many Shakespearean productions and then transitioning to acting on Broadway.
His role in the play Detective Story got him noticed by Hollywood. His Hollywood debut was in the 1952 film Viva Zapata!
In the following years, De Cova played roles of cold-blooded dangerous men in films like Teenage Caveman and television shows like Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse: The Untouchables: Part I.
The actor is best known for his role as the untrustworthy Hekawi Chief Wild Eagle in the western series F-Troop.
Harry Carey Jr
Hailing from Santa Clarita, California, Harry Carey Jr. was born to actor Harry Carey and actress Olive Carey.
Quite the acting family, his maternal grandfather was vaudeville entertainer George Fuller Golden. As a boy, He grew up amongst cattle and horses in his parent’s 1000 acre ranch near Saugus.
Carey was enlisted into the US Navy during World War II. His work with the military was short-lived after he was forced to return home and work for his father’s good friend Director John Ford, making movies for the Navy.
Upon completion, he then ventured into singing but was unsuccessful, and he decided to pursue a career in acting. He was allowed to work in small films and then alongside his father in the 1948 Red River.
Upon the death of his father, John Ford gave Carey Jr. a leading in a movie dedicated to the memory of Harry Carey.
Soon he began to act in many of Ford Westerns films such as She Wore a Yellow Ribbon(1949), The Searchers(1956), Wagon Master (1950), and The Long Gray Line (1955)
Claude Akins was born Claude Aubrey Akins on May 25, 1926, to Maude and Ernest Akins in Nelson, Georgia.
After serving in the war, he went to Northwestern University and studied theatre, becoming a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. Akins’ first appearance in a film was in 1953 in From Here to Eternity.
He had also featured in Don’t Give Up the Ship, The Devil’s Brigade, and in the 1960 movie Inherit the Wind. Akins had several television appearances too, including in Frontier, Boots and Saddles, Overland Trail, My Friend Flicka, Maverick, The Tall Man, Wagon Train, The Restless Gun, and Laramie, where he guest-starred four times, including as Sheriff Jim Dark with Julie London and Eddy Waller as Mose.
After serving in World War II, Tenessee native John M. Pickard appeared in supporting roles in several westerns and action dramas.
He earned a starring role in Boots and Saddles and featured in John Wayne’s Wake of the Red Witch in 1948 despite not being credited.
Pickard’s guest-starring roles on television were in Wagon Train, The Texan, Laramie, The Reel, Yancy Derringer, Johnny Ringo, The Wild Wild West, and Laramie, alongside characters John Barrington and Mike Williams.
In 1987, Pickard made his final on-screen appearance in an episode of the CBS detective series, Simon and Simon.
In 1993, John Pickard died at the age of 80 after being killed by a bull on his family farm in Tenessee.
Best Known for portraying patriarch Jock Ewing in the television series Dallas, Jim Davis was born in Edgerton on August 26, 1915. He attended William Jewell College in Liberty, where he formed part of the school’s football team.
He became a salesman for a Kansas city-based oil company, and his work required that he moved to Hollywood. After accidentally encountering a casting director at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
His career begun to take off, and Davis went on to feature in films like the 1948 film Winter Meeting and starred in television series such as Maisie with Ann Sothern and Rescue 8 and The Cowboys.
Being of English, German, Scottish, and Irish descent, Neil Oliver Russell, “Bing Russell,” was the son of Ruth Stewart and Warren Oliver Russell.
He became famous for not only starring in western heavyweights such as Bonanza and The Magnificent Seven but he was also known to the American audience as the owner of the Portland Mavericks Baseball Club.
While at the Baseball Club, he built a baseball park without corporate sponsorship, hired the first Asian American general manager, as well as the first female general manager.
Born in Columbia, South Carolina, Barton MacLane attended Middletown, Connecticut, and was a star player in American football at Wesleyan University. As a result of his abilities, he was cast in his first movie, The Quarterback. Following that, he attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
In 1927, he made his Broadway debut playing the assistant district attorney in Bayard Veiller’s The Trial of Mary Dugan.
In 1931, MacLane appeared in the romantic drama His Woman. He wrote Rendezvous the following year, which he sold to Arthur Hopkins.
It was performed on Broadway with MacLane in a prominent role. In a three-decade career, Maclane has featured in over 150 Westerns.
Edgar Buchanan moved to Oregon with his family when he was seven. Following his father’s footsteps, he graduated from North Pacific Dental College after studying at the University of Oregon. Buchanan practiced oral surgery in Eugene, Oregon, from 1929 to 1937.
After moving to Altadena, CA, he joined the Pasadena Community Playhouse, eventually giving up dentistry at 36 to become an actor. In 1939, he made his film debut. He appeared in over 100 films, but perhaps his most famous roles include Hopalong Cassidy (1952), Judge Roy Bean (1955), Petticoat Junction (1963), and Cade’s County (1971).
Stuart has been a part of entertainment from childhood, developing his craft to secure professional work. In the late 1920s, He was the lead singer in the Will Bradley Orchestra before starting his orchestra called the Larry Sothern Orchestra. In the 30s and 40s, he toured the US being a part of numerable plays.
His first role in a film was in the movie Bells of Coronado, starring Roy Rogers. Some of Stuart’s other movies include Storm Warning, with Ronald Reagan, Pony Soldiers with Tyrone Powers, The Hoodlum, Wells Fargo Gunmaster, Carbine Williams, Pony Express with Charlton Heston, and Southwest Passage, starring Rod Cameron,
Born Bernard Mattox, Gregory Walcott was an American Television and film actor whose career spanned more than four decades. His impressively long career featured more than 30 movies alongside the likes of Clint Eastwood and Jane Fonda.
He also had roles in many television series, including playing Stone Kenyon in two episodes of The People’s Choice. He was often cast in westerns such as Maverick, Bonanza, Wagon Train, 26 Men, The Tall Man, Laramie, The Dakotas, and Rawhide.
Even though he had such an enduring career, it didn’t surpass his 55-year long marriage to Barbara Walcott till her death in 2010. Gregory died in 2015.
Before becoming an idol of the B movies, Dick Foran was a singer in a band and on the radio. Foran was hired by Warner Brothers, who thought he was handy for roles that required his singing ability.
His first starring role was in the 1936 western Treachery Rides the Range, which was Warner Brothers’ rival project for Gene Autry.
He became recognizable in westerns for his melodious singing while riding the horse or romancing a girl.
From Song of the Saddle to California Mail, his characters would change, but ‘The Singing Cowboy’ tag remained unchanging.
A decade before his death in 1979, he swapped acting in westerns films and television for acting in commercials.
Born in Ashley, Pennsylvania, on November 10, 1924, Russell Johnson was the son of Russell Kennedy Johnson and Marion Wenonah Smink Johnson.
When he graduated from high school, Johnson joined the United States Army Air Force as an aviation cadet. Having completed his training, he was promoted to the rank of second lieutenant.
After his honorable discharge from the military, Johnson studied acting. He became close friends with Audie Murphy and appeared in three of his films with him. Subsequently, his career soared, and he played various roles in various tv and film productions.
Born in Brooklyn, burly, light-haired Karl Swenson began his career on radio. In the late 1930s and 1940s, his voice was heard on scores of daytime serials and mystery dramas.
During the 1950s, Swenson appeared on TV in several rugged guest roles, such as Dr. Kildare (1961), Gunsmoke (1955), Maverick (1957), Mission: Impossible (1966), and Hawaii Five-O (1968)). While acting on tv series, Merlin’s voice was also used in animated features such as The Sword in the Stone (1963).
He died in 1978, leaving behind four sons and his wife, Virginia Montague Hanscom.
Born in Illinois Chicago, Kevin Hagen is the son of professional ballroom dancers Haakon Olaf Hagen and Marvel Lucile Wadsworth. His father Haakon abandoned his family when Kevin was still young, leaving his mother, grandmother, and aunts to raise him.
At 15, Kevin moved to Portland, where he attended Jefferson high school. He then attended Oregon State University and the University of Southern California, where he received a degree in international relations.
After working several jobs, including at the United States Department in West Germany, serving at the United States Navy, and teaching ballroom dancing, Hagen moved on to acting after being discovered in a production of Eugene O’Neill’s Desire Under the Elms.
He was also given a guest role on the 50s police series Dragnet.
In 1958, Hagen secured a regular role on the CBS Western Yancy Derringer. Hagen began to secure many roles playing western bad guys. In 1962, Hagen was cast in the episode “Cort” of Lawman.
Hagen guest-starred on Laramie, Have Gun-Will Travel, The Time Tunnel, Perry Mason, and Bonanza.
Other appearances included The Untouchables, Wagon Train, Bat Masterson, Riverboat, and Tales of Wells Fargo.
Before Jan Merlin became known for portraying villains in tv and films, he was a young man raised in New York City, passionate about becoming an actor.
After studying acting at the neighborhood playhouse in New York, he appeared in a Broadway original, Mister Roberts. Merlin moved on to star in the kid’s program Tom Corbett, Space Cadet between 1950-54. He moved to Hollywood and featured in many TVs shows such as The Virginian, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Mannix, Mission: Impossible and Little House on the Prairie, and Laramie.
R G Armstrong
Robert Golden Armstrong was born in Pleasant Groove, Alabama, to a Christian family. His mom wanted him to become a pastor. However, after graduating from high school, he became interested in acting.
He enrolled at the University of North Carolina and, upon graduating, attended the Actor’s Studio. Despite having a warm personality, Armstrong built a career portraying violent characters in several films and television series.
Making a name for himself for portraying slow Southern Types, Denver Pyle was born in Colorado in 1920 to a farming family.
He attended university but dropped out to pursue a career in music. With his music career failing to kick off, he moved job to job, from working on oil fields to working in shrimp boats in Texas.
Denver was enlisted in the US Navy during World War II, but after suffering an injury, he returned to the United States on a medical discharge. Denver was introduced to acting after working a job for an aircraft plant in Los Angelos.
He received a role in an amateur theater production which led to him getting spotted by a talent scout.
In 1947 he made his film debut in The Guilt of Janet Ames. His success in the film led to 100s of film and television appearances including, Gunsmoke, The Alamo, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and Cahill.
Denver received recognition for his work with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame – two weeks after he died from cancer.
In 1922, John Anderson was born in Clayton, Illinois. During World War II, Anderson served in the US Coast Guard, and while there, met artist Orazio Fumagalli. Anderson also held a master’s degree, which he obtained from the University of Iowa.
Anderson began featuring in plays on Broadway like Paint Your Wagon. After some time, he focused on acting in film and television.
The actor resembled United States President Abraham Lincoln, and as a result, portrayed him three times. Anderson also had acting credits in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, Gunsmoke, The Rifleman, The Rockford Files, and Laramie.
In 1992, Anderson died, was cremated, and his ashes were taken to sea as part of his membership with the Neptune Society.
Before making his debut on Broadway, Short Hills native Richard Coogan worked as an announcer and news anchor on the radio. He acted in various broadway productions such as Spring Again and The Rainmaker with Geraldine Page.
Coogan really became a star when he was cast for a role in Captain Video and His Video Rangers, which aired from 1949-55 on DuMont Television Network.
In 1950, he left Captain Video and his Video Rangers because he was unhappy about the show’s low budget. He went on to feature on other television shows such as 77 Sunset Strip, Cheyenne, Laramie, Maverick, Bonanza, and Perry Mason. His acting credits in films include Girl on the Run (1953), Three Hours to Kill (1954), The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1956), and Vice Raid (1960).
Lyle Stathem Bettger was born in Philadelphia on February13, 1915 to Frank Bettger and Mertie Stathem Bettger. He went to Haverford school in Pennsylvania and then moved to New York City, where he graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
He made his stage debut at the Biltmore Theatre in Brother Rat. On Broadway, he has appeared in Dance Night (1938), Summer Night (1939), The Flying Gerardos (1940–1941), The Moon Is Down (1942), All for All (1943), and Oh, Brother.
He also starred in The Love Life (1948–1949) and John Loves Mary (1947–1948).
In 1949, he was cast in his first film, The Lie. Bettger later won the lead in the film noir No Man of Her Own and became a regular on the sets of various westerns.
The actor supposedly got roles of two-faced backstabbers in western films and tv shows because of his fierce and piercing grin. His memorable tough-guy roles ran through series such as The Tall Man, Hawaii Five-O, Bonanza, Blue Light, Death Valley Days, and Laramie.
Bettger married Mary Gertrude Rolfe, who, like her husband, graced many stages with her acting chops.
They had three children together, Lyle, Jr., Frank, and Paula.
William Bryant was born William Robert Klein on January 31, 1934, in Detriot, Michigan.
He appeared as a character in films such as King Dinosaur (1955), Escape from San Quentin (1957), Experiment in Terror (1962) with Glenn Ford, How to Murder Your Wife, and The Great Race with Jack Lemmon, The Walking Tall Part II (1975) and McQ (1974).
He also starred in several classic western films, such as Heaven with a Gun (1969), Chisum (1970), Macho Callahan (1970), Wild Rovers (1971), and The Deadly Trackers (1973).
Despite appearing in several films, his acting career was mainly spent on television in shows such as The Gray Ghost, Maverick, The Rebel, Have Gun – Will Travel, The Rifleman, and with Ellen Corby on Laramie, playing the role of Skinny alongside James Westmoreland, Rad Fulton, John Dehner, and Jack Slade, the new stage line superintendent.
Nebraska native Roy Barcroft became an actor in his 30’s but mostly acquired roles as an extra.
It was not until he made his debut in westerns when he began to enlist more a-lister roles. He made a switch from film to television in the 50s, still taking up roles in westerns-styled series including The Lone Ranger, Bonanza, Tales of Wells Fargo, and Have Gun-Will Travel. After nearly two decades appearing on screen, he died in 1969, shortly after completing filming for Monte Walsh.
Originally Canadian, Rob grew up in New Jersey, and as an adolescent was into sports, playing for his high school basketball team and a semi-professional football team. He also thrived at swimming and ice hockey.
As a young adult, he moved to Hollywood and pursued a career as a stuntman. His early films include Rangers of Fortune, Heritage of the Desert, Northwest Mounted Police, and Henry Aldrich for President.
By 1943, Cameron reached stardom status after appearing on action serials for Republic Pictures.
In his four-decade-long career, the actor featured in a variety of film genres including, horror, war, and action. However, he was most remembered for his many Westerns.
He starred as Lieutenant Rod Blake in the 1950s westerns-themed crime drama State Trooper and appeared in Laramie numerable times as an ex-convict named John Cole, whose role stirs up old memories for Slim Sherman. He was also named “the bravest man alive” by director William Witney for divorcing his wife and marrying her mother.
Originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Dennis Patrick was born on March 14, 1918.
Patrick’s first professional acting appearance on stage was in a production of Harvey. His father was of Irish descent, and because of this, Patrick usually assumed Irish brogue roles.
He’s best known for starring in the original Dark Shadows, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Bionic Woman.
Since the start of his career, Patrick played roles in many films and guest-starred in over 1800 roles on television shows.
Robert J. Wilke
Before delving into acting, the Cincinnati native, Robert Joseph Wilke, worked many jobs, such as a high dive act at the Chicago World’s Fair.
In the 1930s, Robert J. Wilke made his acting debut as a stuntman in San Francisco.
It wasn’t long before Robert became a household name, obtaining roles in almost every television Western, including eight times on the Western series the Range Rider, five times on Cheyenne and Bonanza, and seven times on NBC’s Laramie and Gunsmoke.
When Wilke wasn’t acting, he was an excellent golfer, even rated as the best amateur golfer in Hollywood in 1966.
Lauter was born in White Plains, New York, to Herman E. Lauter and Franceska Lauter and was raised in Denver, Colorado.
Reportedly, Lauter appeared in a couple of films during the thirties, but his real movie career began in 1946.
He became well-known for his roles in low-budget films, serials, and television shows during the 1950s and starred as one of the leads in the television series Tales of the Texas Rangers (1955). Lauter was a regular face in TV Westerns such as Wagon Train, Bonanza, Wyatt Earp, and Laramie.
L Q Jones
Justus Ellis McQueen Jr., popularly known as L Q Jones, was born in Beaumont in southeastern Texas to Jessie Paralee and Justus Ellis McQueen Sr., a railroad worker.
He served in the United States Navy, left to attend Lamar Junior College, and then went to the University of Texas at Austin to study law.
Through his former University of Texas roommate, Fess Parker, Jones got the opportunity to portray his first role on screen. According to late actor Morgan Woodward, Fess sneaked Jones to see the project’s director convincing him that he had to be in the picture.
According to Woodward, LQ was so pleased with his role that he changed his name to that of the character and was no longer referred to as Justus McQueen.
From 1955 onwards, Jones would feature in many Westerns and war movies including, Cheyenne, Flaming Star, and guest-villains on series like Have Gun Rin Tin Tin, The Rebel, The Rifleman, Will Travel Annie Oakley, and Laramie.