Hand color tinted photo of Clint Walker as Cheyenne Bodie from the 1950s television series, Cheyenne
Norman Eugene “Clint” Walker (born May 30, 1927) is an American actor best known for his cowboy role as “Cheyenne Bodie” in the TV Western series, Cheyenne.
Walker was born in Hartford, Illinois; he was a twin, and is of one-quarter Cherokee descent. He left school to work at a factory and on a river boat, then joined the United States Merchant Marine at the age of seventeen in the last months of World War II. After leaving the Merchant Marine, he labored at odd jobs in Brownwood, Texas, Long Beach, California, and Las Vegas, where he worked as a doorman at the Sands Hotel. He also was employed as a sheet-metal worker and a nightclub bouncer.
In Los Angeles, he was hired by Cecil B. DeMille to appear in The Ten Commandments. A friend in the film industry helped get him a few bit parts that brought him to the attention of Warner Bros., which was developing a western style television series.
Walker’s good looks and imposing physique, he stood 6 feet, 6 inches (198 cm) tall with a 54-inch chest and a 38-inch waist, helped him to land an audition where he won the lead role. Billed as “Clint” Walker, he was cast as Cheyenne Bodie, a cowboy hero in the post-American Civil War era. While the series regularly capitalized on Walker’s rugged frame with frequent bare-chested scenes, it was well-written and acted. It proved hugely popular for eight seasons on the ABC television network. Walker’s pleasant baritone singing voice was also occasionally utilized on the series and led Warner Brothers to produce an album of Walker doing traditional songs and ballads.
Walker then played roles in several big-screen films, including a trio of westerns for Gordon Douglas – Fort Dobbs in 1958, Yellowstone Kelly in 1959, and Gold of the Seven Saints in 1961, the comedy Send Me No Flowers in 1964, The Night of the Grizzly in 1966, and as the meek convict Samson Posey, in the war drama The Dirty Dozen in 1967. In 1969, New York Times film critic Howard Thompson, in reviewing Walker’s performance in the movie More Dead Than Alive, described the actor as “a big, fine-looking chap and about as live-looking as any man could be. And there is something winning about his taciturn earnestness as an actor, although real emotion seldom breaks through”. In 1958, Thompson described the actor, then starring in Fort Dobbs, as “the biggest, finest-looking Western hero ever to sag a horse, with a pair of shoulders rivaling King Kong’s.”
During the 1970s he returned to television, starring in a number of made-for-TV western films as well as a short-lived series in 1974 called Kodiak. He starred in the made-for-television cult film Killdozer! the same year. In 1998, his last acting role, he voiced the character of Nick Nitro in Small Soldiers. In December 2009, several internet movie websites had indicated that Sylvester Stallone had or was about to make an approach to Walker to come out of retirement to play the father of John Rambo in Stallone’s forthcoming film Rambo V.
Walker met western author Kirby Jonas through James Drury, a mutual friend. Jonas and Walker subsequently spent two years collaborating on a story idea suggested by Walker involving gold and the Yaqui, a partnership that led to the publication of the 2003 Western novel Yaqui Gold (ISBN 1-891423-08-8).
Walker, who is on the political right, is an occasional guest on The Mark Levin Show to talk about politics.
Clint Walker has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1505 Vine Street, near its intersection with Sunset Boulevard.
In 2004, he was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Walker has been married to:
Verna Garver, married 1948, divorced 1968. They had one daughter, Valerie (born 1950).
Giselle Hennessy, married 1974, died 1994.
Susan Cavallari, married 1997.
Walker currently lives in Grass Valley, California; a small, quiet town on the California-Nevada border favored by actors, writers, and other celebrities seeking refuge from the Los Angeles limelight.