Norman Eugene Walker
May 30, 1927
Hartford, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||May 21, 2018 (aged 90)|
Grass Valley, California, U.S.
|Other names||Jett Norman|
|Height||6 ft 6 in (198 cm)|
(m. 1948; div. 1968)
(m. 1974; died 1994)
Clint Walker was born Norman Eugene Walker in Hartford, Illinois, on May 30, 1927; the son of Gladys Huldah (née Schwanda) and Paul Arnold Walker. His mother was Czech. He had a twin sister named Lucy.
After leaving the Merchant Marine, he did odd jobs in Brownwood, Texas, Long Beach, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada, where he worked as a doorman at the Sands Hotel. Walker was also employed as a sheet metal worker and a nightclub bouncer.
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Walker became a client of Henry Willson, who renamed him "Jett Norman" and cast him to appear in a Bowery Boys film (Jungle Gents) as a Tarzan-type character. In Los Angeles, he was hired by Cecil B. DeMille to appear in The Ten Commandments.
Walker's good looks and imposing physique (he stood 6 feet, 6 inches tall with a 48-inch chest and a 32-inch waist) helped him land an audition where he won the lead role in the TV series Cheyenne.
While the series regularly capitalized on Walker's rugged frame with frequent bare-chested scenes, it was also well written and acted. It proved hugely popular for eight seasons. 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.
Early in the series run, Warners announced they would star Walker in a feature, The Story of Sam Houston. It was not made.
In April 1956 Walker said "I don't think I'd want any other roles ... Westerns keep me outdoors and active."
Warners cast Walker in the lead of a Western feature film, Fort Dobbs (1958), directed by Gordon Douglas. Howard Thompson described the actor as "the biggest, finest-looking Western hero ever to sag a horse, with a pair of shoulders rivaling King Kong's".
Box office returns were modest. Warners tried him in another Douglas-directed Western, Yellowstone Kelly (1959), co-starring Edd Byrnes from another Warners TV show, 77 Sunset Strip. It was a minor success.
A number of Cheyenne episodes were cut into feature films and released theatrically in some markets, and a brief clip of Walker galloping on horseback as Bodie was featured in an episode of Maverick starring Jack Kelly. He also guest starred on an episode of 77 Sunset Strip. Warners tried Walker in a third Western feature directed by Douglas, Gold of the Seven Saints (1961), this time co-starring Roger Moore, who was also under contract to Warners.
Frank Sinatra cast him in the leading role in the war drama None but the Brave (1965), the only film Sinatra directed. After doing some guest appearances in The Lucy Show he fought a grizzly bear in Paramount's Western, The Night of the Grizzly (1966). He starred in a family adventure movie shot in India, Maya (1966).
Walker had his biggest feature film hit to date when he played the meek convict Samson Posey in the war drama The Dirty Dozen (1967).
Walker returned to Westerns with More Dead Than Alive (1969). The New York Times 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".
Walker was one of many names in The Phynx (1970) and returned to TV with the leads in some television pilots that appeared as made for television movies on the ABC Movie of the Week, Yuma (1971), Hardcase (1972), and The Bounty Man (1972).
In May 1971 he was seriously injured in a skiing accident on Mammoth Mountain when one of his ski poles went through his chest but he recovered.
Walker supported Telly Savalas in the biopic Pancho Villa (1972) and starred a short-lived series in 1974 called Kodiak, playing an Alaskan patrolman. He starred in the made-for-television cult film Killdozer! The same year as well as Scream of the Wolf (1974).
Walker starred in Baker's Hawk (1976) and had support parts in Snowbeast (1977), and The White Buffalo (1977). He starred in the Canadian Deadly Harvest (1977) and had a small role in Centennial and Mysterious Island of Beautiful Women (1979).
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Walker met western author Kirby Jonas through James Drury, a mutual friend. Jonas and Walker subsequently spent two years collaborating on a storyline by Walker involving gold and the Yaqui. The partnership led to the publication of the 2003 Western novel Yaqui Gold (ISBN 978-1-891423-08-6).
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He received the Golden Boot Award in 1997.
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Personal life and death
Walker had three marriages, each of which lasted approximately twenty years. Walker married Verna Garver in 1948. The marriage produced one daughter, Valerie (born 1950) before ending in divorce in 1968. Valerie became one of the first female airline pilots. Walker was a vegetarian.
In May 1971, Walker narrowly escaped death in a skiing accident at Mammoth Mountain, California. While following the contours of the twisting, irregular terrain Walker began tumbling out of control before coming to an abrupt, violent stop in which he was pierced through the heart with a ski pole. He was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead. However, a doctor detected faint signs of life and rushed Walker to surgery, where his damaged heart was repaired. Within two months, Walker was working again. Walker has said about the accident that he had a near-death experience.
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- 1954: Jungle Gents as Tarzan Type (uncredited)
- 1955–1963: Cheyenne (TV series) as Cheyenne Bodie / Ace Black / Jim Thornton Merritt
- 1956: The Ten Commandments as Sardinian Captain
- 1957: The Travellers as Cheyenne Bodie
- 1958: Fort Dobbs as Gar Davis
- 1959: Yellowstone Kelly as Luther 'Yellowstone' Kelly
- 1960: Requiem to Massacre as Cheyenne Bodie
- 1961: Gold of the Seven Saints as Jim Rainbolt
- 1963: The Jack Benny Program
- 1964: Send Me No Flowers as Bert Power
- 1965: None but the Brave as Capt. Dennis Bourke
- 1965–1966: The Lucy Show (TV Series, 2 episodes) as Frank / Frank Wilson
- 1966: The Night of the Grizzly as Jim Cole
- 1966: Maya as Hugh Bowen
- 1967: The Dirty Dozen as Samson Posey
- 1969: More Dead Than Alive as Cain
- 1969: Sam Whiskey as O. W. Bandy
- 1969: The Great Bank Robbery as Ranger Ben Quick
- 1970: The Phynx as Cheyenne
- 1971: Yuma (TV Movie) as Marshal Dave Harmon
- 1972: Hardcase (TV Movie) as Jack Rutherford
- 1972: The Bounty Man (TV Movie) as Kinkaid
- 1972: Pancho Villa as Scotty
- 1974: Kodiak (13 episodes) as Cal "Kodiak" McKay
- 1974: Scream of the Wolf (TV Movie) as Byron Douglas
- 1974: Killdozer! (TV Movie) as Lloyd Kelly
- 1976: Baker's Hawk as Dan Baker
- 1977: The White Buffalo as Whistling Jack Kileen
- 1977: Snowbeast (TV Movie) as Sheriff Paraday
- 1977: Deadly Harvest as Grant Franklin
- 1978: Centennial (TV Mini-Series) as Joe Bean
- 1979: Mysterious Island of Beautiful Women (TV Movie) as Wendell
- 1983: Hysterical as Sheriff
- 1983: The Love Boat (Episode: "Friend of the Family/Affair on Demand/Just Another Pretty Face") as Bill
- 1985: The Serpent Warriors as Morgan Bates
- 1985: All American Cowboy (TV Movie)
- 1991: The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw (TV Movie) as Cheyenne Bodie
- 1993: Tropical Heat (TV) — episode "The Last of the Magnificent"
- 1994: Maverick as Sheriff (cameo appearance) (Scene deleted)
- 1995: Kung Fu: The Legend Continues (TV) as Cheyenne Bodie, episode "Gunfighters"
- 1998: Small Soldiers as Nick Nitro (Voice) (final film role)
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- Walker's biography Archived 2019-06-04 at the Wayback Machine from his official website
- "Norman E Walker".
- At age 73, Walker's twin sister, Neoma L. "Lucy" Westbrook, died on November 11, 2000 at her residence in Hartford, Illinois.
- p.507 Aaker, Everett Television Western Players of the Fifties: A Biographical Encyclopedia of All Regular Cast Members in Western Series, 1949–1959' McFarland, 1997
- Cowboy actor inspires local Western writer Archived 2007-06-12 at the Wayback Machine, a December 2003 review transcribed from an Idaho State Journal article
- "WIDMARK TO STAR IN NOVELIST ROLE". New York Times. June 8, 1955. ProQuest 113443992.
- Pryor, Thomas M. (July 10, 1955). "Hollywood Notes". The New York Times.
- "Media Room — National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum". Archived from the original on May 18, 2014. Retrieved July 16, 2009.
- Pryor, Thomas M. (November 15, 1955). "Jennifer Gets Lead in Hemingway Novel". The Cincinnati Enquirer. p. 14.
- "Clint walker, tall, brawny illinoisan, hero of cheyenne". Chicago Daily Tribune. April 14, 1956. ProQuest 179737098.
- "Western and 'Lafayette Escadrille' Open", The New York Times, April 19, 1958.
- Howard Thompson, "'Dead' Western", The New York Times, May 1, 1969
- "Actor clint walker gains after surgery". Los Angeles Times. May 27, 1971. ProQuest 156735297.
- "Great Western Performers". National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Archived from the original on September 12, 2017. Retrieved May 22, 2018.
- Texas Trail of Fame Inductees
- "Chicago Tribune — Historical Newspapers".
- "Valerie Cottle (WG #175) in the cockpit for Western Airlines :: Whirly-Girls". twudigital.contentdm.oclc.org.
- Kinnan, Rob; Vaughn, Linda. (2016). Linda Vaughn: The First Lady of Motorsports. CarTech Incorporated p. 41. ISBN 978-1613252321
- Critchlow, Donald T. (October 21, 2013). When Hollywood Was Right: How Movie Stars, Studio Moguls, and Big Business Remade American Politics. ISBN 9781107650282.
- Ski Magazine, October 19, 1971, pg. 26
- St. Petersburg Times, May 26, 1971, pg. 17
- Schwartz, John (May 22, 2018). "Clint Walker, Western Star Tall in the Saddle, Is Dead at 90". The New York Times.
- Official website
- Clint Walker at IMDb
- "Clint Walker: Top Gun of Warner's TV" by Herb Fagen (1999 interview) @ Classic Images magazine, issue # 212, p. 12
- "Belleville had its share of fame: Nice guy Clint Walker became Hollywood hunk" by Jaime Ingle — News-Democrat (Wednesday, June 18, 2008)
- "Cowboy actor inspires local Western writer" — From the Idaho State Journal — December 2003
- Clint Walker at The Interviews: An Oral History of Television
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