Another actor who benefited from his imposing size is Clint Walker. He stands six-feet-six-inches and in his prime weighed a fit 235 pounds. He also had a background that included many jobs that required strength, endurance and athletic ability. All this turned out to be more important than acting experience.
At 28, he was married and the father of a five-year-old daughter. He was a deputy sheriff in Las Vegas. There he met actor Van Johnson who suggested Walker go to Hollywood and try to get into movies.
“I had always thought acting was a silly way to make a living,” he told me in a 1963 telephone interview, “but the money part of it interested me.”
The way he described what happened next had me thinking about “The Beverly Hillbillies.” Walker said he took his wife and daughter to California in the family’s old Model A Ford.
He auditioned at Universal Studios and was told, thanks . . . but no thanks. But his imposing size got him two quick jobs, neither requiring any acting ability. He showed up as a Tarzan-like character in a Bowery Boys movie, “Jungle Gents,” and was hired as an extra for Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments.” He played one of the Pharaoh’s guards.
An agent spotted Walker during the filming of “Ten Commandments" and took him to Warner Brothers, were he signed a seven-year contract. Warners was collecting actors like stamps, then sticking them into series that would multiply for the next several years. Walker was given the starring role in “Cheyenne,” which went on the air in September, 1955, a year before “The Ten Commandments” was released.
“Cheyenne” enjoyed a long run, finally leaving ABC-TV in 1962, though Walker waged a one-man strike during that period. He had his first starring role in a movie in a 1958 Western, "Fort Dobbs," and followed that up a year later with “Yellowstone Kelly.” He appeared in several episodes of another Warners series, “77 Sunset Strip,” in 1963, then concentrated on movies for the rest of the ‘60s with roles in the Doris Day-Rock Hudson film, “Send Me No Flowers” (1964), in which the funniest scene was watching Walker squeeze into and out of a tiny sports car; “None But the Brave” (1965), with Frank Sinatra; “The Night of the Grizzly” (1966); “The Dirty Dozen” (1967); “The Great Bank Robbery” (1969), with Kim Novak, and the Burt Reynolds Western, “Sam Whiskey” (1969).
He did another TV series, “Kodiak,” which was canceled after 13 episodes in 1974. He hasn’t been seen much since them, though in 1995 he reprised his Cheyenne Bodie character in an episode of TV’s “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues.”
He has his first wife, Verna Garver, whom he had married in 1948, were divorced in 1968. He has been married twice since. Walker died in 2018 in Grass Valley, California. He was 90 years old.