Hardin as Bronco Layne, 1962.
|Born||Orison Whipple Hungerford Jr.
January 1, 1930
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Nancy (1952-?; divorced) two children
Andra Martin (1958-1960; divorced) two children
Marlene Schmidt (1962-1965; divorced) one child
Francine Nebel (1966 - ?; divorced) one child
Jenny Atkins (1971-1974; divorced)
Lyndell (1974-?; divorced) one child
Judy D. Hild McNeill (1978-2007; divorced)
Hardin was reared in Texas and attended Lamar High School in Houston. He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He was commissioned after attending Officer Candidate School, and became a pilot of Forward Observer O-1 Bird Dog liaison aircraft. After his return from service, he began taking courses at Texas A&M University on a scholarship under coach Bear Bryant.
Working as an electronic engineer at Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica, California, Ty lived with two other A&M Aggies who worked for Douglas. While renting sixguns at a motion picture costume rental company for a costume party, he was discovered by a Paramount Pictures talent scout. By 1957, Hardin acquired the services of agent Henry Willson and made his way to Hollywood where he was put under contract by Paramount Pictures. Initially billed as "Ty Hungerford," he made various minor appearances in several Paramount films such as I Married a Monster from Outer Space, The Space Children, and Last Train from Gun Hill. The "Ty" came from a childhood nickname of "Typhoon" given to him by his grandmother.
Warner Brothers years
According to Hardin, he tried to obtain a lead role in the film Rio Bravo that had been promised to Ricky Nelson. John Wayne reportedly saw him when he visited a film set at Paramount. He was impressed by his appearance. Wayne introduced him to Howard Hawks and William T. Orr at Warner Bros. Television; they bargained for his seven-year contract and he moved to Warner Brothers, who changed his stage surname to "Hardin" after gunfighter John Wesley Hardin. He also attended actors' school at Warner and played small parts in various Warner productions.
When Clint Walker walked out on his ABC series Cheyenne in 1958 during a contract dispute with Warner, Hardin got his big break. Warner bought out his contract from Paramount Studios and installed him into the Cheyenne show as the country cousin "Bronco Layne" to complete the season. Walker and Warner Brothers came to terms after the season ended, but Hardin had made such a big hit on the show that Jack Warner gave him his own series, Bronco, under the Cheyenne title. Bronco alternated weeks with Sugarfoot and Cheyenne for four years. The series ran from 1958 to 1962. Hardin soon was given other leading roles for Warner Brothers productions such as Merrill's Marauders, as Doug 'Stretch' Fortune in the 1963 spring break film Palm Springs Weekend, The Chapman Report and PT 109.
When his contract expired he left Hollywood to seek opportunity overseas as his series was played all over the world. Like many other American actors, Hardin traveled to Europe where he made several spaghetti westerns although he turned down Sergio Leone's offer to play the lead in A Fistful of Dollars. He also appeared in American financed all star epics such as Battle on the Bulge and Custer of the West. He also was reportedly the first choice to play the starring role in the television series Batman, which went to Adam West, but turned it down because of film commitments overseas.
Hardin did star in a 1967–68 Australian television series Riptide  where he sponsored an Australian motorcycle racing team and a 1970 German television series called On the Trail of Johnny Hilling, Boor and Billy which was immensely successful in West Germany.
Hardin has been married eight times and has ten children. From 1962 to 1966 Hardin was married to the 1961 Miss Universe, German beauty queen Marlene Schmidt, who later involved herself in the movie industry; they had one daughter. As of 2009, Hardin lives with his eighth wife in Huntington Beach, California.
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