Clint Walker

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Clint Walker
Clint Walker Cheyenne 1957.JPG
Walker in Cheyenne, 1957
Born Norman Eugene Walker
(1927-05-30) May 30, 1927 (age 89)
Hartford, Illinois, United States
Years active 1954–1998
Height 6'6"
  • Verna Garver (m. 1948–68)
  • Giselle Hennesy (m. 1974–94)
  • Susan Cavallari (m. 1997)
Children 1
As Cheyenne Bodie, 1956
Walker on The Lucy Show
Walker being pinned with a Sheriff's Badge at Frontier Fiesta at the University of Houston (circa 1950s)

Norman Eugene Walker, known as Clint Walker (born May 30, 1927), is a retired American actor. He is perhaps best known for his cowboy role as "Cheyenne Bodie" in the ABC/Warner Brothers western television series Cheyenne.

Life and career[edit]

Walker was born in Hartford in Madison County, southwestern Illinois, the son of Gladys Huldah (Schwanda) and Paul Arnold Walker.[1][2] His mother was Czech.[3] 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.[1] After leaving the Merchant Marine, he labored at odd jobs in Brownwood, Texas, Long Beach, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada, where he worked as a doorman at the Sands Hotel.[1] He was also employed as a sheet metal worker and a nightclub bouncer.

He became a client of Henry Willson, who renamed him "Jett Norman"[4] 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. 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 48-inch chest and a 32-inch waist[5]) helped him land an audition where he won the lead role in the TV series Cheyenne. Billed as "Clint" Walker, he was cast as Cheyenne Bodie, a roaming 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. 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.[6]

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 actual leading role despite being billed under Frank Sinatra in the wartime drama None but the Brave in 1965, 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".[7] 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".[8]

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, he voiced Nick Nitro in the film Small Soldiers.

Literary pursuits[edit]

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, a partnership that led to the publication of the 2003 Western novel Yaqui Gold (ISBN 978-1-891423-08-6).[5]


Clint Walker has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1505 Vine Street, near its intersection with Sunset Boulevard (approximate coordinates: 34°05′53″N 118°19′36″W / 34.098084°N 118.326643°W / 34.098084; -118.326643).

In 2004, he was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Personal life[edit]

Walker has been married to:

  • Verna Garver, married 1948, divorced 1968; they had one daughter, Valerie (born 1950)
  • Giselle Hennesy, married 1974, died 1994
  • Susan Cavallari, married 1997

In May 1971 Walker narrowly escaped death but was gravely injured in a skiing accident at Mammoth Mountain, California. In a fall from a ski-lift chair, Walker was pierced through the heart with a ski pole. He was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead, but a doctor detected faint signs of life and rushed Walker to surgery, where his damaged heart was repaired. Within two months Walker was again working.[9][10]

Walker's twin sister, Neoma L. "Lucy" Westbrook died November 11, 2000, at her residence in Hartford, Illinois, age 73. Walker currently lives in Grass Valley in Nevada County in eastern California.

His daughter Valerie was one of the first female airline pilots.[11][12][13]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Walker's biography from his official website
  2. ^ Neoma Lucy Walker Westbrook
  3. ^ Norman E Walker
  4. ^ 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
  5. ^ a b Cowboy actor inspires local Western writer, a December 2003 review transcribed from an Idaho State Journal article
  6. ^ Actor Clint Walker to be Inducted into National Cowboy Museum's Hall of Great Western Performers
  7. ^ Howard Thompson, "'Dead' Western", The New York Times, May 1, 1969
  8. ^ "Western and 'Lafayette Escadrille' Open", The New York Times, April 19, 1958
  9. ^ Ski Magazine, October 19, 1971, p. 26
  10. ^ St. Petersburg Times, May 26, 1971, p. 17
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^

External links[edit]