John Wesley Hardin in popular culture

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Old West outlaw, John Wesley Hardin

John Wesley Hardin's legacy as an outlaw has made him a colorful character and the subject of various media works from his own time up to the present day. Many people came to know of Hardin through the TV ad for Time-Life Books "Old West" series. During the description of one book in the series, The Gunfighters, the well-known claim is made: "John Wesley Hardin, so mean, he once shot a man just for snoring too loud"[1]


John Wesley Hardin is a favorite theme in popular culture:

In fictional literature[edit]

Hardin has also been the subject or supporting character of various works about the Old West, such as:

In film[edit]

Hardin has been portrayed on film by:

In television[edit]

  • Actor Richard Webb played Hardin in a 1954 episode of Jim Davis' syndicated western television series, Stories of the Century. The segment shows Hardin shooting two Indians in the back; gunning down a sheriff in a saloon in Abilene, Kansas; and finally being outgunned himself by an El Paso officer attempting to arrest him.[11]
  • Phillip Pine played Hardin in 1955 in the ninth episode "John Wesley Hardin" of the ABC/Desilu western television series, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, starring Hugh O"Brian in the title role as frontier marshal Wyatt Earp. In the story line, Hardin arrives in Wichita, Kansas, to avenge Earp for having run out of a town a friend of Hardin's. The Hardin character also unveils tricks he has learned with his revolvers. Barbara Bestar plays Jane Hardin in the episode.[12]
  • A 1959 episode of Maverick, "Duel at Sundown," has the character of Bart Maverick posing as John Wesley Hardin in order to stage a fake gunfight against his brother, Bret, so that he can avoid a real gunfight with a local tough, played by Clint Eastwood. As Bret and Bart ride out of town, they meet a stranger who wants directions to find this "fake" John Wesley Hardin. The stranger is none other than the "real" John Wesley Hardin.[13]
  • In an episode called "Turning Point'" of the Bronco series, Scott Marlowe played John Wesley Hardin. Bronco befriends Hardin after stumbling upon him after Hardin has been bitten by a rattlesnake, saves his life, and then agrees to be partners in a land acquisition deal.[14]
  • Randy Quaid played Hardin in the 1995 TV mini-series, Streets of Laredo.[15]
  • In a 1998 episode of Antiques Roadshow, a previously unknown and rare photograph of John Wesley Hardin was appraised at $30,000 - $50,000.[16]
  • In August 1, 2001 season three episode four of Family Guy ("One_If_by_Clam,_Two_If_by_Sea"), Peter and Quagmire quote from decades-old advertisements for a Time-Life book series about the American West, which mentioned Hardin as a "man who was so mean, he once shot a man just for snoring."
  • In the (November 28, 2011) episode ["Mile High Club"] of the History channel show Pawn Stars, one of Hardin's business cards was featured.[17]

In music[edit]

Country music singer, Johnny Cash, wrote and recorded a song about Hardin entitled "Hardin Wouldn't Run,"[18] released on his 1965 album Johnny Cash Sings the Ballads of the True West. It relates some of the true events of Hardin's life, including his death at the Acme Saloon. Prior to this, Cash portrayed Hardin in the spoken-word introduction to "Slow Rider", a track on his 1960 theme album Ride This Train.

Folk rocker, Bob Dylan, named his 1967 album John Wesley Harding after the outlaw, although the name was spelled differently. The title track depicts Hardin as "a friend to the poor" who "was never known to hurt an honest man."[19]

Singer-songwriter Wesley Stace uses the stage name, John Wesley Harding.[20]

Hardin is among the outlaws mentioned in the song, "Rhymes of the Renegades," by western singer-songwriter, Michael Martin Murphey.[21]

Avant-garde composer Moondog created an ode to the outlaw on his album H'art Songs with the song "Here's To John Wesley Hardin."


  1. ^ Trachtman, Paul (1974). Old West: The Gunfighters. New York: Time Life. p. 238. ISBN 978-0-8094-1481-9. ; During the description of one book in the series, The Gunfighters, the well-known claim is made.
  2. ^ McMurtry, Larry. Streets of Laredo. ISBN 0671537466. 
  3. ^ Pistoleer excerpts
  4. ^ McGinnis, Bruce. "Reflections in Dark Glass: The Life and Times of John Wesley Hardin" (1st edition). University of North Texas Press (Hardcover). 
  5. ^ Google Books
  6. ^ TCM
  7. ^ IMdB
  8. ^ MRQE
  9. ^ AMC-TV
  10. ^ Miles Hood Swarthout Article
  11. ^ "Stories of the Century". In the story, Hardin was wanted on a new murder warrant, his 41st or 45th killing. Classic TV Archive. Retrieved July 3, 2009. 
  12. ^ ""John Wesley Hardin", November 1, 1955". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved March 6, 2014. 
  13. ^ IMdB
  14. ^ IMdB Bronco
  15. ^ IMdB Hardin Character
  16. ^ Antique Roadshow at PBS
  17. ^ Pawn Stars Ep. 127
  18. ^ Lyrics
  19. ^ listing for JWH
  20. ^ Wesley Stave article
  21. ^ Chicago Tribune interview with M M Murphey