R.I.P. Clint Walker, the towering star of 1950s Western 'Cheyenne'

The cowboy actor was 90 years old.

In 1959, television reached its Western peak. There were 26 network Westerns airing in primetime that season. In one particular week in March, eight of the top ten shows on TV were cowboys series.

Rewind the clock half a decade, and the landscape featured far less tumbleweed. In 1955, of course, there was The Lone Ranger, but the grittier take on the Western kicked off in part thanks to Cheyenne.

Cheyenne was a small-screen adaptation of the 1947 film of the same name. Warner Bros. attempted to launch three movie reboots in the fall of '55 — Casablanca, Kings Row and Cheyenne. ABC cycled through the three shows on Tuesday evening, between Kukla, Fran and Ollie and another new Western, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp.

Only Cheyenne clicked with audiences. Much of the appeal and success was due to Clint Walker, a rugged, towering (he stood 6', 6") actor with a blue-collar background. Some dubbed him the "man-mountain." Born in downstate Illinois, Walker had previously pounded sheet metal, bounced in a nightclub, toiled on a riverboat, and stood as a doorman in a Vegas casino before hitting it big in Hollywood.

Cheyenne used Walker's talents to the fullest, showing off his athleticism, and even showcasing his soothing baritone singing voice. Warner Bros. released a Clint Walker country album to capitalize on his fame. The show aired for eight seasons. Over that run, the studio put Walker into some of its other hit series, such as Maverick and 77 Sunset Strip.

After Cheyenne, Walker transitioned to movies. Frank Sinatra cast him as the lead in None but the Brave, the only film Ol' Blue Eyes ever directed. More likely you remember him from The Dirty Dozen or The Great Train Robbery.

Television called again in 1974, when Walker starred as the title character in Kodiak, a short-lived series about an Alaskan trooper.

As reported by The New York Times, Walker died on Monday at his home in Northern California. He was 90 years old.

People we have lost in 2018

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  • John Mahoney, the beloved father of 'Frasier'
  • Vic Damone, legendary singer, popular entertainer and TV host
  • Doreen Tracey, original 'Mickey Mouse Club' Mousketeer
  • Mickey Jones of 'Home Improvement' and 'National Lampoon's Vacation'
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  • Greta Thyssen, actress on 'The Three Stooges' and 'Perry Mason'
  • Harry Landers, co-star on 'Ben Casey' and many beloved TV shows
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  • Bradford Dillman, prominent '60s and '70s film and TV actor
  • Frank Avruch, best known as Boston's Bozo the Clown
  • David Ogden Stiers, M*A*S*H star and Disney voice actor
  • John Mahoney, the beloved father of 'Frasier'
  • Vic Damone, legendary singer, popular entertainer and TV host
  • Doreen Tracey, original 'Mickey Mouse Club' Mousketeer
  • Mickey Jones of 'Home Improvement' and 'National Lampoon's Vacation'
  • Peter Wyngarde, British actor who appeared in 'The Prisoner,' 'Flash Gordon' and a Lucy special
  • Dorothy Malone, Oscar-winning actress and 'Peyton Place' star
  • Robert Dowdell of 'Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea'
  • John Gavin, 'Psycho' actor who was twice almost cast as James Bond
  • Hugh Wilson, creator of 'WKRP in Cincinnati,' 'Frank's Place'
  • Jean Porter, actress from 'The Abbott & Costello Show'
  • Greta Thyssen, actress on 'The Three Stooges' and 'Perry Mason'
  • Harry Landers, co-star on 'Ben Casey' and many beloved TV shows
  • Frank Buxton, writer, actor and director on 'The Odd Couple,' 'Happy Days'
  • Bradford Dillman, prominent '60s and '70s film and TV actor
  • Frank Avruch, best known as Boston's Bozo the Clown

David Ogden Stiers, M*A*S*H star and Disney voice actor

The actor behind "Winchester" died at the age of 75. READ MORE

Image: The Everett Collection

John Mahoney, the beloved father of 'Frasier'

The veteran stage actor was 77. READ MORE

Image: AP Photo / Reed Saxon

Vic Damone, legendary singer, popular entertainer and TV host

On February 11, the entertainer passed away at the age of 89. READ MORE

Image: The Everett Collection

Doreen Tracey, original 'Mickey Mouse Club' Mousketeer

Actress Doreen Tracey passed away January 10 at the age of 74. READ MORE

Image: The Everett Collection

Mickey Jones of 'Home Improvement' and 'National Lampoon's Vacation'

On February 7, Mickey Jones passed away at the age of 76. READ MORE

Peter Wyngarde, British actor who appeared in 'The Prisoner,' 'Flash Gordon' and a Lucy special

He was one of the men who inspired Austin Powers. READ MORE

Dorothy Malone, Oscar-winning actress and 'Peyton Place' star

On January 18, Dorothy Malone passed away at the age of 93. READ MORE

Image: The Everett Collection

Robert Dowdell of 'Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea'

The Lieutenant Commander Chip Morton died at the age of 85. READ MORE

Image: The Everett Collection

John Gavin, 'Psycho' actor who was twice almost cast as James Bond

The actor and diplomat passed away at the age of 86. READ MORE

Image: The Everett Collection

Hugh Wilson, creator of 'WKRP in Cincinnati,' 'Frank's Place'

The Emmy-winning writer passed away on January 14 at 74. READ MORE

Image: The Everett Collection

Jean Porter, actress from 'The Abbott & Costello Show'

The '40s and '50s starlet passed away at the age of 95 on January 13. READ MORE

Image: The Everett Collection

Greta Thyssen, actress on 'The Three Stooges' and 'Perry Mason'

The actress passed away on January 6 at the age of 90. READ MORE

Harry Landers, co-star on 'Ben Casey' and many beloved TV shows

Bette Davis kickstarted an acting career that led to the 'Star Trek' finale. READ MORE

Frank Buxton, writer, actor and director on 'The Odd Couple,' 'Happy Days'

The multifaceted TV talent passed away on January 2 at the age of 87. READ MORE

Image: The Everett Collection

Bradford Dillman, prominent '60s and '70s film and TV actor

We saw Dillman step into top-tier classic shows, like Wagon Train and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and returning for recurring roles on shows like Dr. Kildare and Court Martial. READ MORE

Frank Avruch, best known as Boston's Bozo the Clown

The host of Bozo's Big Top died at the age of 89. READ MORE

Image: WHDH-TV / YouTube


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