R.I.P. Don Collier, a real rancher who landed starring roles on 'The High Chaparral' and 'Outlaws'

The true cowboy later appeared in a memorable bubblegum commercial. He was 92.

The Everett Collection

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Don Collier knew his way around a horse. His ability to ride got him work in Hollywood. Once upon a time, saddle skills could do that. The actor was comfortable enough in the stirrups to do stunt work. But, like a gentleman, he left that to the professionals.

"We were all pretty athletic and could have done the fight scenes and horse falls, but you didn't want the stunt guys to lose a paycheck so they did most of that," he reminisced to the St. George Spectrum in 2019.

Western fans will be familiar with Collier, who had two major starring roles, dozens of guest spots, and one commercial he could really sink his teeth into.

His screen career began in 1960, as he landed a lead role as Deputy Marshal (and later just Marshal) Will Foreman in Outlaws, an NBC series about lawmen in Oklahoma Territory. Five years after that show wrapped, Collier snagged a big part in The High Chaparral, playing principled ranch foreman Sam Butler.

Between those gigs, Collier could be seen in guest spots on Wagon TrainDeath Valley Days, The Virginian, and Bonanza. He also popped up on the big screen, joining the sprawling cowboy cast of John Wayne's El Dorado. He later joined Wayne in The War Wagon (1967) and The Undefeated (1969). Working on those films led Collier to subscribe to the Duke's acting method.

"I'd like to think that the John Wayne 'school of acting' consists of three things: One, be on time for your call. Two, know your dialogue; and three, don't leave the camera, even if you're not in the shot. So many times, especially if you're working with younger actors, the director says 'cut' and, boom, they scatter like quail," Collier explained to Classic Film & TV Café.

His lengthy career landed him alongside several generations of Western legends, from directors John Ford and Howard Hawks to a part in the 1993 modern classic Tombstone. Gen X will even know him for his gumfighting skills. Yes, "gum" with an "M."

In the 1980s, Collier delightfully played a grizzled "gunfighter" in commercials for Hubba Bubba bubblegum.

Prior to becoming an actor, young Collier served as a sailor in World War II, losing the tip of his finger while loading shells on a cruiser. Later in life, he and his wife, former casting agent Holly Collier, moved to Tucson in 1983, where the Arizona Daily Star dubbed them "the first couple of Tucson TV history."

Holly's job including finding actors for roles in Tucson-shot movies such as Tombstone and Gunsmoke: One Man's Justice, not to mention The Young Riders, a later TV series starring her hubby.

Collier continued to be a presence at cowboy conventions and on the Western scene. Just last year, he told The News of San Patricio, "I'm really enjoying life; it's a lot of fun just traveling around. I don't have not a one responsibility."

He eventually made his way to Kentucky, where one of his sons live. It was there he died on September 13, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Collier was 92.

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Runeshaper 4 days ago
R.I.P. Don Collier. He was a really talented dude! So many great films. Plus, to study and act with The Duke must have been quite an honor.
DIGGER1 8 days ago
Unforfunately, I've been offline for a while, and so I'm only just now learning of the passing of Don Collier, but I remember him fondly. I'll always remember him best as "Mr. Tompkins" the storekeeper for the town of Sweetwater, Kansas, in "THE YOUNG RIDERS",



but I also remember seeing Mr. Collier earlier in a few of those "HUBBA-BUBBA" bubblegum commercials,



and I believe that I've seen him in a few "JOHN WAYNE" Western films, like in the 1969 movie, "THE UNDEFEATED",



but, IMHO, the greatest honor that I think that Mr. Collier could ever do for "HIMSELF" was to choose "MY" homestate of "KENTUCKY" to spend his remaining days. And so, I say this:

R.I.P., DON COLLIER(B.10/17/1928-D.09/13/2021).

LoveMETV22 10 days ago
R.I.P. Don Collier-
The Waltons: An Easter Story (1973) Dr. Miller
Little House on the Prairie- 2 Episodes: For the Love of Blanche (1983) ... Sheriff
The Runaway Caboose (1976) ... Schultz
And many others. Good actor.
For those who don't remember, or don't know the LHOTP (actually it's The New Beginning,) Blanche was an Orangutan entrusted to Isaiah by her dying owner. Isaiah had to promise him he would find a home for her. It was a cute episode. Well, if you think as I: orangutans are cute, then it goes without saying that she and the episode are cute.
Reading you comment got me to thinking, (That could be a scary thought, in and of itself!)
There might be some who are wondering whether Don Collier and game show host Bud Collier are related. I Googled and I couldn't/didn't run across anything that said they were. So, obviously, (unless someone comes up with the fact that they are,) they are not related.
Yes, thank you for the clarification on that: Season 9 aka "Little House: A New Beginning"( the rename for the last season).
Season 9- Episode 20- "For the Love of Blanche".
Too bad the show didn't last more seasons after Michael Landon's departure from his onscreen role, but the ratings became so low they cancelled the series. after the 9 seasons and the three longer length specials they did. All in all a good show.
I believe Bud the game show hosts last name was spelled Collyer. So there is probably no relation there.
Mike LoveMETV22 8 days ago
Bud Collyer's real name was Clayton Heermance.
His brother Richard Heermance was a film editor in Hollywood; he appeared once on To Tell The Truth as a contestant (available on YouTube).
LoveMETV22 Mike 8 days ago
Yep, Clayton Johnson Heermance Jr. He changed his surname and was a recognizable voice on the major networks back at the time.
LoveMETV22 Mike 8 days ago
Bud and his sister June ( actress in the 20's and 30's), both chose to use their mothers maiden name Collyer. Hmmmm interesting. I wonder why Richard didn't.
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