In 1954, a friend in the film industry gave Walker his first break, helping him find bit parts that ultimately caught the attention of Warner Bros. Walker’s stature was hard to miss, as he stood 6 feet, 6 inches tall with broad shoulders. He auditioned for and won the role of Cheyenne Bodie in the 1955 TV series “Cheyenne.”
The series, produced by the legendary William T. Orr, was the first hour-long drama with regular characters to last more than one television season. As the only series regular, Walker appeared in virtually every scene as a drifter taking odd jobs across the West. In the role, Walker worked with such guest stars as Dennis Hopper, John Carradine, Ellen Burstyn, Angie Dickinson, James Garner and many more. “Cheyenne” ran from 1955 to 1963, except for a one-year hiatus when Walker went on strike as his salary negotiations came to a standstill.
After “Cheyenne,” Walker continued his success in the western genre. He enjoyed a lucrative movie career in the 1960s and returned to television in the ’70s with a series of TV movies and the short-lived series “Kodiak.” Though he went into semi-retirement in the 1980s, Walker returned to the small screen as Cheyenne Bodie in the 1991 TV movie “The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw.” He also reprised his iconic role on an episode of “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues” in 1995.
In 2003, Walker and western author Kirby Jonas collaborated on the novel “Yaqui Gold.”