Actor Clint Walker, best known for manifesting the role of Cheyenne Bodie in the 1955-63 western TV series “Cheyenne,”
His acting career began with a role in the 1954 film Jungle Gents and ended with a voice-over as Nick Nitro in the 1998 family action movie Small Soldiers. In the years between, he starred in the films Yellowstone Kelly, The Dirty Dozen, Pancho Villa and in the 1974 TV series “Killdozer!”
However, the role that would define his career would be his lead part in “Cheyenne,” the first hour-long western television show.
Walker’s massive physique, booming voice and smooth delivery embodied the western-era everyman. Determined and uncompromising, Walker’s Cheyenne meandered alone through the post-Civil War frontier, helping those in distress with his innumerable strength, gentle spirit and unwavering practicality.
His archetypal portrayal of Cheyenne would be connected to Walker for the rest of his career.
He would reprise his famed role twice, both occurring more than two decades after the series ended; First in 1991 for the made-for-TV movie The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw, and again in 1995 for an episode of the TV show “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues.”
Walker personified the character of Cheyenne for seven seasons, taking a sabbatical from 1958-59 to strike for better terms, namely due to Warner Brothers’ restriction on Walker’s ability to produce his own music outside of the company’s record label. Due to Walker’s strike, “Cheyenne” spun off into two separate western series: “Bronco” and “Sugarfoot.”
A freak skiing accident at Mammoth Mountain, Calif., almost claimed his life in 1971. Walker fell from a ski-lift chair and landed on a ski pole, puncturing his heart. Initially pronounced dead, doctors saved his life by repairing his heart.
Walker has been married three times. He married wife Verna Garver in 1948; they had one daughter, Valerie, two years later. After divorcing Garver in 1968, he married Giselle Hennesy and they stayed together until she died in 1994.
He is survived by his current wife Susan Cavallari, who he married in 1997, and daughter Valerie, who was one of the first two female pilots hired by Western Airlines, and the first to ascend to the rank of first officer. By Matt Wyatt
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