Johnson in 1969
|Born||June 13, 1918|
Foraker, Oklahoma, U.S.
|Died||April 8, 1996 77) (aged|
Mesa, Arizona, U.S.
|Occupation||Actor, stuntman, rodeo cowboy|
|Spouse(s)||Carol Elaine Jones (1941–1994; her death)|
Benjamin "Son" Johnson Jr. (June 13, 1918 – April 8, 1996) was an American film and television actor, stuntman, and world champion rodeo cowboy. Tall and laconic, Johnson brought authenticity to many roles in Westerns with his expert horsemanship.
The son of a rancher, Johnson arrived in Hollywood to deliver a consignment of horses for a film. He did stunt-double work for several years before breaking into acting with the help of John Ford. An elegiac portrayal of a former cowboy theater owner in the 1950s coming-of-age drama The Last Picture Show won Johnson the 1971 Academy Award, BAFTA Award, and Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Johnson also operated a horse-breeding ranch throughout his career. Although he said he had succeeded by sticking to what he knew, shrewd real estate investments made Johnson worth an estimated $100 million by his later years.
Johnson was born in Foraker, Oklahoma, on the Osage Indian Reservation, of Irish and Cherokee ancestry,the son of Ollie Susan Johnson (née Workmon; 1899–2000) and Ben Johnson, Sr. (1896–1952). His father was a rancher and rodeo champion in Osage County.
Johnson was drawn to the rodeos and horse breeding of his early years. In 1953, he took a break from well-paid film work to compete in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) becoming Team Roping World Champion, although he only broke even financially that year. Johnson was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 1973.According to his ProRodeo Hall of Fame entry, he said, "I've won a rodeo world championship, and I'm prouder of that than anything else I've ever done."
Johnson's film career began with the Howard Hughes film The Outlaw . Before filming began, Hughes bought some horses at the Chapman-Barnard ranch, the Oklahoma ranch where Johnson's father was foreman, and hired Johnson to get the horses to northern Arizona (for The Outlaw's location shooting), and then to take them on to Hollywood.[ citation needed ]
Johnson liked to say later that he got to Hollywood in a carload of horses. [ citation needed ]With his experience wrangling for Hughes during The Outlaw's location shooting, once in Hollywood, he did stunt work for the 1939 movie The Fighting Gringo, and throughout the 1940s, he found work wrangling horses and doing stunt work involving horses.
His work as a stuntman caught the eye of director John Ford. Ford hired Johnson for stunt work in the 1948 film Fort Apache, and as the riding double for Henry Fonda.During shooting, the horses pulling a wagon with three men in it stampeded. Johnson, who "happened to be settin' on a horse", stopped the runaway wagon and saved the men. When Ford promised that he would be rewarded, Johnson hoped it would be with another doubling job, or maybe a small speaking role. Instead he received a seven-year acting contract from Ford. Ford called Johnson into his office, handed him an envelope with a contract in it. Johnson started reading it and when he got to the fifth line and it said "$5,000 a week," he stopped reading, grabbed a pen, and signed it, and gave it back to Ford.
His first credited role was in Ford's 3 Godfathers ; the film is notable for the riding skills demonstrated by both Johnson and star Pedro Armendáriz. He later said the film was the most physically challenging of his career. Ford then suggested a starring role for him in the 1949 film Mighty Joe Young ; he played "Gregg" opposite Terry Moore. Ford cast him in two of the three films that have come to be known as Ford's cavalry trilogy, all starring John Wayne: She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), and Rio Grande (1950); both roles showcased Johnson's riding ability. Ford also cast Johnson as the lead in Wagon Master (1950), one of Ford's favorites.
In real life, Johnson did not show any bad temper; his demeanor in tense situations was calm but firm. Although known for avoiding drama, he had definite boundaries; during the making of Rio Grande he defied Ford, who was notorious for browbeating his actors, and reportedly told him to go to hell. Johnson thought the incident had been forgotten, but Ford did not use him in a film for over a decade. Johnson also appeared in four films of Sam Peckinpah and had a good relationship with the wayward director. Peckinpah appreciated Johnson's authenticity and lack of acting airs.
Johnson played in supporting roles in Shane (1953), where he appeared as Chris Calloway, a "bad guy who makes good" after being beaten senseless by Alan Ladd, and One-Eyed Jacks (1961) starring Marlon Brando. In 1964, he worked with Ford again in Cheyenne Autumn . He also appeared in four Peckinpah-directed films: Major Dundee (1965, with Charlton Heston), The Wild Bunch (1969, with William Holden and Robert Ryan), and two back-to-back Steve McQueen films, The Getaway and the rodeo film Junior Bonner (both 1972). In 1973, he co-starred as Melvin Purvis in John Milius' Dillinger with Warren Oates; he also appeared in Milius' 1984 film Red Dawn . In 1975, he played the character Mister in Bite the Bullet, starring Gene Hackman and James Coburn. He also appeared with Charles Bronson in 1975's Breakheart Pass. In 1980, he was cast as Sheriff Isum Gorch in Soggy Bottom U.S.A.
Johnson played Bartlett in the 1962–63 season of Have Gun Will Travel , which featured a short scene of his riding skills. In 1963 Johnson appeared as Spinner on the TV western The Virginian in the episode titled Duel at Shiloh." [ citation needed ] In the 1966–67 television season, Johnson appeared as the character Sleeve in all 26 episodes of the ABC family Western The Monroes with co-stars Michael Anderson, Jr. and Barbara Hershey.
He teamed up with John Wayne again, and director Andrew V. McLaglen, in two films, appearing with Rock Hudson in The Undefeated (1969) and in a fairly prominent role in Chisum (1970). The apex of Johnson's career was reached in 1971, with Johnson winning an Academy Award for his performance as Sam the Lion in The Last Picture Show , directed by Peter Bogdanovich.
On the set of The Train Robbers , in June 1972, he told Nancy Anderson of Copley News Service that winning the Oscar for The Last Picture Show was not going to change him and he would not raise his salary request to studios because of it. He continued, "I grew up on a ranch and I know livestock, so I like working in Westerns. All my life I've been afraid of failure. To avoid it, I've stuck with doing things I know how to do, and it's made me a good living".
He played Cap Roundtree in the 1979 miniseries The Sacketts . He played Sam Bellows in the 1980 film Ruckus . He co-starred in the 1994 version of Angels in the Outfield .
He continued ranching during the entire time, operating a horse-breeding ranch in Sylmar, California. [ citation needed ]In addition, he sponsored the Ben Johnson Pro Celebrity Team Roping and Penning competition, held in Oklahoma City and in Katy, Texas the proceeds of which are donated to both the Children's Medical Research Inc. and the Children's Hospital of Oklahoma.
Johnson's 1941 marriage to Carol Elaine Jones lasted until her death on March 27, 1994. They had no children. She was the daughter of noted Hollywood horse wrangler Clarence "Fat" Jones.In 2003, he was inducted into the Texas Trail of Fame. Johnson's mother Ollie died a few years after her son, on October 16, 2000, aged 101.
Johnson continued to work almost steadily until his death from a heart attack at the age of 77. On April 8, 1996, the veteran actor collapsed while visiting his then 96-year-old mother Ollie at Leisure World in Mesa, Arizona, the suburban Phoenix retirement community where they both lived.Johnson's body was later transported from Arizona to Pawhuska, Oklahoma, for burial at the Pawhuska City Cemetery.
For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Johnson has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7083 Hollywood Boulevard. In 1982, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. In 1996, Tom Thurman made a documentary film about Johnson's life, titled Ben Johnson: Third Cowboy on the Right, written by Thurman and Tom Marksbury.
The Ben Johnson Cowboy Museum was opened in honor of Ben Johnson in his hometown of Pawhuska, OK in June 2019. The museum showcases the life and career of Ben Johnson, as well as his father, Ben Johnson, Sr., who was also a world champion cowboy. In addition to the Ben Johnsons, the museum also features other world champion cowboys and cowgirls, famous ranches (like the one Ben grew up on), and cowboy artists and craftsmen, all from the area where Ben grew up.
The Ben Johnson Memorial Steer Roping and the International Roundup Cavalcade, the world's largest amateur rodeo, are held annually in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.
A one-and-a-quarter-size bronze sculpture by John D. Free of Ben Johnson riding a horse and roping a steer was commissioned and produced in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.
|1939||The Fighting Gringo||Mexican Barfly||Uncredited|
|1943||Bordertown Gun Fighters||Messenger||Uncredited|
|1944||The Pinto Bandit||Race Contestant||Uncredited|
|1944||Tall in the Saddle||Townsman / Stuntman||Uncredited|
|1944||Nevada||Saloon Patron / Stunt Double: Robert Mitchum||Uncredited|
|1945||Corpus Christi Bandits||2nd Stage Driver||Uncredited|
|1945||The Naughty Nineties||Coach Driver||Uncredited|
|1946||Badman's Territory||Deputy Marshal||Uncredited|
|1947||Angel and the Badman||Stuntman||Uncredited|
|1948||The Gallant Legion||Texas Ranger||Uncredited|
|1948||Fort Apache||Stunt Double: Henry Fonda||Uncredited|
|1948||3 Godfathers||Posse Man #1 / Stuntman||Johnson was also a stuntman but wasn't credited for it.|
|1949||She Wore a Yellow Ribbon||Sgt. Tyree|
|1949||Mighty Joe Young||Gregg|
|1950||Wagon Master||Travis Blue|
|1950||Rio Grande||Trooper Travis Tyree|
|1951||Fort Defiance||Ben Shelby|
|1952||Wild Stallion||Dan Light|
|1955||Oklahoma!||Wrangler / Stuntman||Uncredited|
|1956||Rebel in Town||Frank Mason|
|1957||War Drums||Luke Fargo|
|1957||Slim Carter||Montana Burriss|
|1958||Fort Bowie||Capt. Thomas Thompson|
|1960||Ten Who Dared||George Bradley|
|1961||One-Eyed Jacks||Bob Amory|
|1961||Tomboy and the Champ||Jim Wilkins|
|1964||Cheyenne Autumn||Trooper Plumtree||Uncredited|
|1965||Major Dundee||Sergeant Chillum|
|1966||The Rare Breed||Jeff Harter|
|1968||Hang 'Em High||Marshal Dave Bliss|
|1969||The Wild Bunch||Tector Gorch|
|1969||The Undefeated||Short Grub|
|1971||The Last Picture Show||Sam the Lion|| Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor |
BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
|1971||Something Big||Jesse Bookbinder|
|1972||Junior Bonner||Buck Roan|
|1972||The Getaway||Jack Beynon|
|1973||The Train Robbers||Jesse|
|1973||The Wayne Train||Himself / Jesse||Documentary short|
|1973||The Red Pony||Jess Taylor||Television movie|
|1973||Kid Blue||Sheriff 'Mean John' Simpson|
|1973||Runaway!||Holly Gibson||Television movie|
|1973||Blood Sport||Dwayne Birdsong||Television movie|
|1974||The Sugarland Express||Captain Tanner|
|1974||Locusts||Amos Fletcher||Television movie|
|1975||Bite the Bullet||Mister||Bronze Wrangler for Theatrical Motion Picture (shared with cast & crew)|
|1975||Breakheart Pass||Marshal Pearce|
|1976||The Savage Bees||Sheriff Donald McKew||Television movie|
|1976||The Town That Dreaded Sundown||Captain J.D. Morales|
|1978||The Swarm||Felix Austin|
|1979||The Sacketts||Cap Rountree||Television movie|
|1980||The Hunter||Sheriff Strong|
|1981||Soggy Bottom U.S.A.||Sheriff Isum Gorch|
|1982||The Shadow Riders||Uncle 'Black Jack' Traven||Television movie|
|1984||Red Dawn||Mr. Jack Mason|
|1985||Wild Horses||Bill Ward||Television movie|
|1986||Let's Get Harry||Harry Burck Sr.|
|1987||Cherry 2000||Six-Fingered Jake|
|1988||Stranger on my Land||Vern Whitman||Television movie|
|1988||Dark Before Dawn||The Sheriff|
|1989||The Last Ride||Unnamed cowboy||Short film|
|1989||Back to Back||Eli Hix|
|1989||Hollywood on Horses||Himself|
|1991||The Chase||Laurienti||Television movie|
|1991||My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys||Jesse Dalton|
|1991||Thank Ya, Thank Ya Kindly||Himself||TV movie documentary|
|1992||Radio Flyer||Geronimo Bill|
|1992||The Making of Rio Grande||Himself / Trooper Travis Tyree|
|1993||John Ford||Himself||TV movie documentary|
|1994||100 Years of the Hollywood Western||Himself||TV movie documentary|
|1994||Angels in the Outfield||Hank Murphy|
|1994||Outlaws: The Legend of O.B. Taggart||Jack Parrish|
|1993||Bonanza: The Return||Bronc Evans||Television movie|
|1995||Bonanza: Under Attack||Bronc Evans||Television movie|
|1996||Ruby Jean and Joe||Big Man||With Tom Selleck|
|1996||Ben Johnson: Third Cowboy on the Right||Himself||Documentary|
|1996||The Evening Star||Doctor Arthur Cotton||Released posthumously (final film role)|
|1956||Cavalcade of America||Cal Bennett||Once a Hero (Season 5, Episode 12)|
|1958||The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet||Tex Barton||Top Gun (Season 6, Episode 26)|
|1958||Navy Log||Border Patrol Officer||Florida Weekend (Season 3, Episode 28)|
|1958||The Restless Gun||Sheriff Tim Malachy||No Way to Kill (Season 2, Episode 9)|
|1958||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Jeff, The Sheriff||And the Desert Shall Blossom (Season 4, Episode 11)|
|1958||Wagon Train||Wagon Driver||episode: Bije Wilcox Story|
|1959||Border Patrol||Hank Colman||Everglades Story (Season 1, Episode 1)|
|1960—1961||Laramie||Various||Seasons 1—2; 3 episodes|
|1961—1962||Route 66||Various||Seasons 1—2; 2 episodes|
|1960—1962||Have Gun – Will Travel||Various||Seasons 4—6; 3 episodes|
|1962||Stoney Burke||Rex Donally||Point of Honor (Season 1, Episode 4)|
|1962||Bonanza||Deputy Sheriff Stan Mace||Episode: "The Gamble"|
|1964||Perry Mason||Kelly – Mine Foreman||The Case of the Reckless Hound (Season 8, Episode 10)|
|1965||Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre||Burt Wade||March from Camp Tyler (Season 3, Episode 3)|
|1966||Branded||Bill Latigo||McCord's Way (Season 2, Episode 20)|
|1966||ABC Stage 67||Sheriff Barbee||Noon Wine (Season 1, Episode 9)|
|1966—1967||The Monroes||Sleeve||Recurring role; 14 episodes|
|1963—1968||The Virginian||Various||Seasons 1—7; 4 episodes|
|1969||Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color||Himself||Ride a Northbound Horse: Part 1 and 2 (Season 15, Episodes 21 & 22)|
|1969||Bonanza||Sgt. Samuel Bellis||Episode: "The Deserter"|
|1971||Bonanza||Kelly James||Episode: "Top Hand"|
|1963—1971||Gunsmoke||Ben Crown/Vern Morland/Hannon||Seasons 8—17; episodes: Quint-Cident / Quaker Girl /Drago|
|1980||Wild Times||Doc Bogardus||Television miniseries; 2 episodes|
|1984||Hollywood Greats||Himself||episode: John Wayne|
|1986||Dream West||Jim Bridger||Television miniseries|
Louis Burton Lindley Jr., better known by his stage name Slim Pickens, was an American actor and rodeo performer. Starting of in the rodeo, Pickens transitioned to acting and appeared in several dozen movies and TV shows. For much of his career Pickens played mainly cowboy roles; he is perhaps best remembered today for his comic roles in Dr. Strangelove, Blazing Saddles and 1941, and his villainous turn in One-Eyed Jacks.
Richard William Farnsworth was an American actor and stuntman. He is best known for his performances in Comes a Horseman (1978), for which he received an Academy Award nomination for the Best Supporting Actor, The Grey Fox (1982), for which he received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama, Anne of Green Gables (1985), Misery (1990), and The Straight Story (1999), for which he received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor.
A stunt performer, often referred to as a stuntman or stuntwoman, is a trained professional who performs daring acts, often as a career. Stunt performers usually appear in films or on television, as opposed to a daredevil, who performs for a live audience. When they take the place of another actor, they are known as stunt doubles.
Thomas Edwin Mix was an American film actor and the star of many early Western movies between 1909 and 1935. He appeared in 291 films, all but nine of which were silent movies. He was Hollywood's first Western star and helped define the genre as it emerged in the early days of the cinema.
Willie M. "Bill" Pickett was a cowboy, rodeo, Wild West show performer and actor. In 1989, Pickett was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
Enos Edward "Yakima" Canutt was an American champion rodeo rider, actor, stuntman, and action director.
Arthemus Ward "Art" Acord was an American silent film actor and rodeo champion. After his film career ended in 1929, Acord worked in rodeo road shows and as a miner in Mexico.
In North America, a wrangler is someone employed to handle animals professionally, especially horses, but sometimes other types of animals as well. The word "wrangler" is derived from the Low German "wrangeln" meaning "to dispute" or "to wrestle". It was first documented in 1377. Its use as a noun was first recorded in 1547. Its reference to a "person in charge of horses or cattle" or "herder" was first recorded in 1888.
Edmund Richard "Hoot" Gibson was an American rodeo champion, film actor, film director and producer. While acting and stunt work began as a sideline to Gibson's focus on rodeo, he successfully transitioned from silent films to become a leading performer in Hollywood's growing cowboy film industry. During the period between World War I and World War II, he was second only to cowboy film legend Tom Mix as a box office draw. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.
The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) is the largest rodeo organization in the world. It sanctions events in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Brazil, with members from said countries, as well as others. Its championship event is the National Finals Rodeo. The PRCA is headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States.
Helen Gibson was an American film actress, vaudeville performer, radio performer, film producer, trick rider and rodeo performer; and is considered to be the first American professional stunt woman.
The ProRodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy was opened in August 1979 as a museum designed to "preserve the legacy of the cowboy contests, the heritage and culture of those original competitions, and the champions of the past, present and future." It is located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and only inducts Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and Women's Professional Rodeo Association members. It is the "only museum in the world devoted exclusively to the sport of professional rodeo."
Western lifestyle or cowboy culture is the lifestyle, or behaviorisms, of, and resulting from the influence of, the attitudes, ethics and history of the American Western cowboy and cowgirl. In the present day these influences affect this sector of the population's choice of recreation, clothing, and consumption of goods. Today, the Western lifestyle is considered a subculture and includes strong influences from Native American and Mexican American culture.
Larry Mahan is an American former professional rodeo cowboy. He won six World All-Around Championships and two Bull Riding World Championships in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) circuit at the National Finals Rodeo (NFR). The ProRodeo Hall of Fame inducted him in 1979 in the all-around category. It also inducted him as a Legend of ProRodeo in 2010.
History of tracks the lineage of modern Western rodeo.
Clifford William Lyons was an American motion picture actor, stuntman and second unit director, primarily of Westerns and particularly the films of John Ford and John Wayne. His Hollywood contemporaries were unanimous in describing him as “a driven taskmaster”.
Alice Greenough Orr, a rancher's daughter in Montana, became an internationally known rodeo performer and organizer who was inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame in the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas, and in 2010 the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame in Wolf Point, Montana. She is considered "hands down the first rodeo queen."
Warren Granger "Freckles" Brown was a hall of fame American rodeo cowboy from Wheatland, Wyoming. His career spanned from 1937 to 1974, competing in bull riding, saddle bronc riding, bareback bronc riding, team roping, and steer wrestling. He was the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) World Bull Riding Champion in 1962. Brown was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for Bull Riding in 1979. Brown was also inducted into the inaugural class of the Bull Riding Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas, in 2015. Brown was most famous for riding Tornado, who had an undefeated record of 220 riders. Brown was also a close friend and mentor of Lane Frost.
Clay Carr was an American rodeo cowboy who competed in the 1930s and 1940s. He was a two-time All-Around Cowboy champion in the Rodeo Association of America (RAA), and won three season discipline titles: two in steer roping and one in saddle bronc riding. In 1930, he won the All-Around Cowboy title and two season discipline championships to become the first Triple Crown winner in rodeo history. Carr's championships are recognized by the modern Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA).
Sherry Combs Johnson is an American World Barrel Racing Champion. In December 1962, she won the championship at the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in Los Angeles, California.
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