Can You Name These Underrated Cowboy Stars From a Photo?

By: Jacqueline Samaroo

Before his memorable performance as pilot Major T. J. "King" Kong in Dr. Strangelove, Slim Pickens had roles as comedic sidekicks in numerous B Westerns. Before going into acting, Pickens, whose real name is Louis Lindley Jr., had a successful career as a clown and bronco rider in the rodeo.

Harry Morgan’s acting credits include roles in many Western hits, including High Noon (1952) and How the West Was Won (1962). He is perhaps best known for his co-starring role as Officer Bill Gannon in Dragnet (1967–1970) and for his 188-episode appearance as Colonel Sherman T. Potter in the 1972 – 1983 TV series M*A*S*H.

Most fans of cowboy flicks have no trouble picking out Eli Wallach as the bandits Calvera in "The Magnificent Seven" (1960) and Tuco “The Ugly” in "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" (1966). Other moviegoers will definitely remember Wallach for his role as Don Altobello, head of the Tattaglia crime family, in "The Godfather Part III" (1990).

Al “Fuzzy” St. John wasn’t quite so scruffy-looking when he began acting in the silent film era. When he transitioned into “talkies,” however, he became one the most easily recognizable comedic actors in Western flicks, as the character Fuzzy Q. Jones.

Woody Strode took up acting when his career as a National Football League player ended. One of his best-known roles was as the title character in the 1960 Western film "Sergeant Rutledge." That same year, Strode had favorable reviews in both "Spartacus" and "The Last Voyage."

John McIntire’s career in acting spans almost 50 years and includes appearances in Westerns on both the small and the big screens. He is best known for playing the role of wagon train leader Christopher Hale in NBC’s "Wagon Train" (1961 – 1965).

Cliff “Ukelele Ike” Edwards was the singing comedic sidekick of Tim Holt in films such as "Pirates of the Prairie" (1942). It is his voice, however, which fans of classic Disney films will easily identify. Edwards is the voice actor behind Jiminy Cricket in "Pinocchio" (1940) and in various other Disney productions up to his death in 1971.

Edmond O’Brien’s acting career includes over 100 films and television productions. He received both the Oscar and Golden Globe Awards for Best Supporting Actor for his role in "The Barefoot Contessa" (1954), in which Humphrey Bogart and Ava Gardner played the lead roles. O’Brien can also be seen in "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," a 1961 Western starring James Stewart and John Wayne.

At the height of his career, Allan “Rocky” Lane was landing roles as a leading man, albeit in B Westerns. After acting on screen, he spent 6 seasons (1961 – 1966) supplying the voice of the horse and title character in the sitcom "Mister Ed."

When Tim Holt went into acting, he was following in the footsteps of his father who was already a cowboy star. Holt managed to step out of his father’s shadow by earning leading roles in several Westerns. His many accolades include co-starring with Humphrey Bogart in the 1948 movie "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre."

Jack Kirk could be considered the king of B Westerns. His career spans nearly 3 decades, during which time he racked up more than 300 appearances. In 1944 alone, Kirk is credited with at least 30 films!

One of Chill Willis’ most memorable roles was as Beekeeper in the 1960 movie "The Alamo," which starred John Wayne as Davy Crockett. Willis later provided the voice for Francis, the Talking Mule in 6 of the 7 Francis movies. His nickname, Chill, was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fact that he was born on the hottest day in 1902!

When it came to sidekicks in 1930s and 1940s Westerns, George “Gabby” Hayes was the shining star among them all! Apart from “You young whipper snapper!” his other catchphrases included “You're durn tooting” and “dadgummit.”

The distinctive raspy voice for which Andy Devine was so well known, was actually the result of a childhood accident. He appeared in over 400 films including "Stagecoach" (1939) with John Wayne and the star-studded "How the West Was Won" in 1962.

Pat Brady acted in roughly 70 films, but fans most often recall him as the comedic sidekick on the television series "The Roy Rogers Show." Brady appeared in 100 episodes of the show and was already sufficiently popular to be billed as “himself” just as the stars Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were.

Robert Wilke’s career spanned nearly half a century – from 1936 to 1981. He started as a stuntman in mainly uncredited roles and got his big break when he landed a part in "High Noon" (1952). He went on to make numerous appearances in television Westerns, including "Gunsmoke" and "Bonanza."

Fans of cowboy shows will quickly recognize Kenne (pronounced Kenny) Duncan as one of the regular bad guys – even if they can’t immediately come up with his name! Duncan was born in Canada and had a career as a jockey before venturing into acting.

Walter Brennan started out as an extra and went on to win 3 Academy Awards before his career came to a close. Brennan was nominated for four Best Supporting Actor Oscars and won for "Come and Get It" (1936), "Kentucky" (1938) and "The Westerner" (1940).

As a character actor, Jay C. Flippen’s facial features and build often got him cast as either one of the bad guys or a burly police officer. His many credits include appearances in several John Wayne and James Stewart flicks.

Fans of B Westerns in the 1930s to 1950s probably never saw George Chesebro’s name on a movie poster. There is no doubt, however, they would quickly recognize his face – Chesebro was most often cast as one of the henchmen in the numerous movies in which he appeared.

Lane Chandler played several lead and supporting roles during the silent film era. With the advent of talking films and later television, Chandler was still able to land quite a few roles, becoming one of the more recognizable faces in cowboy productions.

Noah Beery Jr. portrayed the father of the title character on the popular TV series "The Rockford Files" for 6 seasons (1974 – 1980). His acting career started long before that, however, and included numerous supporting roles in cowboy flicks such as "The Trail Beyond" (1934) and "Red River" (1948), both starring John Wayne.

Roy Barcroft began his acting career in theatrical productions but found growing success once he switched to motion pictures. At the height of his career during the 1940s and 1950s, he appeared in a large number of B Westerns as the bad guy everyone loved to hate!

Smiley Burnette had natural talents for acting, singing and playing instruments. By some accounts he could not read or write music but could play close to 100 instruments very well. His most memorable character is perhaps, Frog Millhouse, the ever-present sidekick to his good friend Gene Autry, whom he debuted with in "Old Santa Fe" (1934).

It wasn’t just a long list of B Western movie appearances which made Terry Frost a familiar face to cowboy fans. He also appeared in multiple episodes of a wide range of TV Westerns, although sometimes his parts were uncredited. He was on "The Roy Rogers Show," "The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin" and "The Lone Ranger," to name a few.

Bud Geary's career in acting began as a stuntman in silent films before progressing to regular, credited roles in talking films, mostly playing the part of villains. He earned a reputation as one of the best stuntmen in the business and very often doubled for Western movie stars in their most dangerous scenes.

After acting on Broadway, Lyle Bettger transitioned to films where he was regularly cast as a handsome, well-dressed villain. He appeared opposite some of the industry’s biggest names, including his role as the outlaw Ike Canton in "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" (1957) with Burt Lancaster as Wyatt Earp and Kirk Douglas as Doc Holliday.

His lazy left eye, distinctive squint and his many roles as villainous henchmen in B Westerns are what most fans recall about Jack Elam. Along with movies, Elam appeared in several television series where he was also successful in portraying comedic roles and bearded old coots.

John L. Cason’s list of credits include his debut film, "Buck Privates," the 1941 Abbott and Costello film which rocketed the comedic pair to stardom. He was later cast in many bad guy roles in B Western films before moving on to appear in a number of TV series.

When Harry Carey, Jr. entered show business, he was following in his father’s footsteps. Although he shared his father’s name, Carey was able to build his own reputation based on his abilities as a character actor. He combined film and television credits number close to 200.

Royal Dano made a name for himself playing a range of characters in both Western films and television series. He also provided the voice for Abraham Lincoln in several Disney theme park attractions.

Shug Fisher landed parts in many Roy Rogers films, often as a part of the Western singing group Sons of Pioneers of which Rogers was a founding member. Fisher got many other acting jobs, including comedic roles which showcased his ability to stutter on cue.

Although he appeared in numerous films and television series in his 56-year career, most fans remember Paul Fix as Marshal Micah Torrance from "The Rifleman" (1958 – 1963). Fix appeared in 150 episodes of the show over its 5-season run.

Usually typecast as one of the good guys, Dabbs Greer is best remembered for the roles in which he portrayed a minister. These include the Reverend Robert Alden for the 9 seasons of "Little House on the Prairie."

His facial features and acting range quite often got I. Stanford Jolley cast as a character of great influence. He is often seen as the respected judge, ruthless outlaw or any leadership role in between.

Lane Bradford was really quite good when it came to portraying the bad guy. It is a role he was most frequently cast in for the more than 200 films and television series in which he appeared.

The face of Glenn Strange is one many B Western fans will quickly recognize as one of the bad guys in numerous films and TV series. The face horror movie fans will remember, however, is that of Frankenstein’s monster which Strange played in three movies: "House of Frankenstein" (1944); "House of Dracula" (1945) and "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" (1948).

Jay Silverheels was Tonto, the trusted companion of the Lone Ranger for the entire run of the TV series which lasted from 1949 – 1957. That’s longer than the 2 actors who portrayed the title character: Clayton Moore (1949 – 1951 and 1954 – 1957); and John Hart (1952–1953).

Strother Martin delivered one of movie history’s most memorable lines: “What we've got here is failure to communicate.” It comes from the film "Cool Hand Luke" (1967) in which Martin portrays a prison warden and Paul Newman portrays a difficult prisoner. The American Film Institute ranks it at number 11 among its AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes.

Although Denver Pyle was either “uncredited” or credited as “henchman” in his early roles, he was often cast in fatherly roles later in his career. His most memorable characters are perhaps patriarch Briscoe Darling Jr. on "The Andy Griffith Show," Grandpa Mordecai Tarleton on "Tammy" and Uncle Jesse Duke on "The Dukes of Hazzard."

Explore More Quizzes

Image: Wiki Commons by WFinch

About This Quiz

Are you quick on the draw? Get ready to show off your lightning quick reflexes as you rustle up all the right answers in this quiz!

They weren't the biggest names in Hollywood, but they were the ones in the supporting cast who helped the top-billed stars shine even brighter. Many of these actors have more than 200 films to their credit, and they appeared on a wide range of TV Westerns, as well.

Among these underrated stars are the sidekicks who were often there for comic relief. Many of them simply stole the show while making us laugh, and they are the ones we remember more than the stars they were supposed to be playing second fiddle to.

No doubt, quite a few of the actors we have selected were the bad guys, the ever-present henchmen, or the villains who terrorized the townsfolk only to be eventually brought down by the quick draw of the star. It's only because of them, however, that the star looked as good as he did! Ever stop to think about that?

Top billing may have gone to the other guys, but these underrated cowboy stars will always hold a special place in Western film history. So, whether you are a city slicker or you are totally at home on the range, do you think you can name each cowboy star in this quiz? Get started, pardner, let's see!

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!