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b. June 13, 1918,
d. April 8, 1996
3 Godfathers, She wore a
Yellow Ribbon, Rio Grande, The Undefeated, Chisum, The Train
His other films
MIGHTY JOY YOUNG
THE WILD BUNCH
THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS
LET'S GET HARRY
MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN COWBOYS
His television credits include:
DREAM WEST (Mini-Series)
STRANGER ON MY LAND
Johnson, Oscar winner, dead at 77
JOHNSON, BEN (1919-1996).
Actor. Of his acting ability, Ben
Johnson, Jr., often said, "Everybody in town's a better actor than
I am, but none of them can play Ben Johnson." Rodeo cowboy,
Hollywood stunt man, actor, and rancher, Ben Johnson was born June
13, 1919, near Foraker, Oklahoma. His father, Ben Johnson, Sr.,
was a noted Osage County rancher and rodeo champion. The younger
Johnson traveled the rodeo circuit in the 1940s and 1950s and in
1953 captured the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Team
Roping Championship. In 1941 he married Carol E. Jones.
Ben Johnson, Jr., found work at a
Hollywood studio in 1943 as a horse wrangler and later became a
stunt man. He acted in front of the camera for the first time (uncredited)
in 1945 in Abbott and Costello's Naughty Nineties.
Mighty Joe Young, a 1949 special effects film in which he
appeared, still remains popular.
Better roles followed, many in
John Ford-directed films starring John Wayne. Among the more notable
were Three Godfathers (1949), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
(1949), and Wagonmaster (1950). Johnson also appeared
briefly (uncredited) in the movie version of Rodgers and
Hammerstein's Oklahoma! (1955) and later in One-Eyed
Jacks (1961) and The Wild Bunch (1969). Johnson's 1971
portrayal of Sam the Lion in The Last Picture Show brought
him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. In 1972 he appeared
briefly in The Getaway (with Steve McQueen), written by
fellow Oklahoman Jim Thompson. In the 1980s and 1990s Johnson acted
in television and films intermittently, his performances including a
role in My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys (1991), filmed
in Guthrie. His final screen appearance came in 1994.
While ranching in California and
Arizona, he played a major role in raising money for Children's
Hospital of Oklahoma and Children's Medical Research, Inc., through
his sponsorship the Ben Johnson Pro Celebrity Team Roping and
Penning, held every year since 1985 at the Lazy E Arena in Oklahoma
City. Ben Johnson, Jr., died April 8, 1996, in Mesa, Arizona.
Oklahoman, 9 April 1996. Ben Johnson, Jr., Vertical File, Rodeo
Hall of Fame, National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma
City. David Thomson, A Biographical Directory of Film (New
York: Alfred A. Knopf., 1995). James Vinson, ed., International
Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, 4 Vols. (Chicago: St. James
- Dianna Everett,
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