Harry Dean Stanton didn't appear in a lot of Westerns - yet he did appear in at least two of note: Pekinpah's Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid and John Ford's How the West was Won.
Harry Dean Stanton is among a large but distinguished fraternity of Actors / Actresses whom I affectionately - and respectfully - refer to as the Recycled Cowboys.
Other members of this fraternity include Slim Pickens, Matt Clark, Jack Elam, Katy Jurado, L.Q. Jones *... and on and on. As I say, a rather large fraternity, yet not diminished in it's worthiness as being a fraternity of notable support actors.
(*(MFW: Every one of the actors named above - including Stanton - plus others - appeared in Sam Pedinpah's great Western masterpiece Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid - which should be cause to recognize two things: Pekinpah's great love for Western Film - and what a great and important Western Classic Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid is.))
Most are recognized only by their frequent faces - but remain mainly anonymous in name. Others - like Pickins and Elam are well recognized. Stanton is surely among these - and may even be considered to have an almost cult-like following.
Sometimes Recycled Cowboys rise from the dust - the background - as movie Extras - to stardom. As did Ernest Borgnine and Charles Bronson - who laboured in the background for many movies before achieving outright Stardom. Others start out as Stars then fall back - but not out. Stranger still, many a Recycled Cowboy may enjoy more work than many Stars - appearing in dozens of films and TV shows. They may not get the same Billing or paycheque, but they probably aren't hurting much either.
I hope to pay homage to many of these important and popular actors in the future.