A Small Fraternity … Part 1 Slim Pickens

Stunts to Stars

Men like Richard Farnsworth, Slim Pickens and Ben Johnson were all legitimate cowboys and horsemen who got lassoed into Stunt work. Then via fluke, luck or Gift of God – plus some undeniable Charisma – became well known Actors/Stars.

Who knew?

Not them.

Surely none of ’em would have thought less of themselves – or their lives – if they had stayed in the esteemed profession of Cowboy/Horsemen/Stunt work.

This being said, the fraternity of Stunt Artists has always somewhat of a shadow industry/profession in film making. We know these Stunt guys (and gals) are there – (Stunt Artists work in nearly every film and and in many TV shows) – but Movie Makers shine as little light on these necessary Artists as possible. Why? Because they don’t want to spoil the grand illusion that it really isn’t Robert Redford and Paul Newman jumping off that cliff – or John Wayne smashing through that bar room window – not to mention the thousand of other perilous acrobatics we witness in nearly every movie – and have been for a long, long time.

Yet the respect accorded Stunt Artists is also evident – as when Stars perform their own stunts – it is always well publicized as a daring (if not foolhardy) feat – discouraged by those who fund the films.

A Small Fraternity: 

Slim Pickens

Wikipedia: “Born, Louis Burton Lindley, Jr. (June 29, 1919 – December 8, 1983), known by the stage name Slim Pickens, was an American rodeo performer and film and television actor who epitomized the profane, tough, sardonic cowboy, but who is (possibly) best remembered for his comic roles, notably in Dr. Strangelove and Blazing Saddles.

Pickens … was an excellent rider from age 4. After graduating from High School he joined the rodeo. He was told that working in the rodeo would be “slim pickings” (very little money), giving him his name, but he did well and eventually became a well-known rodeo clown.

After twenty years on the rodeo circuit, his distinctive Oklahoma-Texas drawl (even though he was a lifelong Californian), his wide eyes and moon face and strong physical presence gained him a role in the western film, Rocky Mountain (1950) starring Errol Flynn. He appeared in many more Westerns, playing both villains and comic sidekicks to the likes of Rex Allen, John Wayne, Steve McQueen, … many many other Stars.”

The rest is history … Hollywood style.

Slim Pickens

Slim Pickens 2
Young Pickens … slim and trim.
Slim Pickens 4
 … and faster than he looks
Slim Pickens 5
Pickens and Allen … Rex
Slim Pickens 6
Slim Pickens in “The Glory Guys’ 1965
Slim Pickens 7

Slim Pickens 8Slim Pickens 9

Slim Pickens 10
‘One Eyed Jacks’ / Katy Jurado, Marlon Brando, Pickens, Pina Pellicer, and Karl Malden 1961
Slim Pickens 11
Slim ‘takes one’ for Sam (Pekinpah) in ‘Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid’ 1973
Slim Pickens 12
A lecture for the Duke ‘The Cowboys’ 1972
Slim Pickens 13
Camp side in ‘The Sacketts’ 1979
Slim Pickens 15
‘Major Dundee’ 1965
Slim Pickens 14
A chat with Clint

Stunt Tips from My Favorite Westerns

Cannon Stunts

Tip 14: Never stand in front of the cannon

Author: jcalberta

Howdy! I love Westerns. ... and the intent of MyFavoriteWesterns.com is to celebrate Western Movies/Film - old and new. This site will eventually show my top 30 favorite Westerns - or more. I will have original graphic work with regular updates. All this - and more ... Yee Haw ... !! - jcablerta / Moderator / Administrator

6 thoughts on “A Small Fraternity … Part 1 Slim Pickens”

  1. I always felt “Dr. Strangelove” was a defining moment. I laugh just thinking about it. But he was ubiquitous. For years, it seemed he was in every western made. He worked a LOT.

    1. You are so right.
      An iconic and powerful piece of Western film.
      Strangely, I’ve read that Pekinpah seemed annoyed at Dylan’s presence in the film – possibly feeling he was forced into the cast. ? But Dylan and Kristofferson surely felt a great kinship and respect for eash other as fellow troubadours and song writers.
      But what would a Pekinpah movie set be like without a bunch of fighting and contention – mostly generated by the man himself …

Leave a Reply