Big Iron / Cash
Richard Farnsworth, Slim PIckens, and Ben Johnson were not only a 'Small Fraternity' of Stuntmen who because famous Film Actors - they were the last of a dying breed of Real Cowboys who were also Movie Stars.
I wouldn't say there aren't any Real Cowboys around today. Probably plenty? But those that become Movie Stars / Famous Actors ... ??? That surely seems to be of another era.
I wasn't born till '48, so most of the early Western Movie Stars had already rode off into the sunset - or were resting at Boot Hill.
That doesn't mean I didn't get to see a lot of 'em. Cuz they were galloping back and forth across my B&W TV screen almost non-stop every Saturday morning (down in Homewood, Illinois). I remember that 'chase scenes' were particularly popular in those Westerns - with goodguys chasing badguys - or Indians chasing Goodguys - or Cowboys or chasing Indians - or anybody chasing somebody - really fast (I think a lot of those scenes were speeded up). Most of those movies were made in the 30's and 40's by studios like RKO and Republic - who churned out dozens of them. A lot of 'em seemed to follow the same plot and were 'one shot - that's a take'. I recall watching one movie where I could see a truck driving across the background. No matter - the shot went into the can anyway.
Yet midst all this dust (and foolishness) true artists like John Ford, (Stagecoach (1939), My Darling Clementine (1946 )) and Howard Hawkes, Sergeant York (1941) and Red River (1948) who were already creating Iconic work.
Even further yonder however... before all this - Authentic Cowboys and Western Heroes like Buffalo Bill and Cowgals like Annie Oakley had blazed the trail, setting (and riding) the Stage for the next generation of Heroes to come.
Buffalo Bill is interesting because he was a self-starter - while most of the early Western Western Movie Stars were recruited by studios. Being a Real Cowboy was a definite hiring criteria for a lot (though not all) early Western Stardom.
That said, I had I sorta intended to spit on any Western Movie Stars that wuzn't REAL cowboys, But hell, how can you spit on William S. Hart!!!?? You just cain't! A hell of a man with a genuine love for all things Western.
Some images borrowed from Western Movies New Frontier Saloon http://forum.westernmovies.fr/viewtopic.php?t=9508
For his contribution to the motion picture industry, William S. Hart has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1975, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.