The Wild Bunch Casting Call Part 4: Ben Johnson

18 Feb

My Heroes have always been Cowboys .. Nelson

Ben Johnson The Wild Bunch

Ben Johnson seemed to live a charmed life. Western Movie Stardom seemed to fall right into his saddlebags. It helped, of course, that he happened to be a top notch Cowboy – and it’s certain he would have been happy (and successful) to remain such.

And if you’re going to be a Western Movie Star you might as well at the top too: with the Greatest Western Star of all: John Wayne and Great Western Director John Ford. In gambling – and Westerns – this is called the jackpot.

And in this long career Johnson just kept rolling into the sunset.

So much so, that it may well be noted that Ben Johnson probably appeared in more Classic Westerns that any other Western Actor (except Wayne?) in Western Film history. See for yourself.

So in The Wild Bunch it’s a bit of a surprise to see him 4th on the Bill  – behind William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, and Warrren Oates ??

Yet in Hollywood Star Power is the Law – and the others guys were ruled faster in charisma and money draw – despite Ben being the only real cowboy of the Bunch. The only card he couldn’t pull.

But I’m sure he didn’t complain.

Ben Johnson Filmography

Ben Johnson Filmography 2

Ben Johnson Filmography 3

Ben Johnson Filmography 4

Ben Johnson Filmography 5

Note: These aren’t all the movies that Johnson appeared in … just what I could round up. It’s said that he appeared in 15 John Wayne Westerns alone.

The Cast Ben Johnson

Go ahead Ben, smile. (She Wore a Yellow Ribbon / 1949)

11 Responses to “The Wild Bunch Casting Call Part 4: Ben Johnson”

  1. Marilyn Armstrong February 18, 2015 at 8:24 pm #

    Talk about guys who worked a lot, I think Ben Johnson may have set a record of some sort. I loved watching him ride when he was young, loved watching him act in later years. He was a treasure. Thanks for the memories!

    • jcalberta February 19, 2015 at 2:50 pm #

      He was a great guy they say. Popular. And good at what he did. Didn’t just start out doing stunts and working as an Extra either – got some lines. His character and genuineness shone through.

  2. Cindy Bruchman February 19, 2015 at 10:09 am #

    Nice post! Ben Johnson. I knew little about him. Thanks for the enlightenment.

    • jcalberta February 19, 2015 at 3:10 pm #

      Won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar on his way for “The Last Picture Show”. Died in 1996 at age 75. One of a kind.

  3. Colin February 24, 2015 at 2:10 pm #

    It never ceases to amaze me how many movies Johnson appeared in. And there’s always more to see. I’ve never seen Fort Bowie but that poster looks great so I’m going to keep an eye out for it.

  4. david a. johnson November 14, 2016 at 7:38 pm #

    After watching westerns for a lifetime, I’m always happy to see Ben Johnson in anything! His quiet, humble presence brings a smile to my face. He feels like a lifetime friend. You just know he’s a no-nonsense, honest, down-to-earth good guy.

    • jcalberta November 14, 2016 at 8:46 pm #

      He was great in everything he did. Started out as a wrangler for John Ford. That started his acting career. He just seemed to fall into it. Was an amazing rider though and did some great stunt riding. Worked his way up. But at some point he had a falling with Ford and Ford dismissed him. (That says something about Ford because if you couldn’t get along with Ben Johnson there must be something wrong with you). But by then had established himself. His first love was always Rodeo however, and he was Champion in that. I’m sure he would have been content to do Rodeo alone and forget about movies, but had to admit movies paid pretty good and was a lot easier.
      Glad he won that Oscar for The Last Picture Show. He deserved it for the man he was.

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