Western Stars: Where Are They Now?

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Burton Gilliam – Blazing Saddles

Many of the stars from the Mel Brooks classic comedy have also passed away, but one remaining survivor of the original cast is Burton Gilliam, who played the character, Lyle. He infamously goaded Bart into singing the “Work Song.”

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Burton Gilliam – Now

Blazing Saddles was actually one of Gilliam’s first roles. He eventually ended up in Back to the Future III. Since then, the actor has had a much more fruitful career in TV, having made guest appearances on shows such as The Waltons, Charlie’s Angels, B.J. and the Bear, Knight Rider, The A-Team, and Weird Science. However, the true success lies in his personal life. He is happily married to wife Susan and also has two children and four grandchildren.

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Kim Darby – True Grit

Although it wasn’t even her first role, Kim Darby looked so young when she took on the iconic role of Maddie Ross in 1969’s original True Grit. Starring alongside the legendary John Wayne, who played Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn, Darby made the role her own and it was the ultimate springboard for her career. Although it was Wayne who won both the Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Actor for his role, many were even more impressed with Darby’s performance.

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Kim Darby – Now

Although she has starred in plenty of movies since her role as Maddie, Darby has made some appearances on some of the biggest shows of the last half-century. These include The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Bonanza, and The X-Files, to name a few. Her personal life has been somewhat interesting too, having been married twice. Her first marriage was with the late filmmaker James Stacy, who she had a daughter with, and her second marriage, to James Westmoreland, also ended in divorce.

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Tim Matheson – Bonanza

Already one of the most popular shows of its time, Bonzanza was happy to greet the young Tim Matheson for its final season in 1972. The actor, who had already provided the voice for Jonny Quest in the animated show of the same name, played the character, Griff King. He’s a young criminal who tries to make amends by working on the Ponderosa Ranch. It was fascinating to see such young talent work along the likes of Lorne Greene.

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Tim Matheson – Now

It has been a long time since Tim Matheson was under the guidance of Ben Cartwright in Bonanza. The actor has been prolific as both a film and TV actor. Some of Matheson’s most notable movie appearances have come in She’s All That, Van Wilder, and most recently, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. However, he has been in even more TV productions, starring in shows such as The West Wing, The King of Queens, and CSI, to name a few.

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Marianne Koch – A Fistful Of Dollars

German actress Marianne Koch had a significant role to play alongside Clint Eastwood in the classic western A Fistful of Dollars. Already known for her roles in numerous other spaghetti Westerns, she portrayed Marisol, who falls into an awkward situation between her family and a group of gangsters. A Fistful of Dollars was the first in the colloquially titled “Dollars Trilogy,” which also included For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

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Marianne Koch – Now

It has been over half a century since Koch starred alongside “The Man with No Name,” and her current position could be no different. In 1971, the actress continued her interest in medicine and became a physician a few years later. She remained in the field until the turn of the Millennium and to this day, discusses medical matters on the radio. Koch’s acting days are long behind her, seeing that she hasn’t starred in a movie since 1984.

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Michael Moriarty – Pale Rider

Another Western masterpiece that involved Clint Eastwood came 20 years after A Fistful of Dollars, in the form of Pale Rider. It not only saw the actor star in the movie, but he also directed the movie. It was his supporting actor, Michael Moriarty, who added another dimension to the story that proved to be the highest-grossing western of the 80s. Because Eastwood’s character, the Preacher, is supposed to be a ghost, this paved the way for Moriarty to essentially play the main character, Hull Barret.

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Michael Moriarty – Now

Without a shadow of a doubt, one of Michael Moriarty’s most iconic roles since Pale Rider was that of Executive A.D.A. Ben Stone in the crime series Law & Order. He received much acclaim for his role, being nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award for Best Actor. Moriarty has also had some quiet success in the music industry. With a keen interest in jazz music, the actor has recorded three albums and has performed on a regular basis in both the US and Canada.

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Kevin Kline – Silverado

Lawrence Kasdan eventually traded in Star Wars and Indiana Jones for his very own western movie – Silverado. The man who was at the top of his casting list was Kevin Kline, who he hired to play the main character, Paden. When all is said and done in this popular 80s hit, Paden is named the sheriff of Silverado. It turns out that not only fans and critics loved the movie, but also the Academy. Silverado was nominated for both Best Sound and Best Original Score.

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Kevin Kline – Now

Kevin Kline is definitely best known for his roles in movies, while only featuring in a dozen TV shows throughout his career. Notable movies that he has been involved with include A Fish Called Wanda, Chaplin, and Orange County. Kline has also had numerous voice roles, most notably as Captain Phoebus in The Hunchback of Notre Damme. His most recent role came in 2017 when he played the character Maurice in the live-action version of Beauty and the Beast.

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Casey Siemaszko – Young Guns

Unlike many western movies, 1988’s Young Guns was heavily based on the accounts of Billy the Kid during the Lincoln County War. It was regarded by many critics as one of the most historically accurate portrayals of the characters involved at the time. One of the members of the gang was Charlie Bowdre, who was played by Casey Siemaszko. The actor had already appeared in movies such as Back to the Future and Stand By Me before landing the role.

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Casey Siemaszko – Now

Because Charlie Bowdre dies in a cross-fire with bounty hunter John Kinney, Siemaszko did not reprise his role for the sequel, Young Guns II. However, his performance gave him much recognition, and the actor went to have many more impressive roles. These came in movies such as Of Mice and Men and Public Enemies, as well as TV shows like Law & Order: SVU, Oz, and Damages. His most recent role came in 2013’s TV movie Killing Kennedy.

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Mariette Hartley – Ride the High Country

What made Ride the High Country so significant was how it clearly showed well-established actors who were passing the baton onto the next generation. Not only was the movie notable for featuring western legend Randolph Scott’s final performance in a movie, as well as Joel McCrea’s last critically successful role. It was also the first role for the talented young actress Mariette Hartley, who played the character, Elsa Knudsen. It is Gil and Steve’s job to protect Elsa from the villains.

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Mariette Hartley – Now

Job opportunities just kept on coming for Hartley, who landed roles in shows such as Gunsmoke, as well as a supporting role in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie Marnie. Although the majority of her success as an actress came in the 70s, Hartley has had sporadic roles over the subsequent decades. She played the mother of Courtney Cox’s character in the show Dirt. Her most recent role came in the drama 9-1-1 as Patricia Clark. Hartley is the founder of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

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Mitch Vogel – Bonanza

After making a brief appearance in an episode of Bonanza in 1968, Mitch Vogel became a member of the main cast two years later for the show’s remaining three seasons. He portrayed Jamie Hunter, an orphan who was adopted by the Cartwrights during the late stages of the show’s run. He was cast in the role on the back of an impressive performance as Lucius McCaslin in the movie The Reivers, which earned Vogel a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

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Mitch Vogel – Now

Bonanza would be just the first of many Western shows that Mitch Vogel would be involved in during his career. The actor also had roles in other Westerns such as The Virginian, Gunsmoke, and Here Come the Brides. He also had a recurring role as Johnny Johnson in Little House on the Prairie. Since the late 70s, Vogel has stepped away from the big time to focus on family life. However, he still attends many Bonanza conventions to this day.

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Lance Henriksen – The Quick and the Dead

Although it’s safe to say that Lance Henriksen was out-shadowed by the likes of Sharon Stone in Sam Raimi’s Western The Quick and the Dead, there was one scene that showcased his character’s purpose in the movie. It was in order to demonstrate how much of sharpshooter Gene Hackman’s character John Herod actually was. Although Herod shoots Ace Hanlon in the hand, announcing his victory, the latter put up a good fight, albeit a short one.

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Lance Henriksen – Now

Lance Henriksen had already established himself as a prolific actor prior to his role in The Quick and the Dead. His resume is extremely impressive, having starred in movies such as The Godfather Part II, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Terminator, and Aliens. Despite approaching 80 years of age, Henriksen has maintained a steady career in the world of TV, starring in shows such as Hannibal, Grey’s Anatomy, and Criminal Minds. He has also voice-acted in numerous video games.

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Carroll Baker – How the West was Won

One of the key female stars of the western genre, particularly in the 60s, was Carroll Baker. Although she had already established herself on Broadway, she was also cast in Elia Kazan’s Baby Doll. Oscar nominations came, and the actress went onto star in Westerns such as The Big Country, Cheyenne Autumn, and How the West was Won. The latter had an incredible ensemble cast, including the likes of Henry Fonda, Gregory Peck, James Stewart, and John Wayne.

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Carroll Baker – Now

Although Baker has starred in numerous other movies over the decades, a movie that stands out is Kindergarten Cop, which saw her star along the Terminator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger. In the 90s, Baker had a string of guest appearances on TV shows such as Murder, She Wrote, L.A. Law, Chicago Hope, and Roswell. Baker has been married three times, with her third husband Donald Burton dying from emphysema in 2007. After residing in Palms Springs for over two decades, Baker moved to New York City in 2016.

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Kris Kristofferson – Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid

Although he is best known for his singing and songwriting capabilities, country artist Kris Kristofferson has also had a prolific career on the big screen. One of his earliest roles was in the Western Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, which he portrayed the latter in. Probably the most famous character in Western culture, his performance of Billy the Kid earned Kristofferson a BAFTA for Most Promising Newcomer. He sure did fulfill his potential.

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Kris Kristofferson – Now

A few years after his role as Billy the Kid, Kristofferson won a Golden Globe for Best Actor for his role in the movie A Star Is Born. One of his most unique roles came when he was cast as Abraham Whistler, the mentor of Wesley Snipes’ Eric Brooks in the Blade trilogy. Nevertheless, it is Kris’s country ventures that have made him such a popular figure. In 2004, he joined other country legends Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Waylon Jennings to form The Highwaymen.

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Suzy Amis – The Ballad of Little Jo

Maggie Greenwald’s The Ballad of Little Jo is a unique Western in that it was one of the rare examples of its genre to have a female as not only the main character, but the actual hero. Suzy Amis plays Jo, who was banished after having a child out of wedlock. She disfigures herself and even dresses as a man to avoid abuse. Although the movie was a commercial failure, it is considered to be an important installment in the Western genre.

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Suzy Amis Cameron – Now

Although Suzy didn’t end up having the longest resume of acting roles on this list, she did end up becoming a big name for other reasons. While filming her role as Lizzy Calvert for the epic Titanic, she met director James Cameron and since 2000, they have been happily married. They have three children and even have a plant-based diet. In fact, her diet has a played a huge part in her career moving forward, having founded the organization Plant Power Task Force.

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Clint Eastwood – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

It goes without saying, but Clint Eastwood is the king of the Western. The actor has been absolutely prolific in the genre, not only starring in numerous Western movies but also directing many along the way. He is probably best known for his role in Sergio Leone’s “Dollars Trilogy,” going by the pseudonym “the Man with No Name.” The three movies were A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

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Clint Eastwood – Now

To this day, Clint Eastwood is still starring in and directing movies! Since the 70s, the man also famous for the role of Dirty Harry has been behind the camera and in front of it in equal measures. His last lead role came in 2012 when he starred in Trouble with the Curve. His most recent directorial movie came in 2018, The 15:17 to Paris, which tells the story of the three American soldiers who helped to stop the 2015 Thalys train attack. Eastwood separated from his second wife, Dina Ruiz in 2014.

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Claudia Cardinale – Once Upon a Time in the West

Tunisian-born Claudia Cardinale was already a well-established actress and poster girl in her home nation of Italy. However, it was her role as a former escort in Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West that put her on the world map. She was blessed to perform alongside the likes of Jason Robards, Henry Fonda, and Charles Bronson. Although she was praised for her performance, she was dubbed by Bernard Grant’s wife, Joyce Gordon.

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Claudia Cardinale – Now

Although she was immortalized in Hollywood for her role as Jill McBain, Claudia Cardinale refused to be consumed by the flashy lifestyle and reverted back to only making movies back in Europe. She eventually married Pasquale Squitieri, who directed her in many of his movies. He recently passed away in 2017. Cardinale’s work extends far beyond cinema, having been a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for women’s rights since 2000. She was also an ambassador for World Water Day a few years later.

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Gene Hackman – Unforgiven

Although Gene Hackman was already considered one of the true acting greats when the 90s came around, he managed to exceed his own high standards when he starred in the revisionist Western, 1992’s Unforgiven. The movie was special as it was an homage to the legends of Western cinema who had since passed away, as well as directors Don Siegel and Sergio Leone. Hackman plays Little Bill Daggett, a sheriff who has banned both guns and criminals from entering his town.

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Gene Hackman – Now

As he approaches 90 years of age, Gene Hackman doesn’t look a day over 60. In 2018, he bought himself an E-Bike! We’re not too sure what the actor’s answer is to maintaining his looks and youthful ways. Maybe it’s because he is pretty much fully retired from Hollywood. Hackman hasn’t been in a full motion picture since 2004’s Welcome to Mooseport. However, up until that point, he had starred in numerous hits such as Enemy of the State, Behind Enemy Lines, and The Royal Tenenbaums.

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Katharine Ross – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

There is no denying the impact that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid had on future Western movies. Although Paul Newman and Robert Redford were top billing, it was Katharine Ross who showed that she could perform with the very best. Already an Academy Award-nominated actress after her role in The Graduate, Ross portrayed Etta Place, the lover of the Sundance Kid, Harry Longabaugh. The couple, along with Butch Cassidy, flee to Bolivia to pursue a life of crime.

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Katharine Ross – Now

Another movie that Katharine Ross won critical acclaim for was 1976’s Voyage of the Damned, which she won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress. Then, in the 80s, Ross had a successful role in the TV show The Colbys, appearing in all 49 episodes. Ross also had a role in the cult classic Donnie Darko. Her fifth marriage came in 1984 when she married Sam Elliot. In 2015, the couple starred in the play Love Letters at the Malibu Playhouse.

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Robert Redford – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Undoubtedly his breakthrough role, Robert Redford took fans and critics by surprise when he squared up alongside Paul Newman in the classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Based on a true story, Butch Cassidy and Harry Longabaugh (known as “The Sundance Kid,”) are on the run from a gang after committing numerous crimes. They take the Sundance Kid’s lover Etta Place, played by Katharine Ross, to Bolivia for a better life.

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Robert Redford – Now

Robert Redford has never looked back since his role in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. With numerous hit movies under his belt such as Jeremiah Jones, All the President’s Men and The Horse Whisperer under his belt, Redford has developed a huge appreciation for other movies made by others. He has had a huge part to play in the development of the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, which has been running on an annual basis for the last 40 years.

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Kevin Costner – Dances with Wolves

A star of 90s cinema, Kevin Costner played the main character in the critically acclaimed Dances with Wolves, which received a staggering 12 Academy Award nominations and won seven of them! Costner plays a Union Army lieutenant who finds himself in a peculiar situation when he encounters a group of Lakota Indians. The movie was so popular and presented such a powerful image of Native Americans that the Sioux Nation actually made Costner one of their honorary members.

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Kevin Costner – Now

Truth be told, Costner’s acting career has waned a little since the turn of the Millenium. However, that hasn’t stopped him from having an active career in other industries. He has his own band, Kevin Costner & Modern West, which his wife Christine encouraged him to start. He released his first album, Untold Truths in 2008 and the band have been on a worldwide tour. Costner has also been a co-owner of the Illinois baseball team Lake County Fielders.

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Warren Beatty – McCabe & Mrs. Miller

Revisionist Westerns have been some of the most entertaining movies in the history of cinema. McCabe & Mrs. Miller is right up there with the very best and saw Warren Beatty and Julie Christie give some jaw-dropping performances. The latter’s acting was so well-received that she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. However, her performance may not have been so hard-hitting had it not been for Beatty being the perfect foil to her character.

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Warren Beatty – Now

Known by many for being one of the big womanizers in Hollywood, it seems like Warren Beatty has been in relationships with virtually every A-list star of the last half-century. However, since 1992, Beatty has been married and remained faithful to one woman – Annette Benning. The actor went on to star in numerous classics such as Heaven Can Wait, Reds, Bugsy, and Bulworth. In recent times, Beatty made the headlines when he announced the wrong winner for the Best Picture at the 89th Academy Awards.

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Verna Bloom – High Plains Drifter

If Clint Eastwood is in a western, more often than not, he is going to blow the rest of the cast out of the water with a showstopping performance. However, he ended up being matched by actress Verna Bloom, who gave a stunning performance as Sarah Belding. The story centers around Eastwood’s mysterious stranger character who is hellbent on bringing justice to a small corrupt mining town. It was imperative then that Bloom’s character represented the other side of the story – the people of the town.

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Verna Bloom – Now

Verna Bloom’s filmography may have been pretty short since her role in High Plains Drifter, but she has been a part of some absolute classics! The actress has had roles in movies such as Animal House, After Hours and the Martin Scorsese-directed The Last Temptation of Christ. She starred in the latter as Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ. Although her role was fairly brief, the movie was a huge critical success. She is married to film critic Jay Cocks.

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Ron Howard – The Shootist

A movie set during the end of the prime “Western era,” The Shootist sees a star-studded cast give incredible performances. This includes the likes of John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, James Stewart and Scatman Crothers, to name a few. However, it was the young Ron Howard who broke through and demonstrated that he was more than just the charming Richie Cunningham from Happy Days. Critics loved Howard’s performance so much that he was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Support Actor.

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Ron Howard – Now

It feels like Ron Howard has been around forever! Nevertheless, the actor/filmmaker is still around doing what he loves the most – making movies. Not only is Howard an established actor, but he has also made a name for himself as a talented director. In the last 10 years alone, he has directed hits such as the adaptations of the Dan Brown trilogy and Frost/Nixon. Howard took over the reigns of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, directing Solo: A Star Wars Story.

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Dustin Hoffman – Little Big Man

Another revisionist Western, Little Big Man saw the unlikely Dustin Hoffman as the main character. However, the first time we see Jack Crabb is in the present day (1970) when he is 121 years old. Crabb is the oldest man in the world and ends up looking back on his youth in 1859, with the movie covering a 10-year period. Although he wasn’t nominated for any Academy Awards for his role, Hoffman played a huge part in a movie that is considered to be culturally and aesthetically significant.

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Dustin Hoffman – Now

Despite being in his 80s now, Dustin Hoffman still has the vivacity and lust for life that he did all those years ago. He might be old, but the actor has only slowed down a little when it comes to work. In recent times, Hoffman has starred in hits such as Last Chance Harvey, Little Fockers, The Cobbler, and Chef, to name a few. He also lent his voice to character Master Shifu in the popular animated movie franchise Kung Fu Panda.

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Val Kilmer – Tombstone

Although it wasn’t as successful as Dances with Wolves, Tombstone was another 90s Western that was both a commercial and critical success. The movie revolves around both the Earp Vendetta Ride and the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral; real-life events that transpired during the 1880s. It was none other than Val Kilmer who played the role of Doc Holliday, a deputy marshal who suffers from tuberculosis and is taken to a sanatorium in Colorado towards the end of the movie.

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Val Kilmer – Now

Val Kilmer, who at one point played a version of Batman in the movie Batman Forever, hasn’t starred in too many notable movies since the 90s. In 2015, after being hospitalized, Kilmer took to social media to address rumors about his health. Although he consistently denied that he had been diagnosed with cancer, it was eventually confirmed by The Hollywood Reporter that he had a “two-year battle with throat cancer…and a procedure on his trachea has reduced his voice to a rasp.”

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Robert Duvall – True Grit

Although the living legend Robert Duvall has starred in his fair share of western movies over the course of his career, True Grit was the first to make his resume. What better way to kick off his streak with a role as the villain? Duvall played the character Lucky Ned Pepper, who had no problem shooting down a horse in the movie before being dispatched by Glen Campbell’s La Boeuf. Don’t worry though, no real horses were harmed.

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Robert Duvall – Now

It should go without saying, but for all the casual fans out there, Robert Duvall has firmly established himself over the years as one of the greatest actors of all time. He has been nominated for a staggering seven Academy Awards, winning one for his role in another Western, Tender Mercies. Also, Duvall has won four of the seven Golden Globes he has been nominated for. In 2005, he married Luciana Pedraza, who is 41 years younger than him!

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Melissa Gilbert – Little House on the Prairie

Probably the most iconic character from Little House on the Prairie was Laura Ingalls, played by Melissa Gilbert. The show is an adaptation of the children’s books of the same name, which were written by the real-life Laura Ingalls Wilder. The stories were loosely based on her own childhood, growing up in a settler and pioneer family. Melissa Gilbert was praised considerably for her role and was even nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress in 1981.

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Melissa Gilbert – Now

Although she has never managed to make a name for herself in the movie industry, Melissa Gilbert has maintained a steady career in TV. Not only did she capitalize on her success as Laura Ingalls with various Little House spinoffs, but she has also worked on other shows, such as Babylon 5, Nip/Tuck, and 7th Heaven. She also provided the voice for Batgirl in the hit show Batman: The Animated Series. She has also worked in politics, running for Congress in 2016.

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Vera Miles – The Searchers

Although Vera Miles got the chance to star in the same movie as legendary John Wayne, The Searchers, it was Jeffrey Hunter who the actress would have most of her screentime with. This was because the characters they played, Laurie Jorgensen and Martin Pawley, are lovers in the movie. Not only is The Searchers considered to be one 0f the greatest Westerns, it is generally considered as one of the greatest movies ever made, across all genres.

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Vera Miles – Now

The filmography of Vera Miles speaks volumes about both the actress’s range and legacy as an actress. Roles in classics such as Psycho and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance have etched her name in Hollywood lore. Although she has distanced herself from the public eye in her later years, Miles has remained an important figure in cinematic history, having been portrayed by Jessica Biel in the biopic Hitchcock. She has had four marriages and four children.

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