Ben Johnson

Actor, Riding double, Stuntman
"Having Ben Johnson was having the real thing," Peter Bogdanovich once said of the actor who won a Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as Sam 'the Lion' in the director's memorable "The Last Picture Show" (1971) ... Read more »
Born: 06/12/1918 in Foreacre, Oklahoma, USA

Filmography

Actor (68)

The Evening Star 1996 (Movie)

Arthur Cotton (Actor)

Ben Johnson: Third Cowboy On the Right 1995 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

The Legend of O. B. Taggert 1995 (Movie)

(Actor)

Angels in the Outfield 1994 (Movie)

Hank Murphy (Actor)

Bonanza: The Return 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Actor

Legends of the American West 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

Radio Flyer 1992 (Movie)

Geronimo Bill (Actor)

My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys 1991 (Movie)

Jessie Dalton (Actor)

The Chase 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Actor

Back to Back 1990 (Movie)

(Actor)

Cherry 2000 1988 (Movie)

Six Finger Jake (Actor)

Dark Before Dawn 1988 (Movie)

Sheriff (Actor)

Trespasses 1987 (Movie)

August Klein (Actor)

Let's Get Harry 1986 (Movie)

Mr Burck Sr (Actor)

Wild Horses 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

Red Dawn 1984 (Movie)

Mason (Actor)

Champions 1983 (Movie)

Burley Cocks (Actor)

Louis L'Amour's "The Shadow Riders" 1982 - 1983 (TV Show)

Actor

Tex 1982 (Movie)

Cole Collins (Actor)

Terror Train 1980 (Movie)

Carne (Actor)

The Hunter 1980 (Movie)

Sheriff Strong (Actor)

Louis L'Amour's The Sacketts 1978 - 1979 (TV Show)

Actor

Grayeagle 1978 (Movie)

John Colter (Actor)

The Swarm 1977 (Movie)

Felix (Actor)

The Greatest 1976 (Movie)

Hollis (Actor)

The Town That Dreaded Sundown 1976 (Movie)

Captain J D Morales (Actor)

Bite the Bullet 1975 (Movie)

Mister (Actor)

Hustle 1975 (Movie)

Marty Hollinger (Actor)

Blood Sport 1973 - 1974 (TV Show)

Actor

Breakheart Pass 1974 (Movie)

Nathan Pearce (Actor)

Runaway! 1973 - 1974 (TV Show)

Actor

The Sugarland Express 1974 (Movie)

Captain Tanner (Actor)

Dillinger 1973 (Movie)

Melvin Purvis (Actor)

The Red Pony 1972 - 1973 (TV Show)

Actor

Junior Bonner 1972 (Movie)

Buck Roan (Actor)

Kid Blue 1972 (Movie)

Sheriff "Mean John" Simpson (Actor)

The Train Robbers 1972 (Movie)

Jesse (Actor)

Corky 1971 (Movie)

Boland (Actor)

Something Big 1971 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Getaway 1971 (Movie)

Jack Benyon (Actor)

The Last Picture Show 1971 (Movie)

Sam the Lion (Actor)

Chisum 1970 (Movie)

James Pepper (Actor)

The Undefeated 1969 (Movie)

Short Grub (Actor)

The Wild Bunch 1969 (Movie)

Tector Gorch (Actor)

Hang 'Em High 1968 (Movie)

Sheriff Dave Bliss (Actor)

Will Penny 1968 (Movie)

Alex (Actor)

Major Dundee 1965 (Movie)

Sergeant Chillum (Actor)

The Rare Breed 1965 (Movie)

Jeff Harter (Actor)

Cheyenne Autumn 1964 (Movie)

Trooper Plumtree (Actor)

Tomboy and the Champ 1961 (Movie)

Uncle Jim (Actor)

One-Eyed Jacks 1960 (Movie)

Bob Amory (Actor)

Ten Who Dared 1960 (Movie)

George Bradley (Actor)

Oklahoma! 1955 (Movie)

Cowboy at Train Depot (Actor)

Simba 1955 (Movie)

Kimani (Actor)

Shane 1953 (Movie)

Chris (Actor)

Rio Grande 1950 (Movie)

(Actor)

Wagonmaster 1950 (Movie)

(Actor)

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon 1949 (Movie)

(Actor)

Three Godfathers 1948 (Movie)

(Actor)

Bonanza: Under Attack (TV Show)

Actor

Dream West (TV Show)

Actor

Locusts (TV Show)

Actor

Ride a Northbound Horse (TV Show)

Actor

Ruby Jean and Joe (TV Show)

Actor

Stranger on My Land (TV Show)

Actor

The Darklings (TV Show)

Actor

The Savage Bees (TV Show)

Actor

Wild Times (TV Show)

Actor

Biography

"Having Ben Johnson was having the real thing," Peter Bogdanovich once said of the actor who won a Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as Sam 'the Lion' in the director's memorable "The Last Picture Show" (1971). Indeed, for half a century Johnson was the "real thing" as far as Hollywood was concerned, a rancher and rodeo cowboy who accidentally drifted into acting and proved himself a highly capable actor of warmth and grit, believably embodying a vision of the American West.

Relationships

Carol Johnson

Wife
married from August 31, 1941 until her death in 1994

Benjamin Johnson

Father
was at one time the world champion rodeo steer roper an annual rodeo is held in Pawhuska, Oklahoma in his memory

Ollie Johnson

Mother
survived him

Milestones

1996

Final TV-movie, Showtime's "Ruby Jean and Joe"

1996

Final screen appearance, "Evening Star"

1993

Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

1992

Appeared on the Arts & Entertainment network's western documentary miniseries, "Legends of the American West"

1989

Played a leading role in a short film about an aging cowboy, "The Last Ride"

1979

First TV miniseries, "The Sacketts"

1977

Received top billing in both "The Town That Dreaded Sundown" and "Grayeagle"

1973

Made TV-movie debut in an adaptation of John Steinbeck's novella, "The Red Pony"

1966

Played Sleeve on the ABC Western drama series, "The Monroes"

1965

First film with director Andrew V. McLaglen, "The Rare Breed"

1964

First film with director Sam Peckinpah, "Major Dundee"

1964

Last film with director John Ford, "Cheyenne Autumn"

1956

Returned to features in "Rebel in Town"

1953

Last film for three years, "Shane"; concentrated for a time on his rodeo career; became RCA world champion team roper

1952

Last leading role for a number of years, "Wild Stallion"

1949

First leading role in a feature, "Mighty Joe Young"

1948

Played first major acting role in "Three Godfathers", directed by Ford; film also marked first of six acting appearances with John Wayne and the first of eight with Harry Carey, Jr.

1948

Reputedly saved the lives of several crew members during a wagon accident while working on "Fort Apache"; came to the attention of John Ford, who placed him under personal contract

1944

Made film debut in a bit part in the Abbott and Costello comedy, "The Naughty Nineties"

1940

Was hired to deliver a herd of horses to the location shooting of the Western feature, "The Outlaw" (released 1943), at the time being directed by Howard Hawks but later taken over by producer Howard Hughes; ended up working as a stuntman and a wrangler

Worked as a rancher and performed in rodeos

Played leads again in "Fort Bowie" (1958) and "Tomboy and the Champ" (1961)

Went to schools in Ramona and Bartlesville, OK

Occasionally did other work as a stuntman, wrangler and riding double for actors including James Stewart and Joel McCrea during the 1940s

Bonus Trivia

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Johnson was an active supporter of children's charities. The Ben Johnson Pro-Celebrity Rodeo raises money for children's organizations in eight cities. He also appeared regularly at various youth benefits.

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