Robert J Wilke
While he looked as rugged as other Western television actors of his day, Robert J. Wilke never quite achieved the same level of stardom as some of his contemporaries. Nevertheless, he had a lengthy and prolific career, beginning in the mid-'30s as a movie stuntman, which led to acting roles in features (in small parts, generally henchmen or ne'er do wells). By the early '50s, he was still appearing in minor Westerns when he had a breakthrough in "High Noon" as Jim Pierce, one of the three bad guys waiting for Gary Cooper's Will Kane at the train station. Although the vast majority of his subsequent film roles were also villains, "High Noon" led to a small part in "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea", as well as lots of television work. During the late '50s and the '60s, Wilke landed his first recurring characters, on two episodes of "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color" and the "Zorro" series, and around this time he also became familiar to fans of Western shows, logging credits for "Gunsmoke", "Bonanza", and countless others. Toward the end of his career, his highlights included Terrence Malick's 1978 romance "Days of Heaven", in which he played the main characters' primary antagonist. Yet Wilke's farm foreman was something of a revelation, coming across more as a working man with responsibilities to carry out than the sneering villain one might have expected.