Famous cowboys of the Wild West have often been immortalized on the silver screen. Few characters enthrall us a deeply as the stoic hero willing to face a wild land alone or the drunken gambler who always has a smart reply and a quick shot at the ready. These men represent a sense of pride in the United States, and the actors who portray them quickly become part of our cultural legacy.
Randolph Scott (1898-1987)
Randolph Scott didn't start a career in western themed movies until later in his life. Though his first western movie part was in 1929, he mostly stuck with light comedies until the 1940s. However, he soon became a stoic character in several western films. His notable films include Ride the High Country, Comanche Station and Seven Men from Now.
John Wayne (1907-1979)
John Wayne, whose real name was Marion Robert Morrison, is regarded by most people as the ultimate western movie star. He was only 13 years old when he did his first movie in 1920 and he later went on to become an absolute iconic cowboy. His last movie was released in 1976, finishing an acting career that spanned 56 years. His notable films include The Searchers, Red River and True Grit.
Gene Autry (1907-1998)
Gene Autry was as much a musician as he was an actor. Known as the Singing Cowboy, he gave a polished and family friendly look to the gritty western genre. He helped popularize the concept of the western musical movie with a career that stretched from 1934 until 1953. His notable films include Winning of the West, Apache Country and Sioux City Sue.
Roy Rogers (1911-1998)
Roy Rogers, whose real name was Leonard Slye, is known for his country music and television show more than he is known for his movies. However, Roy Rogers made almost 100 films during his career. He starred in his first movie, Under Western Stars, in 1938. His notable films include Pecos Bill, Son of Paleface and King of the Cowboys.
Clint Eastwood (1930- )
Clint Eastwood is seen only second to John Wayne in terms of the ultimate cowboy actor. He started his acting career in 1955 by playing small roles and then starred in his first film in 1958, earning terrible reviews. However, he eventually found success after playing a rough cowboy in A Fistful OF Dollars. His movie career took off and is now a thing of legend. His notable films include Unforgiven, Pale Rider and the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
Sam Elliot (1944- )
Sam Elliot has never been a big star or the popular lead in a hot movie. However, he has been a constant cowboy presence in his many supporting roles in both TV and film. His trademark, white, handlebar mustache and gritty drawl has made him the classic cowboy in many productions, even non-western themed. His notable films include Tombstone, Molly and Lawless John and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
The women of the Wild West might not be quite as famous as their male counterparts, but they certainly did make quite the splash.