Can You Name These Cowboy Stars From Memory?

Ian Fortey

Image: Wiki Commons by Jolly Film

About This Quiz

In the real world, a cowboy was legit just a man who herded cattle. Not very glorious or inspiring, but honest work if nothing else. You ride a horse, you wear a hat, you keep the cattle where they need to be. And sure, some cowboys had to be armed, had to fight off cattle rustlers or bandits. And from these humble origins, the myth of the cowboy rose. Others would be given the mantle of cowboy even though they were bandits. They lived in America's most romantic time, the days of the Frontier when things were new and mysterious. When the world seemed undiscovered and untamed, cowboys were men on either side of the law. You could tell them on sight by their hats, their horses, their boots and their guns. And our love affair with the idea of the cowboy began.

When film became popular and their stories could be told on the big screen, the cowboy became a staple of American cinema. Audiences loved Billy the Kid and Wyatt Earp and Butch Cassidy. They wanted more and Hollywood delivered. For decades Hollywood made hundreds if not thousands of Westerns, as well as cemented the legacy of some of the biggest stars ever. So how many cowboys do you know on sight? Take the quiz and see!

Some people called this actor "The King of the Cowboys." Do you know who he is?

Roy Rogers was born Leonard Slye and appeared in hundreds of movies and TV shows as a cowboy and a Western singer. He was so famous that even his horse, a golden palomino named Trigger, was famous.

Not only did this actor play cowboys but he also played robot cowboys. Who is it?

Yul Brynner is probably most famous for his role as the King of Siam in the musical "The King and I" but he made his mark in Westerns as well. He played Chris Adams in "The Magnificent Seven" and its sequel, but he also famously played "The Gunslinger" android in the original "Westworld."

You might know this actor as "The Singing Cowboy." Who was he?

Gene Autry, whose real name was Orvon Grover Autry, was both a singer and actor who starred in nearly 100 films between 1934 and 1953. He was so popular that if you go to Oklahoma right now, you can visit a town that's called Gene Autry.

Can you name this action hero who only spoke Russian and Lithuanian until he was in his teens?

Charles Bronson was born in America to Lithuanian parents, one of 15 children. He played small tough-guy roles, sometimes a cowboy, sometimes a criminal, until he was cast in "The Magnificent Seven." He still played tough-guy roles after that, they were just in higher-profile movies and shows.

You can find this actor working in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Who is it?

Robert Redford played the Sundance half of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." The Sundance Film Festival is named for the character and was founded in 1978 with Redford as the chairman.

This actor got his start in silent films. Tell us who he is.

Gary Cooper started off making a handful of silent-era Westerns, owing to the fact he was skilled on a horse and could do his own stunts. The stunt work was brutal though and inspired Cooper to get an agent so he could start landing more serious, less painful acting roles.

He was one of "The Magnificent Seven." Who was he?

James Coburn started his career in Westerns back in the day and slowly eased out of them as he tried to expand his repertoire. The movie "Our Man Flint" made him hugely popular. In later years he even did some voice acting. You probably heard him as Henry J. Waternoose in "Monsters Inc."

Even though this actor famously fought apes, he also did his turn in Westerns. Who is it?

Charlton Heston was born John Charlton Carter but borrowed the Heston name from his stepfather. He was famous for the "Planet of the Apes" movies and, of course, for playing Moses in "The Ten Commandments." His three-month-old son also appeared in that movie as baby Moses.

This actor also played professional baseball and basketball. Who was he?

Chuck Connors spent several years on TV in the show "The Rifleman," but acting was not his only claim to fame. He's one of only 13 athletes in history to play in both the MLB and the NBA for the Chicago Cubs and Boston Celtics respectively.

This actor was such a good cowboy he won an Oscar for playing two different ones in the same movie. Who is it?

Lee Marvin won not just an Academy Award but a BAFTA, a Golden Globe, a Berlin Film Festival Silver Bear Award and a National Board of Review Award for playing dual roles in the Western comedy "Cat Ballou." When accepting his Oscar, Marvin thanked the horse he rode in the movie.

This actor didn't always play cowboys but he did play one of the most famous ones ever. Who is it?

Paul Newman was one of the biggest names in Hollywood history and while he acted in a wide range of films, his turn as Butch Cassidy in the movie "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" was especially iconic and was named by the American Film Insitute as the 7th greatest Western of all time.

Some of the best Westerns of all time featured this actor who usually did his own stunts. Who was it?

Gregory Peck was in numerous Westerns from "How the West was Won" to "Mackenna's Gold" to "Billy Two Hats." Peck was known for liking to perform his own fight scenes and apparently once decked Robert Mitchum by accident on the set of "Cape Fear."

Do you recognize this tough-guy actor who actually wanted to be an opera singer?

Burt Lancaster made numerous Western films in his career, some better received than others. Word is Lancaster's dream as a teen was to be an opera singer at first but then he went on to drop out of school to be a circus acrobat. After serving in the military, he was discovered entirely by chance in an elevator and asked to audition for an acting role.

You'd known this actor if you were a fan of classic TV Westerns or sci-fi. Who is it?

Lorge Greene is likely most famous for his role as Ben Cartwright on the show "Bonanza" or as Commander Adama on the original "Battlestar Galactica." Greene played Cartwright for 14 years and over 400 episodes.

This tough-guy actor wasn't just pretending to be tough; he was pretty scrappy in real life. Do you recognize him?

Before he got into acting Robert Mitchum had quite an interesting life. He was actually expelled from school when he was only 12 years old because he got into a fight with the principal. He traveled the country in railroad cars until he was arrested and put on a chain gang at age 14. He escaped and went back home for a while.

This actor started his career in Westerns at the age of 12. Who is it?

Kurt Russell has had one of the most successful careers in film history that started in 1963 and is still going strong today. His first role as a 12-year-old was in the show "The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters."

This actor was most famous for his starring role in "Have Gun — Will Travel." Who is it?

Richard Boone played the coolly named Paladin in "Have Gun — Will Travel" for six years, a role that netted him two Emmy nominations. It proved so popular along with his many other roles that he got his own weekly anthology series called "The Richard Boone Show."

This actor was actually a great-nephew of the first Prime Minister of Canada. Do you know who he was?

Glenn Ford had a lot of contact with world leaders in his time. Aside from being related to Sir John A.Macdonald, Canad's first Prime Minister, he was also related to President Martin Van Buren and managed to impress Franklin D. Roosevelt enough to get an invitation to the President's birthday party.

This 102-year-old actor was born Issur Danielovitch. Who is he?

Kirk Douglas is considered one of the greatest actors in film history and has received an impressive array of awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Jimmy Carter and an honorary Academy Award for "50 years as a moral and creative force in the motion picture community."

If you know Marshall Matt Dillon you know this actor. Who is it?

James Arness portrayed Marshall Matt Dillon on the TV show "Gunsmoke" for 20 years, which is a pretty epic haul for any actor. That managed to cover 5 separate decades thanks to the series running from the '50s to the '70s, a made-for-TV movie in 1987, then several more in the '90s.

If you've ever heard someone called "Hoss" or "Big Hoss" it's because of this actor. Who is it?

Dan Blocker famously played the role of Eric "Hoss" Cartwright on "Bonanza." He was a big guy so the nickname "Big Hoss" is still used to describe big guys in a friendly nickname sort of way. Just how big was Blocker? His Wikipedia page points out he was 14 pounds at birth and was the largest baby ever born in the county.

The Hollywood ideal of a tough guy cop and cowboy owe a ton to this actor. Who is he?

Clint Eastwood is arguably toe-to-toe with John Wayne as the standard for Hollywood cowboys. In his famous trilogy of movies "A Fistful of Dollars," "For a Few Dollars More" and "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" he wore the same poncho and never washed it. He later explained it would have fallen apart if it was washed. And he apparently still owns it.

Cantankerous comedy sidekick is what this actor is best known as. Who is it?

George "Gabby" Hayes didn't start out as a sidekick, but he filled the role so well he got cast in it numerous times. If you never saw Hayes in a movie, you'd still find him familiar if you saw "Toy Story 2" since Stinky Pete was based on him.

This actor was nominated for seven Academy Awards though none were for Westerns. He has an Emmy for that, though. Who is he?

Robert Duvall earned his first Academy Award nomination for "The Godfather" back in 1972. He would go on to win one for the movie "Tender Mercies" but his work as a cowboy in "Broken Trail" also earned him his first Emmy award.

After making a splash in noir films, this actor headed to Westerns. Who is it?

Alan Ladd had achieved fame in "This Gun for Hire" about a hitman, bringing the character of a killer to life in a way few actors or stories had. It was likely the movie "Shane" in which he played the title role that he's most well known for, however.

Not all cowboys are good guys. This actor made a career out of playing villains. Who is he?

Jack Elam was a perennial villain in many Westerns during his career until someone had the bright idea to cast him in "Support Your Local Sheriff" in a comedic role. The change of pace worked well, and he began taking on far more funny roles than sinister ones.

Arguably the most famous cowboy in film history, this actor's real name is Marion. What did most people call him?

John Wayne, born Marion Morrison, is the archetypal cowboy. His career might never have happened if not for a surfing injury that left him unable to play football in college. After losing his scholarship, he got a job working at the Fox Studios lot, where he got his break as an actor.

Though you couldn't tell in many of his movies, this actor had one blue eye and one green eye. Who was it?

Lee Van Cleef appeared in many films that are known as "Spaghetti Westerns," typically as a villain and then as a heroic character late in life. In real life he served for the US Navy on a minesweeper in the Second World War, so he definitely had hero cred.

This actor is probably most famous for playing the cowboy Trampas on "The Virginian." Who is he?

Doug McClure worked from the '50s to the '90s in Hollywood, and one of his most enduring legacies is partially inspiring "The Simpsons" character Troy McClure who was voiced by Phil Hartman. McClure, the real one, was apparently a fan of the cartoon parody.

Few actors had quite as raspy and sinister a voice as this one was famous for. Name him.

Jack Palance was known for playing villains like his character in the movie "Shane" but that wasn't all. He was also known as a tough guy in real life and famously performed one-handed pushups on stage at the Academy Awards when he was 73.

Few actors have had such successful roles followed by such dramatic failures as this actor. Who is he?

Kevin Costner has been on a heck of a Hollywood rollercoaster during his career. He directed and starred in "Dances with Wolves" which was nominated for a staggering 12 Academy Awards and won 7, including 2 for Costner himself for Best Actor and Best Director. He'd go on to make two of Hollywood's most notorious flops, "Waterworld" and "The Postman."

Aside from being an actor, this person was also a world champion rodeo cowboy. Who was it?

Ben Johnson was an Academy Award-winning actor and also a stuntman. He was originally the son of a rancher and came to Hollywood to deliver some horses before getting work as a stunt double in films and finally acting jobs.

This actor has been starring in Westerns from the 1960s all the way to the present. Who is he?

Sam Elliot is one of the few modern actors who has carved a niche doing Western roles, including appearances as cowboys in non-Western films like "The Big Lebowski" and "Ghost Rider."

"Cheyenne" was the show that this actor is best known for. Do you know him?

Clint Walker starred as Cheyenne Bodie on the show "Cheyenne" for 8 years. He was born Norman Walker but started acting under the curious name of "Jett Norman" before he landed the role in "Cheyenne" under the Clint Walker moniker.

You might know this actor as "The Dude." Who is he?

Jeff Bridges has pulled off playing a cowboy not just in proper Western movies like "True Grit," he's also played a cowboy in the sci-fi comedy "R.I.P.D" and even in a Lyft commercial.

He wasn't the Good or the Bad, he was the Ugly. Name him!

Eli Wallach starred in Sergio Leone's famous "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" as Tuco (the Ugly). Over the years Wallach made a name for himself as something of a chameleon, playing characters from numerous background and ethnicities on screen and on stage.

Louis Lindley Jr. was the birth name of this famous Western star. Do you know who he is?

Slim Pickens stated roping steers and riding broncos when he was in his teens, winning money at competitions and making a name for himself in the rodeo. He came up with the name Slim Pickens to hide his involvement from his father whom he felt would not approve.

He's known as "The King of Cool." Who is he?

Steve McQueen was an action hero in every sense of the word, appearing in Westerns, cop movies, war movies and more. His first big break came in the movie that made numerous other Western stars "The Magnificent Seven."

"It's a Wonderful Life" has cemented this actor's legacy, but he made his fair share of Westerns, too. Name him.

Jimmy Stewart starred in so many big movies, it's hard to say what he's most famous for. He made numerous popular Westerns like "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" and "How the West Was Won" but he also appeared in other huge non-Western films like Alfred Hitchcock's "Rear Window" and "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."

Not only did this actor play a cowboy, but he also played a space cowboy. Do you know who he is?

James Garner rose to popularity on TV playing the title character on the show "Maverick." He even semi-reprised the role decades later in a Mel Gibson movie of the same name, playing the character's father. In the year 2000, he played opposite Clint Eastwood and Tommy Lee Jones in "Space Cowboys."

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