Special Report

The 30 Most Famous Cowboys (and Cowgirls) of All Time

Source: Wikimedia Commons

15. Ben Johnson (1918-1996)
> Hometown: Foraker, Oklahoma

Ben Johnson was a cowboy before he became an Oscar-winning actor. Johnson was a ranch hand and rodeo performer when movie producer and businessman Howard Hughes hired him to take horses to California. He stayed on in California and became a stuntman, horse wrangler, and a double in westerns. Johnson won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in the movie “The Last Picture Show” in 1972.

Source: Mahanga / Wikimedia Commons

14. Walt Garrison (1944- )
> Hometown: Denton, Texas

Walt Garrison is a Texas cowboy through and through. Older football fans might remember him as a fullback for the Dallas Cowboys. Garrison grew up as a real cowboy, competing in rodeos in high school. After the Cowboys drafted him, he made sure his signing bonus included a two-horse trailer so he could continue to attend rodeos. He was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 2018.

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

13. Ty O’Neal McClary (1978- )
> Hometown: Abilene, Texas

McClary is another rodeo veteran who turned to acting. Among his movie credits are “D2: Mighty Ducks” and “Wild Wild West.” McClary is a member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

12. Emmett Dalton (1871-1937)
> Hometown: Belton, Missouri

Emmett Dalton of the infamous Dalton Gang was cowboy in the 1880s before he turned to a life of crime. Four members of the gang were killed on Oct. 5, 1892, during attempted bank robberies in Coffeyville, Kansas. Though he was shot more than times, Emmett Dalton survived to serve nearly a decade and a half in prison. Upon his release, he worked as an consultant and actor for western genre films in Hollywood.

Source: North Fort Worth Historical Society / Wikimedia Commons

11. Bill Pickett (1870-1932)
> Hometown: Jenks-Branch, Texas

Bill Pickett, an African American cowboy, serves as a reminder of the important role African Americans played in the culture of the West. Pickett and his brothers started their own horse-breaking and cowboy services company called the Pickett Brothers Bronco Busters and Rough Riders Association. Pickett invented the art of bulldogging from seeing how bulldogs brought down a steer by clamping down on the animal’s sensitive nose and lip. He would wrestle a steer to the ground then bite and hold the animal’s lip until it held still.