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The Greatest Western Movie Stars

Updated June 14, 2019 237.6k votes 16.2k voters 640.9k views163 items

List RulesVote up and add all of your favorite Western movie stars of all time.

All the greatest Western movie stars of television and film in one list of the best cowboy actors. Some of these top Western characters were featured in the greatest Western movies ever made, while others starred in classic TV series and mini-series. Whatever the medium, these are the best of the West(ern characters).

The TV Western series, a now almost-dead genre of entertainment that was once all the rage, attracting some of the biggest stars in Hollywood to roles where a horse was the supporting actor. These stars were some of the biggest and brightest, not only on TV, but in films as well. From Clint Eastwood (perhaps the biggest Western star of all time) to Steve McQueen (a true outlaw through and through), this list of famous old cowboys brings together the best of the genre in one Western stars list.

Who were the greatest Western movie stars? Who are the classic cowboys (and cowgirls) in Westerns? It's time to vote and find out! Vote up your favorite Western TV and movie stars, and vote down the ones you think should be run out of town. If your favorite Western movie star isn't on the list, make sure to add him or her.
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  • 1
    Clint Eastwood is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
    6,090
    1,212

    Credits (Film)Good, Unforgiven, Dirty Harry, Million Dollar Baby, Back to the Future Part II

    BirthplaceCalifornia, United States of America

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Clinton Eastwood Jr. (born May 31, 1930) is an American actor, filmmaker, musician, and... more on Wikipedia

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  • 2
    John Wayne is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
    6,015
    1,302

    John Wayne

    Dec. at 72 (1907-1979)

    Credits (Film)The Searchers, The Longest Day, Stagecoach, True Grit, Rio Bravo

    BirthplaceWinterset, Iowa, United States of America

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Marion Mitchell Morrison (born Marion Robert Morrison; May 26, 1907 – June 11, 1979), known... more on Wikipedia

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  • 3
    Sam Elliott is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
    3,038
    623

    Credits (Film)The Big Lebowski, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Ghost Rider, Hulk, We Were Soldiers

    BirthplaceSacramento, California, United States of America

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Samuel Pack Elliott (born August 9, 1944) is an American actor. His lanky physique, thick... more on Wikipedia
  • 4
    James Stewart is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
    3,446
    1,063

    James Stewart

    Dec. at 89 (1908-1997)

    Credits (Film)It's a Wonderful Life, Vertigo, Rear Window, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Philadelphia Story

    BirthplaceIndiana, Pennsylvania, United States of America

    NationalityUnited States of America

    James Maitland Stewart (May 20, 1908 – July 2, 1997) was an American actor and military... more on Wikipedia
  • 5
    Ben Johnson is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
    2,462
    736

    Ben Johnson

    Dec. at 78 (1918-1996)

    Credits (Film)The Wild Bunch, Shane, The Last Picture Show, Red Dawn, The Getaway

    BirthplaceForaker, Oklahoma, United States of America

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Ben "Son" Johnson Jr. (June 13, 1918 – April 8, 1996) was an American stuntman, world champion... more on Wikipedia
  • 6
    Robert Duvall is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
    3,383
    1,064

    Credits (Film)The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now, To Kill a Mockingbird, MASH

    BirthplaceSan Diego, California, United States of America

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Robert Selden Duvall (; born January 5, 1931) is an American actor and filmmaker whose career... more on Wikipedia

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  • 7
    Maureen O'Hara is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
    1,790
    531

    Credits (Film)Miracle on 34th Street, The Quiet Man, How Green Was My Valley, The Parent Trap, Big Jake

    BirthplaceRanelagh, Republic of Ireland

    NationalityIreland, United States of America

    Maureen O'Hara (born Maureen FitzSimons; 17 August 1920 – 24 October 2015) was an Irish and... more on Wikipedia

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  • 8
    Ken Curtis is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
    1,522
    384

    Ken Curtis

    Dec. at 75 (1916-1991)

    Credits (Film)The Searchers, Robin Hood, How the West Was Won, The Horse Soldiers, The Alamo

    BirthplaceLamar, Colorado, United States of America

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Ken Curtis (born Curtis Wain Gates, July 2, 1916 – April 28, 1991) was an American singer and... more on Wikipedia
  • 9
    Jack Elam is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
    2,227
    700

    Jack Elam

    Dec. at 83 (1920-2003)

    Credits (Film)Once Upon a Time in the West, High Noon, The Cannonball Run, Kiss Me Deadly, Support Your Local Sheriff!

    BirthplaceMiami, Arizona, United States of America

    NationalityUnited States of America

    William Scott "Jack" Elam (November 13, 1920 – October 20, 2003), was an American film and... more on Wikipedia
  • 10
    Randolph Scott is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
    2,578
    844

    Randolph Scott

    Dec. at 89 (1898-1987)

    Credits (Film)Island of Lost Souls, Ride the High Country, Jesse James, The Tall T, Follow the Fleet

    BirthplaceVirginia, United States of America

    NationalityUnited States of America

    George Randolph Scott (January 23, 1898 – March 2, 1987) was an American film actor whose... more on Wikipedia
  • 11
    Lee Marvin is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
    2,817
    1,027

    Lee Marvin

    Dec. at 63 (1924-1987)

    Credits (Film)The Dirty Dozen, Cat Ballou, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Big Red One, The Big Heat

    BirthplaceNew York City, New York, United States of America

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Lee Marvin (February 19, 1924 – August 29, 1987) was an American film and television... more on Wikipedia
  • 12
    Slim Pickens is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
    1,539
    472

    Slim Pickens

    Dec. at 64 (1919-1983)

    Credits (Film)Blazing Saddles, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, The Howling, The Black Hole, The Getaway

    BirthplaceKingsburg, California, USA

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Louis Burton Lindley Jr. (June 29, 1919 – December 8, 1983), better known by his stage name... more on Wikipedia
  • 13
    James Arness is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
    2,749
    971

    James Arness

    Dec. at 88 (1923-2011)

    Credits (Film)The Thing from Another World, Them!, Battleground, Hondo, The Farmer's Daughter

    BirthplaceMinneapolis, Minnesota, United States of America

    NationalityUnited States of America

    James Arness (born James King Aurness, May 26, 1923 – June 3, 2011) was an American actor,... more on Wikipedia
  • 14
    Walter Brennan is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
    1,920
    686

    Walter Brennan

    Dec. at 80 (1894-1974)

    Credits (Film)Bride of Frankenstein, Rio Bravo, How the West Was Won, Red River, My Darling Clementine

    BirthplaceLynn, Massachusetts, United States of America

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Walter Andrew Brennan (July 25, 1894 – September 21, 1974) was an American actor. He won the... more on Wikipedia
  • 15
    Glenn Ford is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
    1,903
    684

    Glenn Ford

    Dec. at 90 (1916-2006)

    Credits (Film)Superman, Superman II, Midway, The Big Heat, Gilda

    BirthplaceSainte-Christine-d'Auvergne, Quebec, Canada

    NationalityCanada, United States of America

    Gwyllyn Samuel Newton "Glenn" Ford (May 1, 1916 – August 30, 2006) was a Canadian-American... more on Wikipedia

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  • 16
    Kurt Russell is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
    1,662
    577

    Credits (Film)Forrest Gump, The Thing, The Fox and the Hound, Escape from New York, Big Trouble in Little China

    BirthplaceSpringfield, Massachusetts

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Kurt Vogel Russell (born March 17, 1951) is an American actor. He began acting on television... more on Wikipedia

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  • 17
    Audie Murphy is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
    1,709
    410

    Audie Murphy

    Dec. at 46 (1925-1971)

    Credits (Film)To Hell and Back, The Red Badge of Courage, The Unforgiven, No Name on the Bullet, Night Passage

    BirthplaceKingston, Texas, United States of America

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Audie Leon Murphy (20 June 1925 – 28 May 1971) was one of the most decorated American combat... more on Wikipedia
  • 18
    Chief Dan George is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
    1,350
    213

    Chief Dan George

    Dec. at 82 (1899-1981)

    Credits (Film)The Outlaw Josey Wales, Harry and Tonto, Little Big Man, Americathon, Smith!

    BirthplaceTsleil-Waututh First Nation, North Vancouver, Canada

    NationalityCanada

    Chief Dan George, OC (July 24, 1899 – September 23, 1981) was a chief of the Tsleil-Waututh... more on Wikipedia
  • 19
    Lee Van Cleef is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
    2,915
    1,106

    Lee Van Cleef

    Dec. at 64 (1925-1989)

    Credits (Film)Good, Escape from New York, For a Few Dollars More, High Noon, How the West Was Won

    BirthplaceSomerville, New Jersey, United States of America

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Clarence Leroy Van Cleef Jr. (January 9, 1925 – December 16, 1989), was an American actor best... more on Wikipedia
  • 20
    James Garner is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
    2,520
    927

    James Garner

    Dec. at 86 (1928-2014)

    Credits (Film)The Great Escape, The Notebook, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Maverick, Space Cowboys

    BirthplaceNorman, Oklahoma, United States of America

    NationalityUnited States of America

    James Garner (born April 7, 1928 – July 19, 2014) was an American actor, producer, and voice... more on Wikipedia

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  • 21
    Jay Silverheels is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
    1,120
    292

    Jay Silverheels

    Dec. at 68 (1912-1980)

    Credits (Film)True Grit, Broken Arrow, The Lone Ranger, One Little Indian, Saskatchewan

    BirthplaceSix Nations of the Grand River First Nation, Canada

    NationalityCanada

    Jay Silverheels (born Harold Jay Smith, May 26, 1912 – March 5, 1980) was a Mohawk actor and... more on Wikipedia
  • 22
    Jack Palance is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
    1,361
    416

    Jack Palance

    Dec. at 87 (1919-2006)

    Credits (Film)Batman, Shane, City Slickers, Young Guns, Tango & Cash

    BirthplaceHazle Township, Pennsylvania, United States of America

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Jack Palance ( PAL-əns; born Volodymyr Palahniuk (Ukrainian: Володимир Палагню́к); February... more on Wikipedia
  • 23
    Robert Mitchum is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
    1,907
    738

    Robert Mitchum

    Dec. at 80 (1917-1997)

    Credits (Film)Cape Fear, Scrooged, The Night of the Hunter, The Longest Day, Dead Man

    BirthplaceBridgeport, Connecticut, United States of America

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Robert Charles Durman Mitchum (August 6, 1917 – July 2, 1997) was an American film actor,... more on Wikipedia
  • 24
    Gary Cooper is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
    2,743
    1,132

    Gary Cooper

    Dec. at 60 (1901-1961)

    Credits (Film)High Noon, Cinema Paradiso, The Pride of the Yankees, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Wings

    BirthplaceHelena, Montana, United States of America

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Gary Cooper (born Frank James Cooper; May 7, 1901 – May 13, 1961) was an American actor. Known... more on Wikipedia
  • 25
    Richard Boone is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
    1,871
    678

    Richard Boone

    Dec. at 64 (1917-1981)

    Credits (Film)The Shootist, The Hobbit, Big Jake, The Robe, The Big Sleep

    BirthplaceLos Angeles, California, United States of America

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Richard Allen Boone (June 18, 1917 – January 10, 1981) was an American actor who starred in... more on Wikipedia
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