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The Greatest Western Movie Stars

Updated June 14, 2019 233.0k votes 16.4k voters 649.1k 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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  • Clint Eastwood1
    5,921
    1,217

    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

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  • John Wayne2
    5,896
    1,260

    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

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  • James Stewart3
    3,375
    1,023

    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

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  • Sam Elliott4
    2,970
    639

    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

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  • Ben Johnson5
    2,421
    728

    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
  • Robert Duvall6
    3,304
    1,041

    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

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  • Maureen O'Hara7
    1,766
    538

    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

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  • Ken Curtis8
    1,515
    398

    Ken Curtis

    Dec. at 75 (1916-1991)

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

    BirthplaceUSA, Lamar, Colorado

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Ken Curtis (born Curtis Wain Gates, July 2, 1916 – April 28, 1991) was an American singer and...  more
  • Jack Elam9
    2,205
    689

    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
  • Randolph Scott10
    2,531
    825

    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

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  • Lee Marvin11
    2,753
    995

    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

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  • James Arness12
    2,705
    939

    James Arness

    Dec. at 88 (1923-2011)

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

    BirthplaceMinneapolis, USA, Minnesota

    NationalityUnited States of America

    James Arness (born James King Aurness, May 26, 1923 – June 3, 2011) was an American actor,...  more

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    #204 of 461 The Best TV Actors of All Time#142 of 432 Famous Tall Men Over 6'2

  • Walter Brennan13
    1,894
    672

    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
  • Lee Van Cleef14
    2,870
    1,057

    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

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  • Slim Pickens15
    1,514
    486

    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, United States of America

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Louis Burton Lindley Jr. (June 29, 1919 – December 8, 1983), better known by his stage name...  more
  • Audie Murphy16
    1,693
    414

    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, USA

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Audie Leon Murphy (20 June 1925 – 28 May 1971) was one of the most decorated American combat...  more

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  • Chief Dan George17
    1,342
    227

    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
  • James Garner18
    2,470
    899

    James Garner

    Dec. at 86 (1928-2014)

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

    BirthplaceNorman, Oklahoma, USA

    NationalityUnited States of America

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

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  • Glenn Ford19
    1,874
    678

    Glenn Ford

    Dec. at 90 (1916-2006)

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

    BirthplaceSainte-Christine-d'Auvergne, Quebec, Canada

    NationalityUnited States of America,Canada

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

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    #123 of 1,017 The Best Actors in Film History#153 of 583 The Greatest Entertainers of All Time

  • Jack Palance20
    1,353
    420

    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

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  • Gary Cooper21
    2,701
    1,086

    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

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  • Kurt Russell22
    1,644
    585

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

    BirthplaceSpringfield, Massachusetts, United States of America

    NationalityUnited States of America

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

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  • Ward Bond23
    1,540
    539

    Ward Bond

    Dec. at 57 (1903-1960)

    Credits (Film)Gone with the Wind, It's a Wonderful Life, The Maltese Falcon, The Searchers, It Happened One Night

    BirthplaceBenkelman, Nebraska, United States of America

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Wardell Edwin Bond (April 9, 1903 – November 5, 1960) was an American film character actor who...  more
  • Robert Mitchum24
    1,878
    721

    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

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  • Jay Silverheels25
    1,108
    304

    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