Entertainment

The Greatest Western Movie Stars 

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Originally by Ranker Community
Updated June 14, 2019 241.9k votes 15.7k voters 627.2k views 165 items

List Rules Vote 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.
list ordered by
1
John Wayne is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
mch418 added Dec. at 72 (1907-1979)

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

Birthplace: Winterset, USA, Iowa

Nationality: United States of America

Marion Mitchell Morrison (born Marion Robert Morrison; May 26, 1907 – June 11, 1979), known professionally as John Wayne and nicknamed Duke, was an American actor, filmmaker, and Presidential ...more

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#24 of 330 The Coolest Actors Ever The Best John Wayne Movies of All Time, Rankedlisted on Republicans in Hollywood: Republican Celebrities List

2
Clint Eastwood is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
Age: 89

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

Birthplace: USA, California, San Francisco

Nationality: United States of America

Clinton Eastwood Jr. (born May 31, 1930) is an American actor, filmmaker, musician, and politician. After achieving success in the Western TV series Rawhide, he rose to international fame with ...more

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#34 of 87 Who Is the Coolest Actor in the World Right Now? #32 of 1,145 The Best Actors in Film History The Best Clint Eastwood Movies

3
James Stewart is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
mch418 added Dec. at 89 (1908-1997)

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

Birthplace: USA, Indiana, Pennsylvania

Nationality: United States of America

James Maitland Stewart (May 20, 1908 – July 2, 1997) was an American actor and military officer who is among the most honored and popular stars in film history. Known for his distinctive drawl, ...more

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#24 of 330 The Coolest Actors Ever #124 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #13 of 2,003 The Greatest Actors & Actresses in Entertainment History

4
Robert Duvall is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
PeteBoyle added Age: 88

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

Birthplace: San Diego, California, United States of America

Nationality: United States of America

Robert Selden Duvall (; born January 5, 1931) is an American actor and filmmaker whose career spans more than six decades. He has been nominated for seven Academy Awards (winning for his ...more

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#31 of 1,145 The Best Actors in Film History #45 of 330 The Coolest Actors Ever The Best Robert Duvall Movies

5
Sam Elliott is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
Age: 75

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

Birthplace: USA, California, Sacramento

Nationality: United States of America

Samuel Pack Elliott (born August 9, 1944) is an American actor. His lanky physique, thick moustache, deep and resonant voice and Western drawl have led to frequent roles as cowboys and ranchers. ...more

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#153 of 1,145 The Best Actors in Film History #7 of 330 The Coolest Actors Ever #1,257 of 2,003 The Greatest Actors & Actresses in Entertainment History

6
Ben Johnson is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
RodneyBlair added Dec. at 78 (1918-1996)

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

Birthplace: Foraker, Oklahoma, United States of America

Nationality: United States of America

Ben "Son" Johnson Jr. (June 13, 1918 – April 8, 1996) was an American stuntman, world champion rodeo cowboy, and Academy Award-winning actor. The son of a rancher, Johnson arrived in ...more
7
Gary Cooper is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
RodneyBlair added Dec. at 60 (1901-1961)

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

Birthplace: Helena, Montana, United States of America

Nationality: United States of America

Gary Cooper (born Frank James Cooper; May 7, 1901 – May 13, 1961) was an American actor. Known for his natural, authentic, understated acting style and screen performances, Cooper's career ...more

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#16 of 1,145 The Best Actors in Film History #44 of 2,003 The Greatest Actors & Actresses in Entertainment History

8
Lee Marvin is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
PeteBoyle added 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, + more

Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America

Nationality: United States of America

Lee Marvin (February 19, 1924 – August 29, 1987) was an American film and television actor.Known for his distinctive voice and premature white hair, Marvin initially appeared in supporting ...more

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#97 of 1,145 The Best Actors in Film History #92 of 330 The Coolest Actors Ever The Best Lee Marvin Movies

9
Maureen O'Hara is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
Age: 99

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

Birthplace: Ranelagh, Republic of Ireland

Nationality: Ireland, United States of America

Maureen O'Hara (born Maureen FitzSimons; 17 August 1920 – 24 October 2015) was an Irish and American actress and singer. O'Hara was a famous redhead who was known for playing fiercely passionate ...more

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#21 of 940 The Best Actresses in Film History #520 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alivelisted on Republicans in Hollywood: Republican Celebrities List

10
Randolph Scott is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
RodneyBlair added Dec. at 89 (1898-1987)

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

Birthplace: Virginia, United States of America

Nationality: United States of America

George Randolph Scott (January 23, 1898 – March 2, 1987) was an American film actor whose career spanned the years from 1928 to 1962. As a leading man for all but the first three years of his ...more

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#483 of 1,145 The Best Actors in Film History #1,626 of 2,003 The Greatest Actors & Actresses in Entertainment History The Best Randolph Scott Movies

11
James Garner is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
Dec. at 86 (1928-2014)

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

Birthplace: USA, Oklahoma, Norman

Nationality: United States of America

James Garner (born April 7, 1928 – July 19, 2014) was an American actor, producer, and voice artist. He starred in several television series over more than five decades, including popular roles ...more

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#152 of 1,145 The Best Actors in Film History #39 of 330 The Coolest Actors Ever The Best James Garner Movies

12
James Arness is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
Dec. at 88 (1923-2011)

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

Birthplace: Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States of America

Nationality: United States of America

James Arness (born James King Aurness, May 26, 1923 – June 3, 2011) was an American actor, best known for portraying Marshal Matt Dillon for 20 years in the CBS television series Gunsmoke. ...more
13
Lee Van Cleef is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
PeteBoyle added Dec. at 64 (1925-1989)

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

Birthplace: Somerville, New Jersey, United States of America

Nationality: United States of America

Clarence Leroy Van Cleef Jr. (January 9, 1925 – December 16, 1989), was an American actor best known for his roles in Spaghetti Westerns such as For A Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and ...more

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#135 of 1,145 The Best Actors in Film History #381 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive

14
Jack Elam is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
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!, + more

Birthplace: Miami, Arizona, USA

Nationality: United States of America

William Scott "Jack" Elam (November 13, 1920 – October 20, 2003), was an American film and television actor best known for his numerous roles as villains in Western films and, later in ...more

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#493 of 1,145 The Best Actors in Film History #356 of 2,003 The Greatest Actors & Actresses in Entertainment History

15
Charles Bronson is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
PeteBoyle added Dec. at 82 (1921-2003)

Credits (Film): The Great Escape, Once Upon a Time in the West, The Magnificent Seven, The Dirty Dozen, Death Wish, + more

Birthplace: Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania, United States of America

Nationality: United States of America

Charles Bronson (born Charles Dennis Buchinsky; Lithuanian: Karolis Dionyzas Bučinskis; November 3, 1921 – August 30, 2003) was an American actor. He was often cast in the role of a police ...more

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#40 of 330 The Coolest Actors Ever #228 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive

16
Walter Brennan is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
mch418 added Dec. at 80 (1894-1974)

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

Birthplace: USA, Lynn, Massachusetts

Nationality: United States of America

Walter Andrew Brennan (July 25, 1894 – September 21, 1974) was an American actor. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1936, 1938, and 1940, making him one of only three male ...more
17
Slim Pickens is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
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, + more

Birthplace: USA, Kingsburg, California

Nationality: United States of America

Louis Burton Lindley Jr. (June 29, 1919 – December 8, 1983), better known by his stage name Slim Pickens, was an American rodeo performer and film and television actor. During much of his ...more

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#243 of 330 The Coolest Actors Ever #246 of 432 Famous Tall Men Over 6'2

18
Glenn Ford is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
IrinaGinger79 added Dec. at 90 (1916-2006)

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

Birthplace: Sainte-Christine-d'Auvergne, Quebec, Canada

Nationality: Canada, United States of America

Gwyllyn Samuel Newton "Glenn" Ford (May 1, 1916 – August 30, 2006) was a Canadian-American actor whose career lasted more than 50 years. Although he played many different types of ...more

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#415 of 2,003 The Greatest Actors & Actresses in Entertainment Historylisted on Republicans in Hollywood: Republican Celebrities List

19
Ken Curtis is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
PhilAndrews added Dec. at 75 (1916-1991)

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

Birthplace: USA, Lamar, Colorado

Nationality: United States of America

Ken Curtis (born Curtis Wain Gates, July 2, 1916 – April 28, 1991) was an American singer and actor best known for his role as Festus Haggin on the CBS western television series Gunsmoke. ...more
20
Steve McQueen is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
Dec. at 50 (1930-1980)

Credits (Film): The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven, Bullitt, The Towering Inferno, The Blob, + more

Birthplace: Beech Grove, Indiana, United States of America

Nationality: United States of America

Terrence Stephen McQueen (March 24, 1930 – November 7, 1980) was an American actor. McQueen was nicknamed "The King of Cool", and his antihero persona developed at the height of the ...more

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#48 of 1,145 The Best Actors in Film History #52 of 329 The Greatest Actors Who Have Never Won an Oscar (for Acting) The Best Steve McQueen Movies

21
Kurt Russell is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
slaft added Age: 68

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

Birthplace: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States of America

Nationality: United States of America

Kurt Vogel Russell (born March 17, 1951) is an American actor. He began acting on television at the age of 12 in the western series The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters (1963–1964). In the late ...more

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#126 of 1,145 The Best Actors in Film History The 25+ Best Kurt Russell Movies of All Time, Rankedlisted on Republicans in Hollywood: Republican Celebrities List

22
Audie Murphy is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
bsatcher added 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, + more

Birthplace: Kingston, Texas, United States of America

Nationality: United States of America

Audie Leon Murphy (20 June 1925 – 28 May 1971) was one of the most decorated American combat soldiers of World War II. He received every military combat award for valor available from the U.S. ...more

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#862 of 2,003 The Greatest Actors & Actresses in Entertainment History #220 of 359 The Greatest Entertainers of All Time

23
Tom Selleck is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
Age: 74

Credits (Film): Meet the Robinsons, Midway, Three Men and a Baby, In & Out, Killers, + more

Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States of America

Nationality: United States of America

Thomas William Selleck (born January 29, 1945) is an American actor, film producer, and California Army National Guard veteran. He is most known for starring as private investigator Thomas ...more

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#27 of 274 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World The Best Tom Selleck Movieslisted on Republicans in Hollywood: Republican Celebrities List

24
Robert Mitchum is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
Dec. at 80 (1917-1997)

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

Birthplace: Bridgeport, Connecticut, United States of America

Nationality: United States of America

Robert Charles Durman Mitchum (August 6, 1917 – July 2, 1997) was an American film actor, director, author, poet, composer, and singer. Mitchum rose to prominence for his starring roles in ...more

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#550 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #49 of 329 The Greatest Actors Who Have Never Won an Oscar (for Acting)

25
Chief Dan George is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Western Movie Stars
Dec. at 82 (1899-1981)

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

Birthplace: Tsleil-Waututh First Nation, North Vancouver, Canada

Nationality: Canada

Chief Dan George, OC (July 24, 1899 – September 23, 1981) was a chief of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, a Coast Salish band whose Indian reserve is located on Burrard Inlet in the southeast area of ...more