Metro-East News

‘Cheyenne’s’ Clint Walker, a Belleville native, dies at age 90

Clint Walker in TV’s “Cheyenne”
Clint Walker in TV’s “Cheyenne”

Clint Walker, who played the titular character in the early TV western "Cheyenne," has died.

Walker's daughter Valerie Walker told the Associated Press that her father died Monday of congestive heart failure at a hospital in Grass Valley, California, at age 90.

The towering, strapping Walker played Cheyenne Bodie, who traveled the West and handed down justice on the TV series that ran for seven seasons starting in 1955.

Walker, who was born in Hartford and raised in Belleville, was working as a Las Vegas sheriff's deputy and part-time bouncer at the Sands Hotel when he made the leap to Hollywood. While working there, famed actor Van Johnson said he should try his luck in Hollywood.

With just one uncredited role on his reel, Walker was driving to meet renowned director Cecil B. DeMille in the early ’50s when he saw a woman stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire. He stopped to help, then realized when he showed up for his meeting with DeMille that the woman was his secretary.

He got the role of a Sardinian captain in 1956's "The Ten Commandments." Warner Bros. bought his contract and almost immediately he received the lead role in "Cheyenne." However, he became increasingly dissatisfied with how Warner Bros. was handling his career, and he left the show in 1958.

He planned to move back to Belleville to join his twin sister, Lucy, and help her run the Walker-Westbrook Health Foods company that Lucy was running out of her home. But he gave Warner Bros. one last chance to make a deal. He held out for nine months, then agreed to rejoin the show with a pay raise and the freedom to do films in his spare time.

In addition to "Cheyenne," he had small but visible roles in classic films, including "The Ten Commandments" and 1967's "The Dirty Dozen." He most recently lent his voice to 1998's "Small Soldiers."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.