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Ben Johnson
Birth: Jun. 13, 1918
Foraker
Osage County
Oklahoma, USA
Death: Apr. 8, 1996
Mesa
Maricopa County
Arizona, USA

Actor. He is best remembered for his role of Sam the Lion in "The Last Picture Show" (1971), for which he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Born in Foraker, Oklahoma, his father, Ben Johnson, Senior, was a cattleman and rancher in Osage County, Oklahoma, as well as a champion rodeo steer roper. Naturally, young Ben would follow in the footsteps of his father, learning how to work a ranch and going on the rodeo circuit. Young Ben was soon a rodeo star in his own right. Both he and his father would earn Belt-Buckles together for rodeo team roping. In 1939, he made his first appearance in front of the camera, doing stunt work in the film, "The Fighting Gringo" (1939). In 1940, Producer Howard Hughes hired him to take a herd of horses to California, and to manage the horses upon arrival, for one of the films. As he considered the pay better in California, Ben decided to stick around (in Oklahoma he was paid $30 a month; Hughes paid him $300 a month). In 1941, he married Carol Elaine Jones, daughter of Western film star Buck Jones; although they would have no children, they remained together all their lives. He worked for several years as a stunt man, horse wrangler and film double for such notable stars as John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart and Gary Cooper. He played Cavalryman Travis Tyree in both of John Wayne's Cavalry movies, "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" (1949) and "Rio Grande" (1950). His big break in acting occurred when director John Ford gave him the starring role in Wagon Master (1950). Johnson would go on to play supporting roles in such films as "Shane" (1953), "Major Dundee" (1965), "The Wild Bunch" (1969), and "Chisum" (1970). When offered the role of Sam in "The Last Picture Show" (1971) for which he would win an Oscar, he first turned it down because he didn't believe in swearing or in nudity in films. His friend, Director John Ford, got him to change his mind, but only after Ben got permission to rewrite all of his scenes with the offensive words removed. In 1982, Ben was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, as well as earning a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1994. Ben continued to find steady work in films, between continuing his ranching back in Mesa, Arizona. He died at his home in Mesa, Arizona, of an apparent heart attack, at the age of 77. (bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson) 
 
Family links: 
 Spouse:
  Carol Elaine Jones Johnson (1920 - 1994)*
 
*Calculated relationship

Cause of death: Heart attack
 
Burial:
Pawhuska City Cemetery
Pawhuska
Osage County
Oklahoma, USA
Plot: Section 2, Row 12
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Record added: Jan 01, 2001
Find A Grave Memorial# 2252
Ben Johnson
Added by: Cinnamonntoast4
 
Ben Johnson
Added by: Tom and Carla
 
Ben Johnson
Added by: Tom and Carla
 
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- R I P
 Added: Jun. 13, 2014

- DENA ANN
 Added: Jun. 13, 2014

- Åke Frisk
 Added: Jun. 13, 2014
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