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Clint Walker, Western Star Tall in the Saddle, Is Dead at 90

His last film was Joe Dante’s “Small Soldiers” (1998), about high-tech toy soldiers that go on a rampage, in which he had a voice role along with some of his “Dirty Dozen” co-stars.

Mr. Walker came close to dying in a freak accident on a ski trip in 1973 when he stumbled and a ski pole pierced his heart. He survived and recovered quickly. The next year he returned to television in “Kodiak,” about an Alaska lawman, but the show was short-lived. (John J. O’Connor of The Times called it “about as interesting as watching a large block of polluted ice.”)

Norman Eugene Walker was born on May 30, 1927, in Hartford, Ill. He quit school at 16 to find jobs — first in a local factory, then on riverboats — before making his way to the merchant marine, where he worked on the ore ships that plied the Great Lakes.

In 1948 he married Verna Garver; they had a daughter, Valerie. The family moved to Long Beach, Calif., where Mr. Walker worked as a port security guard and a nightclub bouncer, and then to Las Vegas, where he was a deputy sheriff providing security at the Sands Hotel. It was there that the actor Van Johnson suggested that he explore acting.

Mr. Walker would later recall thinking: “I’m not going to get that far carrying a gun and a badge. It doesn’t pay that well. If you make movies, you make some pretty good money — plus, the bullets aren’t real!”

Clint and Verna Walker divorced in 1968, and Mr. Walker married Giselle Hennessy in 1974. She died in 1994. In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his third wife, Susan (Cavallari) Walker, as well as a half sister and a grandson. His twin sister, Lucille Westbrook, died in 2000.

Hollywood did not initially embrace the newcomer, although he did land a small, uncredited part in a Bowery Boys film, “Jungle Gents” (1954). He was then offered the chance to meet with Cecil B. DeMille about DeMille’s coming epic film, “The Ten Commandments.”


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