Taylor at the 2011 Dallas International Film Festival
Walter Clarence Taylor, III|
May 13, 1938
Hollywood, Los Angeles
Judy Ann Nugent (1961–1983) (divorced)|
Goldie Ann Taylor (1995–present)
Walter Clarence "Buck" Taylor, III (born May 13, 1938) is an American actor best known for his role as gunsmith-turned-deputy Newly O'Brien in 174 episodes during the last eight seasons of CBS's Gunsmoke television series (1967–1975). In recent years, he has painted the portrait of his friend and Gunsmoke series' star James Arness. Taylor's painting specialty is the American West, and each year, he creates the posters for several Texas rodeos. Taylor lives with his second wife on a ranch near Fort Worth, Texas.
Early years, education, military
Taylor was born in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, to Mr. and Mrs. Walter Taylor, Jr. He has an older sister, Faydean Taylor Tharp (born circa 1931) of the Greater Los Angeles Area. His father was the character actor Dub Taylor, sometimes known as "Cannonball" Taylor, and a native of Richmond, Virginia. Buck Taylor was born in the same year his father got his first acting role in the film You Can't Take It with You. Dub Taylor, one of cinema's most prolific supporting actors, appeared with dozens of leading actors, including John Wayne and the musicians Tex Ritter and Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. Buck grew up on the various Hollywood sets, and was close to his father's Texas friend, the Western actor Chill Wills.
Taylor graduated from North Hollywood High School and studied theatre arts at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. In 1960, he tried out for the Olympic Games in gymnastics. He served two years in the United States Navy.
Television and film roles
Taylor's first acting role was as Trooper Shattuck in the 1961 episode "Image of a Drawn Sword" on CBS's Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater. He appeared on the sitcoms The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and My Favorite Martian. He was cast twice in the 1963-1964 ABC series The Greatest Show on Earth. He portrayed Mickey Vecchione in the 1963 episode "My Son the Social Worker" on Going My Way. He appeared in 1960's series Combat, Episode "The First Day"
Taylor co-starred in the 1963 Walt Disney production, Johnny Shiloh, the first of more than fifty films. He was then cast in an uncredited role in Ensign Pulver (1964) and in The Wild Angels (1966), as a motorcycle gang member. He guest starred on Have Gun - Will Travel, The Rebel, and three times on Stoney Burke. He was cast on The Fugitive, and The Legend of Jesse James. He appeared as well on The Virginian and The Big Valley.
Newly O'Brien on Gunsmoke
Taylor's long-term role on Gunsmoke was not his first role in a weekly series. In the preceding 1966–1967 season, he starred in 10 episodes as John "Brad" Bradford, along with Michael Anderson, Jr. and Barbara Hershey in ABC's The Monroes, the story of an orphaned family trying to survive in the Wyoming wilderness.
Gunsmoke introduced Taylor on a weekly basis to millions of viewers. Dub Taylor also guest-starred numerous times on the series. Before Taylor was cast as handsome young gunsmith "Newly", he had actually appeared in an earlier segment of the series as an outlaw. As Newly, however, he was clearly one of the "good guys" in the same tradition as James Arness as Matt Dillon. The Newly character superseded that of Clayton Thaddeus "Thad" Greenwood, played by Roger Ewing (born 1942). Taylor got along so well with the Gunsmoke cast that he named his second and third sons Matthew Taylor and Cooper Glenn Taylor for James Arness' (1923–2011) Marshal Matt Dillon character and for Glenn Strange (1899–1973), the character actor who played the bartender, Sam, and remained on the program until cancer claimed his life. Strange never knew of the honor, for Cooper Taylor was not born until 1975. Taylor was actively involved in the preparation of the script for the 1987 Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge reunion film, by which time Milburn Stone, the cranky Doc Adams character, had died. Ken Curtis, who had portrayed the deputy Festus Haggen, felt shortchanged by the offer of far less pay than Amanda Blake and passed on the project. In 1991, Taylor co-starred with Curtis in what turned out to be Curtis' last acting role in the film version of Louis L'Amour's Conagher, which also starred Taylor's friend Sam Elliott and Elliott's wife, Katharine Ross.
Acting after Gunsmoke
At the age of 43, Taylor was cast as the outlaw Dan Clifton, who died at 31, in the 1981 film Cattle Annie and Little Britches, a fictional portrayal of the teenaged bandits Cattle Annie and Little Britches, played by Amanda Plummer and Diane Lane, respectively. Taylor is called "Dynamite Dick" in the film, but Clifton's nickname was "Dynamite Dan."
In 1983, Taylor appeared in the film The Triumphs of a Man Called Horse. In the film Gettysburg (1993), he played William Gamble. In the 2003 production Gods and Generals, Taylor was cast as Maxcy Gregg.
Taylor had a memorable role as "Turkey Creek" Jack Johnson in Tombstone (1993) and appeared in 1997 in Rough Riders, both co-starring with Sam Elliott. He appeared in director John Lee Hancock's The Alamo (2004) and in the Wyoming-based Flicka (2006), a loose adaptation of the novel My Friend Flicka.
He appeared as Ben Lily in January 2008 with his friend Val Kilmer in the CBS miniseries Comanche Moon, another in the Lonesome Dove line of television films based on Larry McMurtry novels. Taylor in 2008 worked in three films, The Hard Ride, The Last Horseman, and Legend of Hell's Gate. While he was clean-shaven in Gunsmoke, like other cowboy actors, he later elected to sport a deep mustache.
Taylor's self-portrait hangs in the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame in Fort Worth. Taylor is also an inductee of the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame in Fort Worth and has received the "Spirit of Texas" Award. In 1993, he received the Golden Boot award which honors the "Best of the West" from the Motion Picture and Television Fund. In 1998, Taylor, Rex Allen, and Christina Paine won the "Cowboy Spirit Award".
In 2000, Taylor was memorialized in "The Trail of Fame" on the streets of Dodge City, the western Kansas town where Gunsmoke is set. He has also received the "Spirit of the West" award, along with Jack Palance and Roy Rogers. Additionally, Taylor is recognized on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with his friends Sam Elliott and Katharine Ross. Taylor's star also appears on the streets of "Little Hollywood" in Kanab, Utah. There, his star is between Ronald W. Reagan and Tom Mix.
In 1981, Taylor was inducted as a trustee in the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City for his Gunsmoke role. In 2006, he was awarded by the same organization with the "Wrangler" (or Western Heritage Award). Taylor has a plaque on the Walk of Western Stars in Santa Clarita, California, that includes past recipients James Arness and other Gunsmoke alumni Dennis Weaver and the late Amanda Blake.
In 1993, Taylor began selling his paintings at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. These paintings are sold through his website, private art shows and festivals, and at galleries. His private commissions can be found in the Loomis Fargo headquarters, the Franklin Mint, John Wayne Enterprises, the American Quarter Horse Association Museum in Amarillo, the National Ranching Heritage Center museum in Lubbock, and in the hands of private collectors Roy Clark, Val Kilmer, Roger Staubach, Powers Boothe, Jasey Wrenn, Sam Elliott, and James Arness. Taylor is the official artist for several rodeos, including the Pendleton Round-Up in Pendleton, Oregon, and state fairs.
In 1961, Taylor married the actress Judy Ann Nugent, who was a sister-in-law of actor Nick Adams. The couple divorced in 1983. They had three sons: Adam Carlyle Taylor (1966–1994), Matthew Taylor (born 1970), and Cooper Glenn Taylor (born 1975). Adam was an assistant director, and Matthew and Cooper are Hollywood stunt men who were reared in Montana. Taylor is the father-in-law of actress/producer Anne Lockhart (born 1953), the widow of Adam Taylor, who died three days before his 28th birthday in a highway accident in Madison County, Montana. Anne is the daughter of actress June Lockhart. Taylor has two grandchildren, Carlyle and Zane Taylor, the daughter and son of Adam and Anne.
Taylor and current wife Goldie, a flight attendant, met in 1995 at a quarter horse show, where his paintings were being exhibited. They wed after a three-month courtship and run a ranch on the Brazos river in Texas.
Taylor supports the John Wayne Cancer Foundation, the Walt Garrison Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, the Future Farmers of America Scholarship, the Screen Actors Guild Retirement Home, the Ben Johnson Children's Hospital, and Frontier Texas!, a state-of-the-art museum for which Taylor does some of the narration. The museum opened in 2004 in Abilene, the seat of Taylor County (coincidence of the name) in West Texas.
- "Buck Taylor Paintings". Bucktaylor.com. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
- TV.com (1938-05-13). "Buck Taylor Bio – Buck Taylor Biography – Buck Taylor Stories". Tv.com. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
- Buck Taylor | Actor and Western Artist | Biography Archived May 13, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.. bucktaylor.com
- "The Monroes" (1966) – Full cast and crew. imdb.com
- Amazon.com: Gunsmoke- Return to Dodge (VHS, 1987)
- "Cattle Annie and Little Britches". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
- "Buck Taylor Biography". Starpulse.com. 1938-05-13. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
- Buck Taylor (I). imdb.com
- Judy Nugent (I). imdb.com