Post by That Derek
Aw, Mr. Carson, why'd you have to crop the NYTimes cut-'n'-paste? Now I have
to use up one of my limited monthly free NYT look-ups to read about how Ty
Hardin became a right-wing nut job.
Ty Hardin, Star of 'Bronco' Western, Dies at 87
By WILLIAM GRIMES
AUG. 6, 2017
Ty Hardin, who roamed the West searching for adventure in the
television series "Bronco" in the late 1950s and early '60s, died on
Thursday in Huntington Beach, Calif. He was 87.
His wife, Caroline, confirmed his death, but said the cause had not
In a television landscape crowded with gunslingers like Sugarfoot,
Cheyenne, Lucas McCain (the Rifleman) and Bret Maverick, Mr. Hardin
carved a niche playing Bronco Layne, a soft-spoken loner slow to anger
but quick on the draw and skilled in the saddle.
"There ain't a horse that he can't handle, that's how he got his name,"
a line in the show's theme song went.
First introduced on the series "Cheyenne" in 1958, Bronco, formerly a
captain in the Confederate Army, held various jobs as he traveled —
Army scout, deputy sheriff, wagon-train master, undercover post-office
agent and miner among them — and encountered colorful historical
characters along the way, notably Billy the Kid, Wild Bill Hickok and
Jesse James (played by James Coburn).
"Ty Hardin, the hero, is a handsome, callow cowhand," The New York
Times wrote when the show had its premiere, "not as frivolous as Bret
Maverick but, then again, not as omnipotent as Marshal Dillon nor as
righteous as Wyatt Earp."
Mr. Hardin was born Orison Whipple Hungerford Jr. on Jan. 1, 1930, in
Manhattan. His parents divorced when he was 2, and his mother, the
former Gwendolyn Burnett, took him and his brother to live in Houston
and then at her mother's farm outside Austin, Tex. His grandmother gave
him the nickname Ty.
After graduating from Lamar High School in Houston he attended Blinn
Junior College in Brenham, Tex., on a football scholarship and studied
for a semester at the Dallas Bible Institute.
He enlisted in the Army and, after attending officer candidate school,
underwent flight training and flew light aircraft while stationed in
West Germany during the Korean War. After leaving the Army, he studied
electrical engineering at Texas A&M, where he played tight end for Bear
Bryant. A few weeks before graduation, Mr. Hardin left college to work
as an acoustical research engineer at Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica,
While shopping for a Halloween costume, he was spotted by a talent
scout for Paramount Pictures, who arranged a screen test that led to a
seven-year contract and the films "The Space Children" and "I Married a
Monster From Outer Space."
Hoping for a role in the Warner Bros. film "Rio Bravo," he met with
John Wayne, only to find that the part he wanted had been given to
Ricky Nelson. Wayne introduced him to Howard Hawks, the film's producer
and director, and to William T. Orr, head of the studio's television
division. Warner bought his contract, assigned him the last name
Hardin, and inserted him into its series "Cheyenne" when the show's
star, Clint Walker, walked off the set in a contract dispute.
As Bronco Layne, Mr. Hardin proved so popular with viewers that when
Walker returned to "Cheyenne" in 1959, the studio created "Bronco" as a
spinoff, which ABC ran in rotation with "Cheyenne" and "Sugarfoot" in
the same time slot.
After "Bronco" had run its course, Mr. Hardin appeared in several
Warner films, including "Merrill's Marauders," directed by Sam Fuller;
"The Chapman Report"; "PT 109"; and the Troy Donahue vehicle "Palm
His career on the wane, he tried his luck in Europe. He played a
tightrope walker in a circus owned by Joan Crawford in the 1967 British
horror film "Berserk!" and an action hero in the Italian thriller
"Death on the Run." He also appeared in several spaghetti westerns and
the Australian adventure series "Riptide."
He experienced the double misfortune of turning down the lead role in
"A Fistful of Dollars," the film that rejuvenated Clint Eastwood's
career, and, because of filming commitments in Spain, the role of
Batman in the 1960s television series.
While living in Prescott, Ariz., he formed an anti-tax, anti-government
protest group that evolved into the Arizona Patriots militia movement,
which was accused in 1986 of planning to blow up an I.R.S. complex in
Utah. In a raid on a Patriots camp, federal agents confiscated weapons
and publications from Aryan Nation groups. The group has since
Mr. Hardin's first seven marriages ended in divorce. He lived in
Huntington Beach. Besides his wife, the former Caroline Pampu,
survivors include his sons Bobby Smith, Jeff and John Hardin, and Tyrin
Hungerford; his daughters Mary Chriss Smith and Stefanie Hardin Leuty;
and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.