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Ben Cooper (1933–2020), “Johnny Guitar” star

by Kirk Fox

Ben Cooper was a regular in the golden age of Westerns who starred in “Johnny Guitar.” In “Johnny Guitar” (1954), directed by Nicholas Ray of “Rebel Without a Cause” fame, Cooper played the outlaw Turkey Bandit opposite Joan Crawford. He also starred in the Westerns “Rebel in Town” and “Arizona Raiders.” Cooper was also a staple on TV western series such as “Gunsmoke,” “Bonanza,” and “The Rifleman.” Known for his fast draw, Cooper practiced the move for many years. Later in his career, he had a recurring role on “The Fall Guy” and appeared on “Dallas.”

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Died: Monday, February 24, 2020 (Who else died on February 24?)  

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Details of death: Died at the age of 86.


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Recalling his career in Hollywood westerns: “They let me play cowboy, and they paid me for it. I’d ridden horses, I got my own horse when I was 12. I used to jump him bareback. I didn’t know they had stuntmen; I’d watch a movie and then practice on my horse until I could do [the stunt.]” —Interview with the Museum of Western Film History

Full obituary: The Hollywood Reporter

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