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Television Clint Walker, 90, was the brawny star of the old TV Western Cheyenne

Actor Clint Walker and his wife. (1963 File Photo)

Harold P. Matosian/The Canadian Press

Clint Walker, the towering, strapping actor who handed down justice as the title character in the early TV Western Cheyenne, has died.

Mr. Walker died on May 21 of congestive heart failure at a hospital in Grass Valley, Calif., at the age of 90, said his daughter, Valerie Walker.

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“He was a warrior, he was fighting to the end,” said Ms. Walker, a retired commercial pilot.

Mr. Walker, whose film credits included The Ten Commandments and The Dirty Dozen, wandered the West after the Civil War as the solitary adventurer Cheyenne Bodie in Cheyenne, which ran for seven seasons starting in 1955.

Born Norman Eugene Walker in Hartford, Ill., he later changed his name to the more cowboyish Clint.

He worked on Great Lakes cargo ships and Mississippi river boats and in Texas oil fields before becoming an armed security guard at the Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

There, many Hollywood stars, including actor Van Johnson, saw the 6-foot-6, ruggedly handsome Walker and encouraged him to give the movies a try, which Mr. Walker said he did after realizing the money would be better and the bullets would be fake.

He soon found himself under consideration for his first role in The Ten Commandments, starring Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner. He had a meeting with the film’s director, Cecil B. DeMille, but was late after stopping to help a woman change a tire.

“He just exuded power,” Mr. Walker said of Mr. DeMille in a 2012 interview. “He looked me up and down and said, ‘You’re late young man.“’ “I thought, ‘Oh no, my career is over before it even started.’ ”

Mr. Walker explained why he was late and said Mr. DeMille responded, “Yes, I know all about it, that was my secretary.” He was cast as the captain of the pharaoh’s guard in the 1956 movie.

He beat out several big names for the role of Cheyenne, but he speculated that it was because he was already under contract to Warner Bros. for much lower pay than other actors would have demanded.

Actor Clint Walker on the set of The Dirty Dozen. (File Photo).

The Associated Press

Based roughly on a 1947 movie, Cheyenne began as an hour-long program that originally was alternated with two other Westerns. The only one of the three programs to survive, it made Mr. Walker a star, although a restless one.

He abandoned the role in 1958 in a contract dispute, and Ty Hardin was brought in briefly to replace him. He soon returned under better terms, and remained through the show’s seven-season run.

Mr. Walker’s most memorable big-screen appearance came in 1967’s The Dirty Dozen, whose all-star cast included Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine and Charles Bronson.

Mr. Walker also appeared in the Westerns Fort Dobbs, Yellowstone Kelly and Gold of the Seven Saints and in the Doris Day and Rock Hudson film Send Me No Flowers in 1964.

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Mr. Walker nearly died in 1971 when a ski pole pierced his heart in California’s Sierra Nevada.

“They rushed me to a hospital where two doctors pronounced me dead,” he recalled in 1987. “No pulse, no heartbeat; I was clinically dead.” A third doctor detected life, and an operation saved him. He lived for another 47 years.

In addition to his daughter, he leaves his wife, Susan Cavallari Walker.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story said that Clint Walker died at 91. In fact, he was 90.
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