Arthur Hunnicutt

Arthur Lee Hunnicutt (February 17, 1910 September 26, 1979) was an American actor known for his portrayal of wise, grizzled, and old rural characters. He received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in The Big Sky (1952).

Arthur Hunnicutt
Hunnicutt in Stars in My Crown (1950)
Arthur Lee Hunnicutt

(1910-02-17)February 17, 1910
DiedSeptember 26, 1979(1979-09-26) (aged 69)
Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Resting placeCoop Prairie Cemetery, Mansfield, Arkansas, U.S.
Other namesArthur 'Arkansas' Hunnicutt
Years active1941–1975
Pebble Pauline Lile
(m. 1940; his death 1979)

Early years

On February 17, 1910, Hunnicutt was born in Gravelly, Arkansas. He attended the University of Central Arkansas and Arkansas State Teachers College but dropped out when he ran out of money.[1]


Hunnicutt gained early acting experience in stock theater and entertained in traveling shows. An article in the September 22, 1940, issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported, "There isn't a decent sized medicine show traveling through Kentucky, Illinois, Georgia, Indiana or Mississippi, nor a stock company touring those states, which hasn't had the name of Arthur Hunnicutt on its programs."[2] After eight years of such activity, in 1936 he enrolled in a drama school in Cleveland to study theatrical techniques for a year.[2]

He moved to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, where he joined up with a theatre company. Moving to New York City, he worked in the laundry at the Algonquin Hotel for 17 months before landing roles in Broadway productions.[2] While touring as the lead actor in Tobacco Road, he developed the country character he would later be typecast as throughout his career. Hunnicutt often found himself cast as a character much older than himself.

Hunnicutt's first film was Wildcat (1942).[3] He appeared in a number of films in the early 1940s before returning to the stage. In 1949 he moved back to Hollywood and resumed his film career. He played a long string of supporting role characters—sympathetic, wise rural types, as in The Red Badge of Courage (1951), The Lusty Men (1952),The Kettles in the Ozarks (1955), The Last Command (1955, as Davy Crockett), The Tall T (1957), Cat Ballou (1965, as Butch Cassidy), El Dorado (1966) and The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin.

In 1952, he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in the Howard Hawks film The Big Sky.[4]

Throughout the '50s, '60s and '70s, Hunnicutt made nearly 40 guest appearances on American television programs. He made two memorable appearances on Perry Mason in 1963: he played orange grower Amos Kennesaw Mountain Keller in "The Case of the Golden Oranges," and prospector Sandy Bowen in "The Case of the Drowsy Mosquito." He also made guest appearances on Bonanza, Cheyenne, Gunsmoke, The Outer Limits, The Rifleman, Wanted: Dead or Alive, The Andy Griffith Show, The Wild Wild West, Adam-12, and The Twilight Zone. In one of his last movies, Moonrunners (1975)—the precursor to The Dukes of Hazzard—he played the original Uncle Jesse.

In his later years, Hunnicutt served as honorary mayor of Northridge, California. He developed tongue cancer.


On September 27, 1979, Hunnicutt died of cancer at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital at age 69.[5] He was buried in the Coop Prairie Cemetery in Mansfield, Arkansas.[1]


Year Title Role Notes
1942Wildcat'Watchfob' Jones
1942Riding Through NevadaArkansas
1942Silver QueenNewspaper Publisher Brett
1942Fall InLuke Hatfield
1942Pardon My GunArkansas
1943The Fighting BuckarooArkansas
1943Law of the NorthwestArkansas
1943Frontier FuryArkansas
1943Robin Hood of the RangeArkansas
1943Johnny Come LatelySecond Tramp
1943Hail to the RangersArkansas
1943The Chance of a LifetimeElwood 'Tex' StewartUncredited
1944Riding WestProf. Arkansas Higgins
1944Abroad with Two YanksArkie
1945Murder, He SaysTownsmanUncredited
1949Lust for GoldLudiUncredited
1949The Great Dan PatchChet Williams
1949PinkyPolice Chief AndersonUncredited
1949Border IncidentClayton Nordell
1950Stars in My CrownChloroform Wiggins
1950A Ticket To TomahawkSad Eyes
1950Broken ArrowMilt Duffield, Mail Superintendent
1950The FuriesCowhandUncredited
1950Two Flags WestSgt. Pickens
1951SugarfootFly-Up-the-Creek Jones
1951Passage WestPop Brennan
1951The Red Badge of CourageBill Porter
1951Distant DrumsMonk
1952She Couldn't Say NoOdie Chalmers
1952The Big SkyZeb Calloway / Narrator
1952The Lusty MenBooker Davis
1953Split SecondAsa Tremaine
1953Devil's CanyonFrank Taggert
1953The French Line'Waco' Mosby
1954Beautiful but DangerousOtey
1955The Last CommandDavy Crockett
1956The Kettles in the OzarksSedgewick Kettle
1956CheyenneHoot HollisterEpisode: "Death Deals the Hand"
1957The Tall TEd Rintoon
1958Born RecklessCool Man
1960The RiflemanNathaniel CameronEpisode: "The Grasshopper"
1960The Andy Griffith ShowJedediah WakefieldEpisode: "A Feud Is a Feud"
1961My Three SonsGeorge, The Pony Ride CowboyEpisode: "The Horseless Saddle"
1961LaramieEarl DroodyEpisode: "Wolf Cub"
1961The Donna Reed ShowOld ManEpisode: "One of Those Days"
1962The Twilight ZoneHyder SimpsonEpisode: "The Hunt"
1963The CardinalSheriff Dubrow
1963BonanzaObieEpisode: "Any Friend of Walter's"
1964A Tiger WalksFrank Lewis
1964The Outer LimitsLamontEpisode: "Cry of Silence"
1965Cat BallouButch Cassidy
1965Apache UprisingBill Gibson
1967The Adventures of Bullwhip GriffinThe Referee
1967The Wild Wild WestDoc GavinEpisode: "The Night of the Colonel's Ghost"
1967El DoradoBull Harris
1971The Million Dollar DuckMr. Purdham
1971Shoot OutHomer Page (rancher)
1972The RevengersFree State
1974Mrs. SundanceWalt Putney
1974Harry and TontoWade Carlton
1974The Spikes GangKid White (aka Billy Blanco)
1975MoonrunnersUncle Jesse
1975WinterhawkMcClusky(final film role)


  1. Ware, Hames. "Arthur Lee Hunnicutt (1910–1979)". The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Archived from the original on 2 July 2017. Retrieved 2 July 2017.
  2. "Hunnicutt Has a Good Job". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. New York, Brooklyn. September 22, 1940. p. 46. Retrieved July 2, 2017 via
  3. Bridges, Ken (March 5, 2017). "Actor, Arkansas Native Arthur Hunnicutt". El Dorado News-Times. Retrieved 2 July 2017.
  4. "("Arthur Hunnicutt" search results)". Retrieved 2 July 2017.
  5. "Arthur Hunnicutt dies of cancer at 68". The San Bernardino County Sun. The San Bernardino County Sun. Associated Press. September 27, 1979. p. 8. Retrieved July 3, 2017 via
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