Noble Willingham

Noble Henry Willingham, Jr. (August 31, 1931 – January 17, 2004) was an American television and film actor who appeared in more than thirty films and in many television shows, including a stint opposite Chuck Norris in Walker, Texas Ranger. [1]

Noble Willingham
Noble Henry Willingham, Jr

August 31, 1931
DiedJanuary 17, 2004(2004-01-17) (aged 72)
Resting placeRiverside National Cemetery
Years active1970–2003
Political partyRepublican

Early life

Willingham was the son of Ladelle (née Speights) and Noble Henry Senior, a railroad worker and a farmer.[2]

He was born in the small town of Mineola, in Wood County east of Dallas, Texas. After graduating in 1953 from North Texas State University in Denton, he earned a master's degree in educational psychology from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Willingham served in the United States Army during the Korean War.


Willingham was teaching government and economics at Sam Houston High School in Houston before he followed his dream of becoming an actor. He auditioned for a part in The Last Picture Show (1971), which was filmed in Texas. He won the role, which led to another appearance, in Paper Moon (1973).

Willingham appeared in more than thirty feature films, including Big Bad Mama (1974), Chinatown (1974), Where Have All The People Gone? (1974), Aloha, Bobby and Rose (1975), Sheila Levine Is Dead and Living in New York (1975), Fighting Mad (1976), Greased Lightning (1977), The Boys in Company C (1978), Norma Rae (1979), Fast Charlie... the Moonbeam Rider (1979), Brubaker (1980), The Howling (1981), Harry's War (1981), Independence Day (1983), La Bamba (1987), Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), the HBO film The Heist (1989), Blind Fury (1989), City Slickers (1991), The Last Boy Scout (1991), Pastime (1991), Article 99 (1992), The Distinguished Gentleman (1992), Of Mice and Men (1992), Fire In The Sky (1993), The Hudsucker Proxy (1994), Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994), City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold (1994), Up Close & Personal (1996), and The Corndog Man (1999).

On television, Willingham had a recurring role in the ABC series Home Improvement with Tim Allen as John Binford, and appeared as a guest star in the 1975 CBS family drama series Three for the Road. He also guest starred on Dallas, The A-Team, Murder, She Wrote, Star Trek: The Next Generation (1989), Northern Exposure, The Rockford Files, Tucker's Witch with Tim Matheson and Catherine Hicks, and Quantum Leap. His additional television credits include A Woman With A Past, The Children Nobody Wanted, The Alamo: Thirteen Days to Glory, and Unconquered. He also played the conductor in Kenny Rogers as The Gambler (1980), Dr. Graham in Living Proof: The Hank Williams Jr. Story (1983), he appeared in the 1986 miniseries Dream West, and appeared in Badge of the Assassin (1985) and Men Don't Tell (1993). He guest starred as IRS Agent Bumpers in the show Remington Steele.

He was best known for his role as C.D. Parker on the series Walker, Texas Ranger from 1993 to 1999. He left the show to run for the United States House of Representatives.



Year Title Role Notes
1971 The Last Picture Show Chester
1973 The Thief Who Came to Dinner Roy Uncredited
1973 Paper Moon Mr. Robertson
1973 Hit! Warden Springer
1974 Chinatown Councilman #1
1974 Big Bad Mama Uncle Barney
1974 Where Have All the People Gone? Jim Clancey
1975 Aloha, Bobby and Rose Uncle Charlie
1975 Sheila Levine Is Dead and Living in New York Principal
1976 Fighting Mad Senator Hingle
1977 Greased Lightning Billy Joe Byrnes
1978 The Boys in Company C Sergeant Curry
1979 Norma Rae Leroy Mason
1979 Fast Charlie... the Moonbeam Rider Pop Bauer
1979 Butch and Sundance: The Early Days Captain Prewitt
1980 Brubaker Dr. Fenster
1981 The Howling Charlie Barton
1981 Harry's War Major Andrews
1981 First Monday in October Nebraska Attorney
1983 Independence Day Andy Parker
1987 La Bamba Howard
1987 Summer Heat Strother
1987 Born in East L.A. Border Patrol Sergeant
1987 Good Morning, Vietnam Gen. Taylor
1989 Blind Fury Claude MacCready
1990 Pastime Clyde Bigby
1991 Career Opportunities Roger Roy McClellan
1991 City Slickers Clay Stone
1991 The Last Boy Scout Sheldon Marcone
1992 Article 99 Inspector General
1992 Of Mice and Men The Boss
1992 The Distinguished Gentleman Zeke Bridges
1993 Fire in the Sky Blake Davis
1994 The Hudsucker Proxy Zebulon Cardoza
1994 Ace Ventura: Pet Detective Riddle
1994 Guarding Tess Sheriff Janson Uncredited
1994 City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold Clay Stone
1994 Walker Texas Ranger 3: Deadly Reunion C.D. Parker
1996 Up Close and Personal Buford Sells
1999 The Corndog Man Ace Barker
2000 South of Heaven, West of Hell Sheriff Harris
2003 Blind Horizon Deputy Shirl Cash (final film role)


Year Title Role Notes
1970 My Sweet Charlie Grady Television movie
1971 Evel Knievel Jack Decataur Television movie
1972 Bonanza Mr. Kirby Episode: "Riot"
1972 McMillan & Wife Sheriff Episode: "Terror Times Two"
1973 Gunsmoke Tuck Episode: "Whelan's Men"
1973 The Girls of Huntington House Harry Television movie
1973 Hawkins Carl Jackson Episode: "Die, Darling, Die"
1973 Sunshine Bartender Television movie
1973–75 The Waltons Mr. Denton / B.C. Graddy 3 episodes
1974 Apple's Way Farmer Episode: "The Miller"
1974 The Texas Wheelers Sheriff 2 episodes
1974 Where Have All The People Gone? Jim Clancy Television movie
1974 The Mary Tyler Moore Show Hal Episode: "What Are Friends For?
1975 Cannon Det. Sgt. Sonny Wills Episode: "Coffin Corner"
1975 Blazing Saddles Fern Malaga Television movie
Also known as Black Bart
1975 Switch Verly Terrace Episode: "The Man Who Couldn't Lose"
1975 Three for the Road Episode: "The Rip-off"
1975–76 The Rockford Files Palm Springs Tan Tony / Claude Orzeck / B.J. 3 episodes
1976 Petrocelli Artie Jacobs Episode: "The Falling Star"
1976–78 Alice Floyd / Policeman / Morgan 4 episodes
1977 Lou Grant Hotel Manager Episode: "Aftershock"
1977 Man from Atlantis Artemus Washburn Episode: "Shoot-Out at Land's End"
1978 Thaddeus Rose and Eddie Judge Television movie
1978 Cindy Sergeant Television movie
1978 Just Me and You Gas Station Owner Television movie
1978 The Critical List Charlie Television movie
1979 How the West Was Won Judge Carter Episode: "The Rustler"
1979 Backstairs at the White House Charles Cramer Television mini-series
Episode: "#1.2"
1979 Silent Victory: The Kitty O'Neil Story Doctor Television movie
1979 Young Maverick Episode: "A Fistful of Oats"
1980 Hart to Hart Wilbur Pierson Episode: "Color Jennifer Dead"
1980 Kenny Rogers as The Gambler Conductor Television movie
1980 When the Whistle Blows Bulldog 2 episodes
1980 The Georgia Peaches Jarvis Wheeler Television movie
1980 WKRP in Cincinnati Smilin' Al Episode: "A Mile in My Shoes"
1981 Dallas Senator Pascomb Episode: "Making of a President"
1981 Coward of the County Jake Episode: "Finders Keepers"
1981 The Children Nobody Wanted McNaulty Television movie
1982 The Blue and the Gray Cavalry General on Balloon Field Television mini-series

Episode: "Part 2"

1982 Missing Children: A Mother's Story Lander Hughes Television movie
1983 Cutter to Houston Mayor Warren Jarvis 9 episodes
1983 The Dukes of Hazzard Hanson Episode: "Witness: Jesse Duke"
1983 Living Proof: The Hank Williams Jr. Story Dr. Graham Television movie
1983 Gun Shy Mr. Bender Episode: "Pardon Me Boy, Is That the Quake City Choo Choo?"
1983 Tucker's Witch Sheriff Trout Episode: "Murder Is the Key"
1983–86 The A-Team Zack / Pete Stockton 2 episodes
1984 AfterMASH Harry 3 episodes
1984 W*A*L*T*E*R Sergeant Sowell Television short
1985 The Atlanta Child Murders Jerry Armstrong Television mini-series
2 episodes
1985 Airwolf Chester Hansen Episode: "Natural Born"
1985 Hail to the Chief Texab #2 Episode: "#1.4"
1985 Highway to Heaven MacGill 2 episodes
1985 Badge of the Assassin Airport Guard Television movie
1986 Remington Steele Harrison Bumpers Episode: "Suburban Steele"
1986 Dream West President James Polk Television mini-series
2 episodes
1986 Mr. Sunshine Episode: "Too Many Cooks"
1987 Nutcracker: Money, Madness & Murder Tesch Television mini-series
3 episodes
1987 The Alamo: 13 Days to Glory Dr. Pollard Television movie
1987 Our House Farmer Bob Brewer Episode: "Giving 'em the Business"
1987 Private Eye Calvin Episode: "Blue Hotel Pt.1"
1988 Longarm Television movie
1988 Splash, Too Karl Hooten Television movie
1988 Shooter Rizzo Television movie
1988 A Stoning in Fulham County Judge Manning Television movie
1988 Quiet Victory: The Charlie Wedemeyer Story Ted Simonsen Television movie
1989 L.A. Law Robert Kenyon Episode: "I'm in the Nude for Love"
1989 Unconquered Bear Bryant Television movie
1989 Star Trek: The Next Generation Texas Episode: "The Royale"
1989 The Road Raiders Crankcase Television movie
1989 The Heist Stuckey Television movie
1989–90 Ann Jillian Duke Howard 6 episodes
1990 The Young Riders Erastus Hawkins Episode: "Then There Was One"
1990 Capital News Episode: "Pilot"
1990 Sporting Chance Packy Dillon Television movie
1990 Matlock Rev. Morley Phelps Episode: "The Madam"
1990 The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson Television movie
1991 Quantum Leap Gene Episode: "Justice - May 11, 1965"
1992 Home Improvement John Binford 2 episodes
1992 Murder, She Wrote Sheriff Pat McAllester Episode: "Angel of Death"
1993 Tales from the Crypt Mr. Petermeyer Episode: "Oil's Well That Ends Well"
1993–99 Walker, Texas Ranger C.D. Parker 155 episodes


In 2000, Willingham was the Republican challenger in the northeast Texas 1st congressional district (Longview, Texarkana, Nacogdoches, Marshall, and Paris) against incumbent Democratic congressman Max Sandlin. Willingham ran a hard-hitting campaign and attacked Sandlin for bringing Bill Clinton to the district and for voting for the Democratic agenda in Congress. Sandlin fought back by citing various moderate votes he had cast and by winning the Chamber of Commerce endorsement. In a district that George W. Bush would easily carry with 64% of the vote, Sandlin held on with 118,157 votes (55.8%) to Willingham's 91,912 votes (43.4%) and carried nineteen counties in the district while losing only two, Nacogdoches and Willingham's home of Wood County. Four years later, Sandlin was defeated for re-election by Republican Louie Gohmert of Tyler.


On January 17, 2004, Willingham died in his sleep of a heart attack in Palm Springs at the age of 72. A veteran of the United States Army during the Korean War,[3] he is buried at Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, California.[4]


  1. "Noble Henry Willingham Jr". Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 2019-08-26.
  2. "Noble Willingham Biography ((?)-)".
  3. "Beloved Charactor Actor Got Start in Northeast Texas". County Line Magazine. 27 June 2018. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  4. Wilson, Scott (19 August 2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons (3rd ed.). McFarland Publishing. p. 815. ISBN 9781476625997.
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