Ty Hardin

Orison Whipple Hungerford Jr. (January 1, 1930 – August 3, 2017), known as Ty Hardin, was an American actor best known as the star of the 1958 to 1962 ABC/Warner Bros. Western television series Bronco.

Ty Hardin
Hardin in Bronco, 1958
Orison Whipple Hungerford, Jr.

(1930-01-01)January 1, 1930
DiedAugust 3, 2017(2017-08-03) (aged 87)
Years active1958–1992
  • Nancy Smith (1952–19??; divorced); 2 children
  • Andra Martin
    (m. 1958; div. 1960)
    ; 2 children
  • Marlene Schmidt
    (m. 1962; div. 1965)
    ; 1 child
  • Francine Nebel (1966–19??; divorced); 1 child
  • Jenny Atkins
    (m. 1971; div. 1974)
  • Lyndell Hardin (1974–19??; divorced); 1 child
  • Judy D. Hild McNeill
    (m. 1978; div. 2007)
  • Caroline Pampu (m. 2007)

Early life

Hardin was born in New York City, but reared in Texas, after his family moved to the capital city of Austin when he was six months old. His father, an acoustical engineer, left the family four years later.[1]

As a growing boy, his grandmother, with whom he lived part of the time after his parents divorced, nicknamed him "Ty" because he was as active as a "Texas typhoon". Hardin graduated in 1949 from Lamar High School in Houston.[2] A football scholarship enabled him to attend Blinn College in Brenham, Texas for one year,[1] and then he went to the Dallas Bible Institute for one semester.

He served in the United States Army during the Korean War. He was commissioned after attending Officer Candidate School in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, and he became a pilot of Forward Observer O-1 Bird Dog liaison aircraft. He attained the rank of first lieutenant. After his return from service, he began taking courses at Texas A&M University[1] in College Station on a scholarship under Coach Bear Bryant, for whom he played tight end.[3]

Acting career

Paramount - "Ty Hungerford"

A Paramount Pictures talent scout discovered Hardin while Hardin attended a costume party. He had rented revolvers from a motion picture costume rental company.[3]

By 1957, Hardin acquired the services of agent Henry Willson and made his way to Hollywood, where he was put under contract by Paramount Pictures.[4]

Initially billed as "Ty Hungerford", he made various minor appearances in several Paramount films, such as The Space Children (1958), As Young as We Are (1958) I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958), The Buccaneer (1958) and Last Train from Gun Hill (1959).

Warner Bros. years - Bronco

Hardin tried to obtain a support role in the 1959 film Rio Bravo that had been promised to singer Ricky Nelson. John Wayne reportedly saw Hardin while visiting a film set at Paramount and was impressed with Hardin's appearance.[5] Wayne introduced him to Howard Hawks and William T. Orr at Warner Bros. Television; they bargained for his seven-year contract and he moved to Warner Bros., who changed his stage surname to "Hardin", reminiscent of the Texas gunfighter John Wesley Hardin.[3]

He attended actors' school at Warner Bros. and landed small parts in various Warner productions.

When Clint Walker walked out on his ABC series Cheyenne in 1958 during a contract dispute with Warner Bros., Hardin got his big break. Warner bought out Hardin's contract from Paramount Studios and installed him into Cheyenne for the remainder of the season, as the country cousin "Bronco Layne".[6]

Walker and Warner Bros. came to terms after the season ended, but Hardin had made such a big hit on the show that Jack L. Warner gave him his own series, Bronco, under the Cheyenne title. Bronco alternated weeks with Sugarfoot, starring Will Hutchins, and Cheyenne for four years. The series ran from 1958-62.[7]

Hardin guest starred on other Warners shows such as Maverick and 77 Sunset Strip.

Warners cast Hardin in some films such as Merrill's Marauders (1962), where he was second billed to Jeff Chandler; The Chapman Report (1962); the spring break film Palm Springs Weekend (1963); PT 109; and Wall of Noise (1963).[8][9]

International films

When his contract expired, Hardin did Guys and Dolls in stock.[10] He then left Hollywood to seek opportunity overseas as his series aired all over the world. Like many other American actors, Hardin traveled to Europe, where he made several spaghetti Westerns, including Man of the Cursed Valley (1964).

He appeared in the war film Battle of the Bulge (1965) shot in Spain, and the Western Savage Pampas (1966). He had the lead in Death on the Run (1967).

He was reportedly the first choice to play the starring role in the television series Batman, which went instead to Adam West. Hardin turned down Batman because of film commitments overseas.

Was offered the lead by Sergio Leone in A Fistful of Dollars but turned it down.

He supported Joan Crawford in Berserk! (1967) and played Captain Reno in Custer of the West (1967) shot in Spain. He had the lead in Ragan (1968) and One Step to Hell (1968).


Hardin starred in the 1968–1969 Australian television series Riptide,[11] in which he played an American running a charter boat company along the eastern seaboard of Australia.[12]

He returned to Europe to star in The Last Rampage (1970), Quel maledetto giorno della resa dei conti (1971), and Drummer of Vengeance (1971). He was in a 1970 German television series called On the Trail of Johnny Hilling, Boor and Billy, shown in the former West Germany.[13]

Hadin was in The Last Rebel (1971) Acquasanta Joe (1971), and You're Jinxed, Friend You've Met Sacramento (1972) and a small role in Avanti! (1972).

In 1974 he was arrested in Spain for drug trafficking and spent time in prison.[14]

Later career

Hardin's later appearances included Rooster: Spurs of Death! (1977), Fire (1977), and Image of the Beast (1980) as well as episodes of TV shows such as The Love Boat.

He was in The Zoo Gang (1985) and Red River (1988) and had a late lead in Born Killer (1989).

Hardin could be seen in Bad Jim (1992), and Rescue Me (1992).

Personal life

In 1958, Hardin had his name changed legally from Orison Whipple Hungerford Jr. to Ty Hardin. He ascribed the change to a matter of convenience.[15]

From 1962 to 1966, he was married to the 1961 Miss Universe, German beauty queen Marlene Schmidt, who later worked in the movie industry; they had one daughter. At the time of his death, Hardin lived with his eighth wife, Caroline, in Huntington Beach, California.[16]

Hardin died on August 3, 2017, aged 87.[2]

Arizona Patriots

After difficulties with the Internal Revenue Service, Hardin founded an anti-tax movement in Prescott, Arizona. In 1982, the movement became known as the Arizona Patriots.[17] The anti-Semitic group first gained public notice by its efforts to clog the Arizona court system with nuisance lawsuits in the 1980s, a tactic also employed by the violence-prone Posse Comitatus. The group also stockpiled weapons. It eventually disappeared after being infiltrated by the FBI. Three men (James Ellison, Kerrey Noble and William Thomas) were sentenced to prison, others to lesser sentences, and one remains a fugitive. Hardin left Arizona for California.[18]

Partial filmography


  1. Aaker, Everett (2017). Television Western Players, 1960–1975: A Biographical Dictionary. McFarland. pp. 204–206. ISBN 9781476628561. Retrieved July 9, 2017.
  2. Grimes, William (August 6, 2017). "Ty Hardin, Star of 'Bronco' Western, Dies at 87". The New York Times.
  3. "All About Ty Hardin". tyhardin.net. Retrieved October 14, 2014.
  4. Scheuer, P. K. (November 15, 1957). Mata hari up for eva saint. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/167187514
  5. "Ty Hardin fansite". Elvis2001.net. July 21, 2007. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  6. MORE TV PLANNED ON MISS AMERICA. (August 9, 1958). New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/114414266
  7. Anderson, R. (March 29, 1959). WALKER TO RIDE IN AGAIN AS CHEYENNE. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/182226454
  8. By THOMAS, M. H. (October 15, 1961). HOLLYWOOD SLANT. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/115264989
  9. By MURRAY SCHUMACH Special to The New York Times. (January 12, 1963). Producer, an ex-bookmaker, films story of race corruption. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/116544509
  10. Callan, hickman join jane fonda in film. (September 14, 1964). Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/155016159
  11. "Riptide website". Classicaustraliantv.com. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  12. "Ty Hardin has family link with Australia". The Australian Women's Weekly. 36 (36). Australia, Australia. February 5, 1969. p. 9. Retrieved April 14, 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  13. "Johnny Hilling, Boor und Billy – die Verfolgten". fernsehserien.de (in German). Retrieved August 7, 2017.
  14. "IN BRIEF". The Canberra Times. 48 (13, 804). Australian Capital Territory, Australia. July 10, 1974. p. 5. Retrieved April 14, 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  15. "Ty Hardin Becomes Ty In Private Life Too". The Paris News. Texas, Paris. Associated Press. November 27, 1958. p. 6. Retrieved July 9, 2017 via Newspapers.com.
  16. Epting, Chris (March 20, 2014). "Western star is in our midst". Huntington Beach Independent. pp. A1–A3.
  17. Brent L. Smith (1994). Terrorism in America: Pipe Bombs and Pipe Dreams. SUNY Press. p. 80. ISBN 978-0-7914-1759-1.
  18. "The Arizona Patriots". Nizkor.org. Retrieved September 10, 2017.
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