Sometimes those “film cowboys” in westerns were real cowboys, like Wyoming native Wally Wales.
Born in Sheridan in 1895. He worked as a ranch hand for Wyoming’s senator John B. Kendrick and then went to Montana to ranch with his brothers.
One day in Billings Wales saw a Western being filmed and decided to try his luck in Hollywood.
Eventually he was hired by Lester Scott, Jr., who gave him the name “Wally Wales.”
Wales appeared in 220 silent and sound films between 1921 and 1964.
After making it big, Wales told an old cowboy that he was also a cowboy. The old man sized him up and said, “You’re no cowboy, just one of them ‘dude movie cowboys.’” Wales said it would have felt better if he’d been punched in the nose.
The Wally Wales papers at UW’s American Heritage Center tell the tale of this Wyoming cowboy turned western film star.