At the height of his fame on the "Cheyenne" show, Time Magazine reported that Clint Walker stood 6'6" tall, weighed 235 pounds, and sported measurements of 48-32-36. It also reported, only half-jokingly, that he was required to take off his shirt at least once in every episode of "Cheyenne." Seeing Clint Walker stripped to the waist certainly qualified as one of the memorable sights in the Golden Age of the TV western, but these "beefcake" appearances never seemed like the vain "showing off" of an egotistical leading man. Walker played "Cheyenne Bodie" in too quiet and modest a way for that kind of thinking. His "Cheyenne" had the qualities of strength and dignity and courage but he appeared divorced from the passion and lust which might have been found in a big, handsome man in his physical prime. You just couldn't imagine a naked "Cheyenne" waking up next to a sore-but-happy dance-hall girl. Walker's restrained, almost passive nature is well illustrated in the "Cheyenne" episode from October 23, 1961, titled "The Young Fugitives." Walker earns the enmity of a vengeful man named Crawford who, along with his gang, get the jump on Walker. Crawford then utters those immortal words: "Take his gun and strip off his shirt. Tie him up." This is followed by: "I want my whip." We soon see the outstretched arms of a bare-chested Walker being tied at the wrists to a horizontal tree branch. Crawford gives his whip to his son, saying: "You whip him, Alfred." Alfred, however, objects. "No one's gonna tell me to horsewhip a man. Not even my own father." Moments later Walker is cut free, (without having received a single lash across his broad, sweaty back), and proceeds to put his shirt back on. Perhaps the show's makers felt that Walker had become too much of an American icon to suffer the flesh-tearing indignity of a whipping. It would be like spray-painting graffiti on the Statue of Liberty! Walker's behavior during this scene, however, is typical of his "Cheyenne" character. He doesn't resist the unjust and painful punishment about to be inflicted on him, nor does he object to it. He simply stands there, head bowed in silent acceptance, waiting for that first lash to cut and burn its way across his exposed flesh. It may be an exaggeration to describe him, at his moment, as Christ-like, but there is something definitely Christian, something "turn-the-other-cheek" about his behavior. One wonders if today's audience would accept this kind of behavior on the part of one of its most rugged "action stars." However, the late 50s and early 60s were a different era. Walker's frequent displays of his gloriously-hairy chest -- at a time when many actors shaved theirs -- was generally regarded as an innocent display of an attractive physique, whereas now viewers might see in these displays a blatant dose of homoeroticism. In any case, Walker's career never again reached the peak of his "Cheyenne" days, though he did appear in three worthy big-screen westerns directed by Gordon Douglas: "Fort Dobbs" in 1958, "Yellowstone Kelly" in 1959, and "Gold of the Seven Saints" in 1961. (In all three films his shirt came off, prompting some critics to suggest that they'd all been filmed in "pecs-o-rama" or "torso-scope.") Perhaps Walker's innocent personna simply couldn't adjust to the turmoil of the 1960s. The fact remains, however, that Walker's bare torso remains one of the great landmark sights in American movies and television and, without the possible exception of Tom Selleck, nothing quite like it has been seen since then.
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