Whatever Happened To . . .

I love that AMC shows John Wayne movies frequently.  With regular television now providing only crime shows, reality shows, or sitcoms that would’ve received an R rating a few years ago, it is nice to be able to go to a channel and find a classic from the Duke.

The other day, I happened to find a showing of Big Jake, which is one of my favorites (I love the scene where Wayne puts J.R. Ewing’s daddy in his place and saves the sheep herder).

As I watched Jacob McCandles promise to shoot the next person who presumed he had died, I began to think about Chris Mitchum, who plays one of his sons.  Whatever happened to Chris?  And what about some of the other actors who supported the Duke in his films over the years?

I discovered that Chris Mitchum is alive and well and living in California.  In fact, he ran as a Republican candidate for Congress in 2012 and, although he lost, plans to run again.  He is the second son of actor Robert Mitchum (El Dorado) and is now sixty-nine years old.  In addition to Big Jake, Chris also appeared in two other of Wayne’s movies, Chisum and Rio Lobo.

Do you remember Jim Hutton?  Jim was in two of Duke’s movies in the late 1960’s:  The Green Berets and Hellfighters.  In The Green Berets, Jim played Sgt. Peterson, the comedic special forces soldier who, in the end, sacrifices all for his country.  In Hellfighters, Jim played Greg Parker, the love interest of the daughter of Duke’s character.  Jim and Duke share the final fire fighting sequence of the film as they attempt to put out a fire at a Venezuelan oil well.  In the mid 1970’s, Jim starred on television as Ellery Queen.   Jim passed away in Los Angeles in 1979 (the same year as Duke) at the age of forty-five due to liver cancer.  His son is actor Timothy Hutton.

She was the little girl who looked to avenge her father’s murder and hired a drunken U.S. Marshal named Rooster Cogburn in True GritKim Darby was twenty-one when she played the part of fourteen year old Mattie Ross in 1969.  Since then, she has appeared in various television and movie roles, including The Love Boat, Crazy Like A Fox, and The X-Files.  Since the 1980’s, Kim has also taught acting classes in the Los Angeles area.

Imagine your first movie role coming at the age of eighteen and in a John Wayne movie!  That’s what happened to Robert Carradine when he was cast to play Slim Honeycutt in The Cowboys.  It probably helped that Robert came from a family of actors; his father was seasoned actor, John Carradine, and his mother was actress/artist, Sonia Sorel.  It also was a plus that Robert had already appeared on episodes of Bonanza and his brother David’s show, Kung Fu, by the time he appeared in The Cowboys.  Robert subsequently appeared in several movies, including The Big Red One, but he is probably best known as Lewis Skolnick in Revenge of the Nerds.  Robert is now fifty-nine years old.

Playing a legend with a legend describes Geoffrey Deuel in his role as Billy the Kid in Duke’s 1970 film, Chisum.  Geoffrey played the famous outlaw with compassion and humanity that allowed audiences to be empathetic to the often uncontrollable circumstances that shape a person’s destiny.  Geoffrey’s brother was actor Pete Deuel, who starred in television’s, Alias Smith and Jones.  Geoffrey is seventy years old and resides in Florida.  He made guest appearances on several television shows in the 1970’s and last appeared in a film in 2001.

Clay O’Brien was lucky enough to appear in both The Cowboys and Cahill, United States Marshal.  In The Cowboys, he played Hardy Fimps, the little guy who made Duke’s height requirement for the cattle drive with a little help from his friends.  In Cahill, he played Duke’s youngest son, Billy Joe, who helps his dad and older brother bring justice to George Kennedy’s outlaw band.  Fittingly, Clay later became a rodeo star and is a seven time World Champion roper.

Now we know the rest of the story!


  1. John Olthoff says:

    Don’t forget Bobby Vinton who was in 2 Duke movies, Frankie Avalon and Ricky Nelson both appeared with Duke very early in their careers. It is amazing to hear that Lauren Bacall and Jimmy Stewart both took minimum salary, just so could work with Duke

  2. brad hubbell says:

    i love john wayne in eldorado and chisum and rio bravo the johnny crawford in eldorado was that same one that was in waltons as the sherriff also the guy that play missippi what is he doing now

  3. Ed says:

    Always remember Robt. Mithum for THUNDER ROAD

  4. Jack Young says:

    I was working at Old Tucson Studios in the 1960′s when Chris Mitchum was attending the University of Arizona. He tried to get a Gunfighters job at our place and I turned him down. He said he didn’t want to use his Daddy to open doors and I quickly explained how stupid that was. I told him to get all the doors he could opened using any method and that once they were open, he would have to keep them open. Next think I knew he was back in town to work on THE LAST HARD MAN with Charlton Heston. He turned out OK.

  5. Denise Becker says:

    Hell Fighters was film right down the road from me when I was a kid. My parents would go eat at a place called “The Texas Steak House” and John Wayne went there mast days for lunch.

  6. ANDY says:


  7. With Clash Royale Hack everything will likely to be much easier and much more pleasant.

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