Harrah-born film and television star Dale Robertson has died in La Jolla, Calif., following a long illness. He was 89.
During his acting career he appeared in 63 feature films and several television series, but he was best-known for portraying special agent Jim Hardie, TV's fastest left-handed gun, on NBC's highly rated Western series “Tales of Wells Fargo,” which ran from March 1957 to September 1961.
His many roles in Western films and TV productions earned him induction into the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum's Hall of Great Western Performers in 1983.
“Dale obviously had a wonderful career in film and was a very popular Western actor,” museum President Chuck Schroeder said. “But beyond that, when you get to know some of Dale's friends, you start to understand what an influence Dale was on others. He was a guy who was very generous in helping other people get started in the movie business. He was generous to people who were down on their luck. He was a guy who really cared about his fellow man, and not only cared about them but invested himself in helping other people.
“We always think that part of the Code of the West is being a gentleman and looking after our neighbors, and Dale was one who certainly lived that value every day of his life,” Schroeder said.
Robertson's niece, Nancy Love Robertson, of Oklahoma City, said her uncle's health had been failing for about two years. She said Robertson and his wife, Susan, had moved to the San Diego area a few months ago, after many years of living and raising horses on their Haymaker Farm north of Yukon.
She said her uncle was diagnosed with cancer only last week. He died Tuesday.
“It's a big chapter change,” she said. “We were always a close family.”
Educated at Oklahoma Military College in Claremore, where he was named All-Around Outstanding Athlete, Robertson entered the Army in 1942. He served as a tank commander in the 777th Tank Battalion in North Africa, where he was wounded by enemy fire. After recovering, he served with the 322nd Combat Engineer Battalion during the European campaign, where he was wounded again.
He had won the Bronze and Silver Stars, the Purple Heart and the Cross of Lorraine from France by the time he was discharged in 1946. He was “discovered” by Hollywood producers while he was stationed in California.
His career started with bit roles in 1948 in “Johnny Belinda” and “The Boy With Green Hair” and grew into films such as “Two Flags West” with Joseph Cotton and “O. Henry's Full House” with Richard Widmark and Marilyn Monroe.
His small screen credits include the starring role in “The Iron Horse” (1966-68), host and occasional star of “Death Valley Days” (1968-72), a recurring guest-shot on “Dynasty” in the early 1980s, and star of the short-lived “J.J. Starbuck” in the late '80s.
El Camino Memorial Encinitas mortuary in Encinitas, Calif., is handling arrangements. Robertson's niece said memorial services are pending in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. Donations may be made to the Central Oklahoma Salvation Army.
Robertson is survived by his wife, Susan; his daughters, Rochelle Robertson, of Los Angeles, and Rebel Lea Robertson, of Dallas; and one granddaughter, Jade Robertson.