Today’s pic takes another look at “Quaker Girl,” the second of two episodes of Gunsmoke in which Timothy appears. It was first broadcast on December 10, 1966. Opportunistic bad guys Dave Westerfeldt (Tom Reese) and Vern Morland (Ben Johnson) rely on their part-Indian tracker “Buster” Rilla to help them nab a killer.
Johnson and Timothy had previously both appeared in Marlon Brando‘s One-Eyed Jacks (1961), though not on-screen together. Johnson was certainly one of the greatest Western stars who ever lived. If he seemed like an authentic cowboy on-screen, that’s because he was one off-screen as well. He was ever at home in the saddle, having been discovered in 1940 in his home state of Oklahoma by Howard Hughes while he was a rodeo rider and ranch hand. Hughes hired him to run a herd of horses to California, Johnson ended up sticking around, and his Hollywood career began. He returned briefly to rodeo riding in 1953, but the pay in Hollywood was a lot better, so back he went. His father, Ben Johnson Sr., was also a champion steer roper and a legend in the rodeo world.
Ben Johnson was also a stellar member of the John Ford ‘stock company’; you can see him in a number of Ford films from the late 40s and early 50s – Ford often liked to shoot a scene that just showed Johnson riding his horse, because he rode so beautifully.
Very true! He was quite a sight to see on a horse. It’s like he was born on one!