Ty Hardin, star of TV Western ‘Bronco,’ dead at 87

NEW YORK — Ty Hardin, a popular film and television actor who starred as the gunman Bronco Layne in the TV Western series “Bronco” and worked with Henry Fonda and Kirk Douglas among others, has died.

A resident of Huntington Beach, California, Hardin died Thursday at age 87. His widow, Carolyn Pampu Hardin, told The Associated Press that he had been in failing health.

Born Orison Whipple Hungerford Jr. in New York, Hardin grew up in Texas, served in the Korean War and played football at Texas A&M under future University of Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. He changed his name in his 20s, in homage to the outlaw John Wesley Hardin, as his acting career was taking off.

Hardin credited John Wayne for giving him a major break when the actor helped him get a contract with Warner Brothers. When Clint Walker left the TV show “Cheyenne” in 1958 over a contractual dispute, Hardin stepped in and continued in the spinoff “Bronco,” which aired until 1962.

Hardin also had a diverse film career, from the Joan Crawford thriller “Berserk!” to the World War II movies “Battle of the Bulge” and “PT 109.” After struggling with tax issues in the 1970s, he founded an anti-tax organization that became the extremist anti-government group the Arizona Patriots. The Patriots disbanded after federal agents raided one of its camps in 1986.

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