Friday, February 27, 2009

John Dehner and Robert Wilke

These are two of my favorite western character actors of all time and both seem to have never gotten their due. Both appeared several times in almost every tv western and both have had significant roles in high-profile movies....some non-western.  Dehner was very good as a villian or a good-guy but he was especially good at portraying slippery characters such as Burgundy Smith in Sam Peckinpah's classic tv series THE WESTENER. He appeared in several GUNSMOKE episodes and was even Miss Kitty's father in one.  Dehner was in AIRPLANE II, THE SEQUEL; THE RIGHT STUFF and the two classic ROBERT MITCHUM mini-series THE WINDS OF WAR and WAR AND REMEMBRANCE. He even appeared in a Bowery Boys movie...."THE BOWERY BOYS MEET THE MONSTERS.  Dehner looked quite a bit like my maternal grandfather whose name was John Dahmer (no relation to Jeffrey).

Wilke was great as a villian and in later year played similar character types but in a comedic way.  He started out with bit parts in "B" westerns and his final role was in Bill Murray's classic comedy STRIPES.  I first remember him as Jim Pierce in HIGH NOON and later saw him, like Dehner, in almost every tv western. 

Wilke and Dehner appeared several times in the same movie/tv show.  Most notable was Anthony Mann's classic 1958 Gary Cooper flick MAN OF THE WEST.  Dehner was Cooper's embittered cousin Claude and Wilke was Ponce another member of the Uncle Dock Tobin gang, and they were both in John Sturges' 1965 "comedy" western misfire THE HALLELUJAH TRAIL.  They also were in "Incident of the Four Horsemen" a 1969 episode of RAWHIDE; THE CHEYENNE SOCIAL CLUB (1970); Tim Holt's HOT LEAD (1951); Monte Hale's OUT CALIFORNIA WAY (1946) with Roy Rogers; Rory Calhoun's POWDER RIVER (1953) and the 1946  non-western THE CATMAN OF PARIS.  Wilke was  unbilled as "The Catman."

Lets give these two guys their due.


Chris Casey said...

Hey, amigo! I am with you all the way! Both of these guys were great! Dehner was my personal favorite of the two; but, that Wilke was no slouch.
I agree that these guys need to get their due!

Jangoz said...

Chris, Dehner is also my favorite of the two.

wildbill said...

I cherish the fact that I am known as wild bill on the internet.No,not THE wild bill but bill elliott who played red ryder.Bill Elliott was a peaceful man just like myself and I admire men slow to anger.I like Bob Wilkie.Why? Because nobody liked Captain Apache on the internet back in 2000,so I extolled how great it was at dozens of sites with no regard to the slings and arrows hurled my way until now old cap has picked up a cult following.Bob Wilkie was ugly like me and I admire that.If you took all the t.v.guest shots combined between bob and jangoz dehner,you know,the Have Guns will Travel,Laramies,Wagon Trains,Rawhides,Gunsmokes,Virginians and Mavericks and added them together,well,I don't know what you'd get but it must be a hundred spots on t.v.westerns.Combined they must have acted a total of seven hundred times.Lee Van Cleef could have used bob wilkies role in Days of Heaven.Things would have changed around for lee the year after I wager.Bob must have did 9,10,11,12 henchman parts with bill elliott.He did serials he worked with everybody.He was hilarious in Halleluya(I don't know if I spelled that right)Trail.The year after that one he got a good guy role in Smoky with Fess Parker.If you work long enough and hard enough and your looks never improve,you may get better more sympathetic parts.Who knows! Didn't dehner and wilkie pass on to boothill close?The same year? a year apart I think.Weren't they born the same year or a year apart? Love them in Cheyenne Social Club.Wonder how many times lee worked with them.Dehner could do dry gulching prarie desert whiskered greasy rat.But he did just as well refined,cultured and shifty high class.He didn't last long in charge of the Shiloh ranch on The Virginian.I guess I won't fight for more recognition for bob than Dehner.It just occured to me that I like them both with equal enthusiasm.

BHC said...

I just saw Denher in THE FASTEST GUN ALIVE with Glenn Ford and he was great as the second bad guy to Broderick Crawford. There's a scene where he wants to draw on ol' Brod, who's super fast, and Brod wants him to so he can kill him, but you can see the character having second thoughts about it and he turns and walks away. I don't think I've ever seen Denher do a bad job. And Wilke is kind of the American Mario Brega, specially in later roles.

Jangoz said...

Can't believe I forgot about Wilke's poignant performance in DAYS OF ANGER. Loved him, too, in THE HALLELUJAH TRAIL...he was one of the best things about the film.

Wilke and LVC only appeared in the same production twice. Besides High Noon, they both (along with a lot of other screen baddies) were in the 1960 Phil Silvers comic western THE SLOWEST GUN IN THE WEST.

Dehner and Lee appeared in the same production three times...the 1969 oater LAW OF THE PLAINSMAN and two tv shows..."The Attic" episode of 77 SUNSET STRIP in 1960 and "The Pariah" a 1965 episode of GUNSMOKE.

Wilke died on 3-28-89 at the age of 75 and Dehner was 78 when he passed on 2-4-92.

Jangoz said...

My could I have forgotten that Dehner was the voice of Paladin in the radio version of HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL.

Tom B. said...

I always like Dehner. He had a very recognizable voice that I would hear on old radio broadcasts. He was always likeale in good or bad guy roles. Wilke was another story. He always seemed to played vicious villains. I didn't come to appreciate his work until long after he passed away. That tells you how good an actor he was.