Former Chatsworth resident Dale Robertson, who went from real cowboy to reel cowboy and back again, died Tuesday at 89.
Born Dayle Lymoine Robertson in Harrah, OK, on July 14, 1923, Robertson attended Oklahoma Military College at 17 and boxed in professional prize fights to earn money. In World War II, he served in the Army in Africa and Europe, was wounded twice and won bronze and silver stars.
But the former Monterea Estates resident, who died of lung cancer at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, CA, only came to Hollywood so he could afford his own ranch back in Oklahoma.
He did just that, too, at Haymaker Farm, near Yukon, OK., about 20 miles west of Oklahoma City. At one time, Robertson had 235 horses, according to the Oklahoma Gazette.
With a resemblance to Clark Gable, the tall, strikingly handsome Robertson seemed a natural for movies.
While stationed in California, he "wanted to give a portrait of himself to his mother. He and some buddies went to Hollywood and picked a photographer at random," according to the New York Times. "The photographer liked his picture of Mr. Robertson so much, he blew it up and put in his window. Talent agents started calling."
Robertson made more than 430 television episodes, and 60 films, mostly in 1950s-era B westerns with many filmed locally at the Iverson Ranch. His biggest success came with TV's Tales of Wells Fargo, in which he played Wells Fargo agent Jim Hardie, from 1957 to 1962. Other TV roles included Iron Horse, Dynasty and J.J. Starbuck. In the 1960s, he joined Ronald Reagan, Robert Taylor as narrator of TV’s Death Valley Days. He also had a role on Dallas.
"I knew him 45 years ago when he lived in Mission Hills. He was a really nice man," Chatsworth film historian Jerry England told Patch.
The cowboy star "never made any bones about his desire to get out of show business one day," according to the New York Times. "He said movies had gotten too sexy for his tastes. He said he got tired of having to hold his stomach in. Mostly, he wanted a ranch."
"Robertson never lost his disdain for Eastern actors, who he thought just played at being cowboys. He said you could spot them by the way they walked around a horse," the Times reported.
Robertson was married four times. In addition to his wife, the former Susan Robbins, whom he married in 1980, he is survived by his daughters, Rochelle Robertson and Rebel Lee, and a granddaughter.
Nancy Robertson said her uncle will be cremated and that a memorial service will be held in a few weeks.
"As you already know the man was an ICON!" son-in-law Brad Stanley told Patch.