I am curious to find out some opinions on the best underrated western actors. Personally, I am an Audie Murphy fan and would've liked to have seen him in some better quality westerns.
Here's a few other terrific old character actors who made westerns great-James Gregory,Michael Pate (an Aussie!),Bruce Gordon and Michael Ansara. Dehner was the one originally considerd for the t.v. version too but was locked into a contract with Warner Bros. that prevented it.He started as a Disney animator,was also a professional pianist,then became an actor!
Probably the most underrated actor in B-Westerns was Charles Lafayette King, Jr., from Hillsboro, Texas. Billed as Charles L. King, Jr., Charles L. King, Charles King, Chas. King, or Charlie King--when he got billing at all--Charlie King was the most durable '2nd villain' in B-Westerns, appearing in over 200 of them. He was short, had a heavy, jowly face and a walrus moustache, a beer belly than hung over his belt, and a bad combover you saw when the hero landed a haymaker on his chin and his hat flew off. He always wore the same costume as 'bad guy #2'--boots, jeans, a checkered shirt, a vest, leather cuffs, and a black hat with a 'Hopalong Cassidy' crease. He was in so many B-Westerns as '2nd villain' that those films are called 'Charie King films.' The heroes came and went, the heroines came and went, the sidekicks came and went--but Charlie King went on forever.
I think that we should include James Gregory in here as he did some stand out parts in the movies and was a regular on 1950's through mid 80's television,essaying dozens of roles in Wagon Train,Big Valley,Bonanza,The Wild,Wild West and a bunch of others.Gregory had a terrific gravelly voice,a distinctive look and was excellent at portraying sharp,often cantankerous and tough authority figures.He could be equally at home doing menacing or comedy.Right before his retirement in 1987 he had bee seen for several years portraying Barney Miller's friend Inspector Frank Luger. He was a successful Wall Street stock broker in the tough depression thirties but got bitten by the acting bug and was on Broadway garnering critical notice in 1938.He switched from stage to film in 1948.He was well respected and loved by his peers.
How about Bing Russell?He had small parts in Rio Bravo and The Magnificent Seven and at one time or another appeared in almost every television western in the 50's and 60's.Also father of Kurt.
Also Leo Gordon,had a great fight scene with Clint Walker in Cheyenne and played an aging wrestler in a really good Little House episode and wrote the screneplay for the movie Tobruk.