Can anyone tell me who among the western stars were considered to be the fastest draw? I've been researching and heard everyone from jerry lewis to sammy davis jr to a hendrickson,who played in the t.v. series 26 men.
Arvo Ojalla was supposed to be quite fast I think, and the fact that at one time he was a coach to western stars would seem to support that ..
Glenn Ford too could handle a gun very well, there is a series of pictures showing him getting two shots of quite fast, one from the draw then he rolls the hammer on his hip and fires again, OK .. not very practical, but a neat trick and shows good gun handling skills too.
Many of the western stars could handle a gun very well but lets not forget, fast didnt always mean accurate .. !! and on that point if the hollywood legend about Sammy Davis performance in Robin and the Seven Hoods being a live shoot is true, then he must rate as one of the best.
I have an article called 'The Truth about Hollywood Gunfighters' from an old western magazine .. unfortunately as it has been taken out of the magazine and is in a folder I dont know what magazine;
In the article though and maybe in answer to the main question it states that ..
"There are at least six men who have proven themselves 'Professional Gunhands' .. Arvo Ojalla, Rodd Redwing, Carl Pitti, Doyle Brook, Fred Carson, George Ross and (I venture to add) myself .. (ie; Charles Macdonal Heard, the article author) ...
... Also there are a number of actors who have practised arduously on gun-skill and studied gunfighter lore in order to improve their portrayals of Gunfighters. Among these are such stars as Audie Murphy, John Derek, Burt Lancaster, and many others, as well as the new TV gunfighters such as Hugh O'Brian, Clint Walker, Jim Davis, James Arness, Clayton Moore. These men are also 'pros' who do not require a double to do their gunplay, no matter how fast or risky a scene may be."
I cant recall what magazine it was, one of the many western ones though no doubt, and given the reference to 'new TV gunfighters', I would guess it dated to the late 50's early 60's maybe.
Sammy Davis also appeared in a 1971 TV movie with Ernest Borgnine entitled "The Trackers" in which he portrayed a Deputy and Master Tracker attempting to retrieve Ernie's daughter from some scoundrels!
It has been said that in the 50's (Golden Age of the western), that the Top Four Gunslingers were: Audie Murphy, Rory Calhoun, Ben Cooper and Dale Robertson in that order.
There is a story in Don Graham's Biography of Audie Murphy - "No Name On The Bullet", that goes like this: While filming "Drums Across The River", Murphy was constantly pestered by Hugh O'Brien to have a contest to see which of the two was the fastest gun. Murphy finally agreed saying; "OK, we''ll do it tomorrow morning and we'll use real bullets! How's that?"
That ended the pestering!
Knowing that Murphy suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome for years after World War II, and kept a loaded .45 by his bed, the story isn't that hard to believe.
Glenn Ford was said to be the "Fastest Gun Alive" BUT: If you look closely at his holstered revolver in the confrontation between 'Jason Sweet and Chocktaw Neal' in "The Sheepman", you can clearly see that Ford's gun is already cocked - a very dangerous thing even with blanks!
The same is so when he takes on Chad Everett in "The Last Challenge".
When Marlon Brando whirls around the pillar in the saloon to shoot Timothy Carey, it looks really cool! But his sidearm, a Colt 1873 Model Single Action Six-Gun, that he has carried through the whole movie, quickly becomes what appears to be a Colt 1917 New Service Revolver (a Double Action that does not require you to thumb cock it before each shot). However, it looked Great on film!!
Hollywood Armorers have been known to dress up Smith & Wesson and Colt Double Action Revolvers to look like a Colt Peacemaker by slapping on a side rod ejector housing. This made quick multiple shots easier for some actors who were either inexperienced with single action revolvers or who did not have the manual dexterity to properly handle a "Thumb Buster"!
If you watch Dan Duryea's suicide charge at the end of "Ride Clear of Diablo", he clearly has a double action revolver (looks like a 'Smith')! In fact when examined closely, as he is "Fanning" his pistol, his left hand doesn't even come close to the gun, and he obviously just keeps squeezing the trigger and "slapping" the air!!
Oh well, who really cares as long as it looks good. As a young kid in the 50's, watching these "Dusters" on a Saturday afternoon, I just ate it up with a spoon! Too bad they don't make 'em like that anymore.