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Dale Robertson: Actor best known for his roles in Westerns


Dale Robertson, who has died the age of 89, was a star of television and film Westerns during the genre's heyday. With his quietly spoken, modest persona, he had bit parts in films such as The Boy with the Green Hair and the Joan Crawford vehicle Flamingo Road before landing more high-profile roles such as Jesse James in Fighting Man of the Plains.

In the 1950s he moved into television, starring in series such as Tales of Wells Fargo (1957-62), Iron Horse (1966) and Death Valley Days (1968-70). He continued to work in TV in the 1970s, and in the 1980s he landed roles in Dallas and Dynasty. In 1993, he took what would be his final role, as Zeke in the show Harts of the West, before retiring to spend more time at his ranch in Yukon, Oklahoma.

"I remember him as a larger-than-life fellow," his niece Nancy Robertson said. "When he was in town it was always very exciting. It always meant something magical was going to happen," such as another actor or performing artist accompanying him on his visits. "He came back a lot when he was in Hollywood, and he came back [to Oklahoma] after retiring," she said.

Born in 1923, Robertson attended Oklahoma Military College at 17 and boxed in professional prize fights. He joined the US Army and fought in North Africa and Europe during the Second World War. He was wounded twice and awarded the Bronze and Silver Stars and the Purple Heart.

While stationed at San Luis Obispo in California he had a photograph taken for his mother. A copy of the picture displayed in the photographic shop window attracted film scouts, and the well-built six-footer was on his way to Hollywood.

Will Rogers Jr, the son of another Oklahoma-born actor, Will Rogers, told Robertson to avoid formal training and keep his own persona, saying, "Don't ever take a dramatic lesson. They will try to put your voice in a dinner jacket, and people like their hominy and grits in everyday clothes." It was advice that stood him in good stead, and he never took an acting lesson his life.

Robertson received the Golden Boot Award in 1985, and was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers and the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City. He was married several times, most recently in 1980 to Susan Robbins, who survives him along with two children.

Eric Law

Dayle Lymoine Robertson, actor: born Harrah, Oklahoma 14 July 1923; married; died La Jolla, California 27 February 2013.