Slim Pickens


Louis Burton Lindley Jr. (June 29, 1919 – December 8, 1983), better known by his stage name Slim Pickens, was an American rodeo performer and film and television actor. For much of his career Pickens played mainly cowboy roles; he is perhaps best remembered today for his comic roles in Stanley Kubrick‘s Dr. Strangelove (1964), with Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden; Mel Brooks‘s Blazing Saddles (1974), with Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Harvey Korman, and Madeline Kahn; and a small role in Steven Spielberg‘s 1941 (1979), sharing scenes with Toshiro Mifune and Christopher Lee.

After nearly 20 years of rodeo work, his wide eyes, moon face, strong physical presence, and distinctive country drawl gained him a role in the William Keighley directed Western Rocky Mountain (1950), with Errol Flynn. He appeared in many more Westerns, playing both villains and comic sidekicks to actors such as Rex Allen. Hollywood made good use of Pickens’ rodeo background. He did not need a stand-in for horseback scenes, and he was able to gallop his own Appaloosa horses across the desert, or drive a stagecoach pulled by a six-horse team. In a large number of films and TV shows, he wore his own hats and boots, and rode his own horses and mules.

Pickens appeared in dozens of further films, including Old Oklahoma Plains (1952), John Ford‘s The Sun Shines Bright (1953), George Marshall‘s The Sheepmen (1958), with Glenn Ford, Shirley MacLaine, and Leslie Nielsen; Tonka (1959), with Sal Mineo; One-Eyed Jacks (1961), directed by and starring Marlon Brando; Major Dundee (1965), with Charlton Heston; Stagecoach (1966), An Eye for an Eye (1966), Never a Dull Moment (1968), starring Dick Van Dyke and Edward G. Robinson; The Cowboys (1972), with John Wayne; The Getaway (1972), with Steve McQueen; Sam Peckinpah‘s Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973), with James Coburn, Kris Kristofferson; Ginger in the Morning (1974), with Sissy Spacek and Fred Ward; Poor Pretty Eddie (1975), with Shelly Winters; Rancho Deluxe (1975), with Jeff Bridges and Sam Waterson; The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975), with Don Knotts; Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979), with Michael Caine, Sally Field, and Karl Malden; and Tom Horn (1980), also with McQueen.

Pickens and Roddy McDowall provided the voices of B.O.B. and V.I.N.CENT in the Disney science-fiction thriller The Black Hole (1979), starring Maximilian Schell, Robert Forster, Joseph Bottoms, Yvette Mimieux, Anthony Perkins and Ernest Borgnine. He also played werewolf sheriff Sam Newfield in Joe Dante’s The Howling (1981). His last film was his least notable, Pink Motel (1982), with Phyllis Diller.

In 1960, he appeared in the NBC Western series Overland Trail in the episode “Sour Annie”, with fellow guest stars Mercedes McCambridge and Andrew Prine. Pickens appeared five times in NBC’s Outlaws (1960–62) Western series as the character Slim. The program, starring Barton MacLane, was the story of a U.S. marshal in Oklahoma Territory and the outlaws he pursued. In 1967, Pickens had a recurring role as the scout California Joe Milner in the ABC military Western Custer, which starred Wayne Maunder in the title role.

Pickens was cast in recurring roles in The Legend of Custer, Bonanza, Hee Haw (where he was a semiregular from 1981 until his death), B. J. and the Bear with Greg Evigan, and Filthy Rich. He played Wild Jack Monroe, the owner of station WJM, in CBS’s The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and also guest-starred as Zeke in the 1963 episode “Higgins and the Hillbilly” of the ABC sitcom Our Man Higgins, which starred Stanley Holloway as a British butler for a suburban American family. Pickens portrayed Grandpa Shoenfield in a two-part 1980 episode of ABC’s The Love Boat. In an episode of CBS’s Hawaii Five-O he portrayed the patriarch of a family of serial killers. He emceed NBC’s short-lived country music variety series The Nashville Palace in 1981.

Pickens appeared in episodes of numerous other TV series including: The Wide Country, Mannix, Cheyenne, Sugarfoot, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Lone Ranger, Frontier Doctor, Route 66, The Tall Man, Maverick, The Westerner, Riverboat, The Fugitive, The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters, The Legend of Jesse James, Alias Smith and Jones, Daniel Boone, The Virginian, That Girl, Baretta, Vega$, How the West Was Won, Cimarron Strip, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and Kung Fu.

Each review will be linked to the title below.

(*seen originally in theaters)

(**seen rereleased in theaters)

  • Smokey (1946) – directed by Louis King – uncredited
  • Rocky Mountain (1950) – directed by William Keighley
  • Colorado Sundown (1952) – directed by William Witney
  • The Last Musketeer (1952) – directed by William Witney
  • Border Saddlemates (1952) – directed by William Witney
  • The Story of Will Rogers (1952) – directed by Michael Curtiz
  • Old Oklahoma Plains (1952) – directed by William Witney
  • South Pacific Trail (1952) – directed by William Witney
  • Thunderbirds (1952) – directed by John H. Auer
  • Old Overland Trail (1953) directed by William Witney
  • The Sun Shines Bright (1953) – directed by John Ford
  • Iron Mountain Trail (1953) – directed by William Witney
  • Down Laredo Way (1953) – directed by William Witney
  • Shadows of Tombstone (1953) directed by William Witney
  • Red River Shore (1953) – directed by Harry Keller
  • Phantom Stallion (1954) – directed by Harry Keller
  • The Boy from Oklahoma (1954) – directed by Michael Curtiz
  • The Outcast (1954) – directed by William Witney
  • Santa Fe Passage (1955) – directed by William Witney
  • The Last Command (1955) – directed by Frank Lloyd
  • When Gangland Strikes (1956) – directed by R. G. Springsteen
  • Stranger at My Door (1956) – directed by William Witney
  • The Great Locomotive Chase (1956) – directed by Francis D. Lyon
  • Gun Brothers (1956) – directed by Sidney Salkow
  • Gunsight Ridge (1957) – directed by Francis D. Lyon
  • The Sheepman (1958) – directed by George Marshall
  • Tonka (1958) – directed by Lewis R. Foster
  • Escort West (1959) – directed by Francis D. Lyon
  • Stump Run (1959) – directed by Edward Dew
  • Chartroose Caboose (1960) – directed by William ‘Red’ Reynolds
  • One-Eyed Jacks (1961) – directed by Marlon Brando
  • A Thunder of Drums (1961) – directed by Joseph M. Newman
  • Savage Sam (1963) – directed by Norman Tokar
  • Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)** – directed by Stanley Kubrick
  • Major Dundee (1965) – directed by Sam Peckinpah
  • In Harm’s Way (1965) – directed by Otto Preminger
  • Up from the Beach (1965) – directed by Robert Parrish
  • The Glory Guys (1965) – directed by Arnold Laven
  • Stagecoach (1966) – directed by Gordon Douglas
  • An Eye for an Eye (1966) – directed by Michael D. Moore
  • Un tipo dificil de matar (1967) – directed by Rafael Portillo – aka Hard Breed to Kill
  • Rough Night in Jericho (1967) – directed by Arnold Laven
  • The Flim-Flam Man (1967) – directed by Irvin Kershner
  • Will Penny (1967) – directed by Tom Gries
  • Never a Dull Moment (1968) – directed by Jerry Paris
  • Skidoo (1968) – directed by Otto Preminger
  • 80 Steps to Jonah (1969) – directed by Gerd Oswald
  • Rosolino Paternò, soldato… (1970) – directed by Nanni Loy – aka Operation Snafu & Situation Normal: A.F.U
  • The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970) – directed by Sam Peckinpah
  • The Deserter (1971) – directed by Burt Kennedy – La Spina Dorsale Del Diavolo
  • The Wild Season (1971) – directed by Myron J. Gold – aka Temporada salvaje
  • The Young Rounders (1971) – directed by Casey Tibbs
  • The Cowboys (1972) – directed by Mark Rydell
  • J.C. (1972) – directed by William F. McGaha
  • The Honkers (1972) – directed by Steve Ihnat
  • The Getaway (1972) – directed by Sam Peckinpah
  • Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973) – directed by Sam Peckinpah
  • Blazing Saddles (1974)** – directed by Mel Brooks
  • The Gun and the Pulpit (1974) – directed by Daniel Petrie – TV movie
  • Bootleggers (1974) – directed by Charles B. Pierce
  • Ginger in the Morning (1974) – directed by Gordon Wiles
  • The Legend of Earl Durand (1974) – directed by John D. Patterson
  • Runaway on the Rogue River (1974) – directed by Larry Lansburgh
  • Rancho Deluxe (1975) – directed by Frank Perry
  • Poor Pretty Eddie (1975) – directed by Richard Robinson
  • The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975) – directed by Norman Tokar
  • White Line Fever (1975) – directed by Jonathan Kaplan
  • Hawmps! (1976) – directed by Joe Camp
  • Pony Express Rider (1976) – directed by Robert Totten
  • Mr. Billion (1977) – directed by Jonathan Kaplan
  • The White Buffalo (1977) – directed by J. Lee Thompson
  • The Shadow of Chikara (1977) – directed by Earl E. Smith
  • The Swarm (1978) – directed by Irwin Allen
  • Smokey and the Good Time Outlaws (1978) – directed by Alexander Grasshoff
  • The Sweet Creek County War (1979) – directed by J. Frank James
  • Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979) – directed by Irwin Allen
  • The Sacketts (1979) – directed by Robert Totten – TV movie
  • 1941 (1979) – directed by Steven Spielberg
  • Spirit of the Wind (1979) – directed by Ralph Liddle
  • The Black Hole (1979) – directed by Gary Nelson – uncredited voice
  • Tom Horn (1980) – directed by William Wiard
  • Honeysuckle Rose (1980) – directed by Jerry Schatzberg
  • Christmas Mountain (1981) – directed by Pierre de Moro Giafferi
  • The Howling (1981) – directed by Joe Dante
  • This House Possessed (1981) – William Wiard – TV movie
  • Pink Motel (1982) – directed by Mike MacFarland
  • Sawyer and Finn (1983) – directed by Peter H. Hunt