Orison Whipple Hungerford, Jr.
January 1, 1930
New York City, U.S.
|Died||August 3, 2017 (aged 87)|
(m. 1958; div. 1960)
(m. 1962; div. 1965)
|Service/||United States Army|
Hardin was born in New York City, but reared in Texas, after his family moved to the capital city of Austin when he was six months old. His father, an acoustical engineer, left the family four years later.
As a growing boy, his grandmother, with whom he lived part of the time after his parents divorced, nicknamed him "Ty" because he was as active as a "Texas typhoon". Hardin graduated in 1949 from Lamar High School in Houston. A football scholarship enabled him to attend Blinn College in Brenham, Texas for one year, and then he went to the Dallas Bible Institute for one semester.
He served in the United States Army during the Korean War. He was commissioned after attending Officer Candidate School in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, and he became a pilot of Forward Observer O-1 Bird Dog liaison aircraft. He attained the rank of first lieutenant. After his return from service, he began taking courses at Texas A&M University in College Station on a scholarship under Coach Bear Bryant, for whom he played tight end.
Initially billed as "Ty Hungerford", he made various minor appearances in several Paramount films, such as The Space Children (1958), As Young as We Are (1958) I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958), The Buccaneer (1958) and Last Train from Gun Hill (1959).
Hardin tried to obtain a support role in the 1959 film Rio Bravo that had been promised to singer Ricky Nelson. John Wayne reportedly saw Hardin while visiting a film set at Paramount and was impressed with Hardin's appearance. Wayne introduced him to Howard Hawks and William T. Orr at Warner Bros. Television; they bargained for his seven-year contract and he moved to Warner Bros., who changed his stage surname to "Hardin", reminiscent of the Texas gunfighter John Wesley Hardin.
When Clint Walker walked out on his ABC series Cheyenne in 1958 during a contract dispute with Warner Bros., Hardin got his big break. Warner bought out Hardin's contract from Paramount Studios and installed him into Cheyenne for the remainder of the season, as the country cousin "Bronco Layne".
Walker and Warner Bros. came to terms after the season ended, but Hardin had made such a big hit on the show that Jack L. Warner gave him his own series, Bronco, under the Cheyenne title. Bronco alternated weeks with Sugarfoot, starring Will Hutchins, and Cheyenne for four years. The series ran from 1958 to 1962.
Hardin guest starred on other Warners shows such as Maverick and 77 Sunset Strip.
Warners cast Hardin in some films such as Merrill's Marauders (1962), where he was second billed to Jeff Chandler; The Chapman Report (1962); the spring break film Palm Springs Weekend (1963); PT 109; and Wall of Noise (1963).
When his contract expired, Hardin did Guys and Dolls in stock. He then left Hollywood to seek opportunity overseas as his series aired all over the world. Like many other American actors, Hardin traveled to Europe, where he made several spaghetti Westerns, including Man of the Cursed Valley (1964).
He returned to Europe to star in The Last Rampage (1970), Quel maledetto giorno della resa dei conti (1971), and Drummer of Vengeance (1971). He was in a 1970 German television series called On the Trail of Johnny Hilling, Boor and Billy, shown in the former West Germany.
In 1974 he was arrested in Spain for drug trafficking and spent time in prison.
In 1958, Hardin had his name changed legally from Orison Whipple Hungerford Jr. to Ty Hardin. He ascribed the change to a matter of convenience.
From 1962 to 1966, he was married to the 1961 Miss Universe, German beauty queen Marlene Schmidt, who later worked in the movie industry; they had one daughter. At the time of his death, Hardin lived with his eighth wife, Caroline, in Huntington Beach, California.
Hardin died on August 3, 2017, aged 87.
After difficulties with the Internal Revenue Service, Hardin founded an anti-tax movement in Prescott, Arizona. In 1982, the movement became known as the Arizona Patriots. The anti-Semitic group first gained public notice by its efforts to clog the Arizona court system with nuisance lawsuits in the 1980s, a tactic also employed by the violence-prone Posse Comitatus. The Patriots evolved from its anti-tax origins into a group described by the government and militia tracking groups as anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant and anti-black with a record of stockpiling weapons and threatening to assassinate Arizona state officials. It eventually disappeared after being infiltrated by the FBI, and federal agents raided one of its camps in 1986. Three men (James Ellison, Kerrey Noble and William Thomas) were sentenced to prison, others to lesser sentences, and one remains a fugitive. Hardin eventually left Arizona for California.