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Hank Worden
Worden in McLintock! (1963)
Norton Earl Worden

(1901-07-23)July 23, 1901
DiedDecember 6, 1992(1992-12-06) (aged 91)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California
Alma materStanford University
University of Nevada
Years active1935–1991
Emma Louise Eaton
(m. 1940; died 1977)

Hank Worden (born Norton Earl Worden; July 23, 1901 – December 6, 1992) was an American cowboy-turned-character actor who appeared in many Westerns, including many John Ford films such as The Searchers and the TV series The Lone Ranger.


Born in Rolfe, Iowa,[1] Worden was raised on a cattle ranch near Glendive, Montana and was educated at Stanford University and the University of Nevada as an engineer. He enlisted in the U.S. Army hoping to become an Army pilot but failed to pass flight school. An expert horseman, he toured the country in rodeos as a saddle bronc rider. During one ride, his horse landed atop him and fractured his neck, but aside from a temporary soreness, Worden did not know of the nature of the damage until x-rayed 20 years later.[citation needed] While appearing in a rodeo at Madison Square Garden in New York, he and fellow cowboy Tex Ritter were chosen to appear in the Broadway play Green Grow the Lilacs (1931).[2] Following the run of the play, Worden drove a cab in New York City, and then worked on dude ranches as a wrangler and as a guide on the Bright Angel trail of the Grand Canyon.

A chance encounter with actress Billie Burke at a dude ranch led her to recommend him to several film producers. Worden made his film debut as an extra in Cecil B. DeMille's The Plainsman (though a few later films were released prior to The Plainsman). By this time, Tex Ritter had become a star, and Worden played sidekick roles in a number of Ritter's Westerns. In several of his early appearances, Worden was billed as "Heber Snow", until he reverted to his real name. A small part in Howard Hawks's Come and Get It led to a number of later appearances for that director, who also recommended him to director John Ford. He appeared in six episodes of the TV series The Lone Ranger.

Worden eventually became a member of the John Ford Stock Company, and was directed by Ford twelve times in films and television. The connection with Ford led to an association with actor John Wayne, and Worden appeared in 17 of Wayne's films. Foremost among his collaborations with Wayne and Ford in The Searchers, the 1956 classic Western in which Worden portrayed his most memorable role, that of "Mose Harper," the Shakespearean fool who only longed for "a roof over [his] head and a rocking chair by the fire."

Worden's best performances were given for demanding directors. He had a striking appearance: tall, thin, bald, his voice and mannerisms unforgettable to anyone who saw him. He worked steadily in television as well as films, long outliving Hawks, Ford and Wayne, and achieving some late notice as a senile hotel waiter in David Lynch's Twin Peaks TV series.

In 1992, Worden hosted and co-produced, with director Clyde Lucas, an independent special shown on the Nostalgia Channel and some PBS stations entitled Thank Ya, Thank Ya Kindly. The special looked back on Worden's career and featured guests Clint Eastwood, Paul Hogan, Harry Carey Jr., Ben Johnson, Frankie Avalon, Burt Kennedy and stuntman Dean Smith.

Widowed by his wife of 37 years (the former Emma Louise Eaton) in 1977, he later shared his house for several years with actor Jim Beaver. He died while taking a nap at his home in Los Angeles on December 6, 1992, aged 91.[3] He was survived by his daughter, Dawn Henry, whom he and his wife had adopted as an adult.

Selected filmography

John Wayne films

Other appearances



  1. ^ Oliver, Myrna (December 10, 1992). "Hank Worden; Western Actor". The Los Angeles Times. p. 609. Retrieved September 7, 2020 – via
  2. ^ "Hank Worden". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on September 7, 2020. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  3. ^ "Hank Worden, Actor In 100 Films, Was 91". The New York Times. Associated Press. December 12, 1992. p. 13. Retrieved October 25, 2011.