Slim Pickens

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Louis Burton Lindley, Jr. (June 29, 1919 – December 8, 1983), better known by the stage name Slim Pickens, was an American rodeo performer and film and television actor who epitomized the profane, tough, sardonic cowboy, but who is best remembered for his comic roles, notably in Dr. Strangelove, 1941 and Blazing Saddles.

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Early life

Pickens was born Louis Burton Lindley, Jr. in Kingsburg, California, the son of Sally Mosher (née Turk) and Louis Bert Lindley, Sr. He was an excellent rider from age 4 and quit school to join the rodeo at 12. He was told that working in the rodeo would be "slim pickings" (very little money), giving him his name, but he did well and eventually became a well-known rodeo clown — one of the most dangerous jobs in live entertainment.

After 20 years on the rodeo circuit, his distinctive Oklahoma-Texas drawl (even though he was a lifelong Californian), his wide eyes and moon face and strong physical presence gained him a role in the western Rocky Mountain (1950) starring Errol Flynn. He appeared in many more westerns, playing both villains and comic sidekicks to the likes of Rex Allen.

Film career

Pickens appeared in dozens of films, including Old Oklahoma Plains (1952), Down Laredo Way (1953), One-Eyed Jacks (1961) with Marlon Brando, Dr. Strangelove (1964), Major Dundee (1965) with Charlton Heston, the remake of Stagecoach (1966; Pickens played the driver, portrayed in the 1939 film by Andy Devine), Never a Dull Moment (1968), The Cowboys (1972) with John Wayne, Ginger in the Morning (1974) with Fred Ward, Blazing Saddles (1974), Poor Pretty Eddy (1975), Rancho Deluxe (1975), The Getaway with Steve McQueen, Tom Horn (1980), also with McQueen, An Eye for an Eye (1966) and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973) in a small but memorable role. He also had a small role in Steven Spielberg's 1941 (1979) in scenes with Toshirō Mifune and Christopher Lee; during one scene, he names the objects that he has with himself, and sounds like he does in Dr. Strangelove when identifying his possessions. In 1978, Pickens lent his voice to theme park Silver Dollar City as a character named Rube Dugan, for a ride called "Rube Dugan's Diving Bell", The diving bell was a simulation ride that took passengers on a journey to the bottom of Lake Silver and back. The ride was in operation from 1978 to 1984. He also played werewolf sheriff Sam Newfield in The Howling (1981).

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