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Hall of Great Western Performers
Inducted in 2021
Woodrow Wilson Woolwine

Woodrow Wilson Woolwine "Woody" Strode

1914 - 1994

An athlete turned actor, Woody Strode was a top-notch decathlete and a football star at UCLA, where he played alongside Kenny Washington and Jackie Robinson. In 1946 Strode and Washington broke the National Football League’s color barrier by playing for the Los Angeles Rams, the same year Marion Motley and Bill Willis played professional football for the Cleveland Browns of the All-America Football Conference. He was also a professional wrestler, wrestling the likes of Gorgeous George.

Strode became a respected actor with strong African and Native American ancestry, with Cree and Blackfoot on his father’s side and Cherokee on his mother’s. Known for his size (he was 6’ 4”) and strong physical appearance, he was offered roles that fell within the range of those limited to ethnic male actors and played them notably.

After meeting director John Ford and becoming a part of the Ford “family,” Strode appeared in four Ford motion pictures, Two Rode Together (1960), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), 7 Women (1965), and was the star of Ford’s Sergeant Rutledge (1960). He appeared in a number of Western films including The Professionals (1966), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), Winterhawk (1975), and The Quick and The Dead (1995) and television Westerns including Rawhide (1961) and How The West Was Won (1977), Strode also played the powerful gladiator who battles Kirk Douglas in Spartacus (1960).

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