The 1962 film “How The West Was Won” is a classic epic Western movie that follows several generations of a family as they navigate the dangers and opportunities of the American West. The star-studded cast included some of the biggest names in Hollywood at the time, and their performances helped to make the movie a beloved classic that still holds up today.
Unfortunately, over the years, many of the film’s cast members have passed away, leaving behind legacies that continue to be celebrated by fans and industry professionals alike. In this video, we will take a closer look at how some of the key members of the “How The West Was Won” cast died, and reflect on their contributions to the world of film and entertainment.
Facts Verse Presents: How They Died – How the West Was Won Cast
James Stewart was an American actor who played the role of Linus Rawlings.
Aside from his unforgettable role in How the West Was Won, Stewart was also known for his roles in films such as Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, The Philadelphia Story, It’s A Wonderful Life, and Winchester 73. Later in his career, Stweart was a frequent collaborator with Alfred Hitchcock, appearing in several of his most iconic horror films, including Rear Window, Rope, and Vertigo
Stewart died of a heart attack on July 2, 1997, in Beverly Hills, California, at the age of 89.
Debbie Reynolds was a beloved American actress and singer who played the role of Lilith Prescott in How The West Was Won. Reynolds was perhaps best known for her Oscar-nominated performance in the leading role of MGMs 1963 film The Unsinkable Molly Brown. She also starred in 1952s Singin’ In The Rain and 1996s Mother.
Reynolds died after suffering a stroke on December 28, 2016, in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 84.
In How The West Was Won, this American film, television and stage actress and Wisconsin native played Dora Hawkins. Bazlen only ever appeared in two other Hollywood films; Honeymoon Machine and King of Kings, before retiring from acting in her late twenties. Sadly, she died from cancer at the early age of 44 on June 9, 1944.
Walter Brennan was an American actor who played the role of Col. Jeb Hawkins in the film. Throughout his career, Brennan was best known for his portrayals of lovable old codgers and loyal western sidekicks.
For his film work, he won three Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor. Brennan died after a long battle with emphysema on September 21, 1974, in Oxnard, California, at the age of 80.
Andy Devine was a character actor and comic cowboy who appeared in over 400 films during his career. He was known for his distinctive raspy voice and played a variety of roles in both film and television.
In the 1962 western epic How The West Was Won, Devine played the role of the grizzled and rough-around-the-edges character, Corporal Peterson.
Born on October 7, 1905, in Flagstaff, Arizona, Devine began his career in radio before moving on to film and television. He quickly became known for his unique voice and affable personality, which made him a popular character actor.
Devine appeared in a number of well-known films throughout his career, including “Stagecoach,” “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” and “The Wild Bunch.” He also lent his voice to a number of animated films, including the classic Disney film “Robin Hood.”
Devine continued to work in film and television until his death from leukemia on February 18, 1977, in Orange, California, at the age of 71.
David Brian, born in 1914, was an American actor best known for his work in film and television during the 1940s and 1950s. He began his career on Broadway before making his way out to Hollywood in the late 1940s. He quickly gained a reputation as a versatile character actor, playing a wide range of roles in films such as 1949s Intruder in the Dust and Flamingo Road, and 1950s The Damned Don’t Cry. In addition to his film work, Brian also appeared on various television shows, including The Twilight Zone and Perry Mason.
One of David Brian’s most memorable roles was in How The West Was Won, in which he played the character of Lilith’s attorney. Brian’s performance in the film was praised for its depth and nuance, and cemented his reputation as a skilled character actor.
Brian died of heart disease and cancer on July 15, 1993, in Sherman Oaks, California.
Born in 1916, Gregory Peck was an American actor who played the role of Cleve Van Valen in How The West Was Won. Throughout the 1940s into the 1970s, Peck was one of the most popular film stars in the world. In fact, the American Film Institute has named him the 12th greatest male star of the Classic era of Hollywood cinema.
While he appeared in more films than we could ever possibly cover in one video, Peck was best known for his larger-than-life roles in movies such as To Kill A Mockingbird, in which he played Atticus Finch, as well as Roman Hoiiday, The Omen, and The Guns Of Nevermore.
Peck died after a bout with Bronchopneumonia on June 12, 2003, in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 87.
Harry Morgan, born in 1915, was an American actor with a career that spanned over six decades. He appeared in over 100 films and TV shows, and is perhaps best known for his roles in the television shows MAS*H and Dragnet.
In How The West Was Won, Morgan played the character of Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th President of the United States.
Harry Morgan passed away in 2011 at the age of 96 due to complications from pneumonia.
Born in 1915, Eli Wallach was an American actor who had a career spanning over six decades. He was known for his versatile acting style and for playing a variety of roles in film, television, and theater. Wallach appeared in over 90 films, including 1960s The Magnificent Seven and 1966s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
In How The West Was Won, Wallach played the character Charlie Gant, a river pirate who terrorizes the film’s main characters.
Eli Wallach passed away from natural causes in 2014 at the age of 98.
Mickey Shaughnessy was an American actor who had a career in film and television during the 1950s and 1960s. He was known for his tough-guy persona and his work in Westerns, as well as his appearances in films like 1957s Jailhouse Rock and Designing Women.
In the film How The West Was Won, Shaughnessy played Deputy Stover.
Mickey Shaughnessy passed away in 1985 at the age of 64 due to lung cancer.
Known professionally as a character actor with a strong New York accent, Ritter often took on working-class roles. For her stage work, she received a Tony award nomination in addition to the six Academy award nominations that she earned for her film performances.
In How The West Was Won, Ritter played Dora Hawkins. Her other notable credits included roles in films such as 1950s All About Eve, 1952s With A Song In My Heart, 1954s Rear Window, and 1961s The Misfits.
Ritter died of a heart attack in New York City just nine days before her 67th Birthday on February 5, 1969.
Robert Preston was an American actor who played the role of Roger Morgan in the film. Aside from his role in How The West Was Won, Preston was known for his performance in the 1957 musical The Music Man, in which he portrayed Professor Harold Hill. He also enjoyed noteworthy roles in films such as 1982s Victor/Victoria and 1984s The Last Starfighter.
Preston died of lung cancer on the 21st of March, 1987, in Santa Barbara, California, at the age of 68.
Born in 1928, George Peppard was an American actor who played the role of Zeb Rawlings in How The West Was Won. He got his first big break when he landed the role of struggling writer Paul Varjak in 1961s Breakfast at Tiffany’s. He later portrayed a character based on the eccentric mogul Howard Hughes in 1964s The Carpetbaggers.
Peppard died of pneumonia on May 8, 1994, in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 65.
Born Marion Robert Morrison, John Wayne was a legendary American actor who needs little introduction. In How The West Was Won, he played the role of General William Tecumseh Sherman.
“The Duke”, as he was known by many, was best known for his roles in Western films. He projected an aura of rugged individualism and masculinity that resulted in him becoming an enduring icon. A few of Wayne’s most memorable films include 1966s The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, 1964s A Fistful of Dollars, and 1968s Once Upon A Time In The West.
John Wayne’s epic tale came to an end when he passed away from stomach cancer on June 11, 1979, in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 72.
Raymond Massey was a Canadian actor, born on the 30th of August, 1895, who played the role of Abraham Lincoln in How The West Was Won. That wasn’t the first time, however that he portrayed old Honest Abe. In 1940, he played the late President in the film Abe Lincoln in Illinois. For that role, which happened to be his first leading one, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Massey went on to enjoy major roles in NBC offerings such as Dr. Kildere and Night Gallery.
Massey died of pneumonia on July 29, 1983, in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 86.
Richard Widmark was an American actor born in 1914 who played the role of Mike King in How The West Was Won. He made his film debut in the 1947 noir film Kiss of Death, in which he played the killer Tommy Udo. That role resulted in him receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Later in his career, Widmark created the role of Detective Sergeant Daniel Madigan in the 1968 film Madigan. That role proved to be so popular that NBC ended up adapting it into a hit TV show of the same name that ran from 1972 to 1973.
Widmark died after battling a long undisclosed illness on March 24, 2008, at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut, at the age of 93. Prior to his passing, Widmark’s health had been failing following a fall he suffered in 2007.
Lee J. Cobb
Born in December 1911, Lee J. Cobb played Marshal Lou Ramsey, a lawman who becomes intricately involved in the story of “How The West Was Won.”
He had a long and distinguished career in film and theater, appearing in classics like “On the Waterfront” and “12 Angry Men.” While he shined on both the big screen and the Broadway stage, Cobb was also known for starring as the lead on the hit western TV series The Virginian.
Cobb died in 1976 at the age of 64 from a heart attack.
Born on the 16th of May, 1905, Henry Fonda played Jethro Stuart, a man who is torn between his loyalty to the Confederacy and his love for his family, in “How The West Was Won.” He was already a Hollywood legend by the time he appeared in the film, having starred in classics like “The Grapes of Wrath” and “12 Angry Men.”
Throughout his prestigious career, Fonda was famous for his roles as plain-speaking idealists. His subtle, naturalistic acting style helped popularize method acting.
Fonda continued to work in movies until his death from cardiovascular disease in 1982 at the age of 77.
Carolyn Jones played Julie Rawlings, a saloon girl who falls in love with one of the main characters in “How The West Was Won.” She went on to have a successful career in TV, appearing in the hit show “The Addams Family.” Jones died in 1983 at the age of 53 from colon cancer.
Agnes Moorehead was an American actress best known for her role as Endora in the television series Bewitched. Moorehead also appeared in numerous films, including the 1962 epic western film How The West Was Won, in which she played the role of Rebecca Prescott.
Born on December 6, 1908, in Clinton, Massachusetts, Moorehead began her career in theater before moving on to film and television. She was known for her distinctive voice and her ability to play a wide range of characters. In addition to her acting work, Moorehead was also involved in radio and voiceover work.
Moorehead continued to work in film and television until her death from uterine cancer on April 30, 1974, in Santa Monica, California, at the age of 65.
Karl Malden played Zebulon Prescott, a man who leads his family on a perilous journey west, in “How The West Was Won.” He went on to have a long and successful career in movies and TV, appearing in classics like “A Streetcar Named Desire” and the TV series “The Streets of San Francisco.” Malden died in 2009 at the age of 97.
The cast of the 1962 movie “How The West Was Won” was filled with legendary actors who brought their characters to life in unforgettable ways. Although many have passed away, their contributions to the world of film and entertainment will always be remembered and celebrated.
Who was your favorite actor to appear in How The West Was Won and do you think that it would do as well as it did at the box office in 1962 if it came out today? Let us know in the comments, and as always, thanks for watching!