Walter Barnes Biography

Walter BarnesClaim to Fame: Professional football player and actor
DOB: January 26, 1918
Date of Death: September 6, 1998
Diabetes Type: Unknown

Born in Parkersburg, West Virginia, Walter Barnes was an offensive lineman for the National Football League's Philadelphia Eagles. Barnes attended Parkersburg High School where he began his football career. His team went undefeated and Barnes, due to his large size, proved himself a formidable foe on the gridiron. With the country at war, Barnes enlisted in the United States Army and achieved the rank of Sergeant. Upon his return, he enrolled in Louisiana State University where he returned to football and took up weightlifting, becoming a college champion.

In 1948, Barnes graduated from Louisiana State and began his career playing football for the Philadelphia Eagles. Barnes went All-Pro, but his career only lasted until 1951, when he retired and began a coaching career at Columbia University and Arizona State University.

While on the Eagles, Barnes appeared on local television and got the attention of a producer from Warner Brothers who offered him a contract to appear in several television shows and films. In 1957, Barnes made the journey out to Hollywood where he achieved great success in the Western genre of films and television, working alongside John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and Lee Van Cleef.

Tired of small roles as villains and sour bartenders, Barnes joined a number of actors in traveling to Europe to star in films for most of the 1960's. After a significant career in spaghetti westerns and pirate films, Barnes returned to the United States — and to television.

By 1987, after appearing in a few low budget films, Barnes began to struggle with his health. Barnes had diabetes and many associated complications began to appear, leaving the former tough football and movie star in a weak, vulnerable state. After many health complications Barnes died on September 6, 1998. Barnes' legacy remains in television shows like Rawhide, Bonanza, Gunsmoke and the John Wayne film Rio Bravo.

Reviewed by dLife Staff 04/14 

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Last Modified Date: April 29, 2014

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  1. Charleston Daily Mail. Eight to be inducted into Coaches' Association Hall, (Accessed 11/30/11.)
  2. Lex Barker. Interview with Traveling Companions: Walter Barnes, (Accessed 11/30/11.)
  3. Westerns…All'Italiana! Who are Those Guys?: Walter Barnes, (Accessed 11/30/11.)

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by Brenda Bell
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