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Louis Burton Lindley, Jr., also known as Slim Pickens, was born on June 29th, 1919 in Kingsburg, California.
Louis began rodeoing at the age of twelve. He walked into the rodeo manager’s office and announced, "Mister, I want to sign up for the calf-roping but my paw says I ain't allowed to. So I can't use my right name." And the manager said, "Son, no matter what name you use, it'll be slim pickin's out there today." So the boy said, "That's as good a name as any, I reckon-put me down as Slim Pickin's." The manager spelled it "Pickens," and the boy won $400 that afternoon.
Over the next two decades he toured the country on the rodeo circuit, becoming a highly-paid and well-respected rodeo clown, a job that entailed enormous danger.
In 1950, at the age of 31, Slim married Margaret Elizabeth Harmon and that same year he was given a role in a western, Rocky Mountain (1950). He quickly found a niche in both comic and villainous roles in that genre. With his hoarse voice and pronounced western twang, he was not always easy to cast outside the genre.
In 1962, Slim appeared in his first TV series, Outlaws, alongside Don Collier and Bruce Yarnell (not shown).
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Slim appeared on two Bonanza episodes as Big Jim Leyton, and he had to wear lifts when filming. He is quoted as saying, “I'm 6'3" but alongside Dan Blocker I guess they thought I looked like Mickey Rooney".
1963 Bonanza: Half a Rogue ... Big Jim Leyton
1964 Bonanza: King of the Mountain... Big Jim Leyton
He spent the early part of his career as a real cowboy and the latter part playing cowboys, and he is best remembered for a single "cowboy" image: that of bomber pilot Maj. "King" Kong waving his cowboy hat rodeo-style as he rides a nuclear bomb onto its target in the great black comedy Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
When he showed up on the set, fully dressed as a cowboy and speaking in a thick Southern accent, the British crew thought he was "Method" acting, not knowing that this was how he always dressed and acted.
Peter Sellers was originally going to ride the atom bomb in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Slim got a phone call late one evening from Stanley Kubrick: "Peter has fallen and broken his hip, I need you for a day's shoot--I need you bad and I need you now. How soon can you get on a plane and make it to London?" Slim obliged and in his haste forgot that he didn't have a passport because he had never traveled outside the US before. His entrance was delayed while he had to go through the process of getting one before he was allowed to leave the airport.
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Some of Slim's most memorable films and appearances:
1965 Sgt. James Gregory in The Glory Guys
1968 Bonanza: Catch as Catch Can ... Sheriff Gant
1968 California Joe Milner in The Legend of Custer
1970 Bonanza: What Are Pardners For?... Sheriff
1971 Wild Jack Monroe on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
1972 “Cowboy” in The Getaway
1974 Taggart in Blazing Saddles
1974 Billy One-Eye in The Gun and The Pulpit
1975 Frank Stillwell in The Apple Dumpling Gang
1980 Slim recorded and released an album.
In 1982, Slim was Inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
In 1986, three years after his death, he was inducted, posthumously, into the Rodeo Hall of Fame of the Rodeo Historical Society (a support group of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum).
In 2005, Slim was Inducted, again, posthumously, into the Pro Rodeo Hall Of Fame.
Slim Pickens died in 1983 after a long and courageous battle against a brain tumor. [/color]
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