Don has made over 200 credited movie and television appearances. He has performed with John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Anthony Quinn, Dean Martin, Tom Selleck, James Arness, and even Elvis Presley. His first role was as an extra in 1948 in the western Massacre River (1949). This was followed by two more westerns — Davy Crockett, Indian Scout (1950) and Fort Apache (1948) with John Wayne. Don later appeared in three more John Wayne movies.
In 1959, Don won the leading role of U.S. Deputy Marshal Will Foreman in the NBC series, Outlaws (1960). Starring with Don was Barton MacLane and Jock Gaynor. The second season of Outlaws (1960) found Will Foreman as a full-fledged Marshal. New characters were played by Bruce Yarnell, Slim Pickens, and Judy Lewis.
Don kept busy appearing on all the other western TV shows, such as Bonanza (1959), Gunsmoke (1955), Wagon Train (1957), Branded (1965), and Death Valley Days (1952). In 1968, he was cast as the foreman of the ranch The High Chaparral (1967) in David Dortort’s latest western series of the same name. Working alongside a extremely talented and experienced cast, Don’s portrayal of Sam Butler was fundamental to the success of the highly acclaimed show, which ran until 1971.
But he wasn’t yet done with the old west. Even his commercials took advantage of his cowboy persona, when he became a 1980s icon as The Gum Fighter for Hubba Bubba Bubble Gum. More movies and TV kept him busy. Then he went further back in time when he was called on play the recurring role of William Tompkins in The Young Riders (1989) (1989-1992).
Don continued to guest star on TV in and out of the west in Little House on the Prairie (1974), two made-for-TV Gunsmoke movies (Gunsmoke: To the Last Man (1992) and Gunsmoke: One Man’s Justice (1994)), a made-for-TV Bonanza movie (Bonanza: Under Attack (1995)), Banacek (1972), The Waltons (1971), Highway to Heaven (1984) and such big-screen movies as Tombstone (1993).
He worked on a western radio drama series titled West of the Story and was sidekick to Fred Imus on Sirius Radio’s weekly show, Fred’s Trailer Park Bash until Imus’ death in 2011.
As of 2016, Don remains active with public appearances at Western and nostalgia shows like Western Legends Roundup in Kanab, Utah; Territorial Days in Tombstone, Ariz.; and the 50th Anniversary of The High Chaparral event being hosted in Sept. 2017 in Hollywood.
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