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Breaking: Popular TV Western Series Star Dies At 87

Ty Hardin, a popular film and TV actor who starred as the gunman Bronco Layne in the TV Western series Bronco and worked with Henry Fonda and Kirk Douglas among others, has died.

A resident of Huntington Beach, Calif., Hardin died Thursday at age 87. His widow, Carolyn Pampu Hardin, told The Associated Press that he had been in failing health.

Hardin married eight times, divorced seven times, and had 10 children from five of his marriages.

Born Orison Whipple Hungerford Jr. in New York, Hardin grew up in Texas, served in the Korean War and played football at Texas A&M under future University of Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.

He changed his name in his 20s, in homage to the outlaw John Wesley Hardin, as his acting career was taking off.

Hardin credited John Wayne for giving him a major break when the actor helped him get a contract with Warner Bros. When Clint Walker left the TV show Cheyenne in 1958 over a contractual dispute, Hardin stepped in and continued in the spinoff Bronco, which aired until 1962.

Hardin also had a diverse film career, from the Joan Crawford thriller Berserk! to the World War II movies Battle of the Bulge and PT 109.

After struggling with tax issues and disputes with the IRS in the 1970s, Hardin ran a tax protest school and founded an anti-tax organization in Prescott, Ariz., that became the extremist anti-government group the Arizona Patriots.

According to his IMDb page and to a Holocaust remembrance website, the Patriots evolved from its anti-tax origins into a group described by the government and militia tracking groups as anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant and anti-black with a record of stockpiling weapons and threatening to assassinate Arizona state officials. The group disbanded after federal agents raided one of its camps in 1986, and Hardin eventually left Arizona.

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