Friday, February 15, 2013

"Here We Go, Mama..."

Our final Once Upon a Time in the West gunfighter is the great Woody Strode. Strode's career in the limelight began as a world class college athlete in track and field and football at UCLA. He would go on to play some professional football before an injury would lead to a brief stint in professional wrestling.  Strode's early screen time as an extra soon turned to small roles before he landed two of his most memorable roles: Sergeant Rutledge in the John Ford Western of the same name, and as Draba the gladiator in Kubrick's Spartacus. But in Europe, Leone had given him his first close-ups on screen, and actively helped Strode build a very successful career in European films. On a trivia note, the Native American woman at the train station in the opening sequence with Strode was played by his wife, Hawaiian princess Luukialuana "Luana" Kalaeloa.

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