Arizona Highways Magazine Cover. Johnson in Superstition Mountains in Apache Junction, AZ
A ranching cowboy Ben grew up riding horses. Ben Johnson, born on the Osage Indian Reservation in Oklahoma in the Land of the Red Man on the Chapman-Barnard Ranch from which the Tall Grass Prairie (Nature Conservancy) evolved. Johnson grew up in the cowboy heritage hearing about the legendary silent film star, Tom Mix, who was the Marshall of Dewey, Oklahoma.
Johnson was of Cherokee and Irish ancestry. His mother, Susan Ollie Workmon Johnson. Ben Johnson, Sr. was a noted Osage County rancher and rodeo champion. The Oklahoma boy eventually found work in Hollywood as a wrangler and became a stuntman and doubled for stars like John Wayne. Ben Johnson was inducted into the Prof. Rodeo Cowboy and Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1973. Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Greatest horseman and cowboy the movies ever had. His riding was like poetry." Ref. Oklahoma Historical Society, Jenk Jones, Sr,. And Book: Big Bluestem by Annika Smith. Ben grew up riding horses instead of bicycles and in Dewey, Oklahoma.
He retired to Leisure World in Mesa, Arizona, suffering a heart attack. Until his death, at age 77, Johnson continued to work steadily. April 8, 1996 the veteran actor collapsed while visiting his mother, (Ollie, age 96), who also lived at the Leisure World retirement community in Mesa, Arizona.
Ben Johnson Days, held the past 13 years at the AJ Rodeo grounds in "movie-making" Apache Junction, Arizona.