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Saturday Sidekicks: Yakima Canutt, the Most Famous Actor That No One Knows

Updated: Jun 29, 2020


It's Saturday, when we feature our favorite John Wayne co-stars and supporting players. This week, it's Yakima Canutt.


Enos Edward "Yakima" Canutt (1895-1986)--actor, stuntman, second-unit director--worked with John Wayne in more than 30 pictures. On many occasions, he doubled for the star when it came time to fall off a horse, jump from a roof, or get hit over the head with a saloon chair. He did stunt work in more than 275 movies, an incredible feat. But "Yak" was also an actor in his own right (184 career films), most often appearing in Duke's films as the heavy. We don't mean this to disparage Yak's wonderful career, but he was never too convincing as a bad guy. He always seemed just a little too, well, nice! Because of his expertise in action sequences, he excelled as a second-unit director, filming chase scenes and battle scenes while the primary director was busy filming Duke or some other star trying to woo a purdy gal. Yak's extraordinary abilities in the stunt world must have been ingrained in his genes, because his two sons, Joe and Tap, became stuntmen themselves, even following in their father's footsteps further by appearing in John Wayne's Rio Lobo (1970). Here's to Yakima Canutt, one of the unsung heroes of Hollywood Westerns!



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