Ben “Son” Johnson, Jr. was an American motion picture actor who was mainly cast in Westerns. He was also a rodeo cowboy, stuntman, and rancher.
Johnson was born in Foraker, Oklahoma, on the Osage Indian Reservation, of Cherokee and Irish ancestry, to Ben Sr. and Ollie Susan Johnson. His father was a rancher in Osage County and also a rodeo champion. As a young man, Johnson was a ranch hand, would travel with his father on the rodeo circuit, and become a star before becoming involved in the movies. He was the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Team Roping World Champion in 1953. After winning the title, he discovered that, after travel and expenses, he broke even for the year. Johnson was inducted into the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 1973.
Johnson married Carol Elaine Jones in 1941, and they were married for 53 years until her death on March 27, 1994. The couple had no children. Carol Jones was the daughter of noted Hollywood horse wrangler Clarence “Fat” Jones.
His career began with the controversial Howard Hughes film The Outlaw. Before filming began, Hughes bought some horses at the Oklahoma ranch that Johnson’s father managed, and hired Johnson to get the horses to northern Arizona, and then to take them on to Hollywood.