With over 100 acting credits to his name, Buck Taylor is a bonified film and television icon. Longtime Western fans know the 84-year-old best from his days in Gunsmoke and Bonanza, but the actor went on to star in dozens of other Westerns, and then some.
From Cowboys & Aliens alongside Harrison Ford, to Hell or High Water written by Yellowstone mastermind Taylor Sheridan, and perhaps the finest Western of them all, Tombstone, Buck Taylor has remained on our screens for over 60 years. And he got his start all the way back in 1961 through the genre we know and love him for.
That year, Buck would garner his first acting credit with Zane Grey Theatre, an anthology based on the Western works of Zane Grey. Before long, audiences would come to know him as Billy on Bonanza (beginning in 1964), one of the great classic Westerns of golden-age television.
Then, from 1967 to 1975, Taylor would give life to Newly O’Brian as a staple of the wildly popular Gunsmoke cast. He’d even make his return for the TV movie, Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge; all while putting dozens of other Westerns under his belt in-between.
Taylor Sheridan Brought Western Legend Buck Taylor to ‘Yellowstone’ for the Pilot Episode and 5 Seasons Following
Fast-forward several decades and Buck Taylor wound up cast in one of Taylor Sheridan’s phenomenal Western films, Hell or High Water (2016). At the time, Sheridan was working on a new television project, too; a little something called Yellowstone.
Sheridan wound up casting Buck Taylor in the pilot episode as Emmett Walsh, one of John Dutton’s (Kevin Costner) oldest friends and a staunch supporter of the Dutton empire. Fans would get to know Emmett through Buck’s recurring guest-star roles from them on. In total, the iconic actor would feature in 7 episodes of Yellowstone, right up until his character’s death in Season 5, Episode 6.
On Yellowstone, Emmett Walsh was the head of Montana’s Fish & Game Department, and his friendship with John Dutton never waivered. Emmett even got the chance to work with John’s son, Kayce (Luke Grimes). In Season 4, Kayce got to know Emmett as he took on his father’s old role of Livestock Commissioner.
Luke Grimes Recalls ‘Favorite’ Scene of ‘Yellowstone’ Season 4 with Buck Taylor
“Buck Taylor [is a] great actor,” Grimes lauded of the icon in a Season 4 feature. “Just a legend of an old cowboy actor gets to come back playing Emmett.”
In their shared scene, “He’s having trouble with one of his neighbors and I go and try to help him out. The guy I end up running into, Emmett’s neighbor, is just a smarmy and annoying sort of rich guy. Kayce just does not like this guy at all. In a way that sort of teaches him a lesson, he puts the guy in his place. He fixes the problem in a way that only Kayce would.”
Of course, longtime Yellowstone fans will recall what happens next. Kayce pulls open a cattle guard and puts that “smarmy and annoying rich guy” within it before locking it shut.
But come Season 5, John, Kayce and Emmett would have one last ride together. Emmett Walsh died in his sleep in Season 5, Episode 6 after one hell of a day. As John says:
“He didn’t wake up. He just died on the trail. Like every cowboy dreams of.”