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Cliff Lyons (actor)

Personal information
Birth nameClifford William Lyons
Birth dateJuly 1, 1901
Place of birthLake County, South Dakota, USA
Date of deathJanuary 6, 1974(age 72)
Death placeLos Angeles, California, USA
Years active1924 - 1973
SpouseBeth Marion (1938-1955) (divorced) 2 children

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Clifford William Lyons (born near Clarno Township, Lake County, South Dakota 1 July 1901 - died Los Angeles, California 6 January 1974) was an American motion picture stuntman, second-unit director, and actor, primarily of Westerns, particularly the films of John Ford and John Wayne.

Lyons, the son of Garrett Thomas Lyons and Wilhamena Johnson Lyons, was raised on a South Dakota farm, though his family lived for a time in Memphis, Tennessee, where he attended business school. An expert horseman, Lyons gave up the notion of a business career and opted for the rodeo arena instead, touring and eventually reaching Los Angeles at the age of 21. With accomplished cowboys in great demand, Lyons quickly became involved in movies, working both as a stuntman and an actor. After only a couple of bit parts, he was signed by producer Isador 'Bud' Barsky to do seven inexpensive Westerns directed by Paul Hurst with Lyons and Al Hoxie alternating as the hero and the heavy. Lyons and Hoxie alternated in another Western series produced by Morris R. Schlank, and, as Cliff 'Tex' Lyons, Lyons seemed headed for minor stardom as a B-Western lead. But Lyons's voice was not well-suited for sound and the talkie revolution confined him to small roles. However, as his small shot at stardom faded, his career as a stunt double for big stars and small was on the rise. Lyons doubled such cowboy stars as Tom Mix, Ken Maynard, Buck Jones, and Johnny Mack Brown. In 1936, he worked with John Wayne for the first time and struck up a personal and business relationship that would remain strong for three decades. Wayne was influential in getting Lyons his first work as a second-unit director and in introducing Lyons to John Ford, for whom Lyons would do some of his finest work. Lyons's reputation as a stunt coordinator is comparable to that of acknowledged master Yakima Canutt, with whom Lyons partnered on numerous occasions. Lyons's most noted work was the massive and dynamic battle sequences of Wayne's The Alamo.

Lyons was married from 1938 to 1955 to actress Beth Marion, with whom he had two sons. Cliff Lyons died in 1974 at 72, not long after coordinating stunts for Wayne's The Train Robbers.

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