A Cast Rewind Of ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’ Then And Now 2020

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Alright, Let’s kick some butts! Nothing beat tuning in on Saturday nights to watch some good old fashioned martial arts! Chuck Norris was, Walker, Texas Ranger for its entire run from ’93 to 2001, and although the acting was sometimes campy, the plots always similar and often far-fetched, this show was a roundhouse kick of fun! We knew from the get-go who were the good guys and who were bad. Most villains on the show drove Fords, while the Rangers and company drove Chevrolets. But Chuck delivered on his promise of a show that reflected good family values. It was a black belt in handling serious timely issues like gang violence and drug abuse while respecting other cultures and religions, a delicate line for such an action-packed show. 

Let’s see what the Rangers got into after cleaning up the streets…

1. Chuck Norris (Cordell Walker)

walker, texas ranger then and now
Chuck Norris / Everett Collection/Wikipedia

Cordell Walker, a Dallas-based lawman who prefers fists to firearms, and only uses force when absolutely necessary. Walker was diverse and mixed Native American wisdom with some impressive martial arts ability. Chuck Norris single-handedly brought the show to cult status, doing everything from starring in it, writing several episodes, and even singing “Eyes of a Ranger,” the theme song of the show. It was used from season two onwards. 

RELATED: 11 of the Most Awkward “Very Special Episodes” in TV History

Chuck became Chuck in 1958! After joining the U.S. Air Force, and while in South Korea training, obtained the nickname, Chuck. While awaiting his acceptance to the Police Force in California, Chuck opened a martial arts studio and began doing demonstrations and competitions.  In 1968, Norris won for the second time the All-American Karate Championship and began a working and training friendship with Bruce Lee, who was already a star in The Green Hornet. This led to his breakthrough in the entertainment world, as Bruce Lee actually cast Chuck Norris in the film, Way of the Dragon because he was one of the few who was fast enough to take him on.

walker, texas ranger then and now
WALKER, TEXAS RANGER, Chuck Norris, 1995, (1993-2001). ph: Cliff Lipson /© CBS /Courtesy Everett Collection

Another classic action flick of his before his Ranger tenure, was 1986’s The Delta Force starring him and Lee Marvin. I mean, that bike of his was killer! Following Walker, Texas Ranger, he reprised his role for the 2005 reboot tv movie Trial By Fire, but really began to ease off the gas. Most of his roles in the 2000s are cameos, including a hysterical thumbs UP in the 2004 film Dodgeball. I’d say his best and most RangerLike recent movie was 2005’s The Cutter. 

Chuck Norris became an Internet sensation in 2005 with, Chuck Norris facts! They were satirical factoids about the actor, namely his toughness.  An example being, “Chuck Norris doesn’t read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants.” At 80 years old, he’s still kickin’, we last saw Chuck Norris in the 2020 version of Hawaii Five-0. And you can still catch reruns of Walker, Texas Ranger pretty much anytime you want! Heck yeah. 

2. Clarence Gilyard Jr. (James Trivette)

walker, texas ranger
Clarence Gilyard Jr. / Everett Collection/Wikipedia

James aka Jimmy was Walker’s partner and the second half of this Ranger Team. Genuinely kind-hearted and especially helpful with any technology-assisted arrests, this was one of the best duos since Starsky & Hutch. You may remember seeing Clarence in a lot back in the day, his first TV gig was on Diff’rent Strokes in 1981,  and a huge break of his was another law enforcement gig as Officer Benjamin Webster in the hit show CHiPs. For more on the rest of that amazing cast, check out our CHiPs Deep Dive after this! Clarence also held a prominent role in the Andy Griffith-led series, Matlock

walker, texas ranger then and now
WALKER, TEXAS RANGER, Clarence Gilyard Jr., 1998, (1993-2001). ph: Cliff Lipson /© CBS /Courtesy Everett Collection

Beyond Walker, Texas Ranger, he had two fantastic roles in huge blockbusters, as the terrorist computer expert in Die Hard; and before that, Lieutenant Marcus “Sundown” Williams in Top Gun. In his mid-60s, he’s still at it, just finishing a film called The Driver where he co-starred with Revenge of the Nerd’s Robert Carradine.

3. Sheree J. Wilson (Alexandra Cahill-Walker)

walker, texas ranger then and now
Sheree J. Wilson / Everett Collection/YouTube Screenshot

Alexandra Cahill-Walker is the district attorney working closely with the Texas Ranger, with some great after-work chats taking place at CD Parker’s. At first, she was Walker’s courtroom nemesis that frowned at the brute force necessary to take down the bad guy, but she eventually caved to Chuck’s Charm, and they married in Season 8.

walker, texas ranger then and now
WALKER, TEXAS RANGER, Sheree J. Wilson, 1994, (1993-2001). ph: Monty Brinton /© CBS /Courtesy Everett Collection

Beginning her career as a model and spokesperson, Wilson’s biggest early break was a mainstay role on the prime time soap Dallas as April Stevens Ewing. Her character was gunned down in the final season during her honeymoon with her new husband Bobby Ewing. If you loved that series, we have an entire video dedicated to it for you to watch next! Sheree still acts on occasion but has also created a line of beauty therapy skincare products. Today in her early 60s, her latest film, Flip Turn is scheduled for a 2021 release! 

4. Noble Willingham (CD Parker)

walker, texas ranger then and now
Noble Willingham / Paramount Pictures/Everett Collection

CD Parker is a retired Ranger and owner of “CD’s Bar and Grill”. He’s pretty close with the rangers, even receiving the nickname ‘Big Dog’ from Jimmy. He’s also the only character who refers to Walker by his first name consistently. Noble Willingham took over the role after Hee-Haw Star Gailard Sartain performed it for the pilot. Thank goodness for the addition, too, as Willingham was the only native Texan to have a starring role on the show. 

walker, texas ranger then and now
WALKER, TEXAS RANGER, Clarence Gilyard, Jr., Sheree J. Wilson, Chuck Norris, Noble Willingham, 1993 – 2001. (c) Columbia TriStar Tel/ Courtesy: Everett Collection

Willingham was teaching economics at a Houston High School before he followed his dream of becoming an actor. He auditioned for a part in the texas-filming The Last Picture Show and the rest is history. Appearing in more than 30 feature films, including a fantastic role as Gen. Taylor in Good Morning, Vietnam, he also had guest-starring roles on loads of hit shows, including The Waltons, and AfterMASH  He even helped kick off the Tim Allen-led Home Improvement as THE John Binford in 1992!  His role in Walker, Texas Ranger was one of the last roles of his career as he passed away in 2004 at age 72. 

5. Floyd ‘Red Crow’ Westerman (Uncle Ray)

walker, texas ranger then and now
Floyd ‘Red Crow’ Westerman / YouTube Screenshot/Everett Collection

Raymond Firewalker, or Uncle Ray, was Walker’s paternal uncle, a Native American Cherokee who raised Walker after his parents were killed.  Mainly a political activist, he spoke and marched for Native American causes.

walker, texas ranger then and now
WALKER, TEXAS RANGER, from left: Floyd ‘Red Crow’ Westerman, Chuck Norris, 1993-2001, © CBS/courtesy Everett Collection

He also established a solid career as a country music singer where he collaborated with amazing artists such as Jackson Browne and Willie Nelson. In 1988, he got his first TV gig on an episode of MacGyver. Westerman also had a recurring role on The X Files. Westerman sadly died in 2007 from complications of leukemia at the age of 71. 

6. Nia Peeples (Sydney Cooke)

walker, texas ranger then and now
Nia Peeples / Everett Collection

Sydney Cooke is one of the newer Texas rangers and brought a new flavor and presence to the show! I always wanted Sydney and Gage to get together, but maybe Sydney was just too cool for that. Her career started off with intense ‘fame,’ with a great role as Nicole in the TV series rendition of, Fame. Soap opera fans may remember her as Karen Taylor in 132 episodes of The Young and the Restless as well.

walker, texas ranger then and now
WALKER, TEXAS RANGER, Nia Peeples stars as Sydney Cooke. 1993-2001 / Everett Collection

But, prior to serving up her acting chops, she also had a music career in the ‘80s, which was actually quite impressive. Her song “Trouble” hit #1 on the Hot Dance/Club Play chart, which also climbed to #35 on the Billboard Hot 100.   In recent years, she has starred in several big-name shows such as Pretty Little Liars and The Fosters. Today in her late 50s, she’s still very active in the biz, living in Topanga, California.

7. Judson Mills (Francis Gage)

walker, texas ranger then and now
Judson Mills / Everett Collection/YouTube Screenshot

Francis Gage is Sydney Cooke’s partner and added a school-boy charm to the show.  Judson’s first gig was in 1990 with  6 eps of As The World Turns but I remember him as the funny Hog Ellis in Major League: Back to the Minors. His role as Gage is probably his biggest role so far, but he’s still landing great roles, including one episode on Season 1 of the HBO Drama, Westworld. 

walker, texas ranger then and now
WALKER, TEXAS RANGER, 1993-2001, Judson Mills (left) and Chuck Norris, 2001 / Everett Collection

At 51 years old, he spends his off time with his 3 kids and enjoys hunting, fishing, and Taekwondo! Very fitting for the show he may be best known for. 

What a strong cast! We’ll never forget the action-packed episodes of Walker, Texas Ranger. Do you remember one specifically? What about when Walker helps run a karate school for disadvantaged kids and has to keep one from becoming a gangbanger? Tell us your favorite in the comments below, we wanna hear from you.

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The post A Cast Rewind Of ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’ Then And Now 2020 appeared first on DoYouRemember? – The Home of Nostalgia. Author, Jane Kenney

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