Straight Shooters: Five Conservative Actors From Hollywood’s Golden Age

Conservative actors are in the extreme minority in today’s Hollywood.

Many others may lean to the Right, but they keep their views private. Why? They fear professional repercussions and for good reason. Just ask Gina Carano.

A few survive, nay thrive, despite La La Land’s ideological bigotry. You can count them on one hand. Jon Voight. Tim Allen. Kelsey Grammer. Nick Searcy. Other brave conservative actors work on independent productions, knowing major studios would rather hire openly liberal stars.

It wasn’t always this way.

The Golden Age of Hollywood boasted A-list stars who proudly called themselves conservative. These titans weren’t afraid to share their views, and the industry suits didn’t mind them embracing a Right-leaning perspective.

The following superstars epitomized that reality. If they made movies now, though, their political leanings might be greeted in a radically different way.

John Wayne

He’s the ultimate conservative actor, a man’s man who played an endless array of heroes. Soldiers. Cowboys. Warriors. Fighters. Flawed but fascinating figures who made cinema better.

(Original Caption) Photo shows actor John Wayne in post-punch-swing position in this fight scene from “Red River.” Movie released in 1948. Getty Images.

Off screen, the man born Marion Robert Morrison hardly led a traditionally conservative life. He was married three times, didn’t serve in the U.S. military (his studio said his value as the star of films supporting the war effort merited his draft deferment), and kicked up a storm when drunk.

He later regretted not serving in the Armed Forces, using his celebrity cache to promote his American pride and smite communism at every possible turn.

He backed a crush of conservative politicians over the years and never wavered in supporting U.S soldiers even in highly contentious wars. He famously directed and starred in 1968’s “The Green Berets,” arguably the most pro-Vietnam War film to date. “I honestly believe that there’s as much need for us to help the Vietnamese as there was to help the Jews in Germany. … At some point we have to stop communism,” he said in 1971.

(Original Caption) John Wayne, as a special forces Colonel in Vietnam, with David Janssen. Still from the movie “The Green Berets,” released 1968. Filed December 26, 1973.

Jimmy Stewart

Hollywood’s Everyman did more than support the troops during World War II. Stewart enlisted despite a roaring film career, serving with distinction as a decorated fighter pilot. He flew 20 combat missions and earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses and the Croix de Guerre.

He continued serving after hostilities ended via the Air Force Reserves and later won the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

(Original Caption) 9/1/1945-New York, New York-Just like any serviceman returning from the war, Colonel James Stewart was greeted by his proud parents, who journeyed from Indiana, PA, to see their son after his arrival aboard the Queen Elizabeth. A veteran of a year and a half overseas with the 8th Air Force, Colonel Stewart, in his last command, was senior officer over approximately 9,000 men. Here he is shown with his parents at the St. Regis Hotel.

The actor went on to support conservative causes during his life, but he refused to officially join the political ranks. 

Stewart, a regular churchgoer, became a favored guest on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson in his later years. That’s where he shared how he hoped to be remembered in ways that echoed his conservative soul.

“I’d like to be remembered as a man who believed in hard work and decent values, as one who believed in the love of country, love of family, love of community, love of God.”

TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON — Aired 03/10/1987 — Pictured: (l-r) Actor James Stewart, host Johnny Carson (Photo by NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)

Gary Cooper

Few films capture bravery against impossible odds quite like 1952’s “High Noon.” Cooper’s commanding performance as a sheriff staring down almost certain death nailed masculinity at its finest, and Cooper embraced those beliefs on and off-screen.

American actor Gary Cooper (1901 – 1961) (as Marshal Will Kane) in a scene from the film ‘High Noon’ (directed by Fred Zinnemann), California, 1952. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

The role came as his star had dimmed in show business, but the laconic hero reminded us why he became one of the industry’s biggest stars.

That film also served as an allegory for the ’50s era Blacklist, penned by a scribe whose career got derailed by the communist hunt, Carl Foreman.

Cooper’s conservative streak led him to serving on the executive board of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, a group dedicated to removing communists from the American scene. The actor didn’t give the Blacklist his full support though, and he sided with Foreman for as long as he could.

Charlton Heston

The “Ben Hur” star lived long enough to leave an indelible mark on the modern political scene. 

American actor Charlton Heston (1923 – 2008) as Judah Ben-Hur in the chariot racing scene from ‘Ben-Hur’, directed by William Wyler, 1959. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

His famous cry as president of the National Rifle Association still rings out today. “From my cold, dead hands,” he told an NRA convention crowd in 2000, daring anyone to pry free the rifle he held high.

Would anyone even try?

Yet Heston wasn’t always a rock-ribbed conservative. He was willing to work with the other side for the right cause. He marched with Martin Luther King Jr. for the civil rights movement in the early 1960s. Heston would fully embrace his conservative status later in his career.

Actors (left to right) Harry Belafonte, Charlton Heston, Burt Lancaster and Sidney Poitier attending the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, a huge civil rights rally in Washington D C, August 28th 1963. (Photo by Express/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

He said the Democrat Party shifted out from under him, partially explaining his evolution. He later threw his full support behind President Ronald Reagan and spoke out against marijuana legalization.

Like Stewart, Heston gently rebuffed any dreams of a political career.

“I’ve played three presidents, three saints, and two geniuses. That should satisfy any man.”

His faith in the American experiment remained strong.

“Those wise old dead white guys that invented this country knew what they were talking about.”

Bing Crosby

It’s hard to grasp today how much the “White Christmas” crooner held sway over the pop culture of his day. Movies. Music. Radio. Television.

John Springer Collection/CORBIS via Getty Images

Name a medium and Crosby conquered it during his extraordinary career, including a famous Christmas duet with David Bowie recorded weeks before his death. Their “Little Drummer Boy” update became a holiday staple.

Bing Crosby and David Bowie shake hands during the taping of the television special “Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas”. The two singers, of diverse styles, sang together on “Little Drummer Boy.”

Crosby was a lifelong Republican, dating back to his support for GOP presidential hopeful Wendell Willkie in 1940. Still, he reportedly shunned taking pictures with politicians.

Christian Toto is an award-winning journalist, movie critic and editor of He previously served as associate editor with Breitbart News’ Big Hollywood. Follow him at @HollywoodInToto

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire. 

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