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UPDATED: Walk of Western Stars to induct Carradine, Saxon, Lilley

Boxleitner to present awards; Williams to be honored with video tribute

Posted: April 9, 2008 5:34 p.m.
Updated: June 26, 2008 5:02 a.m.

David Carradine, a 2008 Walk of Western Stars inductee.

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The city of Santa Clarita's 2008 Walk of Western Stars will honor three legends of the silver screen on Friday, April 25, starting at 3 p.m. with the unveiling of their stars on the sidewalks of Old Town Newhall and culminating with a western gala dinner and awards ceremony at the Valencia Hyatt Hotel starting 7 p.m.

This year's nominees are actors David Carradine and John Saxon, as well as stuntman/rancher and local animal manager Jack Lilley.

Bruce Boxleitner, 1990 Walk of Western Stars honoree whose western credits include "How the West Was Won" and the "Kenny Rogers as The Gambler" series, will present the honors.

Hosting this year's gala is long-time master of ceremonies Larry Maurice, with entertainment provided by Cowbop.

David Carradine is the eldest son of legendary character actor John Carradine and the eldest of the acting family that includes brothers Keith Carradine, Robert Carradine and Michael Bowen as well as his daughter Kansas Carradine and nieces Ever Carradine and Martha Plimpton.

After a two-year stint in the Army, Carradine found work in New York as a commercial artist and later found fame on Broadway in "The Deputy" and "The Royal Hunt of the Sun" opposite Christopher Plummer. With that experience, he returned to Hollywood, landing the short-lived TV series "Shane" (1966) before being tapped to star opposite Barbara Hershey in Martin Scorsese's first Hollywood film, "Boxcar Bertha" (1972).

The iconic "Kung Fu" (1972) television series followed, catapulting Carradine to superstardom for the next three years, until he left the series to pursue his film career.

That career now includes more than 100 feature films, a couple dozen television movies, a whole range of theater on and off Broadway, and another hit TV series, "Kung Fu: The Legend Continues" (1992).

Carradine received the Best Actor Award from the National Board of Film Review as well as a Golden Globe nomination for his portrayal of Woody Guthrie in Hal Ashby's "Bound for Glory" (1976), and won critical acclaim for his work as Cole Younger in "The Long Riders" (1980).

"Kung Fu" also received seven Emmy nominations in its first season, including one for Carradine as Best Actor. In addition, he won the People's Prize at the Cannes Film Festival's Director's Fortnight for his work on "Americana" (1983), and a second Golden Globe nomination for his supporting role in "North and South" (1985).

Among his other most notable film credits are "Gray Lady Down" (1978), "Mean Streets" (1973), "Bird on a Wire" (1990), "The Long Goodbye" (1973), "The Serpent's Egg" (1977) and "Circle of Iron" (1978).

Carradine returned to the screen in what many critics and fans consider his greatest performance to date, playing the title role in Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill: Vol. 1" (2003) and "Kill Bill: Vol. 2" (2004) (Miramax), for which he received his fourth Golden Globe nomination.

Carradine has also continued his devotion to music, and recorded some 60 tracks in various musical genres and sung in several movies. He makes his home in Los Angeles with his wife Annie, her four children and their two dogs.

The Walk of Western Stars is also honoring longtime actor John Saxon, who became interested in acting as a teenager and began attending dramatic school in Manhattan while still going to New Utrecht High School in Brooklyn. After much screen-testing, Saxon won a co-starring role with Esther Williams in the 1956 drama "The Unguarded Moment."

Saxon followed that with a series of young leading man roles in "Rock Pretty Baby," "Summer Love," "The Restless Years," "This Happy Feeling" and "The Reluctant Debutante." By 1958, Saxon was a highly publicized "teenage heart-throb" in movie magazines. By 1960, however, he had moved on to character roles that proved his talent as an actor, in such films as "Cry Tough," "The Big Fisherman," "The Unforgiven," "The Plunderers" and "Warhunt."

In 1965, Saxon won the role of Chuy Medina, a Mexican bandit, playing opposite Marlon Brando in "The Appaloosa." Saxon succeeded in winning good reviews and much attention for this portrayal.

A new contract with Universal led Saxon to appear in many of the earliest feature length films made expressly for television, such as "Doomsday Flight," "Winchester 73" and "The Bold Ones" TV series. In 1973, he co-starred in "Enter the Dragon," with Bruce Lee, a film that has achieved cult classic status.

Saxon has been busy in recent years with features in the U.S. and abroad, as well as many television appearances. He devotes his off-screen time to writing screenplays which he hopes to direct one day. On-screen, Saxon has appeared in 80 feature films, the most recent being "The Electric Horseman," "Battle Beyond the Stars," "Wrong is Right," "Nightmare on Elm Street 1 & 3," "Fever Pitch," "My Mom's a Werewolf," "The Arrival," "Aftershock," "Cover-Up," "Maximum Force," "Jonathan of the Bears," "Released to Kill," "Beverly Hills Cop 3" and "Nightmare on Elm Street 7."

Finally, the city will be honoring local resident Jack Lilley. Starting at age 15 (claiming he was 18), Lilley began doing stunts for westerns and worked under legendary stunt man Yakima Canutt. Lilley performed stunts on hundreds of features and TV series including "Gunsmoke," "Bonanza" and "High Chaparral," and more than 280 roles as an actor, including "Blazing Saddles" and "The Mountain Men."

Due to Lilley's livestock skills, Bill Claxton approached him to create a reliable livestock company. Since then Lilley's successful Movin' on Livestock company has provided critters for hundreds of films including "Young Guns I & II," "City Slickers I & II" and Antonio Banderas' "Zorro."

Additionally, as part of the evening's festivities, there will be a short video tribute to renowned stuntman, actor and 2005 Walk of Western Stars honoree Jack Williams, longtime SCV resident who died April 10, 2007.

The Friday afternoon unveiling of the honorees' stars is free and open to the public. Tickets for the Walk of Western Stars dinner gala Friday evening are $100 per person and available through the city of Santa Clarita at 661-286-4021 and online at www.cowboyfestival.org.

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