Wayde Preston

Born William Erksine Strange on September 10, 1929, in Denver, Colorado, Wayde Preston was raised in Laramie, Wyoming, with two younger sisters, Joan and Mary, by his schoolteacher parents John and Bernice Strange. He graduated in 1947 from Laramie High where he was active in football, track, ROTC and school band. He attended the University of Wyoming, studying pharmacy. An accomplished musician, his talent afforded him the opportunity to play string bass with various bands popular during the late 1940s. Drafted into the army in 1950, he attained the rank of First Lieutenant and was posted to an artillery unit at Fort Bliss, Texas. He later was transferred to Korea, where he saw action in the Korean War. Following his discharge he held a job as Park Ranger at Grand Teton National Park and also played the rodeo circuit in Wyoming. A licensed pilot, he was flying for TWA when he got his first career break. It was at this time that he met Carol Ohmart, whom he married on Thanksgiving Day in 1956; they were divorced less than two years later. After appearing in a Cheyenne (1955) episode with Clint Walker, Preston landed the lead role in Colt .45 (1957), playing Chris Colt, an undercover government agent. The first episode aired on October 18, 1957. The next three years were a roller-coaster ride for many stars, Preston included, who were demanding more money and less working hours. “Colt .45” ended its tenure in 1960 with Donald May playing the lead role, as Preston had again walked off after being denied the use of a stuntman. Like other stars of that era, Preston embarked on a lucrative career filming “spaghetti westerns” in Europe during the 1960s and 1970s. Returning to the US in the late 1970s, Preston underwent surgery to remove a cancerous growth by his right temple. After recuperation and reconstructive surgery, he resurfaced again in the mid-’80s, appearing at numerous western film festivals and accepting small movie roles – the last as “Jack” in Captain America (1990). Wayde Preston passed away on February 6, 1992, losing a battle with colon cancer.

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