Bonanza Actor, Ben Cooper, Dies at 86


Actor Ben Cooper passed away Monday morning in his sleep after a long illness in Memphis TN. His death was announced by his nephew on Facebook. He was 86.

Cooper was featured in Bonanza as Johnny Lightly in the episode “The Horse Breaker” and Sam Kirby in “Show Down”. He also made appearances on Gunsmoke, The Twilight Zone, and Death Valley Days. He was also featured in many Western movies, including Johnny Guitar, Gunfight at Comanche Creek and The Fall Guy.

“They let me play cowboy, and they paid me [for it],” Cooper said in an undated interview filmed for the Museum of Western Film History in Lone Pine, California. “I’d ridden horses, I got my own horse when I was 12. I used to jump him bareback. I didn’t know they had stuntmen; I’d watch a movie and then practice on my horse until I could do [the stunt.]”

Survivors include his daughter, Pamela, and her family and his sister, Bunny.