Orison Whipple Hungerford, Jr.—nicknamed Ty by his grandmother—was trying to make it in Hollywood in the ‘50s. He went for the role of Colorado in the John Wayne movie “Rio Bravo.” Ricky Nelson got it instead.
But The Duke liked what he saw in Hungerford and introduced him to director Howard Hawks and others at Warner Brothers. They liked him, too—except for the name. So they dubbed the Texan Ty Hardin, in reference to the legendary gunfighter John Wesley Hardin.