He was born and raised in Montana.
His hobbies included: fishing, hunting, riding, swimming, scuba diving, archery, trout and spear fishing, and taxidermy.
He worked as a Yellowstone Park guide for several seasons before becoming an actor.
Upon seeing him, a professor in the theater department at Grinnell College recorded "shows no promise."
He appeared in 107 movies, 82 of which he starred in. Only 16 of those were filmed in color. He also starred in 14 silent movies.
His appetite was prodigious, but no matter how much he ate, he always remained thin. During his early years in Hollywood, working odd jobs and living with his parents, he said, with some comic exaggeration, that his "starvation diet at the time ran to no less than a dozen eggs a day, a couple of loaves of bread, a platter of bacon, and just enough pork chops between meals to keep me going until I got home for supper." He could eat a cherry pie and drink a quart of milk for lunch.
He blew the harmonica and strummed the guitar; played backgammon and bridge; grew corn and avocados on the Encino ranch he bought in the early 1930s and loved to work with his tractor in the garden.
He considered Jimmy Stewart his closest friend. He was also good friends with Pablo Picasso.
Has played six real life characters on screen. Wild Bill Hickok, Marco Polo, Sgt. Alvin C. York, Lou Gehrig, Dr. Corydon M. Wassell and Gen. Billy Mitchell.