Wilke started as a stuntman in the 1930s and his first appearance on screen was in San Francisco (1936). He soon began to acquire regular character parts, mainly as a heavy, and made his mark when, along with Lee Van Cleef and Sheb Wooley, he played one of the "three men waiting at the station" in High Noon (1952).
He became a prominent western "bad guy" after this but unfortunately he was one of those actors who fall into the "man with no name" category. His face was instantly recognisable but few cinemagoers actually knew his name. Unlike Van Cleef, Wilke never got the "big break".
He had a good role as a hitman in The Far Country (1954) and continued to work steadily in films and TV over the next twenty years. More western credits followed in Man of the West (1958) and numerous lesser known films but he was most active in TV during the 1950s and 1960s.
He appeared in many of the best known TV series, mainly westerns, several times in some of them: Maverick, Bonanza, Tarzan, Gunsmoke, The Monroes, Tales of Wells Fargo, Death Valley Days, The Virginian, Perry Mason, Wagon Train, Laramie, 77 Sunset Strip, Rawhide, Have Gun - Will Travel, The Untouchables, Bronco, Daniel Boone, The Westerner, Cheyenne, Overland Trail, Lawman, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Zorro and The Rifleman were all among his credits.
He had an unusually sympathetic (and large) role in Days of Heaven (1978) as Farmer Sam Shepard's ally, The Farm Foreman.
WISCONSIN LABOR & INDUSTRY REVIEW COMMISSION ISSUES UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE DECISION REGARDING ROBERT J. WILKE V. CHILSON
Apr 16, 2007; The Wisconsin Labor and Industry Review Commission issued the following Unemployment Insurance decision: ROBERT J WILKE, Employee...