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At Home on a New Range : CHUCK NORRIS: KARATE CHAMP TURNED ACTION-FILM ACTOR TURNED SERIES STAR?

April 18, 1993|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Norris, who at one point in his career operated 32 karate schools and taught such celebs as Steve McQueen, is still surprised by his success. "But the thing about my goals, they have been real small," he says. "It has all been in small increments, so I feel like a very fortunate person."

But his luck came with hard work and focusing on exactly what he wanted. "You have to focus in on what you want to achieve," Norris says. "The martial arts instilled that in me. When I first got into films, (I said) 'I have no experience. I have never done any type of acting. How in the devil am I going to break into the movie field?' "

So Norris decided to focus on what type of image he wanted to project. He modeled himself after such film heroes of yesteryear as John Wayne and Gary Cooper: "a guy who doesn't look for trouble but can handle it," Norris says. "I think that is the general feeling of everybody. None of us wants trouble. But, God forbid, if it happens and is thrust upon you, you want to be able to deal with it."

His image, Norris believes, is the secret to his success. "I think that's why I never have had problems on the street," he says. "You know what's so funny? Guys who walk up to me, rugged guys, truck driver-type guys, say, 'Chuck, man, we love you.' I mean it comes from their heart, not in a feminine way, but in a masculine open-hearted way. I am glad that guys feel that way. They don't have to feel insecure saying that they love me."

"Walker, Texas Ranger" premieres Wednesday at 9 p.m. on CBS.

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