Boy, Howdy! It’s been a year since the last Cowboy Way May-Fest and those who attended them would agree that a lot has happened between this year and last festival, and all of it good. Because the reception for the festival was overwhelming festival maven, Leslei Fisher and her sidekick, Donna Wilmeth (Spirit of the Cowboy) found a larger venue in Ardmore, Oklahoma at the Market Place on Broadway, 106 E. Broadway Street to accommodate the crowd. Needless to say there will be a third one come 2019.
A large part of this enthusiasm was due to the fact that this year the festival celebrated the popular television western The Virginian. On hand to say “howdy” to their multitude of fans was the Virginian himself, James Drury, as well as Gary Clarke, Roberta Shore, Clu Gulager, and Randy Boone, plus recurrent guest star LQ Jones and Don Collier were on hand to say “Howdy,”as well as entertain the folks with interesting and often hilarious stories and little-known facts during the panel discussions.
Speaking of little know facts, it was fun last year to surprise Roberta Shore as I mentioned her television pilot where she played Nancy Drew in the 1950s. Roberta had forgotten all about it, but due to her extensive career on film and television it was not hard to understand why she would forget this one pilot episode. Another surprise occurred when I mentioned that in the second episode of The Virginian, we find that Betsy Garth had been adopted by Judge Garth (Lee J. Cobb). The actors, including Roberta, had forgotten all about it, but their fans sure were aware of it. By-the-way, did you know that James Drury had already made a separate TV pilot for a Virginian series on the anthology series Decision for NBC in 1958. It’s very different in the story and characterization. Here’s the intro:
This year, panelists LQ Jones and Don “Little Brown Jug” Reynolds, the last little beaver in the Red Rider film series, stuck around after the panel to talk with the crowd and answer their questions for well over to an hour, finally winding down as the festival came to a satisfactory conclusion on Sunday.
Every night Randy Boone and Virginian regular, singer Joe Cannon (aka Jean Peloquin), would give an impromptu performance to a large crowd back at the hotel in the convention room, much to the delight of everyone who attended.
By-the-way, did you know that James Drury had already made a separate TV pilot for a Virginian series for the anthology series Decision on NBC in 1958. It’s very different in the story and characterization. Here’s the intro:
Last year we also had the prolific film and television star Alex Cord, who played the Ringo Kid in the first remake of Stagecoach (1966), with Ann-Margaret, Bing Crosby, and Bob Cummings to name a few. He is best remembered these days for his role on Airwolf as Michael Coldsmith Briggs III, better known as Archangel. He was also scheduled for this year, but was unable to attend.
Other very popular guests this year were noted Author/Actor Ken Farmer and his co-author/partner Buck Stienke. We were lucky to have Ken there due to the fact that he had been very ill for most of last year and was unable to attend in 2017.
Don Collier is always a treat to spend time with and Ardmore was no exception. I had already spent a couple of days with him in Willcox, Arizona for The Wild Bunch Film Festival in October, 2017 and it was at that time I mentioned to him the Cowboy Way in Ardmore was celebrating The Virginian in May of 2018. He mentioned to me that he had done a Virginian episode and wanted to know if there was room for him. “Was he kidding?”There is always room for Don at any event I have anything to do with! I was more than happy to get a hold of Leslei and arrange for it to happen, much to the delight of the fans.
Stay tuned as I keep you posted for other for news about the Cowboy Way, Mayfest in Ardmore for 2019. But for now, you can get more info at: http://www.cowboywayfest.com/
I missed the first day of the festival, due to the fact that my son Tyler and his beautiful bride Rachel decided it was important to get married on Friday, May 4th, and who was I to complain. After the wedding and reception I caught the “red eye” from Phoenix International Airport (Sky Harbor) and arrived in Dallas bright and early Saturday to pick up the rental car they had waiting for me. I was hoping to get to Ardmore in time for the first panel discussion of the day. It was not to be due to my GPS continually giving me different directions until I finally had to call Leslei and ask her how the heck to get to Ardmore from Dallas. When I finally got there Julie Ann Ream was finishing up the first panel, but I was able to handle the panel discussions for the second and third Q&A sessions that day.
Speaking of the 2017 Wild Bunch Film Festival, with head honchos, Rock and Brenda-Marie Whitehead, will be coming to Willcox, Arizona, October 19th - 21st. This is the third year of the fest and I will be hosting the awards ceremony as well as any panels and interviews. This will be my second year hosting the fest, which originated 2016 in what is becoming the film festival capital, Ardmore, Oklahoma; this is now where Rock and Brenda will be holding their second Sunny Side Up Film Festival, March 23rd and 24th, 2019.
Both fests contain some wonderful examples of the new independent filmmakers from literally around the world. I am indeed grateful to Brenda and Rock for moving The Wild Bunch Fest to Arizona which makes it perfect for me to be a part of it. For more information on The Wild Bunch Film Festival coming to Willcox, Arizona visit, http://www.thewildbunchfilmfestival.com/.
On the book front, my Lazy Susan Productions will release another of my “Short Shots” books this month, to be announced later. Once it is ready I will be taking pre-orders.
This will be the second in the Short Shots series designed to be very informative with lots of pictures and anecdotes, and yet inexpensive and a quick read, perfect for airplane trips or even a visit to the doctor. The first one, The Westerns: Creating the Myth for Film and Television, was released last year and, fortunately for me, was a hit with the fans due to the low price.
Short Shots books in the works include, John Wayne: That’ll Be the Day, and Don “Red” Barry: The Reluctant Cowboy, as well as my next full-length book, the third in the series of The Riding the Old Hollywood Trail Books on the history of Western films and television. This book will start in 1955 and go to the causes for the collapse of the Westerns on TV in 1970. I am calling it Riding the Old Hollywood Trail: from the Western Surge to the Royal Purge, and like all my books it will be available at on Amazon or my web page, http://www.silverscreencowboyz.com/aoa-wst.html
In further festival news, it looks like the second year for The Cowboy-Con Convention in Reno, Nevada is on the books for July 26th through the 29th. This year it will be located at the Grand Sierra Resort Pavillion. This is more of a convention than a festival and contains all things western, including panel discussions. This is a little different for me in that I will be sitting on the panels while Jeffrey Wayne Sutherland will be doing the moderating chores for further info on Cowboy-Con, Please check it out at, https://cowboy-con.com/index.php
For all info about the many different Western Fest coming up you can go to, http://www.silverscreencowboyz.com/wst-fst.html. Here you will find up to date info on all western festivals, conventions and events coming up through 2019.
I’ll also be getting together with Western Spirit, Scottsdale Museum of the West, next week to plan out my schedule of Western Film presentations for the upcoming season. This will be my fourth year of presenting special guests, power-point and song about all aspects of the Western film genre. We also have contests on the genre in which audience members can win prizes for participating and while we can’t give any cars away like Oprah it’s still a fun time.
Two more things I’d like to talk about are my monthly article in Arizona Real Country, the Magazine. Subscriptions are free. In July's edition I will be celebrating the career of The Quiet Cowboy Icon, Buck Taylor. The web site for subscriptions is, https://arizonarealcountry.com/. You’ll find many more articles of interest on all things western
Lastly, thanks to all of you who have subscribed and watched my YouTube/Amazon Prime show, Mysteries of the Superstition Mountains. If you haven’t done so, please give it a look and remember subscription is free. We don’t just cover stories about the Lost Dutchman, there all sorts of mysteries to do with this mountain range that we explore. You can sign-up free at, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCL_BC_CdxsiQ3XJyDDPF6NA. Or if you have Amazon Prime you can also find it there as well.
If you are on Facebook, please join Friends of the Old Hollywood Trail for more news on the western genre as well as my blog, chock full of articles about western film at, http://www.silverscreencowboyz.com/ch-tj
Well, that is enough for news and shameless plugs. Until the next time we get together keep Riding the Hollywood Trail. Your Pard, Charlie
BIG NEWS FOR WESTERN FESTIVAL FANS
Boy, Howdy! It’s been a year since last Cowboy Way May-Fest and Festival Master, Leslei (yes that how it’s spelled) Fisher, would agree that a lot has happened in that time. Reception for the festival has grown in enthusiasm from the western fans to the point where the fest moved to a much larger venue in Ardmore, Oklahoma to accommodate the crowd.
A large part of this enthusiasm is due to the fact that James Drury, Gary Clarke, and Roberta Shore of The Virginian came to say “Hi” to their fans. We had a great time with the panel discussions and had a few surprises for the crowd and the cast as well.
It was fun to see the surprise from Roberta Shore as I mentioned her television pilot playing Nancy Drew in the 1950s. She had forgotten all about it. Then I hit her with the little known fact that on The Virginian her character Betsy Garth had actually been adopted by Judge Garth (Lee J. Cobb). The cast had forgotten this fact, but they were quickly reminded by their fans in the audience. By-the-way, did you know that James Drury had already made a separate TV pilot for a Virginian series for the anthology series Decision on NBC in 1958. It’s very different in the story and characterization. Here’s the intro:
Along with them we had popular actor from film and television Alex Cord who played the Ringo Kid in the first remake of Stagecoach (1966), with Ann-Margaret, Bing Crosby, and Bob Cummings to name a few. He is most popular these days for his role on Airwolf as Michael Coldsmith Briggs III, better known as Archangel.
This year’s Cowboy Way MayFest is going to be special in that James Drury, Roberta, and Gary are bringing the rest of the cast, Clu Gulager, Randy Boone, Don Quine, Sara Lane, and Diane Soter, along with guest-stars that appeared on the show, fan favorites Don Collier and L.Q Jones.
Noted western Author/Actor Ken Farmer will also be on hand to answer questions on his popular series of books he has authored with and without partner Buck Stienke
It was at the last Wild Bunch film festival that I was honored to attend along with Don Collier, and my fellow award presenter and good friend, Tammy Locke (The Monroes), that I mentioned Cowboy Way May-Fest and The Virginian cast reunion. Good old Don, who has probably appeared on more TV westerns than anyone, told me that he had been a guest star on the show and wanted to come. A quick call to Leslei and fellow fest coordinator Donna Wilmeth and it was done. Both he and L.Q. Jones are a real hoot at the fests and will be sure to liven things up.
Another highlight where my dinners with Alex Cord at the terrific Ardmore eatery, Two Frogs Grill. The food is amazing, and if you’re coming to the festival, I would recommend trying it.
Also coming is the renowned stuntman/actor Dean Smith. Dean’s a great guy, terrific Q & A panel member, and just may be the only person round that has worked with director John Ford and numerous times with John Wayne, so I’m anxious to once again have him on my panels.
Here’s where you can get more info on the May-Fest:
On a personal note my son Tyler and his beautiful bride Rachel decided it was important to get married on May 4th, the first day of the festival, so I will be flying into Dallas bright and early Saturday to get there in time for the first panel discussion of the day. The two hour drive from Dallas/Fort Worth to Ardmore, Oklahoma will be quite a thrill (hope it’s a busy day elsewhere for the Highway Patrol).
Further news coming from my Lazy Susan Productions is my next “Short Shots” book on the last days of the Republic Pictures “B” westerns, Republic Descending: The Last Days of the Republic’s “B” Westerns. This will be the second in the series designed to be very informative with lots of pictures and anecdotes, and yet inexpensive and a quick read, perfect for airplane trips. The first one, The Westerns: Creating the Myth for Film and Television, was released last year. Others I am working on are John Wayne: That’ll Be the Day, and Don “Red” Barry: The Reluctant Cowboy.
Further festival news is, it looks like the second year for The Cowboy-Con in Reno, Nevada is on the books for this summer so I’ll be talking about that later. As a matter of fact, if you’d like to get caught up on what western festivals are coming up be sure and visit my website for continuing updates at http://www.silverscreencowboyz.com/wst-fst.html.
I’ll also be getting together with Western Spirit, Scottsdale Museum of the West, to put together our next season’s presentation on western film. This year we had a great panel discussion on stunt-people with a great panel that had veteran stuntmen Rodd Wolff and Ron Nix to name just a couple of them. Another subject was the fall from grace of the television western in the late 1960s and the different causes of it. If you’ve attended one or more of these presentations you know that we have a fun time with power-point, film, guests, and audience participations for prizes and while we can’t give any cars aware like Oprah it’s still a fun time.
Two more things I’d like to talk about are my monthly article in Arizona Real Country, the Magazine. May’s article will be my final on a five part series, “Remembering Rex Allen.” Subscriptions are free.
Lastly, thanks to all of you who have subscribed and watched my YouTube/Amazon Prime show, Mysteries of the Superstition Mountains. If you haven’t please give it a look and subscription is free. We don’t just cover stories about the Lost Dutchman, there all sorts of mysteries to do with this mountain range that I think you’ll enjoy. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCL_BC_CdxsiQ3XJyDDPF6NA.
If you are on Facebook, please join Friends of the Old Hollywood Trail for news on the western genre.
That’s it for now. Keep riding the Hollywood Trail. Charlie
Because of Laramie, Robert Fuller and John Smith will be forever linked with western fans. The show continues to draw enthusiasts from around the world to western festivals. While Bob continues to draw huge crowds wherever he goes, there are plenty of stories about “Smitty.”
Robert Fuller will always pay tribute to John and the stories he shares are always told in the best of fun and very honorable to John’s memory. Like any special friend, I’ve found Bob to never say anything that would lessen the memory of “Smitty,” and I respect that immensely.
I won’t go into the many stories about the “trouble” these two caused – with help from a cast of characters that included Frank McGrath and Terry
Wilson from Wagon Train. Needless-to-say they would pay a few visits to Universal Pictures president Lew Wasserman’s office from time to time to do penance. It all makes for some great festival stories for sure, to be told at a different time.
The one thing to remember is that while they made an effective team on Laramie they should be honored for the contributions they made separately to the western genre and continue to make through the memories of those who know Robert Fuller and those who knew John Smith.
...from The Western Legends Live On.
Pages 183 & 184
The biggest piece of fiction is not by fictional inclusion, but by historical omission in most versions of the story. Not until I Married Wyatt Earp in 1983 did many of us know there was any common law wives of Earp, omitting both Mattie Blaylock and Josephine Marcus.
This was mostly by the design of Josephine (also known as Josie and Sadie) who conjured up the narrative for Stuart N. Lake’s Wyatt Earp biography in 1931, two years after Wyatt’s death. It was then that Josie had the story white washed, more for her protection of a sordid past than her husband’s.
But Lake and Josie had a falling out due to the author taking some license of his own on the facts, and their association was terminated. Hollywood came a calling in 1934 and they bought the rights to Lake’s book, Wyatt Earp, Frontier Marshal, however Josie legally prevented Fox Studios from using the name of her husband. The film was retitled simply, Frontier Marshal and some scenes already filmed had to be reshot to rename the Marshal in a not so subtle change to Michael Wyatt.
When the film was remade in 1939, the studio was permitted to use ‘Wyatt Earp,’ but for some odd reason Doc Holliday is now Doc ‘Halliday,’ due to the fact that the Holliday family had not given studio permission to use the exact name.
Stuart N. Lakes book was later found to be totally apocryphal, but both he and Josie continued to get royalties from the book as well as film versions of the time. Of course Josie would embellish as well in her memoir I Married Wyatt Earp. Josephine Marcus died in 1944, two years before John Ford lensed his version of the story; this made it much easier for the studio and Ford to ‘name names.’ However there still remained no Mattie or Josie, instead replaced by Clementine Carter; and ‘Big Nose Kate’ was nowhere to be found for the Doc; her replacement was named Chihuahua (Linda Darnell).
Stuart N. Lake would continue to worm his way into the Americana when he became the consultant for the 1955 – 1961 television show, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp; all bases where covered adding ‘legend’ to the title, because it was more of Lake’s fictional world of Wyatt wrapped around some actual events. Hugh O’ Brien looked nothing like Wyatt, although the story goes he was cast due to his resemblance to the character. The moustache was gone – according to Hugh, the studio tried one one him but it didn’t look right – no TV cowboy hero would wear a moustache until Paladin on Have Gun Will Travel, the following year.
It was Lake’s version that added the Buntline Special, so that was a novelty that became a big part of the television show upon its introduction. Once again, Wyatt was a footloose single man who rarely had time for women and less time for alcohol or gambling; he also followed an oath never shoot to kill, just wound – that flew out the window as time went on.
As a matter of fact, although this version of Wyatt Earp is considered one of the first ‘adult western’ I dispute that somewhat, in that just like Roy, Gene, and the Lone Ranger he never smoked, drank, gambled, or messed around with women.
The show was unusual in one aspect that the stories that were presented created a pattern of Wyatt’s life (as a bachelor however) in linear fashion starting with his time in Kansas and ending with the gunfight and trial in Tombstone. The show ended in 1961, three years before Stuart N. Lake passed away. away.
“When in doubt…make a Western”
“The Western is a universal frame within which
it's possible to comment on today.”
“Cinema through spectacle, through the entertainment of spectacle, tells the story of many actual problems in life. Because whoever doesn’t want to read between the lines can just enjoy the entertainment and the show and go home happy.”
Sam Peckinpah was a ‘mad’ genius. This could work for him or against him. He had the foresight to use the western genre to look to the future by focusing on our past and then pushing the envelope. He looked at westerns as a warning of what could come by revisiting the past and giving his predictions of what we have to look for to if we don’t watch out.
Sam’s best quote about his warnings was made by him when referencing The Wild Bunch: “You want to be complacent lemmings? Here's what's going to happen if you do, so you'd better rebel before it's too late." Too bad we didn't listen.
In John Ford's classic western film, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, James Stewart plays the ‘Honorable’ Senator Ransom Stoddard returning with his wife, Hallie (Vera Miles) to the town of Shinbone to attend the funeral of Tom Doniphon (John Wayne). As we learn through the flashback story Doniphon is the man responsible for Stoddard being the success he is through a secret that was shared by the two men; a secret that the senator can no longer, in all good conscience, keep to himself. At the finish of his story Stoddard tells the reporter the truth about who shot Valance. Knowing it will create a problem, not just for the senator in his bid for governorship of the unspecified state but to those who need their heroes, the reporter, Maxwell Scott (Carleton Young) decides to tear up the story and throw it in the nearby potbelly stove proclaiming, "This is the west sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." He really isn't doing it for Stoddard but for all the people who believe in him. Back then, as today,we need heroes to look up to no matter what the cost. Which story will sell more newspapers is completely irrelevant to the myth building Maxwell Scott; being somewhat jaded, it could also help the newspaper editor if he ever needs a favor from a Governor Stoddard
A legend can have greater meaning to those of us looking for heroes thus outweighing the facts. Tom Doniphon is dead so who is the truth going to help?
Certainly not the Senator who is still very much alive and married to the woman that both he and Doniphon loved. It’s not going to help Tom Doniphon, even though it could help create a heroic legend for the man who actually shot Liberty Valance thus destroying Stoddard’s reputation; so what really should win out … The truth or the legend?
Charlie LeSueur is AZ's Official Western Film Historian, Encore Fellow @ Spirit of the West; Scottsdale's Museum of the West.