2011 Western Heritage Awards

This week’s blog which I normally post on Sunday is running late because I was out of town and have been tied up in meetings. Nonetheless I hope you will enjoy reading about the Golden Anniversary of the Western Heritage Awards in Oklahoma City which has direct bearing on my project.   This article also appeared in my weekly column in the  Bartlesville  Examiner-Enterprise.

Welcome back. … Bartlesville’s historical ties to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City are rich in a tradition that dates back to Kenneth“Boots” Adams who was one of the original founders of the museum and the early days of Phillips Petroleum Company which has always been a strong corporate supporter.

Today ConocoPhillips continues to play a lead role in the development of what most consider to be one of the finest western art and history museums in the world. This past weekend ConocoPhillips, along with Wrangler, was a major sponsor of the Golden Anniversary of the Western Heritage Awards.

Over two thousand people filled the place to rub shoulders with the likes of Ernest Bourgnine, Patrick Wayne, Stuart Whitman and the legendary Paramount producer A.C. Lyles during a busy and entertaining weekend.

Friday night kicked things off with the time honored “hanging of the hat” ceremony in memory of a recently deceased member of the Board of Directors and this year honored James P. Linn who was also the father of movie star and CSI: Miami actor Rex Linn. The ceremony was followed by the ever popular Jingle Jangle Mingle receptionwhich featured performances by Western Heritage Award winners and offered the opportunity for pictures and autographs with the many celebrities who were on hand.

Saturday started out with “Tales Behind the Film”, a five hour series of talks that was nothing short of spectacular as Bourgnine, Wayne and the other told the crowd stories of life in the movie business. Their experiences included the filming of movies like

The Comancheros,  From Here to Eternity, the T.V. series Cimarron and many other classics. A.C. Lyles in particular kept the audience on the edge of their seats as he talked about his friend, and the best man at his wedding, Ronald Reagan. As a producer he worked with stars like Jimmy Cagney, Steve McQueen, Allen Ladd, Lee Marvin and a young, and wild, John Wayne and his stories were topped only by the Awards Banquet that evening.

When singer Lynn Anderson opened the Awards Banquet singing the National Anthem, followed by the co-hosts, T.V. and movie greats Ed Harris and Rex Linn, everyone in the audience knew they were in for a treat. Michael Martin Murphy, Red Steagall and Don Edward all sang at various times throughout the evening and Patrick Wayne, Wyatt McCrea, Barry Corbin and Buck Taylor and others gave out this year’s awards. This black tie event is one of a kind and if you’re interested in seeing the photos check out photographer Joe Ownbey’s website after April 29th at joe@ownbeyphotography.com. Just use the password “cowboy” and go to the “Events” page.

And till next week I’ll see ya down the road…..

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