The 2015 Western Heritage Awards in Oklahoma City




Don’t forget to mark your calendars for The Good, The Bad & The Barbeque at the Mullendore Cross Bell Ranch. This is a rare opportunity to visit this historic ranch and help support Elder Care.

Welcome back.  The celebrities were out in full force this past Saturday night in Oklahoma City as the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum held their 54th Annual Western Heritage Awards. What a night it was! The event actually started on Friday with a big “how do you do” kind of gathering that is always popular with great finger food and drink and gets everyone in the mood for Saturday night.

Rex Linn started things off on Saturday morning with an interview of four of John Wayne’s children, Patrick, Ethan, Melinda and Marisa and his granddaughter Anita which was open to the public. For Wayne fans like myself this was quite a treat. All of his kids and his granddaughter had been in his movies and their behind the scenes recollections were quite entertaining. They also told stories about Pawhuska born movie star Ben Johnson, Jimmy Stewart and Maureen O’Hara along with many others that had the crowd hanging on their every word.

The Wild Goose was mentioned quite a bit as all of the Waynes had spent a lot of time on board. If you’re not familiar with the Wild Goose, this was the name of John Wayne’s boat that he kept in Newport Harbor, California.  The boat was originally commissioned as a U.S. Navy YM-1-Class yard mine sweeper and was put into service in the Aleutian Islands during World War II.

The Wild Goose was decommissioned in 1946 and was sold to a wealthy Canadian. In 1956 Max Wyman bought the ship and traveled the world. When John Wayne bought the boat in 1962 he gave her a complete makeover and renamed her the Wild Goose. Wayne kept the boat until his death 17 years later and entertained not only his family but most of the notable celebrities and political figures of the day including two Presidents. All of the kids remembered having great fun on the board and that Wayne just loved that ship. I also learned that Jacques Cousteau’s famous ocean explorer The Calypso is the sister ship of The Wild Goose which is still available for charter in Newport Harbor.

This was a great start to what I knew would turn out to be a special evening. There was music of course, beginning when Michael Martin Murphy introduced Wylie Gustafson who sang his hit song “Where Horses Are Heroes”. After that Burns Hargis presented John Hughes’ children with a statue and formally inducted John into the Hall of Great Westerners. Many other awards were given for western fiction and non-fiction, photography and poetry, all leading up to the inductees into the Hall of Great Western Performers.

The first honoree was Ken Maynard (1895-1973) who by all accounts was a real “man’s man”. Maynard started out as a rodeo performer with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. After serving in World War I, he came home and got a big role in Ringling Brothers’ Circus. In 1923 his first silent film was released and an international star was born.

James Coburn was the other inductee and after appearances in more than 70 films I’m sure most of you are familiar with him. Coburn also appeared in dozens of TV shows from Bonanza to Perry Mason. 1966 was his breakout year with a role in the film “Our Man Flint’.

The HBO series Hell on Wheels- Return to Hell won the award for outstanding fictional drama and several of the stars were there to accept the award. Then Rex Linn and Jennifer Rodgers-Etcheverry presented “Klondike” with the award for best television feature film and “The Homesman” for outstanding theatrical motion picture.

The grand finale of the evening was the presentation of the Chester A. Reynolds Award to Harvey Dietrich, a man of great character and accomplishments. The sold out crowd gave him a standing ovation. As I said, quite a weekend and an event that I would definitely recommend for next year if the creek don’t rise.

Moving forward, James Holmes attorney doesn’t dispute that Holmes killed 12 people and injured 70 others when he started shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Next week I’ll take you there with me for opening statements where a jury of not 12 but 24 individuals will decide Holmes’ fate.

Till next time I’ll see ya down the road……………………..