Eiteljorg Musuem Blog

Eiteljorg Roundup: Who's your favorite cowboy or cowgirl?

by User Not Found | May 21, 2012
For the Eiteljorg first ever Weekly Roundup, we asked staff members for the name of their all-time favorite cowboy or cowgirl.

Lezlie Laxton, HR manager, says it's all about The Duke.  "I think John Wayne almost personified or developed the iconic American cowboy in film. His characters were the good guys who stood for justice and helped people. Those things sort of built up the American ideals to the public during the 50s and 60s."

Pete Brown, web and new media coordinator, says Gene Wilder as The Waco Kid in Blazing Saddles.

Cathy Burton, Beeler Family director of education and former employee of the Autry National Center in Los Angeles, says:

Monte Hale for his true friendship I witnessed to Mr. Autry; his kindness to the Autry museum staff and his infectious, positive attitude. He was funny and, as a movie singing cowboy, had a voice that rivaled his peers. Most obvious to all was his great love and devotion to his wife, Joanne, our museum president. For the staff in education, sure, we knew Mr. Autry and were dedicated to his museum, but Monte Hale’s voice was warm and we in education and programs would listen to his old songs in his movies or remember his work in movies like Giant. He was a giant of a man with a giant heart and voice. He had a marvelous sense of humor. He was tickled when the museum café in Los Angeles started naming their entrees. His, of course, was the Monte Hale Cristo sandwich. He always ordered it.

My feeling is that this question will best be answered by James Nottage. James and his wife introduced me to Monte Hale when I worked  at the Autry Museum. James knew many popular cowboys, especially our boss, Mr. Gene Autry. Mr. Autry was in a class all to himself. It was his best friend, Monte, who was at Mr. Autry’s side as the two first visited the site and later the museum, checking out the galleries and behind-the scenes. Monte passed away in 2009 and is deeply missed by his wife. He was a good, genuine friend to many.

When asked if he ever watched his own movies, Monte was reported to have said, "Cowboy stars are supposed to be brave, but I just don't have that kind of courage."

James Nottage, vice president and chief curatorial officer, adds:

One of the most interesting movie cowboy stars was Colonel Tim McCoy.  He was a real working cowboy and cowboy poet in Wyoming.  He became adjutant general of the Wyoming National Guard.  He was deeply immersed in Plains Indian history and culture and could speak in Indian sign language.  McCoy made many silent Western films and transitioned to sound films and then television.  In the 1970s he wrote and published his autobiography.  A fascinating man.

Matt Askren, visitor experience manager, said Clint Eastwood as The Man with No Name in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly; For a Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More. Erin Wold, gallery admissions assistant; Anne Nelson, retail manager; and Sheila Jackson, membership manager, are also fans of Eastwood, though Sheila is more partial to his role as Rowdy Yates in Rawhide.

Jaq Nigg, festival and markets manager said:

When I was a kid in the late 70’s, I watched old Westerns every Sunday afternoon with my dad. It was our thing. He preferred a specific formula: white hat/black hat, manly-man laconic heroes and lots of shoot ‘em up. Even as a youngster, I was aware that there were two kinds of women: pure or… not-so-pure. To my dad’s utter disappointment, one Sunday’s offering was Annie Get Your Gun, the tale of the first American female superstar, sharpshooter Annie Oakley. Unfortunately, it’s a musical, but I was mesmerized. Not by the songs or the costumes or the insipid story, but by Annie herself. When I learned she was a real person, I was a goner. I read every book I could find. I wanted to be just like her – tough, sassy, talented. I proceeded to be Annie Oakley for the next three Halloweens. Of course, since then, I’ve found better movies with more complex depictions of strong, independent, intelligent and highly capable women, but Annie was my first and will always be my favorite cowgirl.

Bert Beiswanger, marketing manager, digs "that dude from Toy Story." Meanwhile, Tamara Winfrey Harris, vice president of communications and marketing, insists the only cowboy that counts is Val Kilmer as an aggressively tubercular Doc Holliday in Tombstone.

Ashley Holland, assistant curator of contemporary art, says "Robert Redford and/or Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Either one."

Sue Thompson, gallery admissions assistant, and Deborah Kish, volunteer services manager, are partial to Roy Rogers and so is Mary Ann Clifford, merchandise operations assistant, who says:

"My favorite is Roy Rogers.  This is showing my age, but I grew up with the Roy Rogers Show and my brothers and I played cowboys when were we little.  With five brothers and being the second youngest, I was usually relegated to being the horse since, as my brothers told me, I had a pony tail!  Don’t worry, no one sat on me, but rather I galloped in front of one of them with twine looped around my middle and under my arms as the reins.  I always pretended to be Trigger, Roy’s trusty horse.  As I grew older, I admired Roy Rogers and Dale Evans for their loving adoption of numerous children and for their faithfulness to each other and to their strong beliefs in doing what was ethical."

And Rachel Dillow, assistant events manager, offered this:

Er...okay, Rachel.


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