Actors Bruce Boxleitner and the late Fess Parker; animal scientist, best-selling author and austism advocate Temple Grandin; the late historian and author Walter Prescott Webb; and the late spur maker and cowboy Jerry Cates will be celebrated at the 51st anniversary Western Heritage Awards next month at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.
The Board of Directors at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum announced today the 2012 inductees who will be celebrated at the April 21 gala.
First presented in 1961, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum Western Heritage Awards were established to honor and encourage the legacy of those whose works in literature, music, film and television reflect the significant stories of the American West. The awards program also recognizes inductees into the prestigious Hall of Great Westerners and the Hall of Great Western Performers as well as the recipient of the Chester A. Reynolds Memorial Award, named in honor of the Museum’s founder. Each honoree receives a Wrangler, an impressive bronze sculpture of a cowboy on horseback.
For tickets or information on the Western Heritage Awards, go to www.nationalcowboymuseum.org.
Read more about this year’s honorees after the break.
Hall of Great Western Performers
For induction into the Hall of Great Western Performers actors must have made significant contributions to the perpetuation of the Western film, radio or theatre through a solid body of work. Additionally, the inductee must project the traditional Western ideas of honesty, integrity and self-sufficiency.
Bruce Boxleitner, California, is an American actor who uses his extensive skills as a horseman in several Westerns throughout his career. Boxleitner made more than 100 appearances in various movies and television shows between 1972 and the present. He is probably best known co-starring with James Arness as his nephew in his first made for television movie, “The Machan’s,” which later became the ambitious series of 24 two-hour films under the title “How the West Was Won.” Other credits include starring as Billy Montana opposite Kenny Rogers in four out of the five Gambler TV mini-series, based on the best-selling song performed by Rogers. He also starred in additional Westerns including: “Gunsmoke V,” “One Man’s Justice” with Arness, CBS’ remake of “Red River” also with Arness, Gregory Harrison, and Laura Johnson and “Wyatt Earp: Return to Tombstone,” with Hugh O’Brian. “Wyatt Earp” was filmed on location in Tombstone, Ariz., site of the infamous shootout at the O.K. Corral. The actor also appeared in “Down the Long Hills,” based on legendary western author Louis L’Amour’s novel of the same name. Boxleitner was cast as a young Wyatt Earp in the made for television movie “I Married Wyatt Earp” co-starring with Marie Osmond in 1983. Three years ago he starred with Ernest Borgnine in “Aces ‘N’ Eights” and looks forward to 2012 when he stars first animated Disney TV series. A native midwesterner, Boxleitner received training on stage and is an alumnus of Chicago’s prestigious Goodman Theatre. He relocated to Los Angeles and quickly launched a guest spot on the legendary television series “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”
Fess Parker (1924-2010), California, was an American icon known for his portrayal of frontiersmen Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, which impacted millions of young viewers and created an international phenomenon in the late 1950s and 60s. Originally from Texas, Parker began acting professionally in 1951 as a stage performer in the national company of “Mister Roberts” with Henry Fonda. Shortly afterward, he made his film debut in “Untamed Frontier,” with Joseph Cotton and Shelley Winters. In 1954, Walt Disney signed Parker to play the title role of “Davy Crockett,” “King of the Wild Frontier.” He continued to star in numerous box office hits such as “Old Yeller,” “The Great Locomotive Chase” and “Westward Ho the Wagons!” Later Parker filled in for Howard Keel as Curly in the musical tour of Oklahoma. In 1964, he began filming the network television series, “Daniel Boone,” which he also co-produced and directed five of its most popular episodes. Parker went on to be a real-estate developer in California, owning a resort, winery, vineyard, country inn and spa. Parker and his wife Marcella, were married 50 years and the Parker Family continues to be generous supporters of Direct Relief International and the Performing Arts Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara.
Hall of Great Westerners
Induction into the Hall of Great Westerners honors individuals who promote America’s rich Western heritage through leadership and patronage of art, business, industry, environmental, education, humanitarian, government or philanthropic organizations.
Temple Grandin, Ph.D., Fort Collins, Colorado, who was born with autism, has notched remarkable lifetime achievements. Dr. Grandin obtained her B.A. at Franklin Pierce College in 1970. In 1974, she was employed as Livestock Editor for the Arizona Farmer Ranchman and also worked for Corral Industries on equipment design. In 1975, she earned her Master’s in Animal Science at Arizona State University for her work on the behavior of cattle in different squeeze chutes. She was awarded her PhD in animal science from the University of Illinois in 1989 and is currently a professor at Colorado State University, where she continues her research while teaching courses on livestock handling and facility design. Because of her extensive work on the design of handling facilities, half the cattle in th e U.S. and Canada are handled in equipment she has designed for meat plants. Dr. Grandin has also authored many books including “Livestock Handling and Transport,” “Animals Make Us Human,” “Humane Livestock Handling” and “Genetics and the Behavior of Domestic Animals” and “Animals in Translation,” a New York Times bestseller. Her work with cattle handling was made into an Emmy Award winning HBO documentary titled “Temple Grandin”starring Claire Danes. Additionally, her work has been featured on 20/20, Discovery Channel, PBS Nature and others.
Walter Prescott Webb (1888-1963), Panola County, Texas, was a 20th century U.S. historian and author noted for his groundbreaking historical work on the American West. In 1918, he was invited to join the history faculty at the University of Texas at Austin where he wrote his Master of Art’s thesis on the Texas Rangers in 1920. In pursuit of his doctorate (awarded in 1932) he began an historical work on the West, resulting in “The Great Plains,” published in 1931 and hailed as a breakthrough in the interpretation of the history of the region. From 1939 to 1946 he served as president of the Texas State Historical Association. During that time, Dr. Webb launched a project to produce an encyclopedia of Texas, which was subsequently published in 1952 as the “Handbook of Texas.” The same year, he published “The Great Frontier,”which codified his view on the frontier experience. Over the next several years Webb focused on a number of contemporary issues facing many Western states. In 1957 Webb published an article in Harper’s titled “The American West, Perpetual Mirage,” which was widely rebuked at the time and put him at the vanguard of water rights issues. Because of his views on irrigation of productive cropland, some modern critics of U.S. policy on water usage view Webb’s thought to be prophetic.
Chester A. Reynolds Memorial Award
In 1990, the Museum established the Chester A. Reynolds Award named in honor of the Museum’s founder. The Chester A. Reynolds Award is presented to a living honoree or group who has notably perpetuated the legacy of the American West through one or a combination of the following: entrepreneurial endeavors, dedication to or promotion of the ideals of individualism, honesty, humility and integrity that are closely identified with the American West, a distinguished life’s work as a rancher, cowboy, or ranch hand. The Award seeks to recognize individuals or groups who have demonstrated, through a single remarkable achievement or body of quality work over a period of years, unwavering commitment to Western ideals and values.
Jerry Cates, Amarillo, Texas, was a world renowned spur maker and cowboy. He worked and lived on the LX Ranch from 1959 until 1967. After leaving the ranch, he worked at the Amarillo Livestock Auction as brand inspector for the Texas Southwest Cattle Raisers Association. As a young man, Cates started making bits and spurs for himself. His talent and love of the craft turned into a full-time profession in which he enjoyed for many years. He passed away unexpectedly June 3, 2011, and will be honored posthumously.