Anschutz, Corbin, others honored
Diamonds twinkled with turquoise, cowboy boots matched with tuxedos — and everything else — and Westerners from all walks of life gathered Saturday night at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.
The honorees at the 58th Annual Western Heritage Awards ranged from entrepreneurs and a chart-topping musician to a journeyman farrier and an Emmy-nominated screen icon.
“We want to honor and induct those folks that have made a visible presence to the preservation of the West and its values and ideals,” said Wyatt McCrea, a member of the National Cowboy Museum’s board of directors.
“At the same time … this is an opportunity for people who have perfected their craft and live it on a daily basis to be rewarded as well. Where else is a saddle maker or a farrier going to be able to receive an award of this caliber? It just doesn’t happen, so it’s a pretty big deal for those folks, it really is — and it’s a big deal for us. We’re happy to be able to recognize them as a way to help perpetuate this whole Western movement and keep that history alive.”
Each inductee and award winner received a “Wrangler,” a bronze sculpture of a cowboy on horseback created by Oklahoma artist Harold T. Holden.
Husband-and-wife actors Sam Elliott and Katharine Ross, both members of the Hall of Great Western Performers, were the emcees for the ceremony. Elliott told
The Oklahoman he came to Oklahoma City to receive his first Wrangler Award back in 1976 for a TV movie called “I Will Fight No More Forever.”
“I was there with Ben Johnson and Slim Pickens and some of those guys from that day, so it’s been a long exposure,” said Elliott, who was flying Sunday morning from OKC to Las Vegas to be a presenter on Sunday night’s Academy of Country Music Awards. “I think it means so much to me personally because I have a lot of heritage from down Texas way, like for generations back to the Indian Wars.”
“I kind of came into working in the ’60s and there were a lot of television Westerns being done at that time, and I was fortunate enough to have parts in many of them,” added Ross, who went on to stardom in films like “The Graduate,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “The Stepford Wives.” “I’m a Western girl, and I’m very honored to even be part of the people who have been inducted into the Great Western Performers.”
Philip Anschutz, founder of The Anschutz Corporation, one of the largest privately held companies in the United States, received the inaugural Western Visionary Award. The Denver-based entreprenuer, whom Forbes named last year “one of the 100 greatest living business minds,” has been the owner of The Oklahoman Media Company since 2011.
The crowd of about 900 people gave Anschutz a standing ovation.
“As a student in college, I always had a commitment to Western culture, Western art and particularly Western history. As an adult, I’ve spent my business career working on companies and in industries that have always been firmly rooted in the West, often companies that are quite historic in nature and have been in the West for many, many years. I tell you these things because I believe all of us in this room have a common bond, and that is we’re fascinated by the lure and the love of the American West,” said Anschutz, who introduced his wife of 50 years, Nancy, while accepting the award.
The Western Visionary Award recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution and national impact in preserving and protecting Western heritage and its ideals. It isn’t meant to be an annual award but rather one given only when warranted.
“It’s meant to recognize somebody of national significance that is put forward by the museum board or the staff,” said McCrea, the Western Heritage Committee chairman. “The Philip Anschutzes of the world ... and people of that prominence, they get a lot of awards, but nothing really in their efforts towards what they’ve done to help preserve the West and the Western lifestyle. We felt like it was important to be able to have the ability to recognize those folks at that level, with something a little more special than our normal annual awards.”
Randy Cate, a farrier renowned for his skill at treating horses’ hooves, was honored with the 2018 Chester A. Reynolds Memorial Award, named for the museum’s founder.
“It goes to a person who kind of on a daily basis epitomizes the Western values and integrity ... and not necessarily through films or becoming a prominent banker or something of that nature,” McCrea said. “He’s made his living working the West, so to speak.”
The Hall of Great Westerners gained two new members with the induction of Jim Odle, co-founder of Superior Livestock, a first-of-itskind satellite video cattle auction, and the late Walter Vail (1852-1906), a prominent cattleman in Arizona and California.
The Hall of Great Western Performers also added two new members. The late Lynn Anderson, a country music star and equestrian champion who died in 2015 at age 67, was remembered for her “Countrypolitan” sound and crossover hits like “(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden,” which held the title of the biggest-selling recording by a female country artist
for 27 years.
Best known for his work on the TV series “Northern Exposure,” “Dallas” and “Lonesome Dove,” as well as his film roles in “No Country for Old Men,” “Urban Cowboy” and “War Games,” Barry Corbin, 77, was enthusiastically ushered into the hall by his friends Ross and Elliott. Ross told The Oklahoman, “I always enjoy his work and enjoy him as a human being.”
“Being inducted into the hall is the ultimate honor ... for somebody that’s spent a career kind of professing the cowboy way, and I think Barry is certainly that way,” added Elliott, who co-stars with Corbin, Ashton Kutcher and Debra Winger on the Netflix series “The Ranch.” “That doesn’t mean that everything he’s ever done is a Western . ... Barry has done more work than either one of us put together in terms of the sheer numbers of jobs. But Barry has that cowboy ethic thing. He has an innate goodness in his heart ... and he’s a straight-shooter.” Corbin told The Oklahoman he considered Saturday’s induction the greatest honor of his four-decade acting career.
“I mix it up, I sometimes play a businessman or some other kind of a deal. But if I could just do Westerns I’d be happy. ... I’m a Western ambassador — and I’m proud of it,” he said.
“There’s a lot of cowboys still around, but you don’t see ‘em from the highway. They’re off in the brush doing work . ... I’ve made friends at this dinner that I never would have met otherwise, like the people from the Parker Ranch in Hawaii. They honored them one year. I met the foreman and a whole bunch of the Paniolo (Cattle Co.) cowboys, and it was just delightful.”
Sights and sounds
The Western Heritage Awards annually celebrate works in literature, music, film and television that add to the Western genre.
The crime drama “Wind River,” written and directed by Academy Award nominee Taylor Sheridan and starring Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen and Graham Greene, won the 2018 Wrangler for best theatrical motion picture, while the “Homecoming” episode of the Netflix series “Godless,” written and directed by Oscar nominee Scott Frank, earned the television award for best fictional drama.
Texas cowboy singer-songwriters K.R. Wood and Michael Martin Murphey’s song and spoken-word history lesson “A Nickel a Head,” which Wood penned, was named the top original Western composition. It is from the album “Songs and Tales of the Old Chisholm Trail,” which Wood recorded with friends like Murphey, Red Steagall and Ray Benson to commemorate last year the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Chisholm Trail.
“The history of the Chisholm Trail is almost unimaginably important . ... It is actually the thing that created the great American cowboy and the whole myth behind it because it was such a successful concept to round up cattle out on the open range and drive them to markets and put them on the railroad,” Murphey, a two-time Grammy nominee who has won several Wrangler Awards, told The Oklahoman.
“It’s right down the trail of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and what they celebrate and what they do. There’s a reason why I come every year ... as a presenter because I love that stuff also.”
Entrepreneur Philip Anschutz accepts the inaugural Western Visionary Award on Saturday from Gary Pierson, president and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company, and Miss Rodeo Oklahoma Taylor Spears.
Actor Barry Corbin is inducted Saturday into the Hall of Great Western Performers during the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum’s Western Heritage Awards.
Sam Elliot and Katharine Ross take the stage Saturday.
From left, actors Sam Elliott, Barry Corbin and Rex Linn participate in a Western Heritage Awards panel discussion Saturday at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
K.R. Wood, right, and Michael Martin Murphey talk on stage while receiving the Outstanding Original Western Music Composition award.
Matthew P. Mayo accepts the Western Heritage Award Saturday for Outstanding Western Novel, for “Stranded: A Story of Survival.”
Wyatt McCrea, right, and Bruce Boxleitner take the stage Saturday during the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum’s Western Heritage Awards.