I love movies. In fact, my parents got my name from a movie title. Yes, in 1956, a movie was released called “Dino” starring Sal Mineo and Brian Keith. So, you could say I've always felt an extra special kinship with movies. And because of my dad, one of my favorite genres is the Western.
Many find it difficult to believe that, through the years, Hollywood has made more Westerns than any other kind of film. In its purest form, the Western is arguably the most prolific genre in Hollywood's history. And what better place to see fascinating artifacts from some of those movies and their stars than at the Hall of Western Performers at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.
Don Reeves, who holds the McCasland Chair of Cowboy Culture at the museum, says everyone has his or her own idea of what the quintessential cowboy is.
“The American cowboy, since the dime novels and Wild West Shows, carried with it a romantic notion of being out usually on horseback but independent, doing whatever they wanted, saving the damsel or riding full forward into a stampeding herd. But it was full of excitement and danger,” Reeves said.
He also said that walking through the Hall of Western Performers is like seeing old friends.
Visitors “see the old movie stars, whether it be John Wayne or maybe Tom Mix if they're old enough and recognize that,” Reeves said. “But, back in the gallery, where we've got the story of the Western, we talk about the dime novels and the Wild West Shows, because that's where the scripts from the silent movies came from, and then onto the broadcast media of ‘Gunsmoke' and ‘The Lone Ranger' and these others on radio and then onto B Westerns and onto the other movie media.”
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