An Oklahoma-born actor will be one of the inductees into the Hall of Great Western Performers, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum announced Wednesday.
Wes Studi will receive the honor on April 20 during the museum's annual Western Heritage Awards. Other inductees include the late Robert Mitchum, Leo Carillo and Duncan Renaldo.
Studi is a full Cherokee who was born in 1946 in Nofire Hollow, near Tahlequah. In addition to his acting career, he is a Vietnam veteran, sculptor, musician, author and activist, according to a news release from the museum.
He is best known for his roles in “Dances With Wolves” as a Pawnee warrior, “The Last of the Mohicans” as Magua, “Heat” as Detective Casals and in James Cameron's “Avatar” as Eytukan, the leader of a Na'vi clan.
Studi spoke only Cherokee until he was 5, when he was sent to Chilocco Indian School in northern Oklahoma, where he remained until high school graduation. He was drafted into the U.S. Army and served 18 months in South Vietnam with the 9th Infantry Division in the Mekong Delta.
After his honorable discharge, Studi became involved with American Indian politics and helped start a Cherokee newspaper. During college, he taught the Cherokee language. He later became a professional horse trainer and began acting at The American Indian Theatre Co. in Tulsa.
In 1988 he landed his first film role in “Powwow Highway” and made his TV debut in the ABC-TV movie “Longarm.”
A role in the 1988 PBS production of “The Trial of Standing Bear” helped him realize his passion for acting, the news release noted.
Studi is an internationally recognized expert on indigenous languages and has worked as a language consultant on several films.
Studi and his wife, Maura Dhu, a singer and writer, live in Santa Fe., N.M., and perform in a six-piece band called Firecat of Discord. They have one son.
For induction into the Hall of Great Western Performers, actors must have made significant contributions to the perpetuation of Western film, radio or theater.
Through a solid body of works in motion pictures, radio or stage, inductees must project the traditional Western ideals of honesty, integrity and self-sufficiency, the museum noted in a news release.
Mitchum, an icon of 1940s film noir, acted in more than 30 Western films or television programming and earned an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor for the role.
He is best known for his roles in “Man With the Gun,” “Blood on the Moon” and “El Dorado,” which co-starred John Wayne. He was honored at the 1992 Golden Globe Awards with the prestigious Cecil B. Demille Award. He died in 1997 in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Inductees Renaldo and Carillo are best known in the Western genre for their roles in film and TV's “The Cisco Kid,” although they have extensive acting credits.
In “The Cisco Kid,” Renaldo played Cisco; Carillo played the sidekick, Pancho. The series began as a film series that transferred successfully to television in the early 1950s.
Renaldo died in 1980; Carillo died in 1961. Both have been honored for their contributions to the motion picture industry with stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
IF YOU GO
The 2013 Western Heritage Awards gala, which brings guests from around the world to Oklahoma City, will be April 20 at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 1700 NE 63. For reservations or more information, call 478-2250, ext. 219, or go to www.