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Ben Johnson, Someone to remember


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> {quote:title=cinemafan wrote:}{quote}

> JackF. Thanks for adding those odds and ends. I love reading the Italian translations of movies.

> El Bruto and such.

>

> You're not going to believe this, but I have that very book *The Real Wild West* - I checked it out from the library last week, because in the index, there was an entry on Ben. I will try to type it up

> tomorrow and post. The book is about the 101 Ranch in Oklahoma and great reading.

 

*No way!* You and I are sympatico, no? :)

 

I have to admit that with these true cowboy books, I have gotten sidetracked reading about life on the ranches, and various stories about the pre-Johnson cowboys.... and the Hollywood - horse ranching connections. It's all very interesting. It amazes me how Ford, Hughes, and others trekked from California all over the southwest, from Colorado and Utah, to Arizona and Oklahoma, in order to acquire horses and to find great locations. Not an easy life for the wrangler/cowboy....but I guess we should be thankful that the studios gave these wranglers a job at a time when ranching probably would have eventually gone by the wayside. Hollywood revitalized ranching.

 

I thought the most interesting part of the Ben Johnson story was that Ben, Sr. watched early westerns, and was inspired to become a real cowboy....what a crazy circle of life.......

 

*Lynn* -

 

That's awesome! I am happy they gave Ben his very own street, ranking him worthy next to Wayne and Scott.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VEAi0_3UBo

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> {quote:title=rohanaka wrote:}{quote}

> Note the name of the magazine

>

> HA... that must be the FIRST one...

 

Hee hee. That got me giggling.

 

> And PS... I love that photo... why am I suddenly hearing "BEAUTIFUL DREAMER???" :-)

 

Awww, shucks. He's such a baby here. After watching all his later westerns, I almost forgot he could look like this. :x

 

What a sweetie. Watch out Ro! It's the sweet ones you have to be careful of, especially if you are hearing music when you see them....

 

Message was edited by: JackFavell

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well here it is, from the book *The Real Wild West - The 101 Ranch and the Creation of the* *American West* by Michael Wallis, pages 407-408.

 

 

The legacy of the 101 Ranch was also preserved through John Wayne's close friendship with another Academy Award winner - Ben Johnson, the Oklahoma wrangler and world-champion cowboy whose father, Ben Johnson Sr., rode briefly with the Millers' outfit.

 

Born in Arkansas in 1896, Ben Sr. was four years old when his family moved to Tulsa so his father could work as a livestock auctioneer. Ben left home while still in fifth grade after seeing some of the early cowboy moving pictures, including crude one-reelers featuring wranglers from the 101 Ranch. He wanted to become a cowboy. By the time he was fourteen, Ben Johnson had fulfilled his desire. He hired on with the Miller brothers and took up residence at the 101 Ranch. The youngster tended cattle, repaired fences, and acted as a bunkhouse barber. He skillfully wielded his four straight razors, with wooden handles and tempered German steel, which he kept in a soft leather carrying case branded with the inscription "Ben Johnson, 101 Ranch, Bliss, Oklahoma, March 1912."

 

When not busy punching cattle or trimming whiskers, Johnson broke horses for the British government prior to the entry of the United States into World War I. He also began to compete in rodeos. A great bronco rider and roper, Johnson took home many prizes and top honors. He established a world record for calf roping in 1923 and held it for three years. In 1927, he set a steer-roping record with an average time of eighteen seconds for three steers. By that time, Johnson had married and he and his wife, Ollie, were raising three children - two girls and a boy named Ben Jr., who became known simply as "Son".

 

Long before he even started to shave, Son Johnson picked up occasional paychecks by chasing steers across the bluestem pastures for his father, foreman of the Chapman-Barnard Ranch, a big Oklahoma cattle spread in Osage County. Son probably would have remained in Oklahoma, riding, roping, and winning his share of championships at rodeo arenas, if it had not been for the lure of Hollywood.

 

Not satisfied to be just a range cowboy, Ben Jr. arrived in Hollywood in the early 1940s, working as a horse wrangler in The Outlaw , the second western made by Howard Hughes, which also launched the career of Jane Russell. After maneuvering his way through the ranks as a stuntman, Ben Johnson got his big break when he crossed paths with John Ford and ended up being cast in Fort Apache, starring Henry Fonda,Maureen O'Hara, and John Wayne.

 

 

More western film roles followed for Johnson, including parts in Three Godfathers, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Shane, and other classics. In 1953, Johnson took time off from making movies

to return to the rodeo arena, where he won a world title in team roping. Many more movie roles followed, and in 1971Johnson won an Oscar for his work in The Last Picture Show.

 

A frequent visitor to his old stomping grounds in the Osage country before his death in 1996, Johnson eventually appeared in three hundred films. Four hundred mourners attended his funeral at the small Oklahoma town of Pawhuska . They gathered in front of his casket with cowboys hats clutched to their chests and listened to a single fiddler play "Just a Closer Walk with Thee."

 

Message was edited by: cinemafan to fix my typos

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I was just checking out Amazon.Com and they have a Sept 15 release date for "Wagon Master",Sadly Ben Johnson's name does not appear in the ad and if you want a deal you can buy 3 films for a special price. You get Fords "Wagon Master" and Bogdanovich's "Directed by John Ford" and the third dvd you get in the set, ready,wait for it..."Husbands" directed by John Cassavetes. As much as I am fan of his, what in the world is their thinking, do they have an over stock of "Husbands"????

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Cinemafan-

 

Thank you for typing out that section of the book for us. I was dying to know what was missing!

 

Son certainly had lot to live up to. I have read that he could be pretty competitive. The more I read about Ben Sr., the more I want to know about him. He strikes me as quite the character. I would love to find out what Ben Jr. had to say about his old man. Sometimes I wish these old cowboys were more loquacious... :)

 

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JackF - you have turned up some good stuff there!

 

With your permission, I am posting this article from *Western Horseman Magazine* *online,* because it contains lots of *Ben quotes*, and I think it gives great insight into the man. In researching Ben Johnson, it's difficult to find a whole lot, so I think it is important to have all this in one place.

 

*Thanks to JackF for providing the original link further on down this thread.*

 

 

 

from *Western Horseman Magazine*

"Young people, today, need to have three things in their lives - honesty, reality and respect. If they'd listen to someone who is real and honest, and if they'd respect themselves, they wouldn't get involved with drugs and have so many problems. The kids who get in trouble just didn't get the right kind of milk at home. They didn't get any help."

 

Those are Ben Johnson's words, and they help explain why this Oscar-winning actor and world-champion cowboy spends so much of his spare time at charity events where children are the benefactors. The Ben Johnson name is on celebrity rodeos around the country, including Houston, Fort Worth, Phoenix, Oklahoma City, Reno and Los Angeles.

 

Ben says, "We're getting calls every day from all over the country, where other folks want us to put on a rodeo for them. But, I've just about loaded my boat. I spend so much time helping get money together for other people," he says with a grin, "that I can hardly take time to make a living for myself."

 

But Ben has already managed to make a pretty good living, and he is generous with his time. He is always willing to sign an autograph, shake a hand or donate time to help other people.

 

The world recognizes Ben Johnson as a cowboy. Not just a movie cowboy, but as a bona-fide, real-life cowboy. He is as well known and respected at ranches and rodeos as he is in Hollywood, where he has worked for almost 50 years in the motion-picture business.

 

Ben was born in Foracre, Okla., on June 13, 1918. His father, Ben Johnson Sr., had a place on Bird Creek, northwest of Pawhuska. The senior Johnson was a respected rancher and champion roper, and is an honoree in the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. And Pawhuska honors Ben Sr. every year with a memorial rodeo named after him.

 

Ben Jr. grew up in the Pawhuska area, cowboyed on the Chapman-Bernard Ranch, and rubbed elbows with some accomplished rodeo cowboys of that time - such names as Ike Rude, Everett Shaw, Louis Brooks and Clark McIntire. Ben liked rodeoing, too, and it is likely that he would have pursued rodeo as a career had it not been for a chance encounter with people who were making a movie for Howard Hughes.

 

It was around 1940, and Hughes was making The Outlaw, starring Jane Russell. His crew bought a load of horses out of Oklahoma, and Johnson was asked to deliver them to the movie location near Flagstaff, Arizona.

 

At the time, Ben was working for $30 a month, and the $300 he was offered was more than he could pass up. After the shoot, he took the horses on to Hollywood, and that's where he stayed.

 

Ben says, "They decided I rodeo a horse pretty good, so they put me in the Screen Actors' Guild, and I went to work as a wrangler, stuntman and as a double for actors like John Wayne, Joel McRae and Jimmy Stewart."

 

Then, in 1949, Ben was offered a 7-year contract with famed director John Ford. The contract was for up to $5,000 per week, and Ben signed immediately "before Ford had a chance to change his mind," Ben explains.

 

Ben went right to work on such films as Wagon Master, Mighty Joe Young, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and Rio Grande. And in Rio Grande, he and fellow actors Claude Jarman Jr. and Harry Carey Jr. did their own stunt work in a spectacular Roman-riding scene that's still a film classic. Anyone who views that scene can easily see that Johnson is a real horseman.

 

Despite his movie success, Johnson still felt he had something to prove to himself, so, in 1953, he took a year off and hit the rodeo circuit. He had been rodeoing all along between movies and, in 1949, had set a calf-roping record at Pendleton, Ore., where he roped and tied in 12.5 seconds with a 60-foot score."I really thought I was something," says Ben.

 

He continues, "I got in a position where I could afford to travel, so I decided to see just what I could do." He teamed with Buckshot Sorrells, Andy Jauregui and others in the team roping.

 

"That was the year everybody else had hard luck," says Ben, modestly, "and I beat them out and won the world. I came home with a championship, and I didn't have $3. All I had was a wore-out automobile and a mad wife. Fortunately, they let me back in the picture business, and I've stayed there ever since."

 

Since his movie career began, Johnson has appeared in more than 300 movies. Some of the better-known are Fort Defiance, Shane, War Drums, One-Eyed Jacks, Major Dundee, The Rare Breed, Will Penny, The Wild Bunch, The Undefeated, Chisum, Junior Bonner, The Getaway, The Train Robbers, Dillinger, The Sugarland Express, Bite the Bullet, Breakheart Pass, and The Swarm.

 

But despite the great number of movies, Ben Johnson was never a household name until 1971. That year, he won the Academy Award for best actor in a supporting role for his portrayal of the pool hall owner in The Last Picture Show, a movie from the Larry McMurtry novel of the same name.

 

"The Academy Award changed my whole life," says Ben. "You win one of those Oscars and all at once people think you know something. You don't know any more than you did before, but they think you do. And the studios offer you more jobs for a lot more money."

 

Like other westerners, Ben would like to see Hollywood make some good western movies again, but he's not sure they will ever be done as well as they were in the old days. "It's hard to find young people in the business who know anything about the real West. A lot of them don't know whether a horse roosts in a hole or a tree. Most actors can't ride well enough to get in and out of a scene. They're about as western as my poodle."

 

And Johnson explains that cost is another factor. "When they made Heaven's Gate, they invested $50 or $60 million in it, and it busted all those people. They called it a western, so after that anytime somebody mentioned a western, they all ran backwards.

 

"It's very expensive to make an authentic western. It's almost impossible to afford to have 1,000 head of cattle in a movie. It is just very difficult to finance, produce, direct and act out a good western."

 

Johnson does own the rights to a very good western novel, The Cowboy and the Cossack, written by Clair Huffaker. He has a company interested in doing the movie, which involves cowboys and a herd of cattle in Russia, and the present atmosphere of d??tente is ideal for getting the movie accomplished. Ben is hopeful he can bring this good western to the screen.

 

In the meantime, he spends his time doing other movies, participating in team roping at his celebrity rodeos, and relaxing at his recently completed new home outside of Phoenix, Arizona. "I keep a few head of horses in Oklahoma, and near my home," says Ben, "on my nephew's place. I get on one now and then."

 

On a shelf in Ben's home is a cluttered collection of awards that Ben has earned through the years, including his Academy Award, a People's Choice Award, Golden Boot Award, New York Film Critics Award, Golden Globe Award, and more. And last December, Ben was honored at a Ben Johnson Roast at the National Finals Rodeo. But for all the public acclaim, Ben is most rewarded when he is able to help young people through charities associated with his celebrity rodeos. His big heart and generous nature have made him a favorite of everyone who has met him. Uncle Ben, as his close friends are wont to call him, is the real thing - a real American cowboy who exemplifies ideal cowboy standards.

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Cinemafan-

 

Thanks for posting that article here so that those who maybe overlooked it could read it too. It definitely had the most information of any article about Ben that I have seen so far. I just took the time to reread it and found out some things I didn't remember seeing the first time.

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I got some nice caps from *The Shadow Riders* . This is the second of the Tom Selleck/Sam Elliott TV movies about the Traven brothers who fought on opposite sides of the Civil War. The story is from a Louis L'Amour novel. It's rather predictable and lackluster, and sometimes the comedy seems odd when you think of the darkness of the plotline. The boys are all nice to look at and it's a no brainer to watch if you are in the mood for something light. I would take Ben at age 64 over Tom or Sam. But you guys knew that already. :D

 

Ben plays *"Black Jack" Traven*, the brothers' roguish but good natured uncle. He gets a great buildup to his opening scene.... First the boys talk about what an old reprobate their uncle is. They need him to guide them through Mexico to rescue their sisters, who have been captured and sold into Mexican slavery. Uncle Jack is the only one who knows about the terrain down south of the border. They discover that he is in jail, who knows why, and this is all before we ever see him. When we do, director Andrew MacLaglen toys with us a little, hiding his face for just a bit longer.

 

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It turns out Jack's been incarcerated for a little gunplay with the mayor's son, over a woman.... guess he is quite the ladies man, leaving a trail of broken hearts and dead husbands in his wake. :)

 

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> {quote:title=MissGoddess wrote:}{quote}

> Joanna Dru was crazy to pick John Agar after seeing this good looking soldier.

>

> She had to be nearsighted.

 

And then some! Although I think Mildred Natwick leads her away from looking at Tyree somewhere in the middle of this scene. Oh, wait, she was probably protecting her from the dead body, not from Ben.... :)

 

I think this might have been Ben's first scene for Pap with dialogue. I don't know why I think so, I just do. I know they don't shoot films in order, but Ben looks a wee bit nervous to me here.

 

There is a great story about Joanna Dru in the Pappy book.... I'll have to go and find it. Something about John Wayne on and off a horse.

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>

> I think this might have been Ben's first scene for Pap with dialogue. I don't know why I think so, I just do. I know they don't shoot films in order, but Ben looks a wee bit nervous to me here.

>

 

That's cute!

 

> There is a great story about Joanna Dru in the Pappy book.... I'll have to go and find it. Something about John Wayne on and off a horse.

 

I'd love to read it...it's been so long since I read that book I've forgotten a great deal.

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It must be in another book, I'm having trouble finding it.

 

Anyway, according to someone, maybe Mildred Natwick, Joanna Dru was a lively girl, and they got to comparing the attributes of the actors in the picture they were working on. I think it was SWAYR, but I'm not sure. Anyway, they came to the conclusion that John Wayne ON a horse was as sexy as all get out, but that OFF the horse..... nothing.

 

I can't for the life of me understand it. :)

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