The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum will honor former C&I cover guys and reader favorites at the 61st Western Heritage Awards in Oklahoma City.
Former C&I cover guys Kurt Russell and Taylor Sheridan, C&I contributor Red Steagall, C&I Movie Awards nominee The Power of the Dog, Burt Reynolds, and more will be honored April 9 at the “Oscars of the West.” Check out the entire list of this year’s honorees below.
Paper Trails: The US Post and the Making of the American West, by Cameron Blevins, published by Oxford University Press
Edward Borein: Etched by the West, by B. Byron Price, published by Santa Barbara Historical Museum
Cow Boyhood, by S. J. Dahlstrom, published by Paul Dry Books
“Here She Comes, Wearin’ Them Britches!” by Tracey Hanshew, published by Montana Historical Society
The Removed, by Brandon Hobson, published by HarperCollins
Stone Roses, by Linda Neal Reising, published by Kelsay Books
Original Western Composition
“Old Horses and Old Men” recording artist Jim Jones, composed by Jim Jones, Deanna McCall and Dave McCall
Traditional Western Album
Montford: The Chickasaw Rancher Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, recording artist Ben McKenzie, composed by Bryan E. Miller
Film & Television
Western Lifestyle Program
Red Steagall is Somewhere West of Wall Street “Fort Worth Horse and Mule Barns,” produced by West of Wall Street Film Company, LLC
Theatrical Motion Picture
Power of the Dog, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst, directed and written by Jane Campion and Thomas Savage
Home From School: The Children of Carlisle, directed by Geoff O'Gara, produced by Caldera Productions
Television Feature Film
Montford: The Chickasaw Rancher, directed by Nathan Frankowski, produced by Robyn Elliott and Paul Sirmons
“1883” 1883 S1, E1, directed by Taylor Sheridan, produced by Taylor Sheridan and David C. Glasser
Western Heritage Awards Inductees and Award Winners
Hall of Great Westerners
Frank Boardman "Pistol Pete" Eaton (1860 – 1958)
Hall of Great Western Performers
Burt Reynolds (1936 – 2018)
Neil Oliver “Bing” Russell (1926 – 2003)
James F. Hoy
Lifetime Achievement Award
Linda Mitchell Davis
Western Visionary Award
Foster Friess (1940 – 2021)
We spoke with Wyatt McCrea — board member of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (and grandson of actor Joel McCrea) — about the Hall of Great Western Performers inductees. Read an excerpt of his conversation with Senior Writer Joe Leydon here:
C&I: What do you see as the role of the Hall of Great Western Performers?
Wyatt McCrea: Well, from my perspective, and I think the committee’s perspective, the Western Heritage Awards Committee, the Hall of Great Western Performers is kind of the pinnacle for western actors, or actors that have performed in westerns. It’s a unique situation in that it’s a hall of fame, so to speak, that doesn't exist anywhere else, and of course, as you know, the museum and the Western Heritage Awards is all about celebrating anything Western and anything that has to do with the preservation of the West, and the Hall of Great Western Performers is a very selected group of people that have, have portrayed that on the screen, and in some former fashion have left us all with great images of what the West represents. I think it’s one of the most important awards that an actor can get, that’s had anything to do with westerns.
C&I: Now this year, the three honorees are Burt Reynolds, and Bing Russell, and Kurt Russell. Can you say something about each of these gentlemen?
McCrea: Well, Burt obviously is an icon, you know, going way back to the days of Gunsmoke and some of those things, and had a tremendously long career. A career that everybody loves, and of course he’s remembered not only for westerns, but even in Smokey and the Bandit, you know? Kind of a western-type character for sure, and even though he was in a Trans Am and not on a horse, he was still kind of the bandit that you loved to love, you know? So I think Burt has a place in everybody’s heart, for sure. Anybody that loves movies. No question about that. And of course, Bing goes back to the days of my grandfather, you know, back in the fifties, and a lot of those great westerns that were made back then that ... You know, some of them not Academy Award winners, but ones that everybody loved.
C&I: And Kurt, I mean, he’s made his mark, of course, as an action star and things such as that, but he has ... well, of course, Tombstone, but other westerns. I mean, heck, you could even make the argument that that science fiction movie Soldier is Shane in outer space.
McCrea: Yeah. That's right. Well, or even Escape from New York or Escape From LA, it could easily be a western setting, you know?
C&I: Oh, yes. Definitely. Yeah.
McCrea: I mean, there’s no doubt about that, and that's a great thing about Kurt. I mean, you look at his career. I mean, you talk about personal. I mean, he’s done just about everything there is to do, as far as the different genres, and of course from a western standpoint, as I mentioned in our conversation earlier, Tombstone, the popularity of it was such that I think everybody in the Western world remembers him as Wyatt Earp in Tombstone, you know?
Photography: (Cover image) courtesy Scott Everett White; (Montford) courtesy Netflix; (1883) courtesy Emerson Miller/Paramount+