Sunday, October 4, 2015

Silver Spurs

Best Actress or Best Actor - you decide.

An opportunity came up recently to spend the evening rubbing elbows with film and television stars. That was a full ahead go for the western theatrical ensemble – Tombstone Legends (which J and L are members).

Laureen with Buck Taylor
The invitation was delivered by the Reel Cowboys, a non-profit group which was formed in 1997 by seven close friends. Mainly made up of actors, directors and behind the scenes talent who worked in western film or television which has now grown to over 100 active members from all walks of life.

John with Angie Dickinson
Their goal – to preserve the good moral and family values that are the mainstay of the western genre in Hollywood and to ensure it would continue on and on into the future. 

What a refreshing 'old fashioned' idea - good morals and strong loving families.

Tom "Snakey" Troutman, Laureen, Carrie Joseph,
Danny "Virge" O'Connell, & Julie Ann Ream, Event Coordinator
The actual invitation came through a member of both the Reel Cowboys and Tombstone Legends, a gentleman named Daniel O'Connell,who plays Virgil Earp. And on behalf of J and L, as well the Tombstone Legends, we'd like to extend the kudos to the one who gave us this wonderful chance.

Thanks, Danny!

The Legends
Each year this group sponsors an event called ‘The Silver Spur Awards,’ which is a fundraiser to honor western themed moments in Hollywood , either in television or film. This year on September 18th the celebration was for the 60th anniversary of the long running series Gunsmoke. For two decades (1955 – 1975) this series entertained millions of aficionados of the western culture every single week.

Dave Moore with Martin Landau
Gunsmoke had the ever courageous and tall (6’7”) Marshall Matt Dillion (played by James Arness) taking care of the bad hombres who dared come into Dodge City. His long time secret girlfriend, Miss Kitty (played by Amanda Blake) who owned and ran the saloon was always by his side giving him the support any ‘friend’ could. 

Jaye and Andrew Strother

And who could forget the other colorful characters: Milburn Stone, Buck Taylor, Ken Curtis, and the rest of the hundreds of other western folk who moseyed through the various sets of Gunsmoke? Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood made early appearances here before hitting the ‘big time’ in Hollywood just to count a few.

Incomparable women:
Pilar Moore and Michael Learned
So, this year’s gala was to highlight all those who participated in one of the longest television shows and give homage especially to James Arness. At the very beginning of the series Mr. Arness was lauded by John Wayne that James would someday be a very big star. How correct the Duke was with that prediction – and the rest is history.

Barry and Karen  enjoying the photo op
Members of the Arness family were present to say kind words about the show, James and the many others who had come out this evening to celebrate 60 years of fame and those who could not be there due to various commitments or who were no longer with us. It was touching, humorous, enlightening, and an honor to be there as guests.

The evening went by way too quickly with photo sessions, interviews of the most famous of the guests, a silent auction for charity and a wonderful catered dinner at the Sportsman Lodge in Studio City. During the actual award ceremony clips from Gunsmoke were shown, guests spoke at the podium, a dais of stars answered questions about their days on the set of the famous western, and just a good time wandered the spectacularly decorated hall where the event was held.
Great Company, John "Wyatt" Gilbert
with Morgan Bittany
Great location

Taking it all in reminded J and L what life must have been like when Hollywood truly worried about good morals and great acting instead of what we often see on the screens today. Not saying there isn’t talent still out there but after attending the Gunsmoke 60th anniversary we just wished there was more.

We believe that films and television mirror the public's soul and if the time of Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, is over then perhaps it's time to bring those times back. 

Baryy Clark, Martin Landau,
Marty Kove, and Tim Reynolds

Okay, maybe they weren't
 always the good guys.
The Old West of early days of television was about good wholesome values.  Knowing the nation's future rests in the next generation, the programming tended to feature a strong loving family as the foundation. This what we - all generations - need to see on our large screens on a routine basis.

There is no denying, after attending an event like the Silver Spur Awards, that the United States is an exceptional country. The entire Western genre demonstrates a uniquely American experience. Westerns demonstrate commitment to exploration and adventure, something J and L both relish, and strong family and spiritual bonds. Now, we don't wish to over-romanticize our American past, from Native American to a Civil War, the West was also shaped by strife. But we have seen cowboys hats and boots the world over. There is a message there that the world embraces. And if we're right, it's in the Cowboy Code. Saddle up, pardner!

And one more shot of the ladies -- a gentleman never tires of that!
Laureen "Josie Marcus" Beyer with
Pilar "Kate Holliday" Moore

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