Relive the Old West Legend of Dodge City Through Exhibits, Education and Entertainment.

Milburn Stone – Cowboy Entertainer

Milburn Stone Cowboy Entertainer 2006“I was bred to play the part of Doctor G. Adams.”

Milburn Stone was born on July 5, 1904 in Burrton, Kansas, where he spent most of his childhood. After graduating high school, he received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. Choosing a career in acting, he declined the appointment. Stone started out in vaudeville. He traveled with his first wife, Nellie Morrison, whom he married in Delphos, Kansas in 1925. They had a daughter Shirley, who resides in California. Milburn was related to well known Broadway comedian, Fred Stone. Though the family called him “Uncle Fred,” Fred was actually a cousin. He helped Milburn get his start on Broadway in the play “The Jayhawkers.” In 1935 Milburn began a career in movies. Soon after, in 1938, Nellie died. In 1942 he married another Kansan, Jane Garrison in Hollywood. Milly, as he was nicknamed, appeared in over 150 films, but is best known for his 20 year role as “Doc Adams” in the TV show “Gunsmoke.” He was one of only two actors who stayed during the entire run of the series. In 1968 he was awarded an Emmy for his role as Doc. When the show ended in 1975, Stone retired. On June 12, 1980 Milburn Stone died of a heart attack in La Jolla, California. He posthumously received an honorary doctorate from St. Mary of the Plains College in Dodge City. He was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City in 1981. Stone also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His wife, Jane, passed away on October 20, 2002 in Rancho Santa Fe, California.

Year inducted: 2006

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Harold L. “Buddy” Heaton – Cowboy Entertainer

Harold L Buddy Heaton Cowboy Entertainer 2005“Buddy Heaton lived his fantasy as a cowboy in goat skin chaps and a 10-gallon hat.”

Harold L. “Buddy” Heaton, a rodeo clown and horse trainer from Southwest Kansas was born in March of 1929, to Lloyd Heaton and Fayetta Maude Hazard Heaton Hagaman. While most children were learning to ride their bicycles, Heaton was learning to ride horses, bulls and buffalo. By the age of twelve, Buddy jumped horses over cars and performed as a rodeo clown and bull fighter. He went onto a career on the rodeo circuit, appearing at premiere rodeos in Cheyenne, Wyoming and Calgary, Canada. Buddy recalled, “There was a rodeo man in Dodge City who hired me to clown and fight bulls whenever I could get out of school.” Buddy focused on being the barrel man at the rodeos, stating, “I would get in a barrel and let the bull knock me around…I was wild.” During the 1950s and 1960s, Heaton expanded his rodeo clown act to include animals gaining the reputation as an animal trainer. On May 13, 1952, Buddy and his step-father Fred Hagaman’s legendary Appaloosa “High Hand” was born. Buddy trained High Hand for rodeo events and horse races. One his most notable tricks was the illusion that Heaton could lift High Hand off the ground by simply laying his hand on the horse’s back. Actually, High Hand could jump straight off the ground with all four feet. Heaton also taught his horse how to walk on its hind legs. In 1957, though High Hand had never been in a bulldogging event, Buddy won the bulldogging class at the Denver Stock Show on him. High Hand was inducted into the Appaloosa Horse Club Hall of Fame in 1988. Buddy gained national when he successfully trained a buffalo, named “Old Grunter” with the stage name “Clyde”. Life Magazine published photos of Heaton and “Old Grunter” competing in a three-way race between the buffalo, a mule and a horse at Denver’s Centennial Turf Club. On January 20, 1961, shortly after appearing on the TV show “Wagon Train”, Buddy and his buffalo participated in John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Parade. Over the years, Buddy continued to travel the rodeo circuit and introduced his three sons – Ted, Tom and Buddie Lawrence [deceased] – to horses and livestock. He managed the livestock barn in Liberal for twenty-five years, before retiring in Hugoton, Kansas. His son Ted said, “What’s amazing about Dad is all the things he has survived…His body is filled with pins from bull clowning and he has won several battles with cancer…He’s been through a lot, and he’s a survivor…There is only one Buddy Heaton in the world.”

 

Year inducted: 2005

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Johnny Western – Cowboy Entertainer

Johnny Western Cowboy Entertainer 2004

“Johnny is one of country music’s true gentlemen and walking encyclopedia of country music information.” – A biography describing Johnny Western.

Johnny Western, a successful radio personality, was born in Two Harbors, Minnesota. Johnny received his first guitar when he was twelve years old. The next year he sang and played his guitar on radio shows. When he was 15, Johnny received his own full-time radio show on KDHL in Northfield, Minnesota, where Billboard Magazine dubbed him the youngest DJ on commercial radio in the United States. At the age of sixteen he released his song, “The Violet and the Rose.” After high school, Johnny met Gene Autry who signed him to appear in motion pictures. Between 1957 and 1959, Western appeared in several movies. Later, Western recorded a pilot for one of the directors of the hit television western “Gunsmoke”; for a new show called “Pony Express”. Over the next two years, Hollywood directors cast Johnny in five feature western films and thirty-two episodes for various television westerns. Western began writing a monthly column titled “The Filmland Horseman” for Western Horseman Magazine featuring actors from the big and small screen. From 1958 to 1997, Johnny toured and performed with the Johnny Cash Show. During this time, he also wrote a theme song for the television show “Have Gun Will Travel” and co-wrote songs for “Johnny Yuma”, “The Rebel” and “Bonanza.” In 1986, Western became a Wichita radio station where he brings first-hand knowledge of the country music business and the country western stars to his daily broadcasts. In 1993, the TV Theme Hall of Fame inducted Johnny in New York City. He joined the ranks of the Country Music Disc Jockey Hall of Fame in 2000, as well as the Old Time Country Music Hall of fame in Anita, Iowa. A year later, the Western Music Hall of Fame inducted Johnny. In 2002 the city of Wichita inducted Johnny into the Wichita Professional Broadcasters Hall of Fame. And in 2004, Johnny accepted his honorary induction into the Kansas Western Swing Hall of Fame.

Year inducted: 2004

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Ron Long – Cowboy Entertainer

Ron Long Cowboy Entertainer 2003

“My heroes have always been cowboys.”

Ron Long was raised on a working ranch near Garden City, Kansas. Born in 1925, he spent most of his youth helping his family raise and break horses for the Army. After serving in World War II, Ron returned to Kansas and began a career as a professional cowboy and while competed in rodeo rough stock events. After marrying, Ron left the rodeo circuit to provide a stable income for his new family. However, Ron’s love of rodeo and dedication the “Cowboy Way” continued to influence his way of life. Ron, along with other cowboys, brought rodeo to Dodge City; by creating the Dodge City Roundup and building three separate rodeo arenas. He served as president for the Dodge City Roundup, Dodge City Area Chamber of Commerce, and chairman of Dodge City Days. Ron assisted Dodge City in establishing the Cowboy Invitational Golf Tournament to support the cowboy lifestyle in other ways than rodeo. Furthering his devotion as a cowboy, Ron is a member of the Texas Longhorn Breeders of America, which works to celebrate the history and legend of the American Cowboy.

 

Year inducted: 2003

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