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|Rudy Warner Robbins|
November 17, 1933|
Evergreen, Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana, USA
|Died||February 21, 2011
|Residence||Bandera, Bandera County, Texas|
|Occupation||Actor, Singer; Songwriter; Script writer|
|Parents||Charles and Mary Alice Grimble Robbins|
Early years, education, military
Rudy Robbins was the youngest of four children born in Evergreen in Avoyelles Parish in south central Louisiana to Charles Robbins, a native of Mississippi, and the former Mary Alice Grimble. When he was two years old, the family moved to Port Arthur on the Texas Gulf Coast, where he was reared. He graduated in 1952 from Thomas Jefferson High School, now known as Memorial High School, and then, for one academic year, attended Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, known at the time as Lamar Technical Institute. Himself a Baptist, Robbins graduated in 1956 from East Texas Baptist University in Marshall in east Texas with credentials in business administration and sociology.
From 1957-1959, Robbins served in the United States Army and was on the Fourth Army track team. He set a record for the javelin throw, the same event in which he had lettered at ETBU. In the Army, he met the son of a film producer who told him about job opportunities in Hollywood as a stuntman.
Moving to Bandera, Texas
After military service, Robbins moved to Bandera, a small community west of San Antonio which calls itself "The Cowboy Capital of the World". He worked there for a time as a wrangler at the Dixie Dude Ranch until he was offered a speaking but unnamed role as one of the Tennessee Volunteers in John Wayne's epic The Alamo, which was filmed not in San Antonio but near Brackettville in Kinney County in south central Texas. In The Alamo, Robbins was involved in a short dialogue repeated several times during the film: a fellow-Tennessean would review a developing situation and ask Robbins, "Do this mean what I think it do?" Robbins would reply, "It do." Thereafter, John Wayne called Robbins by the nickname "It Do"; one of Robbins' treasured possessions is a souvenir Alamo mug addressed to "It Do" from "Duke", Wayne's nickname.
After The Alamo, Robbins went to Hollywood but returned semi-permanently to Bandera in 1971 though he was on tour for many of the following years.
Acting and stunts
Wayne introduced Robbins to legendary director John Ford, who hired him as an actor in Two Rode Together with James Stewart and Richard Widmark (also filmed near Brackettville) and later for stunts in Cheyenne Autumn, also with Widmark, and in three other Wayne films, McLintock! with Maureen O'Hara), The Green Berets and Rio Lobo (1970). Robbins' other parts were for uncredited stunts in The Rounders (1965) and Sugarland Express (1974). He also appeared as a mechanic in Sugarland Express. He did stunts for CBS's Gunsmoke in 1964, acting as a double for series star James Arness.
In 1966, Robbins played Josh Cutler in NBC's Daniel Boone with Fess Parker. Robbins holds Parker, later a large Los Angeles developer, in high esteem because Parker paid him in advance: "He knew I was hard up. When I showed up on Monday morning, he handed me an envelope with my first episode’s pay in advance," recalls Robbins.
Along with Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and Charlton Heston, Robbins was awarded honorary membership in the Stuntmen's Association of Motion Pictures. Robbins also trained horses for other stuntmen and became a production manager for various shows.
Later, he joined Montie Montana, Jr., to re-create Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. With a cast of 125 cowboys, cowgirls, and Indians and 135 bison, longhorns, and horses, the show toured worldwide from London to Brazil to Singapore. The group was particularly well received in Japan, where it performed four to five shows daily for four months. The last wild west show performance was near Glacier National Park in northern Montana. Back in Texas, Robbins produced the Rudy Robbins Western Show and the All American Cowboy Get-Together, a two-day event of music, poetry, cooking, arts, crafts and demonstrations. He was also active in the "Keep Bandera Western" campaign.
Robbins formed The Spirit of Texas, a western harmony group, which in 1991 was named by the Texas State Senate as the "Official Cowboy Band for Texas". Modeled on the old Sons of the Pioneers, the band performed for such celebrities as Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Rogers, Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, and Tom Selleck, as well as General H. Norman Schwarzkopf and Texas Governors Ann W. Richards and George W. Bush. Robbins and the Canadian yodeler Shirley Field co-authored How to Yodel the Cowboy Way. After the death of two members, the Spirit of Texas disbanded.
Robbins also wrote short stories for Cowboy Magazine. He is featured in the Museum of the Gulf Coast, which is administered by the Port Arthur Historical Society. He lived in Bandera in the Texas Hill Country.
Among his awards, Robbins was made honorary town marshal of Tombstone, Arizona, honorary deputy sheriff of Pima County (Tucson), Arizona, and "Outstanding Cowboy of the 20th Century" for Bandera County, Texas. He was commissioned an admiral in the Texas Navy by former Governor Bill Clements. He was awarded a plaque for excellence by the Texas Stuntmen's Association.
Much of Robbin's memorabilia is now in the Frontier Times Museum in Bandera and the Bandera Library.
- "Personalities - Notable People - Rudy Robbins". Museum of the Gulf Coast. Retrieved 2013-01-09.
- "Rudy Robbins", Texas Hill Country Magazine, Winter 2007:http://www.hillcountrymagazine.com/issues/20074/128.php[dead link]
- Internet Movie Database:http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0730454/
- Robbins and Shirley Field, How to Yodel the Cowboy Way: http://www.amazon.com/How-Yodel-Cowboy-Rudy-Robbins/dp/1574240358