Thursday, February 24, 2011

RIP Rudy Robbins

Rudy Warner Robbins (November 17, 1933-February 21, 2011) was a Western entertainer known for his singing, songwriting, acting, writing, and his past performance of film and television stunts.

He 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 Rudy was two years old, the family moved to Port Arthur, 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, known at the time as Lamar Technical Institute. Himself a Baptist, Robbins graduated in 1956 from East Texas Baptist University in Marshall 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 the job opportunities in Hollywood as a stuntman. After military service, he moved to Bandera, and worked 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. 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 was 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. Wayne introduced Robbins to legendary director John Ford, who hired him as an actor in Two Rode Together with James Stewart and Richard Widmark, and later for stunts in Cheyenne Autumn, also with Widmark, and in three other Wayne Films, McClintock with Maureen O'Hara, The Green Berets, and Rio Lobo. Robbins' other parts were uncredited stunts in The Rounders in 1965, and Sugarland Express in 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 held 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," recalled 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. In 1967. He was selected by the United States Department of Commerce to go to Europe as a "Cowboy Goodwill Ambassador" to introduce and promote the sale of denim jeans. 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 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.

Rudy 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 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", which can still be obtained through 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. Among his awards, Rudy 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. 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.

Rudy is the father of one son, Jody Eldred and his fiancee‚ Pam Cablayan of Marina Del Rey, California. Jody is a producer, director, and cameraman in the film and television industry. He is also survived by his sister Barbara Miles and husband Jim of Florida, 2 brothers, Lon Robbins and wife Betty of Nederland, and Charles "Doo" Robbins of Nederland and numerous nieces and nephews.

A longtime head usher at First Baptist Bandera, Rudy and his son were privileged to travel to the Holy Land together in 2000. Rudy would be quick to tell you that none of his accomplishments or honors begin to compare to the eternal life Jesus bought for him on the cross. As his days on this earth were ending he often remarked, "My bags are packed and I have my ticket in my hand, paid in full by Jesus. I'm ready to go." And at 10:25 AM Monday February 21, with his family and friends at his side, the angels punched his ticket and took him home.

The family will receive friends at the Funeral Home on Saturday, February 26, 2011 from 4-6 PM.

Funeral services will be held on Sunday, February 27, 2011 at 2:30 PM at the First Baptist Church in Bandera with Bro. David Collett and Bro. Larry Taylor officiating. Interment will follow at Bandera Cemetery.

ROBBINS, Rudy Warner
Born: 11/17/1933, Evergreen, Louisiana, U.S.A.
Died: 2/21/2011, Bandrea, Texas, U.S.A.
Rudy Robbins' westerns - actor, stuntman:
The Alamo - 1960 (Tennessean)
Two Rode Together - 1961 [stunts]
McLintock! - 1963 [stunts]
Cheyenne Autumn - 1964 [stunts]
Gunsmoke (TV) - 1964 [stunts]
The Rounders - 1965 [stunts]
Daniel Boone (TV) - 1966 (Josh Cutler)
Rio Lobo - 1970 [stunts]

1 comment:

  1. I met Mr. Rudy Robbins about 10-11 years ago, while vacationing in Bandera and doing some research in the Texas Hill Country for a screenplay I was beginning to write. I'd met some of his fellow Christians from the local Baptist church at a Sunday evening service, and after I answered their question about why I'd chosen to visit in Bandera, they insisted that I should talk with Rudy, who had not been at that evening service but who would be able and willing to help me (they were sure) with my research, etc., and so they told me how to get in touch with him, and I did, and I got to have a nice long chat with Mr. Robbins in person.

    Rudy Robbins was knowledgeable, friendly, and an all-round nice gentleman. We talked about cowboy life; he gave me the titles of a couple great resource books about cowboy history and life, as well as the names and contact info for a couple scriptwriters' agents/ agencies in Hollywood, and we talked about his experiences in filmmaking--and talked shop about real estate a bit, too (since we both were licensed Realtors). Meeting and conversing with him was truly valuable and a highlight of my week in the Texas Hill Country. I was sorry to learn of his passing in February 2011.
    --Catherine Barrier, Writer--