Clipped From Indiana Gazette
Dave Putnam He's just horsin' around An area radio station recently had a trivia contest and one of the questions was in regard to the name of an old-time movie cowboy's horse. As a well-known expert in that field, I was contacted by several people and, of course, (blush) I had the answer on the tip of my tongue. I don't like to brag, but I didn't spend a good part of my childhood sitting through hundreds of Saturday matinees in the old Adelphi Theatre without absorbing something. What I absorbed was the name of the mounts ridden by the old-time cowboy stars. One of my fantasies is being a contestant on "Jeopardy." Old Alex Trebek has just told us the category for "Final Jeopardy" will be Names of the Horses Ridden by Cowboy Movie Stars — and I bet the bundle, let it all ride. There are, of course, some "gimmies" in this field of knowledge. Almost everyone knows the horses ridden by Roy Rogers (Trigger); Gene Autry (Champion) and the Lone Ranger (Silver). But, how about Hopalong Cassidy's trusty mount? "Topper," as I recall. What about Johnny Mack Brown? "Tenderfoot." Roy Rogers' movies had a number of names of animals that might be good trivia questions for the general public. For me, however, a piece of cake—Dale Evans' horse was "Buttermilk" and Frog Millhouse's nag was "Ringeye." Roy's dog was named "Bullet." Speaking of Frog Millhouse (also known as Smiley Burnette), all of these matinee stars had dim-witted, comical sidekicks. Gabby Hayes, a native of Pennsylvania, by the way, did stints as sidekick for both Roy and Gene in the 1940s and '50s. He didn't often ride a horse, usually driving a buckboard or the chuck wagon. In one movie, however, I recall him riding a mule called "Eloise." But to continue — the Cisco Kid rode "Diablo" and his sidekick Pancho rode "Sancho"; Red Ryder was astride "Thunder" and Little Beaver rode "Scout"; Sgt. Preston of the Yukon traveled on "Rex." The best-known command regarding horses, of course, was the Lone Ranger cry of "Heigh-Ho, Silver, Away!" The Lone Ranger had a faithful Indian companion who, like Elvis and Madonna, went by his first name only ~ tonto (or was that his last name?). Throughout the Lone Ranger series Tonto rode three different horses; they were called "White Feller," "Paint" and finally "Scout," whom he may have rustled from Little Beaver. Tom Mix, whose father operated a stable in DuBois, not far from my home, rode "Tony" throughout his long movie career. In many of his western movies Jimmy Stewart was aboard an oat burner named "Pie." Heard enough? There's lots more. In the classic "True Grit," Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne) rode a horse named "Bo" and Kim Darby's character rode "Little Blackie." In the "Gunsmoke" television series, Festus Hagan and Chester both rode mules named "Ruth." Oddly enough, as many times as I watched "Gunsmoke" I can't remember Matt Dillon ever calling his horse by name. In the recent widely acclaimed TV mini-series "Lonesome Dove," one of the main characters, Captain Call, rode a horse he called "The Hell Bitch? Following on the heels of "Gunsmoke" there were several series on television which were known as adult westerns — "Rawhide," "Wagon Train," "Have Gun, Will Travel," "The Rifleman" and "Death Valley Days." None of the heroes rode horses with names, as I recall. Things were getting too sophisticated, I suppose. Can you see Ronald Reagan hollering "Get'um, Scout"? And so —' 'Here is our Final Jeopardy answer. Contestants, you have 30 seconds to write down your question. The Name of the Horse Ridden by Back Jones in first Western Talkie..."