Appearances

Just like the saying goes, “if I’d seen it once, I have seen it a hundreds of times”, no matter the gathering: whether they were children warming up for the Adventurer’s Club show, a large group of politicians at a celebration or just plain folks anywhere, within a few minutes of greeting them, Dad had them eating out of his hand, smiling, laughing and carrying on. To say he was gregarious and a people person was an understatement, he thrived among people. He was what he called “a live wire”.

Throughout his life Buddy was involved in an endless range of events. Whether it was with others (his band, Princess Columbine, etc. or very often by himself), Buddy served as master of ceremonies, did personal appearances, and often as a booster for an event. Here’s some of the most memorable events he was involved in.


Buddy on Chubby photographed near Beulah, our home for a decade. Dad and Chubby appeared at events far and wide.

This ad was for a Chief Movie Theater Stage Show in the fifties with Dad appearing “in person”.

A rare image of Buddy doing an appearance (not on Chubby) at Buckskin Joe, the recreated old Western town which no longer exists and was 8 miles west of Canon City. His long time friend Karol Smith single handedly created the concept of what is now known as the "Film and TV Commission", which today are everywhere bringing media production to all parts of the globe. 

Starting in 1940’s to the mid 1960’s Karol brought many motion pictures to the Canon City area. It became the Colorado State Film Commission from the late 1960’s until the 1980’s when he brought film production into all of Colorado. Karol actually created the town of Buckskin Joe from old buildings he bought from all over and moved them near Canon City. Karol was also a good friend to me and helped me learn how to write screenplays. He had scripts of the hundreds of movies shot in Colorado that he loaned to me. Dad’s friend Karol Smith helped Colorado become a major film production center and for many years it was third in the nation only exceeded by Hollywood and New York.

Among the films shot at Buckskin Joe were: The Cowboys, The Sacketts (I worked on that one), Cat Ballou, How the West Was Won (TV), True Grit, Comes A Horseman, Conagher, Silverado, Lighting Jack, The White Buffalo, The Brothers OToole, etc, etc.


At one of countless events Dad made an appearance at: Buddy and his admirers. For some reason or other, I tend to think that this was taken at Buckskin Joe.

In fact for this appearance I know was at Buckskin Joe for it is a portrait of our family and some close family friends. Left to right: Kitty Johnson, Pat Johnson, family friend Milo Youngman, “Mom” Tillie Johnson, Helen Youngman, the “sheriff" of Buckskin Joe, the stage coach driver, me, and Buddy Johnson riding shotgun.

Buddy participated in many trail rides representing the station and just because he loved riding Chubby. This particular trail ride was near Canon City, probably near the Royal Gorge and Buckskin Joe. Buddy and Chubby are in the foreground third horse from the right.

An ad from the 1970’s for Mr. G’s Nite Club in Colorado Springs for Sunday Matinees. This was a decade after Buddy was on TV and radio.

Here in a 1955 photograph, Buddy and Cliff Hendrix host a Christmas orphan’s party at the Pueblo Army Depot. Cliff was the senior announcer at both KCSJ radio and later on KCSJ TV. Cliff could be said to have "turned the lights on” in terms of local Colorado media.

I remember the whole family riding on a float during one personal appearance Dad made, it was Christmas time in the 1950’s. It was a Christmas parade with large garlands, big decorations and lights strung back and forth across the entire length of Main Street of Pueblo. That parade ended at the Montgomery Wards store toy area with Santa Claus meeting children and Dad signing autographs and handing out pictures like this one. All the large department stores were on Main Street: Wards, Kress's, Woolworths, and Skaggs and he at different times appeared at them all.

Dad appeared at events all over the region, sometimes with the Rangers, sometimes without. Often he would MC events, here he is photographed with the 1960 Trinidad Rodeo Queen and attendants.

For all of his work with orphans and others in need, various groups gave him a number of citations and certificates. For this one notice the mention of bringing along “Buddy Johnson’s Jamboree Troupe”, he would sometimes bring other entertainers with him to these benefits.

Cal Farley director of Cal Farley’s Boy’s Ranch in Amarillo, Texas is greeted in Pueblo by Buddy and Chubby. One of a number of Boy’s Ranches or orphanages he was involved with.

Often Buddy hosted big groups for his shows, personal appearances, and special events around the region.

Buddy and Gene Autry, probably after a rodeo performance at the State Fair.

Buddy with his black gun belt stands among friends, Tex Ritter’s band The Texans after they performed at the Rocky Ford Fair. Based in California, Tex and His Texans were on one of their cross country tours.

This picture was taken at the 1956 Pikes or Bust Rodeo. He loved rodeos even when he and The Colorado Rangers weren’t playing for them. In fact he was raised around ranchers and ranching. As a young man, he worked at a ranch near Gunnison, Colorado which introduced him to what he called “the Gunnison country”. A love of that area caused the family to visit many times during his lifetime. When he was young, a horse threw him breaking his left arm which didn’t heal quite right and kept him out of the service in World War II. Though he was left handed, because of the injury he became ambidextrous.

Dad and James Arness of “Gunsmoke” fame who worked with Buddy’s 'old bud' Ken Curtis. This was a large Boy Scout Jubilee near Monument in the summer of 1958. Dad was tall, but Arness was a giant. That’s his agent on the right looking so out of place.

Buddy and Tex Ritter performing at the Rocky Ford Fair. Tex also had been on Buddy’s radio show a few times. Tex Ritter, by the way, was a cousin of Pueblo’s own Brent Ritter, an excellent singer and actor himself, who starred in my 'Blue Lights' film.

An old friend, Ken Curtis who appeared in many Western films and was on the TV show “Gunsmoke” as “Festus Haggen” for many years. Both Ken and Dad were raised on the plains of Southeastern Colorado, Buddy in Arlington and Ken in Lamar, and Las Animas. They had known each other for years from the time Ken was with 'The Sons of the Pioneers' Western singing group in the late 40’s or early 50’s. I took this at the 1968 State Fair orphan party at the Pueblo Army Depot.

At another Pueblo Army Depot orphans' party in 1969 that he MC’d, I took this of Dad and Roy Rogers. Behind Roy’s shoulder is Bill Files, a good friend of Dad’s who was an official at the Depot.

And of course, Dale Evans was there too.

A short article about Dad and an orphan’s party in 1967.

Buddy was always available for the Boy Scouts. This photograph shows the year end awards celebration which was held at Park View School in Pueblo. I’m in the background, notice the matching gun belts made by an admirer.

Dad was a great supporter of all his children regardless of what we decided to do. I guess I caught the media bug from him. Here he is in my first film 1984’s 'Damon Runyon’s Pueblo' as the sheriff who stops young Damon Runyon for mischief.

This was the last professional appearance of Dad on a screen of any sort. This was filmed in “the blocks” area of Pueblo where the family lived before we moved to Beulah in 1953.

Dad would use this at many of his personal appearances. Poster courtesy of the Beulah Historical Society Museum in Beulah, Colorado.

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