Personal Appearances

Like the saying goes, “If I’ve seen it once, I have seen it hundreds of times.” No matter the gathering, whether these 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, Buddy 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 just a natural entertainer.

Throughout his life, Buddy was involved in an endless range of events. Whether it was with others, his band, Princess Columbine, Chubby or very often by himself, Buddy served as master of ceremonies, did personal appearances, and often as a booster for an event. Here’s a sampling of 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 1950s 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. It was located eight miles west of Cañon City, Colorado. His long-time friend Karol Smith, single-handedly, created the concept of what is now known as the "Film and TV Commission," which exists today world-wide, bringing professional media production to all parts of the globe.

Starting in the late 1940s to the mid 1960s, Karol brought many motion pictures to the Cañon City area. It later became the Colorado State Film Commission from the late 1960s until the 1980s, during which time he brought film production into all of Colorado. Advised by an MGM Art Director, Karol created the town of Buckskin Joe from old buildings he bought from all over Colorado. He moved them near Cañon City, which were used in numerous films. Karol was also a good friend to me, and helped me learn how to write screenplays. He had scripts of hundreds of movies shot in Colorado which he loaned to me. Buddy’s friend Karol helped Colorado become a major film production center. For many years, Colorado was third in the nation for film and TV production, only exceeded by Hollywood and New York.

Productions shot at Buckskin Joe were, The Cowboys, The Sacketts (I worked on that one,) Cat Ballou, How the West Was Won mini-series, True Grit (1969), Comes A Horseman, Conagher, The Brother O’Toole; The White Buffalo and many, many more.

06-04 Ad 1957 Buckskin Joe

06-05 1955 Buddy, Chubby 3 kids

Here's Dad at one of the countless appearances he made. Buddy and Chubby and some of their admirers. I think that this was taken at Buckskin Joe.

At Buckskin Joe, for a personal appearance, possibly for a dance that night, is a portrait of our family and some of our close friends, the Youngmans. Left to right, my sisters Kitty and Pat in back seat, Milo Youngman looking over his shoulder, Mom, and Helen Youngman. Hidden behind Helen is their daughter Doreen. Next to Helen, in shadow, is the "sheriff" of Buckskin Joe. On the front seat, the stage coach driver, me, and Buddy riding shotgun.

Buddy participated in many trail rides representing the TV station and just because he loved riding Chubby.

This particular trail ride was near Cañon City to the Royal Gorge and Buckskin Joe. Buddy who is looking back down the hill, and Chubby are in the foreground with his silver studded saddle. Third horse from the right, in the closest string of riders.

Trail rides usually lasted a day or two. They were held in conjunction with a town’s rodeo or annual celebration during the summer. They often ended up at the venue where the celebration was being held.

06-08 Ad Mr. G's

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

06-09 1955 Buddy, Hendrix, kids

Here in a 1955 photograph, Buddy and Cliff Hendrix host a Christmas orphans party at the Pueblo Ordnance 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 of Buddy’s personal appearances. It was Christmas time in the 1950s. It was a Christmas parade with huge garlands, big decorations and lights strung back and forth across the entire length of Main Street in Pueblo. That parade ended at the Montgomery Ward store's toys with Santa Claus meeting children. Dad signed autographs and handed out pictures like this one. All of the large department stores with big toy sections were on Main Street, Wards, Kress, Woolworth, and Skaggs. Buddy appeared at various events at them all.

06-11 1960 Buddy, Trinidad Queens

Buddy appeared at events all over the region, sometimes with the Rangers, sometimes without. Often he would emcee 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 citations and certificates. For this one, notice the mention of bringing along "Buddy Johnson’s Jamboree Troupe," as he would sometimes bring other entertainers with him to these benefits.

06-13 1956 Buddy, Cal Farley

Cal Farley, director of Cal Farley’s Boys’ Ranch from Amarillo, Texas, is greeted in Pueblo by Buddy and Chubby. One of a number of boys’ ranches or orphanages that he supported.

06-14 Ad schools out

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

Friends Buddy and Gene Autry, probably after one of Gene’s many rodeo performances at the State Fair.

Known as "the original singing cowboy,” Autry was a regular guy who made almost 100 films and TV programs and countless records, many of which are Christmas classics.

Autry knew and liked Southern Colorado well. At one point, he and Harry Knight owned the World Championship Rodeo Company. It provided stock to rodeos all over the country, and was headquartered in nearby Fowler, Colorado.

Buddy, with his black gun belt, stands among 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 Peak or Bust Rodeo. Buddy loved rodeos even when he and The Colorado Rangers weren’t performing. 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 was the reason the family visited many times during his lifetime. When he was young, a horse threw him breaking his left arm. It 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.

Buddy and James Arness of Gunsmoke fame. Arness worked with Buddy’s "old bud" Ken Curtis. This was a large (55,000) Boy Scout Jubilee near Monument, Colorado, in the summer of 1958. Dad was tall, but Arness was a giant. That’s James’ agent on the right looking so out of place.

06-19 1961 Buddy, Tex Ritter Rocky Ford stage

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 called “Pueblo’s Baritone” and an actor himself. He starred in my Curse of the Blue Lights (1989) film.

Tex was in over 80 films, had a very successful recording career and often toured with his band "The Texans.” His son, John Ritter, who as a child sometimes accompanied his father, later became an actor on a number of shows like Three's Company.

06-20 1968 Buddy, Ken Curtis

Old friend, Ken Curtis, appeared in many Western films and was a regular cast member on the CBS TV show Gunsmoke, as "Festus Haggen.” Both Ken and Dad were raised on the plains of Southeastern Colorado. Buddy grew up in Arlington, while Ken was raised 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 1940s. I took this at the 1968 State Fair orphans’ party at the Pueblo Army Depot.

In 1942, the Depot opened during World War II, as the Pueblo Ordnance Depot. In 1962, it was renamed the Pueblo Army Depot, and finally, in 1974, it acquired its current name as the Pueblo Depot Activity. Buddy was involved for decades in many activities as the Depot continued to evolve.

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

And of course, Dale Evans was there too. Roy was called “King of the Cowboys” and was in over 100 films, many with his wife Dale.

06-23 1967 Orphans party

A short article about Buddy and an orphans' party in 1967.

06-24 Buddy, John scouts cropped

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 behind my father. Notice the matching gun belts made by an admirer.

06-25 Buddy 1984 RUNYON wide

Buddy was a great supporter of all his children, regardless of what we did. I guess I caught the media bug from him. Here he is in my first film Damon Runyon’s Pueblo (1981), as the sheriff who stops young Damon Runyon from mischief.

06-26 Buddy 1984 RUNYON

The Runyon film was the last time Dad was 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.

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

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