Sherry James: How ‘Bout Them Cowboys?

I love Cowboys! It doesn’t matter if they’re contemporary or historical. I love them both. To me there is just something about a nice fittin’ pair of Wrangler jeans on the contemporary cowboy, or a gun holster slung low on the historical cowboy’s hip. And I drool when a cowboy from either era has a sexy smile on his face shadowed by the brim of his dusty hat, and a glint in his eye that keeps a girl guessing. Add in the fact he can handle animals weighing in at over 1,000 lbs, ride a horse at breakneck speed, and still be gentle and caring with his woman and, oh boy, I’m hooked. The true American cowboy is number one in my book! So, it’s only natural I write stories about cowboys, and you guessed it, both contemporary and historical cowboys. 

I love my job! 

My mom was a huge Roy Rogers fan so I guess you could say, Like mother, like daughter! I love Roy, too. He was one handsome dude in his day. No wonder all the young girls saved their dimes to go to the movies every Saturday. My mom included! 

Speaking of Roy, I was bummed to hear they closed the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans museum in Branson, MO., last December. Apparently, even the King of the Cowboys isn’t immune to tough economic times. Roy’s museum was one I’ve always wanted to visit. When it moved from California to Missouri I thought sure I’d make it there to see Trigger and Buttermilk. Now, the opportunity is gone. Darn. Sadly, much of the Rogers collection was put  up for auction this past summer. 

The other TV Cowboy landmark I missed was the Ponderosa Ranch located at Incline Village, Nevada, near Lake Tahoe. The Ponderosa, made famous by the long running series Bonanza, was another one of my “to visit” sites. I loved watching Bonanza. Still do! So, it was only natural that I wanted to check out the location for a glimpse into the fictional Ponderosa Ranch. Unfortunately, they closed the Ponderosa in 2004 and I missed that opportunity as well. Shoot. I need to do better at travel planning.

 

Putting aside the Hollywood TV glitz, at the heart of Bonanza was a core storyline that is timeless and one that I love—a handsome widowed father and his three, also very handsome and eligible, sons working hard to make their mark in the West. They had wealth, land, cattle, and a strong family with equally strong morals and virtues. And each Cartwright had his own archetype, allowing for all kinds of exciting stories. 

All these loyal-to-the-core hunks needed were good women to make the romance of the West complete. Well, the studio gave them those women…sort of. They gave them then took them away almost faster than a cowboy could spit! You might have noticed all the potential Cartwright women were either killed, died of illness, left Nevada, or darn it all, were in love with another man the whole time they were sparkin’ with a Cartwright. What’s up with that? I used to grumble at the TV screen and think what an idiot the gal was. How could she fall in love with another man when she had a Cartwright right there wanting to kiss her?! You wouldn’t have caught me high-tailing it out of there. No sir. No silly fever or bullet would’ve stopped me from marrying one of those men! The hard part would have been choosing which one. I loved them all! 

Of course, my disgruntlement with the writers of the show was back in the days before I knew the truth behind the Bonanza series. The producers didn’t dare marry off one of the Cartwrights for fear of upsetting all their women viewers.  I guess the studio received more than a few letters to testify to the fact women fans didn’t want the boys getting married. 

Another Western series that tripped my trigger was the Magnificent Seven. Wow! This show gave us seven archetypes in the form of seven handsome men to drool over. There were a ton of story possibilities to be explored here, but unfortunately, the network only gave us two seasons, leaving us faithful viewers unhappy and wishing for more. Much more. Thank goodness for DVD! 

 Since I’m a romance writer I can make up for missed opportunities and story lines that ended too soon, or not the way I envisioned. I’m in the process of writing a western historical novella series called, The Cowboys of the Four Aces. For this series I’m the writer and in control. Yes, three sons will carry on their father’s legacy on the Four Aces Ranch located in the sandhills of Nebraska. And I promise a romantic happily-ever-after every time.

 Cowboy and Hell Cat The first book in the series, The Cowboy and the Hellcat, was released November 10th from the Wild Rose Press. I can’t wait for you to meet Adam Ford. Yes, he’s tough. He’s rugged. And you bet, he’s as handsome as sin. He’s honest, caring, and loyal to the bone, too. Three qualities that all my cowboy heroes must have. But let me tell you, he meets his match in tomboy Ellie Merrick!  And don’t worry, the two younger Ford brothers, Jesse and Cole, will get their chance to fall in love soon!

 So, if you love cowboys, share which you like better—contemporary or historical? Or do you like both? Do you have a favorite cowboy romance? Or a favorite on-screen cowboy? Come sit around the camp fire and let’s talk cowboys. I’m giving away a Sherry James Cowboy T-shirt so leave a comment to get entered in the drawing.

And as Roy would say—Happy Trails!

Guest Blogger
Updated: November 9, 2010 — 12:54 pm

47 Comments

  1. Sherry, someone in Omaha bought Trigger, and he’ll be on display here!

    Probably would have been a death sentence to marry a Cartright. All their fiances died. lol

  2. Oh wow,what a great post,throughly enjoyed it,brought back memories of me watching those shows as a kid,an still love em,looks like a really good book,cant wait to read it!

  3. Oh the memories! I think I like historical & contemporary cowboys…who doesn’t love a cowboy! 😉

    My favorite TV cowboys were Little Joe Cartwright (Bonanza), Heath Barclay (Big Valley)& Sully (Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman).

    Thanks for the memories! 😀

    Smiles,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

  4. I can’t believe they closed the Roy Rogers musuem. That’s kinda sad! I used to love to watch Bonanza. They don’t make cowboy shows like they used to. I kinda like the historical cowboy shows better. Thanks for the T-shirt giveaway. Would love to win.
    plhouston(at)bellsouth(dot)net

  5. My fav cowboy was John Wayne. Ohh, forgot aboout Sully, he was a looker, lol.

  6. Sherry–thank you for a fabulous post! Historical Western Romance is my favorite genre! However, it doesn’t matter what century you place him in, a true Man of the West will always shine! When a cowboy truly loves, he loves with all his heart, forever. His woman is as cherished as his values, his “cowboy code of honor”. Not always in words, but in deep, deep feelings. Feelings as true as the blue of a Texas bluebonnet.
    Sam Elliott is the love of my life, and he has no peer as a Western star! As I’ve said many times, his voice alone makes all the seams in your clothes come loose : ) “Conagher” is a great movie on many levels. Sam and his wife, Katharine Ross, are picture perfect in this film. Louis L’Amour, Sam Elliott, Katharine Ross and a stellar supporting cast make this sweet prairie love story unforgettable! I own the book and the movie. In addition to playing the title role, Sam executive produced and co-wrote the screenplay (with wife Katharine Ross and Jeffrey M. Meyer ) for “Conagher”. The picture was one of the highest-rated originals ever to air on TNT and would win Sam a Western Heritage Award, as well as a Golden Globe nomination (for Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV). One of my favorite words is “courtly”, which to me means respectful and mannerly. Who could resist a courtly cowboy, hat in hand, when he says “thank you, Ma’am”? A lady journalist who was once lucky enough to interview Sam Elliott described him as “courtly”. I knew that : )

    Tom Selleck makes a mighty fine man of the West. He and Sam Elliott are great friends and costarred in two great movies based on Louis L’Lamour stories: “The Sacketts” and “The Shadow Riders”. Tom Selleck was recently inducted into the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum for his work in Western films.

    Tim Daly. “The Outsider”. Tim Daly. I have watched this movie more times than I can count, and it hasn’t cooled down yet. Tim Daly : )

    Gary Cooper. Grace Kelly. “High Noon”. The wonderful theme song sung by Tex Ritter.

    Roy Rogers and Dale Evans–could anything be better than their harmony on “Happy Trails”!

    Robert Fuller & Robert Horton; James Drury & Doug Mcclure (from “The Virginian”); Peter Breck, Lee Majors, Richard Long (the Barkley brothers from “The Big Valley); The Cartwrights–especially Guy Williams as cousin Will Cartwright (he also had the title role as TV’s Zorro and Professor John Robinson in “Lost in Space”); James Garner as “Maverick” or just James Garner; James Arness, Ken Curtis, Dennis Weaver from “Gunsmoke”; Clint Walker as “Cheyenne”; Lee Horsley from “Paradise”. Chuck Connors as “The Rifleman”. Robert Conrad (oh yes, those tight, fitted to perfection suits) in “The Wild, Wild West”–the original “steampunk”! I love them all, and there are just too many more to mention.

    However, one of the greatest TV Men of the West was Stuart Whitman as Marshal Jim Crown in “Cimarron Strip”. In my opinion, this is one of the best westerns ever put on the screen. The episodes which pitted Stuart Whitman against Richard Boone, whose character called Marshall Crown by the name “Tricky Jim” were outstanding! If you can ever find a sexier lawman than Stuart Whitman, please let me know! Those looks, those eyes, that strut and that voice!

    I also adore John Wayne. Not a perfect man, but my goodness, what a man! From what I’ve seen, read, and heard from his films, and articles and interviews, he was the real deal. I love his older, iconic cowboy image. The scence from True Grit where he takes the horses reins in his mouth, and charges forward, blasting away with two pistols is forever burned in my brain. If you watch John Wayne in his early films, you will see a very sexy, charming, “look ‘em in the eye” kind of guy. What a physique! If he focused his undivided attention on a woman, I think she would have been in big, big trouble! No wonder they called him “Duke” : )

  7. To me it doesn’t matter if it’s contemporary or historical, I love cowboys. When I think of movie cowboys I always think of John Wayne. One of my favorite movies of his is McLintock, to me that is a good movie. I used to watch all the old westerns. Wagon Train with Ward Bond, Bonanza, Have Gun Will Travel with Richard Boone, they are all classics.

  8. I enjoyed your wonderful post today and I remember all of the programs since I grew up watching them. That was the time when men were men and I admire all of them that you mentioned. Cowboys with integrity, ideals, strength, and principles.

  9. a great question….i think i like the ‘historical cowboys’ better…reminds me of my childhood 🙂

  10. I love me some cowboys no matter how they come! I love both the comtempory and the historical. I have been so hooked on cowboy books lately that is all I want to read. I grew up watching cowboys because my dad love them. He was always reading western books. Now i find myself really enjoying a good western, must be in my blood!

  11. It was meaningful to read this inspiring post which made my day. I miss all the programs which you mentioned since they were my favorites and my ultimate was Roy Rogers. It brings back fond memories of enjoying this pastime. No one can compare to those men at that time and they are all sadly missed.

  12. Sherry, welcome to the Junction! We’re so happy to have you come chat with us. And what a subject! Cowboys are a hot topic around here. I think I prefer historical ones over contemporary any day. They seem more rugged and totally capable of handling whatever trouble arises.

    My all time favorite on screen cowboy is Sam Elliott. His voice does things to me–tingles, butterflies, goosebumps–you get the picture. And I sure miss all those wonderful westerns in the 60’s. I used to dream Robert Fuller asked me to marry him. Oh man, he was hot! Little Joe and James Garner were too. So many good westerns and so little space here to list them all. Thanks for a wonderful blog.

  13. If I had to pick one or the other I would go with historical first. I like to learn along the way. But I would never turn down reading a contemporary cowboy story lol. Like many other, I loved Little Joe. I watched all the cowboy movies as a child. Back then there were mostly 3 channels (yes young ones, I said 3) and my dad was in charge and lucky for me he like cowboys (and Indians).

  14. Hey, Cheryl! Howdy to you.

    Yes, Trigger was purchased by RFD-TV. They also purchased Bullet the dog. I know they’ve had Trigger on tour, I missed making it to the River City Roundup where he made his first appearance, but hopefully he’ll be back in Omaha soon and I can see him there. BTW, I read that Trigger fetched a very high six figure auction price. I couldn’t even have bought one single hair off his hide! 😉

  15. Thanks, Vicki. Great to meet you here! I still watch Bonanza on TV Land every chance I get and it always brings back memories of the crush I had on Adam!

    Thanks for stopping by!

  16. Hey, Cindy. You’re welcome. And I agree with all your favorites!! But I also loved Nick from The Big Valley. He was always so strong, could be stubborn, but had heart!

  17. Hey, Patsy!

    I know, I was so bummed when I learned they had closed the museum and were in the process of getting everything ready for auction. Sometimes change isn’t always good.

    Thanks for stopping by. And good luck in the T-shirt contest!

  18. Hi, Diana! Nice to meet you here. I loved John Wayne, too. There just wasn’t room in my post to list everyone. You would have been forced to read a book and not a blog! HA!

    Here’s a bit of insider info for you regarding John Wayne. I learned through someone who knew John Wayne personally and professionally that he had small feet. That’s why he walked the way he did. But, that walk certainly made him the John Wayne we know and love!

  19. Hi Sherry, I love all those cowboys! I happen to live in an area that a lot of Westerns were made. We even have a Film Museum and a Film Festival in October. I have met a lot of these GREAT stars over the years. (Have even asked to be here).
    Erroll Flynn was about as sexy as a guy can get. Sam Elliott is one of my favs. Yes, the voice. He narrates the new Dodge truck TV ad.
    Thanks so much for the reminder of all the great ones.

  20. Howdy, Virginia. Wow! Your love for the genre sure does shine through. We could talk cowboys for hours!

    I just have to share that I had the privilege of having brunch with James Drury! Yes, the Virginian himself! He was a genuinely nice guy and very laid back. I had my rodeo queen title at the time and he asked me questions about me and my title, where I was from, my horse and all that kind of stuff. It was cool!

    I also had the privilege of getting to know one famous singing cowboy, Rex Allen. He, btw, looooved my horse. He, too, was very down to earth and just a super nice guy.

    Great times. Thanks for sharing your passion!

  21. Linda–

    I love McLintock, too. What great movie. Funny, too! John Wayne was truly a great actor.

    Thanks for sharing!

  22. Oops. I’ve got to run out and let the horses out of the barn. Then I’ll be back. I have to admit, our horses are kind of spoiled. They like the comfort of their stalls when it cold and rainy. Such babies! 😉

  23. That is a wonderful cover for The Cowboy and the Hellcat! I do not know if I can choose between Historical or Contemporary cowboys… I love them both!!! Depends on my mood for reading, whether I lean towards Historical or Contemporary… 😀

  24. Avatar

    Thanks for an enjoyable post. I too was a huge fan of Bonanza. Never missed an episode. Each one of the Cartwrights had a lot to offer. I think I had a crush one everyone of them at one time or another. I didn’t realize the Ponderosa was open to the public. Rats! We lived in Sacramento for 2 years and visited Tahoe several times and could have visited it.
    I liked Paladin of Have Gun Will Travel. He wasn’t classically handsome and a bit dark, but there was just something about him and the show that attracted me. He may have been a gun for hire, but he was ethical and honorable, doing what was right.

    As for a preference for historical or contemporary cowboys, I’ll take any cowboy I can get : )

  25. Hi, Anne. Nice to see you here. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Yes, they don’t make shows like these anymore. I really miss ’em!

    Thanks for stoppin’ in!

  26. Heya, Karenk! When I started reading romances way back when, I started out reading historicals so they do have a special place in my heart right along side the historical cowboy. It’s fun to be swept back into another time and place.

    Thanks for sharing.

  27. Hey, Quilt Lady! Love the name, btw!

    My dad loved to read westerns, too. Today I’m lucky to have his Zane Gray collection. Love those cowboys!

  28. Hey, Pearl! Glad I could help make your day. Another Roy Rogers fan. Woo-Hoo! Did you known you can now watch Roy on RFD-TV? I don’t know if you get it or not, but you might check. They run his movies on Saturday afternoons.

  29. Howdy, Linda. I can’t argue with you. Sam’s voice is to die for. It amazes me how some men just have these voices that can melt a gal’s socks right off. I’d put John Wayne and James Arness in that category, too.

    You’re right, too little space to chat about them all!

  30. Hey, catslady! I know what you’re talking about with the 3 channels. Course, we did get PBS as well, so we were lucky to have 4. Remember when the President would be on and that’s all you had? Your night of TV watching was shot! It was always a huge disappointment.

    Thanks for stoppin’ by!

  31. John Wayne will always be my favorite. I gret up watching Roy Rogers and Gene Autry.

  32. Hi, Mary J! Can I come for a visit? 😉 I’d love to see all the sites. You’re so lucky to have had the opportunity to meet so many stars. Cool!

    Erroll Flynn. Yes, very handsome. He always makes me think of Robin Hood. And isn’t Sam Elliott still do the “Beef. It’s what’s for dinner,” ads?

  33. Hi, Colleen. Thanks for the kudos on the cover for Hellcat. I really like it, too! And I bounce back and forth between contemporary and historical both to satisfy my appetite.:-)

  34. Hey, Patricia! Sorry you missed out on the Ponderosa, too. They shouldn’t be allowed to close things like that down! Ha!

    Thanks for stoppin’ by!

  35. Hey, Goldie. You have good taste! John Wayne is a classic American. Are you familiar with the song he recorded about the American Flag? He doesn’t sing any of it, but his voice is so moving you don’t care!

    And my mom grew up watching Roy and Gene, too, but she always said Roy was her fav. Those were the days, eh?!

  36. I love a cowboy…period! roy was a favorite growing up. My father worked a wild west show in SD that Roy and Dale was on. He ate lunch with them often. John Wayne has always been a favorite, he had such good roles. Tom Selleck is great no matter what kind of arole he plays!

  37. Hey, it’s historical (and TV) cowboys hands’ down! And I knew those boys on Bonanza couldn’t get married off! The show’s ratings would plummet. LOL

    A Bonanza fan as well, I was actually more partial to The Big Valley (ABC’s answer to NBC’s hit show Bonanza). Hey, those Barkley boys were pretty good-looking too, gals! And honestly, I thought some of the episodes were better written than the Bonanza ones. There was always some down-on-their-luck “outsider” the Cartwrights were always helping . . . some character I didn’t really care much for. I preferred episodes that involved our heroes’ family! Like when Little Joe was home alone and cut up and infected, etc. (hmmm . . . Micheal Landon resurrected that plot in a Little House on the Prairie episode, but it sure didn’t pull the heart strings like seeing Little Joe suffering!). LOL
    The Big Valley had a lot more inside-the-family plot problems, which I liked better.

    Thanks for the GREAT post! *heart beating with nostalgia*

  38. I love cowboys—doesn’t matter if they are historical or contemporary!
    John Wayne will always stand for ‘cowboy’ to me.

  39. Hey, Connie. Do you mind sharing what years your dad worked on the Wild West show? Did he have any contact with the White Horse Ranch of Naper, NE, and the White Horse Troupe? And having lunch with Roy and Dale? Wow! How cool!

  40. You’re right, Susan, the Barkley boys were handsome. My personal favorite was Nick! I wish they’d bring The Big Valley to TV Land, too. Glad to bring back some memories!

  41. Howdy, Estella! Yeehaw. You’re so right!!! Long live “the Duke!”

  42. Sherry, I will ask him more about it. He was working near Rapid City I think. It was when he was a teenager. I don’t remember many details just the part about eating in what he call ‘the mess’. He often surprises me with a tale I have not heard before and this was one. He will be 90 this next May.

  43. Does anybody remember the Easter Bonanza episode where Hoss played the Easter bunny? One of the funniest episodes EVER!

  44. I love any kind of cowboy. I love Bonanaza!!!! I love John Wayne too. Michael Landon died to early. He was my all time favorite.

    I remember the episode here Hoss played the Easter bunny It was wonderful

    Great post today

    Walk in harmony,
    Melinda

  45. Fantastic post!!! I’m all for historical westerns, and am positively Bonanza obsessed, in love with Ben and Little Joe. Can’t wait to read Cowboy and the Hellcat!!!

  46. Thanks for the great post Sherry. I too love a cowboy…historical or contemporary. Some of my favorites that I remember though have to be Sam Elliot (what a hunk!), Tom Sellek, and Clint Eastwood. It’s just too bad that they don’t make cowboy movies like they used to. 🙁

  47. very interesting post that brought back memories; I loved Roy Rogers and The Cartwrights. I love cowboys(mostly contemporary).
    I really liked Adam from Bonanza.

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