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Salute to Montie Montana
On His 50th Anniversary in Show Business.


As the Newhall-Saugus-Valencia Chamber's annual Western Celebrities luncheons were the predecessors to the Downtown Newhall Walk of Western Stars, this salute to Montie Montana in 1975 was the predecessor to the Western Celebrities luncheons. Which is to say, this is the earliest precursor to the Walk of Stars, organizer and ex-Actonite Jo Anne Darcy having just taken on the management of the chamber the year prior.

Cliffie Stone had been hosting dinners with Western celebrities in Mint Canyon (Canyon Country), but they were (very!) unrelated to the N-S-V Chamber and its eventual Walk of Stars.

The local hook (or one might say, excuse) to honor Montie Montana was that he lived briefly in the Paradise Ranch mobile home park north of Castaic. Little did anyone know he would move to Agua Dulce the following year.

Darcy's souvenir program is autographed by Montie and his then-wife, Eleanor Orlando. Elly was his second wife; the couple divorced in 1984, and Montie married Marilee Young in 1987.

The program states that Montie was born "near" Wolf Point, Montana — which is true only to the extent that Wolf Point is relatively close to North Dakota, where Montie was born. The resulting Signal story changes "near" to "in," but it was a common error. It was all part of the Montie Montana mythology. Ask 10 people during Montie's lifetime where he was born, and all 10 were likely to say Montana.

From the "what goes around, comes around" department, in 1980 Darcy would take the job of Joan Pinchuk, who is mentioned in the story below. Pinchuk was the local field deputy to 5th District Supervisor Baxter Ward. Ward lost his 1980 reelection bid to Mike Antonovich, who hired Darcy for the position.


Salute to Old-Time Showman.


Click to enlarge.

Western showman Montie Montana galloped off with an armful of plaques and resolutions honoring him after the Newhall-Saugus-Valencia Chamber of Commerce had a salute to the cowboy Thursday afternoon.

The chamber's luncheon meeting at the Ranch House Inn in Valencia commemorated 50 years in show business by Montana, who entertained thousands of children by visiting their schools with his horses during his career. (He was born to the name Owen Harlan Mickel in Montana, and later changed his name to Montie Montana.)

Montana first entered the rodeo arena at age 15 in 1925 and has been performing ever since. His motion pictures include "Circle of Death," "The Will Rogers Story" and "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance."

Chamber president Dick Millar said plans for Thursday's luncheon were made in February, when Montana was living for a short time at the Paradise Ranch Mobile Home Park off Templin Highway north of Castaic.

He has since moved and told The Signal he never really made his permanent home in this area. He was chief of staff for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Posse for 32 years.

Captain William Fairchild, commander of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station, extended best wishes to Montana from Sheriff Peter J. Pitchess.

Fairchild told of the time Montana was directing a posse ride and a motorcyclist roared through the middle of the horses. "That was in the days before we had the helicopter (to chase motorcyclists) but Montie got his lasso out and that was the end of that," Fairchild said.

Joan Pinchuk, Baxter Ward's local aide, presented Montana with a scroll from the Fifth District Supervisor. The cowboy star took it and said: "Cowboys used to kiss their horses and ride off into the sunset. Times have changed." With that he leaned forward and gave the shapely Ms. Pinchuk a peck on the cheeks.

Another stroll came from State Senator Lou Cusanovich, who attended the luncheon in cowboy garb. Master of ceremonies for the luncheon was Newhall resident and Western musician Tex Williams.

Montana gave no speech to the crowd of approximately 150 people, but merely exchanged quips with those in the audience and gave a brief "thank you" as the luncheon ended.


About Montie Montana
Biography by Marliee Montana in Butterfields 2000:

Born Owen H. Mickel, Montie (June 10, 1910 - May 20, 1998) traveled with his dad, E.O. [Edgar Owen] Mickel, and mother [Mary Edna Harlan Mickel]. Billed as the Montana Cowboys, they did whip and rope acts and put on a slide show about the American West.

In 1929 while working the Buck Jones Wild West Show, the announcer could not remember his name, so he announced him as Montie from Montana, and as Montie tells us in his autobiography, "the crowd loved it and so did I." From then on he became known as Montie Montana.

As a star of silver screen, stage and rodeo arena, Montie entertained audiences around the world for more than 70 years. He rode in 60 consecutive Rose Parades and is famous for roping President Eisenhower in the 1953 Inaugural Parade. From 1945 to 1965 Montie thrilled over 8 million school children with his stagecoach and horse, Rex.

Montie was famous for riding his horses into equally famous places such as the top of the Empire State Building, the Beverly Wilshire hotel in Beverly Hills, the Brown Palace in Denver, the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs and top-level government offices across the country.

Though he received hundreds of awards and honors during his extraordinary lifetime, he remained a cowboy at heart. Montie was deeply grateful that he could make a living doing what he loved best — and it showed. He had the most wonderful laugh and was always smiling.

An avid collector of Western artifacts, he kept treasures from early on in his career and enjoyed them throughout his life. His legacy will live on with the stories captured in this autobiography where he tells us that he lived in a great era, from the horse and buggy to the space age.

Although he has ridden on ahead, I know that he's in tall cotton with other great Western heroes up there and that his horses are knee deep in green pastures and that he's still a cowboy, because he always said, "I must have been born a cowboy because I've never thought of being anything else."

Further reading: Read more about Montie Montana here.


JD7501: Download individual pages here. Collection of Jo Anne Darcy.
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