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Old Hat

Cowboy-Turned-Artist

Joe De Yong

30

Montecito Magazine

Fall 2017–Winter 2018

MERICA IN 1962

was a place that still cherished its

screen heroes, most of whom wore cowboy hats.

William C. Reynolds turned 12 that year, and he had a

ringside seat for all the Old West action courtesy of his

father, a senior CBS network executive who oversaw the

production of

Gunsmoke, Rawhide

and other classic

westerns.

Of course, young Bill Reynolds knew that stars like

James Arness and Clint Eastwood were actors, not

actual cowboys. But one day, while tagging along with

his father, he encountered a deaf old man in an old-

fashioned cowboy hat who looked like the genuine

article, except that he was armed with a pencil rather

than a pistol.

“He would just sit there and draw,” Reynolds says.

The man’s name was Joe De Yong, and he was indeed

an ex-cowboy, who earned a steady living in Hollywood

as a technical adviser on westerns.

A

Above –

The Bronco

(20 x 15,

oil on board) appeared on the

cover of

The Literary Digest

,

March 1925. The magazine

had initially wanted C.M.

Russell to create the piece,

but due to his ill health, his

wife Nancy Russell promoted

the work of her husband’s

protégé instead. Joe De Jong

sold the piece—his first work

of cover art—for $100.

Right – Paramount Studios

press photo of Joe De Yong

sketching costumes for Cecil

B. DeMille’s 1936 feature film

The Plainsman

, starring Gary

Cooper as Wild Bill Hickok

and Jean Arthur as Calamity

Jane.

COURTESYSANTABARBARAHISTORICALMUSEUM /WILLIAMREYNOLDS.

By Mark Lewis

Like his mentor Charles M. Russell and good friend

Edward Borein, Joe De Yong was a cowboy-turned-artist

who hoped to preserve a faithful record of the vanishing

vaquero culture. De Yong’s biographer, William C. Reynolds,

has the same goal in mind.

COURTESY VEL MILLER COLLECTION / WILLIAM REYNOLDS.

__________