Joe De Yong
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
and other classic
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.
(20 x 15,
oil on board) appeared on the
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
, starring Gary
Cooper as Wild Bill Hickok
and Jean Arthur as Calamity
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.