Reel Cowboys Silver Spur: How the West was Fun

Update: Johnny Crawford was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. The Sportsman’s Lodge Event Center was demolished for redevelopment on Labor Day weekend, 2019. During 2020 and 2021, the Silver Spur Awards were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. On April 29, 2021, Johnny Crawford passed away. He will be greatly missed by many.


It takes a LOT to get us to the city. But here we were, twice in one month, which has to break our record. And what would draw us from the vast expanses of the Mojave to a bustling concrete jungle? A trip down memory lane and the chance to rub elbows with many of our favorite Western stars we grew up with.

A page from the Silver Spurs’ program, designed by Robert Lanthier and Charles Scott.


The Reel Cowboys honors those who resonate the qualities of the Silver Spur to deserving individuals and organizations. Reel Cowboys works to preserve Hollywood’s history by honoring Western film and television stars.

We’re at the right place!

We bought the last two VIP tickets! Many thanks to those behind-the-scenes who arranged for John and I to sit together during this popular, sold-out, charitable event.

Photo courtesy of



The 21st Annual Silver Spurs Award Show took place the evening of September 21, 2018, at the Sportsmen’s Lodge, 12825 Ventura Blvd., in Studio City, California.  Luminaries such as Patrick Wayne, Dawn Wells, Johnny Crawford, Billy Zane, R.L. Tolbert, Robert Carradine received awards. Special guests included Rosey Grier, Kathy Garver, Kevin Dobson, Bo Hopkins, Stefanie Powers, Katharine Ross, Michael Dante, Margaret O’Brien, L.Q. Jones, Paul Sorvino, Lana Wood and Robert Crawford.

Trying to be discreet before the show while drooling over Arri Alexa and Red Epic X Dragon cameras. Psst, John. Hide your cell phone camera. lol

Special Guest Mark Staggs, a Festus Hagen tribute artist, opened the show with a humorous monologue. Mark can impersonate over 100 celebrities, including John Wayne, Walter Brennan, Jimmy Stewart and Clint Eastwood. The Steve Weddington band provided lively tunes accompanying a delicious dinner of chicken, roast beef, creamed parsnips and apple pie before the awards ceremonies began.


Marguerite Happy was the Master of Ceremonies at Reel Cowboy’s 21st Annual Silver Spur Awards.

Legendary stunt woman Marguerite Happy was the Master of Ceremonies. Marguerite is most known for her work on Back to the Future Part III (1990), Die Hard (1990) and Seven pounds (2008).  Marguerite received a Silver Spur Award in 2017. That evening, Marguerite presented a Silver Spur Award to her best friend, actress Katharine Ross. The current president of Reel Cowboys is Robert Lanthier. Robert joined Reel Cowboys in 1997 and has been president since 2010. Robert has worked with Sylvester Stallone, George C. Scott, Rock Hudson, Bette Davis, George Peppard and many others. Robert started his own production company and plans to produce a family western, once funding is secured. The Pink Lady of LA Talk Radio interviewed Robert prior to the awards, watch it here: Julie Ann Ream is Silver Spur’s Awards’ Associate Producer and red carpet interviewer.  She has worked as an investigative agent on the NBC series, Unsolved Mysteries, in addition to CBS and Lifetime. With over 20 years of production experience, she is currently co-producing the Roy Rogers Festival and is the Associate Producer in The Cowboy Way Jubilee in Oklahoma. She is also a docent and curator at Valley Relics Museum in Los Angeles.

The excitement built in anticipation of seeing so many familiar faces at the Silver Spur Awards.

The legend of the silver spur is as fantastical and dramatic as the movie industry itself. After a war on American ground, a group of pioneers wanting to leave the despair behind, headed West. They ended up in Cherokee Territory, in a place with no name. After circling the wagons to prevent an Indian raid, a couple of men ventured out to higher ground for a better vantage point. One of the men did not return. As a search party was being formed, the group was startled when a small Indian boy about 7 years old emerged from the brush and walked slowly to the encampment with a silver spur in his hand. It belonged to the missing man who would never return. The story of the boy’s courage, compassion and trust spread quickly through the West. As an enrolled Cherokee Nation tribal citizen myself, I guess Grandma forgot to share that particular tale with me. Nuff said.

Somebody said we clean up nice.

Silver Spur Honorees included Patrick Wayne, John Wayne’s son. Patrick is known for his roles in The Alamo (1960), Donovan’s Reef (1963), McLintock! (1963), The Green Berets (1968), Shenandoah (1965) and many others. Producer Bill McDonald  presented the Silver Spur Award to his friend, Patrick Wayne.  Bill was a producer on The Saint and Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders. Other Silver Spur recipients included Dawn Wells. The former Miss Nevada (1959) is best known for her role as Mary Ann Summers on Gilligan’s Island but she starred in Westerns too.  Her credits include The Wild West, Bonanza, Wagon Train, Maverick, Cheyenne, Lawman, Tales of Wells Fargo, Laramie, and the movie Winterhawk (1975). Although Dawn is currently recovering from a knee injury, she is just as sweet as the iconic Mary Ann in real life. This was not the first time I’ve met Dawn Wells. I actually had the privilege of working with Dawn in the movie Surviving Gilligan’s Island in 2001. Although I was a below-the-line extra, the director hand-selected me for a pivotal scene on a boat filmed in the Long Beach harbor, where Dawn casts the Skipper’s ashes for a burial at sea.  While lost in our sorrow, we actually embraced.  I still remember how professional and nice Dawn was, and how good her perfume smelled! Although most of my scenes were later edited out, my scene near Dawn remained. To this day, I am still thrilled to have met Dawn Wells in-person! Dawn even told John that all these years later, she still remembered me.

A fun evening was had by all. Photo courtesy of Tom Morse.

Dawn’s friend, Darby Hinton, presented Dawn with the Silver Spur Award.  Darby played the role of Israel Boone in the television series, Daniel Boone, also starring Fess Parker. Most recently, Darby landed the role as Cole Younger in the 2018 film, Bill Tilghman and the Outlaws, also starring Johnny Crawford. Darby is currently involved in a pilot project featuring his wife and children exploring historic places, including an unnamed ghost town in California. (Update: Dawn Wells passed away in December 2020.)

Darby Hinton (from the Daniel Boone series) and his beautiful wife Shan, with Johnny (from The Rifleman series). Photo courtesy of Darby Hinton.

We sat with retired actor, 81-years old Cliff Emmich, at Table 17. Some of his films are Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973), Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974), Halloween II (1981), Best of the Best (1993), Mouse Hunt (1997), Inspector Gadget (1999) and many more.  What a fun evening, surrounded by so much talent in one room.

Cliff Emmich gladly signed an autograph for a young fan.

Reel Cowboys President Robert Lanthier presented a posthumous Silver Spur Award to Steve McQueen. Steve’s first wife, Neal McQueen, accepted the award for Steve, known for his roles in The Magnificent Seven (1960), The War Lover (1962), The Great Escape (1963), The Sand Pebbles (1966), Nevada Smith (1966), The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), and many others. Steve may be known best for his signature megahit, Bullitt, (1968).

Another Silver Spur Honoree was John Ernest Crawford, best known as Johnny Crawford. Although he may be mostly known for his role as Mark McCain on The Rifleman, also starring Chuck Connors.  However, he appeared in many other television series such as The Big Valley, The Lone Ranger, Wagon Train and Little House on the Prairie. He also acted alongside John Wayne in the 1967 movie El Dorado and the 1965 film, Indian Paint. This is the 60th Anniversary of The Rifleman series.

John greeted Johnny, his lovely wife Charlotte and their assistant, Jackie, before dinner. We are proud to be Johnny’s official biographers.


Since 1992, Johnny has led a California-based vintage dance orchestra which still performs at special events. His band has been sponsored by the Playboy Jazz Festival and the Directors Guild Award shows at the Beverly Hilton.  A remastered version of the orchestra’s highly rated first album, Sweeping the Clouds Away, was released in 2012.

Fans flock to Johnny for autographs where ever he goes. Johnny exclaimed, “I like being a celebrity.”

Steve Connors, Chuck Connor’s son, presented the prestigious Silver Spur award to his friend, Johnny. Chuck Connors played the role of Lucas McCain, Mark McCain’s wizened father. Steve appeared in The Rifleman in 1958, before playing professional baseball. Athlete Steve played for the California Angels in the 1970s, following his famous Dad’s footsteps, who had played for the Angels in the 1950s. Later, Steve became a stockbroker.

Billy Zane was also honored with a Silver Spur award. Billy’s first role was in Back to the Future (1985), playing one of Biff’s thugs. Billy also appeared in the film Critters (1986) and Dead Calm (1989). Billy starred in other popular movies and television series including Memphis Belle (1990), Twin Peaks (1990), The Phantom (1996), and The Titanic (1997).  Billy’s starring role in Tombstone (1993) was a smash hit, assuring Billy’s inclusion in the classic Western genre.  Reel Cowboys President Robert Lanthier presented Billy with the Silver Spur award.

Billy Zane gave a hilarious speech after he received his Silver Spur award and joked he planned to use it as a cowboy belt buckle.

Also receiving a Silver Spur award was legendary stuntman R.L. Tolbert, known for his work on Chain Reaction (1996), The Mask of Zorro (1998), Pale Rider (1985) and many others. R.L.’s friend, actor Sam Elliott, the scheduled presenter, was unable to attend due to a last-minute scheduling conflict. We missed you but we know you were there in spirit, Sam! Many thanks to your sweet wife, Katharine Ross, for coming in your place.  Robert Carradine received a Silver Spur Award presented by his daughter, Ever Carradine. His first television appearance was in Bonanza (1971). He also appeared in his brother’s, David Carradine’s, series Kung Fu in 1972. In 1980, Robert appeared in The Long Riders with his brothers, David and Keith. Other brothers appearing in the move were Stacy and James Keach, and Dennis and Randy Quaid. Robert flexed his funny bone when he starred in the comedy Revenge of the Nerds (1984). Robert recently starred in Justice (2017). Robert’s daughter, Ever Dawn Carradine, appeared in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001), Bubble Boy (2001), Guns for Hire (2015), Frank vs. God (2014), Constellation (2005), Dead and Breakfast (2004) and many television series, including Runaways, and The Hand Maid’s Tale. 

Johnny Crawford’s brother, Robert Crawford Jr., chatted with guests and signed autographs. Robert is best known for his role of Andy on the Western TV series, Laramie (1959).  He was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1959 for Playhouse 90 (1956), the same year his editor father and kid brother, Johnny Crawford were also nominated for Emmy’s.

The evening concluded with announcements of who bid the highest on the impressive display of western and movie memorabilia during the silent auction.  Our friends, Jim and Deena Heffel, owners Roy Rogers Double R Bar Ranch on Route 66 in Oro Grande, outbid everybody on the awesome replica Rifleman rifle signed by Johnny Crawford, John Wayne’s Rio Bravo rifle signed my Patrick Wayne. and the Steve McQueen Wanted Dead or Alive rifle to add to their collection. Way to go, guys!

Odessa Red, Jim and Deena Heffel with Jim’s most recent hard-earned bounty. Photo courtesy: Jim Heffel

Our sincere congratulations to everyone who made the 21st Annual Silver Spur Awards amazing! Many thanks for much of the above information, which came directly from the Reel Cowboy’s 21st Annual Silver Spur Awards souvenir program. It is my understanding you will be able to purchase a custom DVD of the entire awards ceremony for your very own keepsake of this special event. You thought we were kidding about their cine cameras?  Please check the Reel Cowboy’s website for details.

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