Hollywood strapped on its six-guns and duded itself up Saturday night as Ted Turner, Jane Fonda and a handful of cinema cowpokes including Clint Eastwood claimed their spurs at the 11th annual Golden Boot awards.
Boot winners included stuntman Chuck Courtney and actors Buck Taylor and Jack Palance, with a special memorial Boot for William “Hopalong Cassidy” Boyd.
In a celebratory atmosphere that reveled in the resurgence of a genre that has claimed two of the last three Best Picture Oscars (1992’s “Unforgiven,” and ’90’s “Dances With Wolves”), the awards, which benefit the Motion Picture & Television Fund, lauded the Western as not only a genre, but a way of life, saluting actors, directors, producers and stuntmen from the oaters.
But maybe more important, the annual barn-raising gives hundreds of Hollywood celebs a chance to strap on their chaps, gussy up their hair and show up looking like they just stepped off the set of “High Noon.”
The filmic cowboys and cowgirls jamming the Century Plaza Hotel this year to witness the erratic emceeing of Doug McClure included Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Clayton Moore, Denver Pyle, Rod Taylor, Barry Corbin, Ann Miller, Hugh O’Brian, Melissa Gilbert, Robert Stack and Donna Douglas.
A spokeswoman for the MPTF said it was mere coincidence that Turner, Hollywood’s newest mogul on the block, was given a Boot just days after he reached deep into his saddlebags and corralled Castle Rock Entertainment and New Line Cinemas for 630 million buckaroos.
The CNN maven, looking to cash in on the recent fat times on the oater prairie, gave the crowd reason to expect the cash roundup to continue. “We’re going to make a lot of Westerns,” Turner proclaimed. “We’re really going to make a lot of Westerns.”
Turner, garbed in a brown leather jacket, bolo string tie and a 10-gallon hat , said his biggest thrill was getting an award alongside his wife, Jane Fonda. Looking like a 20-year-old cowgirl in a black outfit, Fonda gave her mate some encouragement: “Here’s to Westerns. Ted, make a lot of ’em.”
Eastwood lassoed his award with the decorum of a statesman, but unlike his famous spaghetti Western “Man With No Name,” he smiled when he said it.
“The Western is a great American art form, maybe one of the few art forms America can really claim that started on this continent,” Eastwood said in his acceptance speech. “I’m proud to be a part of it.”
He also collected a pair of shiny black cowboy boots stamped “Unforgiven” from presenter Burt Reynolds who, after his own stab at a Dirty Harry impression , said he was happy to spend the money on Clint. “I’ve got to spend as much as I can as fast as I can,” he said, alluding to his well-publicized marital split with actress Loni Anderson.
Longtime cowpoke and “Green Acres” veteran Pat Buttram kept the campfire lively with a downright ornery monologue about the idylls of being a cowboy.
“No longer do we have the old days of cowboys, Indians and drunks,” Buttram said. “It’s now cowpersons, Native Americans and chemical dependencies.”
Jack Palance, who was dubbing “Swan Lake” in New York, disappointed the crowd by sending his son Cody in his place to accept. Cody refused to do any pushups.
Rand Brooks, the longtime sidekick to Hopalong Cassidy, presented the memorial award to Cassidy’s wife, Grace Boyd. “I want everyone to know,” Brooks said, “Western pix are back.”
Past Golden Boot recipients include Brooks, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Will Rogers, Tex Ritter, Louis L’Amour, Audie Murphy and Sam Peckinpah.
Proceeds from the event went to the Motion Picture & Television Fund, a charitable organization that provides health, child care and other services to the show biz community.
Golden Boot spokeswoman Ann Thompson-Haas said the benefit netted some $ 160, 000.