Douglas, other cowpokes get Golden Boot awards

Everything we see is Western in form, Dortort sez

Kirk Douglas made off like a bandit Saturday night, receiving a Golden Boot award from the Motion Picture & Television Fund for lifetime achievement in the Western film and television genre.

Speaking to a standing ovation inside the Beverly Hilton for the 17th annual Golden Boot awards, Douglas told well-wishers, “Some of my best memories are from doing Westerns.”

During his 50-plus years in the movies, Douglas has galloped through such pics as “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral,” “Lonely Are the Brave,” “The War Wagon,” “Posse” and “Town Without Pity.”

Douglas was grateful that all the money raised from the night’s silent and live auctions of classic Western memorabilia would go to support the Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin-founded Motion Picture & Television Fund, the social services org that cares for aging and disabled Hollywood members.

Douglas said he was sorry that his parents couldn’t see him pick up his award, but laughed, “if my mother were here she would have said, ‘One golden boot? Where’s the other?’ ”

Other cowpokes riding off with Boots included “Maverick” alum James Garner, “Bonanza” creator and exec producer David Dortort, actress Julie Adams (“Bend of the River” with James Stewart), stuntman Jack Williams, R.G. Armstrong (“Gunsmoke”) and DeForest Kelley (“Star Trek”) in memoriam.

Garner apologized for having to receive his award via a taped film clip — he’s shooting the Clint Eastwood-helmed “Space Cowboys” for Warner Bros. — but assured the crowd, “Westerns have always been my favorite genre, and I’m pleased and honored to receive the Golden Boot.”

Speaking backstage to Daily Variety, Dortort said, “People say Westerns are no longer liked by audiences, but the fact is that everything we see is Western in form … always the same fight between good and evil.”

Following that line of thought, Dortort is putting together “a new approach to ‘Bonanza’ for TV and film” because “the fan mail keeps coming in like we never went off the air.”

Mingling among the guests, who all came dressed in their cowboy best, were past Golden Boot honorees Hugh O’Brian of TV’s “Wyatt Earp,” Bruce Boxleitner (“The Gambler”), Fess Parker (“Davy Crockett”) and Hugh Jeffries, known as the first African-American gunslinger in Hollywood.

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