Claiming the Spotlight

Forget glitz and glamour. These stars had guts and glamour, and Hollywood took notice. “Queen of the West” Dale Evans, The Big Valley’s Barbara Stanwyck, the original “Cowboy’s Sweetheart” Patsy Montana and countless others inspired women with their ambition, strength and respect for the American cowgirl.

Our Claiming the Spotlight Gallery celebrates these stars with larger-than-life images and a spectacular, Nudie Cohen-designed, rhinestone-encrusted saddle artfully displayed with clothing and artifacts, Movie posters, album covers, advertisements and memorabilia remind you of the public’s fascination with the cowgirl culture and the multiple roles these women played.

The gallery also features a velvet-draped theater with an ornate proscenium. Actress Katherine Ross narrates a poignant yet funny film highlighting all kinds of Hollywood cowgirls — from stunt doubles to gun-toting dames to damsels in distress. Throughout the movie, a horse (a replica mounted over the stage), interjects lighthearted banter about the importance of the horse in western film. You can also view artifact cases containing Hollywood film stills, lobby cards and other memorabilia.

After the show, be sure to enjoy these other exhibit hightlights:

  • A 1950s-era television featuring clips from such popular shows as “Annie Oakley” and “The Roy Rogers Show,” plus actual TV-show memorabilia.
  • Jukeboxes playing country western tunes sung by Patsy Montana, Patsy Cline, Emmylou Harris, Reba McEntire and other popular artists.
  • Artifact cases containing dime novels (colorful but often cliché western yarns of cowgirl adventures) as well as other forms of popular fiction.
  • Colorful advertisments touting the cowgirl way of life.
  • A Bohlin saddle made by Edward Bohlin, a premier saddlemaker and silversmith for the stars. Raised sterling-silver disks called conchos are a signature component of the Bohlin saddle.