After 70-plus years in the arena, Montie Montana, Jr. still does what he loves.
His first professional performance in the family rodeo act was at age three. Thrown over the neck of his horse at the 1938 Pacific International Exhibition in Portland, his father—world-famous trick and fancy roper Montie Montana—admonished him to remount and, “Get back out there, and do it right!”
By the age of six, he had performed with a four-horse liberty routine, and by nine, he was riding for horse catches. At eleven he was trick riding.
Montie Montana, Jr. was born into show business ... literally. Delivered at a Los Angeles hospital in 1935 while his parents were on the road, Montie, Jr. knew no other home than his parents’ horse trailer until he was ten.
A natural at making the best of most situations, he managed to get himself commissioned as the only cavalry officer left in the U.S. Army in 1958, replete with horse, campaign hat, tall boots, spurs, and crossed saber insignias.
Montie seriously considered going back to school and becoming a veterinarian after his stint in the military. With a mind as sharp as a cavalry lance (he had passed the Mensa I.Q. test), he also thought about reenlisting to make senior officer. But his true passion called—traveling the world with a Wild West troupe.
For the next ten years, Montie learned the business of producing big shows, working every possible job from ticket sales to lighting to advertising.
On July 31, 1971, it all fell together, and he produced his first Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show for the state of Nebraska. More than 2,500 performances and 26 far-flung countries later, Montie Montana, Jr. is still producing his show, which includes 75 performers, stagecoaches, wagons, and dozens of horses and cattle. He is the only person licensed to carry on the tradition of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and to use the iconic name.
At 75, Montie Montana, Jr. has slowed down some, but every time he enters the arena, a faint echo still rings through the grandstands: “Get back out there and do it right!”
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