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Buff Brady, Jr

Inducted in 2001

Brady buff jrBuff Brady was born in Butte, Montana, in 1916. His father, Buff “Big Buffalo” Brady, Sr., worked as a trick rider and roper and bulldogging and bronc riding contestant, pioneering the growth of early North American rodeos and Wild West shows. In the early 1930s, Buff Sr. married Rose Walls, the respected rodeo stock contractor, and the Brady’s moved to the east end of Kittitas County. There, Buff Sr. and Rose furnished bucking stock for the Ellensburg Rodeo from 1931-38. They also owned Brahma bulls and helped begin the exhibition and riding of Brahmas in the rodeo arena. Buff Brady, Jr., attended Ellensburg High School, graduating in 1934. Following in his father’s footsteps, he hit the rodeo road as a contract performer in 1934 (he had begun performing in 1929). Buff became a standout trick roper, described by rodeo historian Cliff Westermeier as one of an elite group of cowboys who made roping “a form of art.” Buff’s forte was his combination of gymnastics with roping. His tricks included his wife Ruby, his step-mother Rose Walls, and his talented trick riding horses. Spinning a wide loop, Buff could somersault backwards, landing on his feet! He performed the same trick from the back of his horse. One newspaperman witnessed Buff’s act and noted: “Buff Brady flashes round the arena on his fleet-footed white steed…vaults over his mount and rides in every conceivable position. He adds to this some natty roping, lassoing, galloping horses, and doing acrobatics all at the same time.” Buff Brady, Jr. appeared in the Ellensburg Rodeo arena from 1934 through 1937 and again in 1954. He was a regular at the Pendleton Roundup, where he performed over a dozen times. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Buff took his riding and roping skills to North America’s great rodeos and, in addition, played Madison Square Garden and the London Palladium. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, following his mentor and friend, Montie Montana (ERHOF ’97), Buff Brady, Jr., set his eyes on Hollywood. In a 1954 Ellensburg Daily Record interview Buff noted “I am getting old enough I would like to get more bit parts in movies or television and not have to travel so much.” Buff Brady Jr.’s move to Hollywood brought him work as a stunt double for Roy Rogers in eighteen episodes of television’s “Roy Rogers Show.” Buff also stunt-doubled for Stewart Granger and Rex Allen in feature films. Moving on from stunt work, Buff studied acting, voice, dancing, fencing, pantomime, and guitar with some of America’s most respected teachers. He performed in live theater at the acclaimed Beverly Hills Playhouse and Theatre Dun Terri. From the 50s through the 70s, Buff Brady, Jr. won movie roles in Westward Ho The Wagons, The Rodeo King and the Senorita, Horse Soldiers, The Big Country, Yellowstone Kelly, Pork Chop Hill, Brothers Karamosov, Great Northfield, Minnesota Raid, and Hallelujah Trail. He played the part of Will Rogers in W.C. Fields and Me. As the new medium of television proved an important venue for western actors, Buff paralleled his movie work with a television career. He appeared in episodes of Zorro, Bat Masterson, Tombstone Territory, Have Gun Will Travel, Racket Squad, Johnny Slaughter, Wagon Train, Death Valley Days, Stoney Burke, Charlie’s Angels, and many more. In four decades of movie, theater, and television work, Buff Brady, Jr., played a wide range of western and non-western characters, including cowboys, bad men, combat soldiers, romantic leads, private eyes, spies, criminals, and, once, a Catholic priest. In 1992, nearly sixty years after he first performed in the Ellensburg Rodeo arena, Buff Brady, Jr., was inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Now, his induction into the Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame marks a fitting tribute to this famed Ellensburg High School graduate, trick rider, trick roper, and movie, theater, and television performer.