Monday, January 28, 2013

Diamond Kate Was Dynomite In A Small Package.

When you hear the name Katie or Kitty Wilkes, you don't immediately think of this cowgirl as the womens saddle bronc champion of the 1915 Pendleton Roundup. She put on a good exhibition, rode hobbled and competed with some of the best riders of the day, Ollie Osborne, Princess Red Bird among them.

She won at Pendleton again in 1918 for the relay race event and married Yakima Canutt.  What Kitty Canutt will most be remembered for is her tumultuous relationship with the champion cowboy. Kitty sported a diamond set in her front tooth and during hard times, she and Yak would hock it to make ends meet. Things changed for Kitty and while she could ride and tame any bronc of her time, she couldn't tame the green eyed monster of jealousy once married to the charismatic cowboy and movie stuntman, Yakima Canutt.

Yak started out as a rodeo cowboy but left for Hollywood after a chance meeting with Tom Mix. He soon found himself doubling for actors like Clark Gable and John Wayne in silent westerns. His stunts are now legendary and he invented many of the stunts he would perform.

Yakima Canutt was named World All Around Rodeo Champion in 1917, 1919, 1920 and 1923 and was inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1975.

He and John Wayne created a new technique for filming screen fights more believably and by the 1930's, Canutt was known as Hollywood's premier stuntman. In 1966, Yakima Canutt was honored and awarded a special Oscar for his contributions to film.

The marriage with Kitty was short lived and Yak tired of dodging knives and bullets. He said "Kitty shot a lot but thankfully, she wasn't a very good shot."

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