Hoot and the country girl

Published 10:05 pm Tuesday, April 21, 2015

By Frank Roberts

This is about “Hoot” and prayer, both emanating from midwest cowboy country.

The prayer, a “Prayer For Peace” was written, produced and performed by Reba McEntire. The “hoot” you might give a hoot about is silent screen-early talkies cowboy star, Hoot Gibson.

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First, that peace prayer is the last cut in her just released CD, “Love Somebody.” It’s Reba you will love as she tells you whom to love — God. The song is not flashy or gaudy; it’s not a major production with blinding lights and fireworks. It is — plainly and simply — a beautiful, heartfelt, unforgettable “Prayer For Peace.”

It’s the last cut from her CD which was issued a couple weeks ago, chock full of heart-y story songs, stock-in-trade for Reba. As they say on some of those ridiculous TV commercials: “I give you my solemn word, you will like it.”

If you don’t buy the release, go to YouTube and call up the song. “I give you my solemn word…” Oops. I already went there.

Reba is quite a gal — the winner of umpteen awards, she has sold millions of records and is, literally, a star of stage and screen.

The screen appearances were mostly forgettable but, on stage, she starred, on Broadway, in “Annie Get Your Gun,” surprising critics with her performance. Her television performances on the show she produced and bearing her name are currently being re-run on two television stations.

“Reba” is one of the funniest, cleverest situation comedies ever to hit the tube.

One more song on the release, highly recommended, is the very personal, “Just Like Them Horses,” which she dedicates to her late father, patriarch of an Oklahoma horse ranch.

I met her several times, and she is a sweetheart. Two things I especially remember: First: She was in concert in Virginia Beach, and the day was wet, cold and nasty. So she went to a store and bought appropriate attire for every member of her group.

And second: Another time, Pamela Speight, of Suffolk, once a leading national teen model, and her mom, Bonnie, were backstage with my wife and me. We were advised to be last in line so we could spend more time with Reba. We were and we did.

A final note on the subject of McEntire and gospel. Check sister Susie, rapidly becoming a star of that genre.

Now, about Hoot. Recently I’ve been trying to catch as many of his movies from the ’20s and ’30s, as possible. They are not typical westerns. They are usually very clever comedies. Oh, there’s plenty of gunplay and horse chases. Gibson does his own tricks — no doubles, no stuntmen.

The thing about this cowboy is his sort-of baby face. It’s deceptive. He is softly tough. The plots and dialogue of his movies are very sharp.

I recently watched “Lucky Terror,” which included, among other crazy things, a cowboy accordion player who was, allegedly, a direct descendant of Beethoven. There was a henpecked sheriff and a lesson on how to spell with bullets. In all his movies, jokes abound, ranging from corny to hilarious, from outrageous to “what-the-hey?”

He made $50 a week on his first film and, just a few years later, he was commanding $24,500 a picture. The career began going downhill when singing cowboys were the rage.

Anyway, if you catch just one Hoot Gibson movie, you — er — have my personal guarantee you will be hooked on Hoot. (The Nebraskan’s real name is Edmund Richard Gibson. ‘Hoot’ entered the picture when he was a kid working as a delivery boy for Hoot Cigars).

What? You haven’t heard any steamroller jokes this week? I shall remedy that.

  • No. 1 — A man was run over by a steamroller. The doctor told him to lay flat on his back.
  • A man was run over by a steamroller. He was in the hospital in rooms 38 to 44.

During a 60-year career spanning newspapers, radio and television, Frank Roberts has been there and done that. Today, he’s doing it in retirement from North Carolina, but he continues to keep an eye set on Suffolk and an ear cocked on country music. Email him at froberts73@embarqmail.com.