Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Cornucopia of Cowboys

For the season of harvest and abundance, I've collected a cornucopia of cowboys for you. Over at My Overstuffed Bookshelf, we've been discussing our favorite movie and TV cowboys, and right now, there's a clear winner: Little Joe of Bonanza, also known as Michael Landon.




Another clear favorite is Roy Rogers, though I don't see him as a romantic hero. I always figured he was taken, what with Dale and Trigger and all!




And then there's Rowdy Yates, the role that started Clint Eastwood on the path to cowboy stardom. Before Clint became the steely-eyed, raspy-voiced Man with No Name, he was a handsome young heartthrob in the TV series Rawhide.

It surprised me that so many romance readers chose what I call the "cozy" cowboys - the good guys with more honey than vinegar in their personalities. After all, don't readers like alpha heroes? The tough guys?

Maybe not. I think that softer side is one big reason for the popularity of cowboy heroes. A cowboy's horse is an equal partner in his work, and you can't achieve that kind of relationship with anyone, animal or human, unless you have a sensitive, nurturing side.

And while old-time cowboys usually led a wandering life, settling down on their own piece of land was always a goal - so home and hearth, along with the right woman, was what they were working for.

And that works for me! My own cowboy romances offer three very different men. Cowboy Trouble features Luke Rawlins, a charming, sexy rancher who can talk a girl into just about anything, while One Fine Cowboy's Nate Shawcross is a strong, silent guy who doesn't have much use for words; he prefers non-verbal communication. And in Cowboy Fever, coming in March 2011, Teague Treadwell is closer to the alpha type - a former black sheep who conquers a difficult past to gain the respect of his home town and the woman he loves.

So who were your favorite cowboys of movies and TV? And do you like your men sweet or rugged?

26 comments:

  1. Great post, Joanne! You barely see Westerns anymore! I loved 3:10 to Yuma! Well, there was Bonanza, I did love Clint Eastwood, and Gunsmoke and Have Gun Will Travel, and...it seems that there were only Westerns! And John Wayne, and...Westerns were just rugged, wild west, and fun! :) Have a great weekend, Joanne!

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  2. Thanks, Terry! The cowboy in my current story is a nice guy, but keeps turning sort of... wolfish ...when he wants certain things, if you know what I mean. It surprised me when it started happening. I think you're contagious!

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  3. Cheryl, you'd probably like my cowboys, then. They're a pretty sweet lot - even when they pretend to be big, rough men.

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  4. LOL, Joanne! You never know when they'll get bitten by the urge! Sweet and wolfish will work! :)

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  5. You know, Joanne, I think I've always had a thing for bad boys no matter the era or setting. So, for me, anyone playing Billy the Kid gets my heart beating faster. I mean even Paul Newman played him. *sigh* Paul Newman.

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  6. Give me a cowboy, any kind, and I'm good to go. I used to go up to a ranch in the High Sierra's on the John Muir trail and the cowboys up there ran the gamut, I'd be hard pressed to pick a favorite. Even as a kid, I wanted them all!

    Steve played the guitar, could sing like nobody's business, and was gorgeous in that rough and ready bad-boy way, but Paul, was almost as hot, plus he was funny and could cook. Oh, and there was Jim, he was highly intelligent, gorgeous, sensitive and quiet, a very yummy combination. All I can say is the place was heaven on earth.

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  7. Great post Joanne! I like 'em sweet & salty. The tough guy with a soft side...like a really good chocolate chip cookie...crunchy on the outside but warm and soft on the inside!

    BTW...Michael Landon was my fave. Yummy.

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  8. Ooooh, Ms. Dare. Paul Newman was incredible. Handsome as all get-out, and loyal to the same woman for all that time. That's amore...
    As for Billy the Kid, I love the legend, and it's interesting to see how different historians piece out the reality of what happened. But the stories and songs make him such a romantic figure!

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  9. Robin, where's that ranch again? Got a map?!?!? Let's take a trip! Those guys are probably a lot older now, but frankly, so am I and I think cowboys age well..they get that weatherbeaten, look with the sexy crow's feet when they smile.

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  10. Sara, I love all the food metaphors. Yummy is right!

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  11. Do space cowboys count? I always kind of liked Han Solo. I live in Texas, but I've never met a real cowboy.

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  12. My favorite movie cowboys were from silverado - any of them - all sexy. I think the Casababes need to take a retreat to Robin's ranch! Great post Joanne!!

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  13. I remember watching Little Joe. I always liked him. My husband loves Clint Eastwood so we watch his old westerns a lot. Pale Rider is almost sacred to him. I love a good cowboy story and yours sound great, Joanne.

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  14. Oh, Anita, I love Pale Rider! There's something about Clint's tough-guy persona that really intrigues me, possibly because you know there's something honorable and good underneath. Hmmm.
    I like Little Joe, too, but I think I like more of a dichotomy in my men - you know, tough on the outside, sweet on the inside.

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  15. Fun Post, Joanne! Me, when it comes to romance (in fiction) I fall for the alpha type, every time. But he's got to have loyalty, compassion for the helpless, and dedication to some selfless values. Let's face it. Only the addition of those qualities distinguishes him from the bad guys.
    No surprise therefore, that I go for John Wayne. But maybe I'm off-topic. Now that I think of it, in Westerns he's rarely an actual cowpoke. He's the army officer in less-than-spiffy tunic leading the cavalry.
    The romance, if there is one, is a minor subplot--real minor. Which is why after I watch for long enough to get the drift, I usually change channels.
    But back to the subject of sweet cowboys, the character of Little Joe had to have been one of the purely sweetest, most heart-melting ever conceived.

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  16. Thanks, Mary Margret, and I love your perfect description of the alpha hero! John Wayne rules in Wyoming, but you're right - his films usually aren't romances! Did you hear that they're going to remake "True Grit," with Jeff Bridges in the John Wayne role? I'm usually not much for remakes, but it's the Coen brothers and I love the story and if anyone can do the part justice it's Bridges, who was amazing in Crazy Heart. I'm pretty excited about it!

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  17. I didn't know a remake of "True Grit" was planned. IMHO, it's the best movie Wayne ever made. I'm sure it takes first place with me because, while it isn't a romance, it is a love story.

    Might be just my taste, but I think romances rarely succeed on the big screen. I always feel the lack of the intimacy of deep POV. However love stories, of whatever ilk, do succeed and are sometimes better than the book they are based on.I expect John Wayne, who after all had a lot of experience with the medium, knew what he was doing.

    It will be interesting to see what Bridges does with it.

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  18. Little Joe and any Clint Eastwood cowboy = YUM!! I blame my mother. She's a total cowboy fangirl. I swear if I saw Clint Eastwood's westerns once, I've seen them a million times. She's also a huge Michael Landon fan--both Joe and Pa on Little House on the Prairie. I totally need to get your books into her hands, Joanne! I know she'd love them.

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  19. Olivia, your mom sounds like my kind of girl! Mary Margret, I agree that True Grit was the best John Wayne movie. To me, that part had more depth than his more standard heroic roles. It'll be interesting to see what the "No Country for Old Men" guys do with that story.

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  20. Thank you for your post, Joanne; and everyone else for your comments.

    May I voice a minority opinion? I go for the sweet, sensitive, beta-male type of romance hero. I can see why a heroine would be attracted to such a man.

    This frees the writer to focus not on conflicts between the hero and heroine, but on those I find more interesting: conflicts with authority, with social and personal expectations, with fate, with romantic rivals, and with oneself.

    I haven't seen many TV westerns, but I'm more familiar with those in the movies. My favorite hero in the genre is Gregory Peck in "The Big Country". And he's probably the least typical.

    He plays a 19th-century sea captain who inherits a Texas ranch. Talk about a fish out of water! He gets pulled into a range war, ironically over water rights. He must deal with a more personal conflict as well; though engaged to wealthy rancher's daughter Carol Baker, he falls for schoolmarm Jean Simmons. This film is shown every once in a while on Turner Classic Movies; I recommend it.

    Keep up the good work!

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  21. I agree, Joanne. Tough on the outside, soft on the inside. I did a blog for someone that I titled "Romeo or Rambo." As I said there, I like my men crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside :)

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  22. Anita - I love the "Romeo or Rambo" concept. What a great way to define that difference... I'll hunt it down.

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  23. I've been frolicking around London, England recently--there was a sprinkling of cowboy hats even there, and the combination of a cowboy hat and one of those English accents had the oddest charm. Have to think of a way to get a western saddle on a sturdy steed galloping through Hyde Park...

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  24. Mary Anne, thanks for stopping by! I feel like we haven't "talked" for a while.
    That movie sounds wonderful - I love Gregory Peck about as much as any old-time actor.
    And I agree with you on the beta heroes - especially if "hero" is the operative word! I love it when a gentle man steps up and fights for what he believes in, even if he doesn't believe in fighting. It makes the stakes higher.

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  25. A little bit of both, Joanne. :} Love the walk down cowboy memory lane.

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