Second annual festival in Snyder on Labor Day weekend.
Stomach cancer claimed the life of Oscar-winning actor and icon John Wayne at age 72 on June 11, 1979.
Thirty-three years later, the John Wayne Cancer Foundation continues to raise funds for research and seeks a cure for this killer disease.
Barry Tubb, now producing his second annual John Wayne Film Festival over Labor Day weekend, Aug. 31 through Sept. 2, in Snyder, said that he is proud to take a chance to help the Wayne Cancer Foundation.
Many wondered why he ever expected Wayne’s fans to travel to the small West Texas town of Snyder — county seat of Scurry County, 2011 population 11,200 — to watch movies they could rent on video at home.
Tubb put his faith in camaraderie. His 2011 festival attracted more than 500 people from outside Snyder over three days, including author Larry McMurtry and Olympic gold medal winner Dean Smith, a Texas rancher who co-starred in many of Wayne’s films.
The person who traveled the farthest was Anita Swift, Wayne’s first grandchild, who made the trip to Snyder from Huntington Beach, Calif.
Perhaps more importantly, Tubb revealed that “more than $13,000” was raised for the Wayne Cancer Foundation, an organization he calls “the frontrunner on a lot of experimental, cutting-edge treatments that are now the norm.
“They take chances in their attack.”
As for this year’s monetary goal, Tubb stated, “I feel like we hit a single last year. Another single would be just fine with me again this year.”
A $10 contribution is the asking ticket price for each movie shown. Full details about the festival can be found by contacting the Snyder Chamber of Commerce at (325) 573-3558, or writing to P.O. Box 600, Snyder, Texas 79550
Featured guests this year include Marisa Wayne, born in 1966 and the Duke’s youngest child; her mother is Pilar Pallete.
Smith also will make his second guest appearance, opening Snyder’s John Wayne Film Festival by introducing “Rio Lobo” on Aug. 31.
It was one of several Wayne movies in which he acted.
Smith lives on a ranch, raising horses and Longhorn cattle between Graham and Breckinridge. In his younger days, he competed in both track and football at the University of Texas, and won his aforementioned Olympic gold medal by participating in the 400-meter relay in the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki.
His football career included time with the Los Angeles Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers. He won amateur rodeo championships for bareback bronc riding and calf roping, and eventually found it safer to be a movie stunt man and actor.
On April 8, 2006, the Wayne Cancer Foundation gave Smith the honorary Duke Award for contributions to cancer research.
And the next year, Smith earned the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum as a stunt man, actor and Olympics medal winner.
Both Marisa Wayne and Smith will make appearances at the Brown Dinner at Snyder’s Belle Opry House on Aug. 31.
(More than 230 guests attended last year’s dinner.)
The popular Jody Nix Band will provide the country dance music following dinner, but movies will continue filling the screen at the city’s historic Ritz Theater, 1810 26th St.
The Brown Dinner got its name, explained Tubb, “because at our fundraising dinner, where most of the money is raised to support this event, everyone is asked to wear brown.
“Sort of our own little take on being tough enough to wear pink.”
Mind you, last year’s historic first John Wayne Film Festival found movies kept on the big screen 24 hours a day for three days. Considering the number of movies that starred Wayne, showing his films 24/7 proved to be no problem.
Yet Tubb concluded that one year was enough for that concept.
Asked to cite the most important things he learned last year, he said, “Sleep when you can. And if I had wanted to work this hard, I would have gone back to Hollywood.”
The hardest thing about staging the annual festival, said Tubb, is “never knowing if people will take the time to show up on a holiday weekend in the heat.”
He said “more people than expected” were found in the theater in the middle of each night. “I’d go over to the Ritz, just to check on things,” said Tubb, “and sure enough, there always were a few diehards dug in their seats.”
That said, he did not hesitate in giving up the “around the clock” concept this year, explaining, “Let’s just say we’ve done that, and there was no need to attempt it again.
“It was like wrestling a pig. You get dirty, and the pig enjoys it.”
A huge difference will be found Saturday (Sept. 1) when the Ritz Theater devotes most morning and afternoon hours to airing the complete television mini-series “Lonesome Dove” — which debuted in 1989 and obviously did not star Wayne, who passed away a decade earlier.
So why would Tubb devote half a day at his John Wayne Film Festival to a much respected western that did not star Wayne.?
He has an interesting answer.
“Because Larry (McMurtry) mentioned in his Q and A session last year he wrote an original screenplay before it was ever a book. And when he wrote the screenplay, he wrote it specifically for John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda.
“That’s why I’m showing ‘Lonesome Dove.’”
A mystery remains.
“Lonesome Dove” stars Robert Duvall as Augustus “Gus” McCrae. Tommy Lee Jones as Woodrow F. Call, Robert Urich as Jake Spoon, Chris Cooper as July Johnson and Fredric Forrest as the villain Blue Duck.
And Tubb said that he did not ask McMurtry which characters he wanted Wayne, Stewart and Fonda to play.
Saturday and Sunday nights aks Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow screen and truck to form a drive-in atmosphere at York Place. Last year’s drive-in attraction was “The Searchers.” This year’s outdoor movies are “True Grit” and “The Green Berets.”
In picking three days of Wayne films, one wondered if Tubb tried to choose the actor’s more popular movies, or perhaps those he felt most fans had missed.
He said, “No, just a variation. West Texans could argue ’til the cows come home over which of Duke’s movies to show and which to leave out.”
Asked to cite the most gratifying aspect of working so hard on the benefit festival, Tubb replied, “I’ll know that besides getting to hunt birds that weekend, we’re able to share in a little classic movie history, as well.
“When I moved to Hollywood the day after I graduated from high school, my dad, Dubb Tubb, told me to go out there and become the next John Wayne. Well, I didn’t become the next John Wayne. So maybe this is as close as I’ll get.”
By William Kerns
A-J ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR