Ross Dollarhide, Jr. (1921-1977) was raised on a ranch and was working as a cowboy for his father from a very early age. At the age of 17, he started entering rodeos as an amateur. He won first place in nearly every event he entered. Eventually, the rodeo organizers would no longer let Ross compete as an amateur because he was too good. So, Ross turned professional. He was in his prime in the late 1940's and early 1950's and for several years, he was one of the top five rodeo riders in America (based on prize earnings). In 1954, Ross injured his leg in a bad fall, and he was never able to compete consistently again. In the late 1950's, Ross began training horses for stunts in films. He became a full-time stuntman and appeared in films including, "Will Penny" (1968), "Paint Your Wagon" (1969), "Blazing Saddles" (1974) and the TV series, "Cimarron Strip" (1967). Ross also doubled James Arness on "Gunsmoke" a few times.
Below: Ross competing at the Pendleton Round-Up in 1947.
Below: Great photo with actor Ben Johnson (Mighty Joe Young, The Wild Bunch), Ross, and rodeo legend Casey Tibbs.
Below: On the set of "The Honkers" (1972). Standing (left to right): Actor/Director Steve Ihnat, Slim Pickens, Harry Vold, Mary McFarren, world champion cowboy Larry Mahan, actor James Coburn, and rodeo champion Floyd Baze. Kneeling (left to right): Gene Talvin, Ross Dollarhide, Stephen Lodge, and Elliot Shick.
In 1977, Ross was hired to double Rod Taylor on the TV series, "The Oregon Trail." In one scene, he was leading a stampede of cattle for the cameras. Ross' horse tripped on a gopher hole and he was thrown into the path of the running cattle. Ross walked away but felt like he had broken a rib, so he was sent to the hospital. The staff told him that their X-ray machine was broken, so he went back to his hotel and went to sleep. During the night, he died of internal bleeding.
In 2003, Ross was inducted posthumously into the Rodeo Hall of Fame.