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Red Sublett

Birth place or City of origin: Arlington
State of origin: TX
Last known City:
Last known State:
Start/Birth date: 1894
Death/End date: 1950

Red Sublett was born in Arlington, Texas, and shortly thereafter the family made what was then a long trek, from Arlington to Tishomingo, Oklahoma (then Indian Territory). Mother, father and seven children traveled in a horse-drawn covered wagon. At 16 he returned to Oklahoma and there joined Booger Red's traveling cowboy show. Young Sublett left Booger Red to work cattle and ride the rough string on Burk Burnett's 6666 ranch out of Panhandle, Texas. Later, he rode for the LX on the Canadian for the 101, out of Bliss, Oklahoma, and the JY out of Amarillo and Truscott, Texas. Being at this time a talented rider of rough stock and an adept trainer who could turn a green colt into a working cowhorse, in 1917, in Fort Worth, he joined Lucille Mulhall's show. Here he rode broncs and steers and for variety and to help at the gate he would avowedly mount anything that could be dragged, pulled or pushed into the arena. He racked up rides on buffalo, zebras, mules and ostriches. During this period, Red rode his first freight train (he was broke) and his first steamboat, on the Mississippi (he was no longer broke). Red promptly returned to the Southwest and rodeo arenas.

He was contesting and putting on clowning exhibition rides on rough stock when Tex Austin, the producer (whom Red called the Daddy of Rodeo) and Fog Horn Clancy, the announcer, discovered him. Red was in the big time. For years he was rodeo's number one cowboy clown and annually worked all the big time shows in America and in Canada. He went to London, for Tex Austin's Wembley Stadium Rodeo, to Paris to clown Tommy Kirnan's show; to Mexico City; Brussels; Dublin, Ireland, and to Hollywood and the movies.

Red had a trained mule, buckskin in color and Sparkplug by name, that he used in his rodeo clowning routines. Sparkplug came to be almost as renowned in rodeo as was his master. The little mule was a canny performer and probably at his best when imitating a trained horse act booked to work the same show. While the superbly trained horse would be going through an act of intricate tricks and startling poses in front of the grandstand, near by little Sparkplug, under Red's cuing, would be doing the exact same routine with a few extra flourishes thrown in for good measure and for laughs. J D RED Sublett once said: As a kid I had a choice -- to be a good cowboy or a bad cotton picker. The redhead was always joking and perhaps he was joking on that occasion too; and again maybe he was telling just the way it had happened. But, regardless of the reason, Red did become a good cowboy, one with a winning lick in rodeo contest events, and also a top hand back in the hills and out on the flats as a rough string rider and a working cowpoke. Then, along the way, he became aware of the fact that he possessed the ability to amuse and entertain people, and rodeo producers paid him and paid him well, for his laugh provoking shenanigans. So he stopped shelling out rodeo event entry fees and discontinued sleeping on the ground and eating chuck wagon grub to become a rodeo clown, the greatest and the highest paid arena comic of his day.

 

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