ProRodeo Sports News - April 5, 2019
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ...
Gene and Bobby Clark fought bulls all over the world and were known for creating extravagant original acts. Above, the Clark Brothers help distract a bull away from Stan Sutter in San Diego in 1972. Foxie photo
BY MATT NABER M ajor rodeos of the past, such as the first National Finals Rodeo in Dallas and rodeos at Madison Square Garden in New York City and at the Boston Garden, were no laughing matter, unless you were Gene and Bobby Clark. From the 1940s through the 1970s, these ProRodeo Hall of Famers set the standard for rodeo entertainment, though they got their start as contestants. Both Clarks competed in tie-down roping while Gene also did steer wrestling and Bobby competed in bareback riding, but they’re best remembered as clowns and bullfighters. “I was only 18 and not very big, roping against 6-(foot)-something guys, and we roped big ol’ calves and I wasn’t doing any good,” Bobby Clark said. “So, when I came home, I said I’ll give it a year, and if I don’t do good, I’ll do something else.” RISING FROMTHE DUST The Clarks were born in Seminole, Okla., Gene on March 27, 1926, and Bobby on March 24, 1930. The Dust Bowl drove their family out of Oklahoma and over to California’s central valley. Gene served in the U.S. Navy during WorldWar II and was a player on the Seattle Rainiers, a minor league baseball team. After the war, baseball reminded him too much of the military, so he opted for the freedom of rodeo
and performed his first clown act in 1947. “The team had him on contract,” Bobby Clark said. “He said, ‘They told me when to get up and go to bed. So I’m going to do something different.’ So, he started fighting bulls.” One year later, Bobby joined him. “He said he got a job to fight bulls at the rodeo, and he asked if I wanted to work the barrel for $25 per perf. I said you bet I’ll do that,” Bobby Clark said. “I was making a dollar an hour picking apples, so that was a heck of a boost. “I was scared to death of the crowd. I was bashful when I was young, and three years later I was at the coliseum in L.A. with 100,000 people.” Gene, who died in 2005, started as a bullfighter, complete with a Spanish-style cape. Bobby joined the act shortly after graduating high school. The first rodeo Bobby worked completely had future ProRodeo Hall of Famer Slim Pickens in the stands. Pickens was a well-known roughstock contestant turned bullfighter who later went on to be a movie star, known for roles in “Blazing Saddles” and “Dr. Stangelove.” “It amazed him (Pickens),” Bobby Clark said, adding that he and Pickens worked a few rodeos together. “He was quite a guy and a good clown and bullfighter and was good to work with.” BLOWING UP The brothers raised the bar in rodeo comedy with some of the most
ProRodeo Sports News 4/5/2019
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