Boggs Unleashed

That Other Rooster Cogburn

A veteran warhorse who slipped past the radar of most folks.

A veteran warhorse who slipped past the radar of most folks.

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With the Coen brothers’ remake of 1968’s True Grit, everybody seems to be comparing Jeff Bridges’ Rooster Cogburn to John Wayne’s Academy Award-winning portrayal.

Yet nobody seems to remember the other Rooster Cogburn, and I don’t mean the character in Charles Portis’s exceptional 1968 novel.

Let’s not overlook that gruff but charming character actor Warren Oates. He’s probably best remembered for his supporting roles in 1962’s Ride the High Country and 1969’s The Wild Bunch (or maybe, for you young whippersnappers, as Sgt. Hulka in 1981’s Stripes). Yet he played Deputy U.S. Marshal Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn too.

“Only I could play John Wayne,” Oates said, facetiously, of course.

On May 19, 1978, the made-for-TV movie True Grit: A Further Adventure premiered on ABC. Actually, it was conceived as a pilot for a TV series, teaming Cogburn again with young Mattie Ross (played by Lisa Pelikan).

“The late ’70s were comparatively lean years for Oates, and if the pilot/made-for-TV movie had been picked...

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