Call Me Lucky
A Texan in Hollywood
Publication Date: October 2009
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"Do you think you could teach Rock Hudson to talk like you do?"
The question came from famed Hollywood director George Stevens, and an affirmative answer propelled Bob Hinkle into a fifty-year career in Hollywood as a speech coach, actor, producer, director, and friend to the stars. Along the way, Hinkle helped Rock Hudson, Dennis Hopper, Carroll Baker, and Mercedes McCambridge talk like Texans for the 1956 epic film "Giant." He also helped create the character Jett Rink with James Dean, who became a best friend, and he consoled Elizabeth Taylor personally when Dean was killed in a tragic car accident before the film was released.
A few years later, Paul Newman asked Hinkle to do for him what he'd done for James Dean. The result was Newman's powerful portrayal of a Texas no-good in the Academy Award-winning film "Hud" (1963). Hinkle could--and did--stop by the LBJ Ranch to exchange pleasantries with the president of the United States. He did likewise with Elvis Presley at Graceland. Good friends with Robert Wagner, Hinkle even taught Wagner's wife Natalie Wood how to throw a rope. He appeared in numerous television series, including "Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Dragnet, and Walker, Texas Ranger." On a handshake, he worked as country music legend Marty Robbins's manager, and he helped Evel Knievel rise to fame.
From his birth in Brownfield, Texas, to a family so poor "they could only afford a tumbleweed as a pet," Hinkle went on to gain acclaim in Hollywood. Through it all, he remained the salty, down-to-earth former rodeo cowboy from West Texas who could talk his way into--or out of--most any situation. More than forty photographs, including rare behind-the-scenes glimpses of the stars Hinkle met and befriended along the way, complement this rousing, never-dull memoir.
In 1952 after 30 months in U. S. A. F. he left behind a rodeo future calf-roping/bull-dogging career to try his hand at acting in Hollywood. As forsaking rodeo lights for studio lights, Hinkle confesses: "I didn't have that little extra something that it takes to be a world champion cowboy like my friend Larry Mahan." His acting debut came after crashing the Universal Pictures studio lot during the filming of "Bronco Busters" Bob's western appearance and demeanor caught the director's eye and landed him a role as a cowboy stuntman.
Hinkle's authentic screen presence led to many other roles over the years, including these "Hud" with Paul Newman and Clint Eastwood in "First Traveling Sales Lady." Starring Ginger Rogers in the last motion picture Howard Hughes produced. He had roles in well known TV westerns such as "Wagon Train," "Gunsmoke," "Wyatt Earp," "Wells Fargo," "Tombstone Territory," "Bonanza," "Annie Oakley," Trackdown," 'Wichita Town," "Walker Texas Ranger," and many more.
The 1955 production of the classic movie "Giant" marked a turning point for Hinkle. Bob was the movie's dialogue director and technical director, and as such helped create the role of Jett Rink for James Dean. Bob's easy-going manner and down-home drawl made him the perfect candidate to coach Rock Hudson, Carroll Baker, Dennis Hopper, Mercedes McCambridge and Dean to "talk Texan." Dean later presented his friend Hinkle with an Oscar for his contribution to the film's towering success.
On the production end, Hinkle's most notable inspiration was director George Stevens and his ability to elicit extraordinary performances from the cast of "Giant." Starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean.
In 1960 Universal Pictures released the motion picture "Old Rex" a family movie about a boy and his dog which Hinkle wrote, directed and produced. Other notable productions included "Born Hunters," a short subject which led to a contract with Paramount Studios.
Hinkle also brought his experience from "Giant" along with his own productions to the set of "Hud" in 1962. Bob did for Paul Newman what he had done for James Dean by coaching Newman, Patricia Neal and Melvin Douglas to be Texans, Neal and Douglas won Academy Awards for their roles.
Hinkle also received critical acclaim for creating and directing the pig scramble in "Hud." At various times he wore the hats of technical advisor, second-unit director and associate producer, positions which he enjoyed as much if not more than acting.
Beginning in the 1960s Hinkle's talents branched out to other facets of entertainment industry. In 1964 he signed an unknown singer named Glen Campbell to a series of country music specials with Jeannie Seely and Henson Cargill called "Hollywood Jubilee." That same year he became the Personal Manager for character actor Chill Wills.
In 1968 a young unknown stunt performer, named Robert Craig Knievel, asked Hinkle to help make him a household name on the magnitude of Elvis Presley. For the next 3 years Hinkle developed and promoted "Evel Knievel" as he became the world's best known showman-daredevil.
In 1970 Hinkle became the Personal Manager for Marty Robbins, Bob and Marty stayed a team until Robbins's death in 1982. It was actually Robbins who first dubbed Hinkle as "Texas Bob."
In 1972 Hinkle combined his film productions roots with country music background by producing and directing "Country Music," released by Universal Studios and starring Marty Robbins and Sammy Jackson. This was followed in 1973 by "Guns of a Stranger," starring Robbins and Chill Wills.
In 1982 he pulled out all the stops when he produced and directed a motion picture entitled "Atoka," in which 100,000 people got together for a picnic with Willie Nelson, Larry Gatlin, Don Williams, Freddy Fender, Hoyt Axton, David Allen Coe, Freddy Weller, Red Steagall and Marty Robbins as host.
Later as General Manager of Network One in Nashville, Hinkle produced numerous TV shows, music videos and national commercials.
In addition to Hinkle's entertainment pursuits he also managed to find time to become a licensed pilot, dabbled in Real Estate in California, and opened two restaurants in Tacoma, Washington. Both were called Texas Bob's Bar B Q. He later opened Texas Bob's Porterhouse in Moses Lake, Washington.
His most memorable achievement, however, goes back to winning a bet with a buddy in 1950. Hinkle bet $20.00 that he could get a date with the Queen of the Rodeo in Moses Lake.
After introducing himself to Sandra Larson he dedicating his bull ride to her along with a tip of his hat from the c