Larry Mahan De@th: An Oregon Native and Rodeo Legend P@ssed Away atΒ 79

After a long battle with cancer, ProRodeo Hall of Famer and Oregon Sports Hall of Famer Larry Mahan p@ssed away on Sunday. He was 79.

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During his career, which included more than 1,200 rodeos and rides on more than 6,000 bucking horses and bulls, Mahan became perhaps the biggest star in rodeo history by qualifying for the National Finals Rodeo 26 times on the professional circuit and winning six all-around world championships and two bull riding world championships.

Through his charm and many skills, he became the first major celebrity in professional rodeo, helping to introduce the sport to a wider public in the 1960s and 1970s. He had his own jet, sported garish plaid shirts, launched a brand of Western attire, and appeared often on TV and in print ads. After retiring from rodeo, he attempted a career as a country music artist and was the subject of an acclaimed documentary.

Growing up in Brooks, Oregon, Mahan spent much time with horses and managing calves. When he was eight years old, his father got him his first horse, and two years later, he began riding calves with the Salem Saddle Club at the state fairs.

When the saddle club had two-hour calf riding sessions on Tuesdays and Sundays, Mahan got a job loading chutes for 75 cents an hour. After the lessons, Mahan was given the opportunity to ride on his own, a gesture that ultimately led to his legendary athletic career.

At thirteen, he entered a kids’ competition at a rodeo in Redmond, where he won the calf riding event, taking home $6 and a belt buckle for his efforts. After making his $1,000 cap in 1963, Mahan spent the next seven years competing as an amateur. The next year, he began his career as a professional rodeo cowboy, doing bareback, saddle bronc, and bull rides. His career lasted from 1964 to 1975.

Larry Mahan Death

The first of Mahan’s five all-around titles came in 1966, his second year on the professional circuit. He earned a record sixth all-around victory in 1973 after battling back from two injury-plagued years. He also won the world title in bull riding in 1965 and 1967.

In addition to countless other trophies and lifetime honors, Mahan was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame on two separate occasions (1979 as a member of the initial class and 2010 as a Legend of Rodeo).

After his rodeoing days, Mahan tried his hand at other creative endeavors, including the music, fashion, and film industries. A documentary on Mahan, “The Great American Cowboy,” was released in 1973 and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1974.

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After that, he joined a Western country band called Larry Mahan and the Ramblin’ Rodeo Revue and performed with Waylon Jennings at Red Rocks Amphitheater. Afterward, Mahan hosted “Horse World” and “Equestrian Nation” on television and provided color commentary for rodeo broadcasts.

He also appeared in films, including “The Good Old Boys,” “Six Pack Annie,” and “Slim Pickens.” In addition, he designed a range of Western clothing, complete with hats and boots. Larry Mahan hats are still manufactured by Dorfman Milano.

Anya
Anya K.

Anya is a passionate news writer who has been covering local and national stories for Focushillsboro.com for the past five years. With a sharp eye for detail and a dedication to accuracy, Anya brings a fresh perspective to each article she writes, whether it's a breaking news story or an in-depth feature. Anya's love of journalism began at a young age, when she would devour newspapers and magazines, fascinated by the power of words to inform and inspire. She went on to study journalism in college, where she honed her skills as a writer and reporter, and discovered a talent for investigative journalism.

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