Owen Harlen Mickel was nearing the end of his Hollywood career by 1970, but there was still plenty of cowboy left in him. He had been a showman since 1925, when (at age 15) he performed in the Miles City Rodeo as a trick roper.
It was there that he earned his stage name.
As Mickel rode into the arena, the announcer (who’d had a lapse of memory) proclaimed on the fly, “Here’s Montie from Montana, the Montana Kid.”
From that day forward, Mickel performed as “Montie Montana,” acting in nineteen movies, stunt riding in at least a dozen more, and serving as a technical director and trick rider and roper for Will Rogers Jr.
Atop a black and white pinto (always named Rex), Mickel put on roping and riding shows for 72 years, performing for audiences long after his days in film and television. In 1975, his hometown of Wolf Point honored him at the 54th annual Wild Horse Stampede, “the granddaddy of Montana rodeos.” Souvenier programs were sold for a buck apiece, with a photo of Mickel on the cover and the heading, “Salute to Montie Montana on his 50th Anniversary in Show Business.”