Hollywood horse trainer Corky Randall dies
‘Indiana Jones,’ ‘How the West Was Won’ among credits
By Mike Barnes
April 27, 2009, 03:02 PM ET
Buford “Corky” Randall, a horse trainer in Hollywood for a half-century, died April 20 in Newhall, Calif., after a prolonged illness with cancer. He was 80.
Randall’s career included feature films “The Alamo” (1960), “The Misfits” (1961), “How the West Was Won” (1962), “Soldier Blue” (1970), “Hot to Trot” (1988), “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989), “Buffalo Girls” (1995) and “The Mask of Zorro” (1998) and the 1950s TV shows “Spin & Marty” and “Zorro.”
However, it was the film adaptation of Walter Farley’s novel “The Black Stallion” that established Randall as a a trainer in his own right. Released in 1979, the Carroll Ballard-directed production (executive produced by Francis Ford Coppola) contained some of the most challenging horse scenes ever filmed.
Years later, Randall described the black Arabian stallion who starred in the film (the horse’s real name was Cass-ole) as his all-time favorite horse actor. “He was so smart and such a character,” Randall told journalist Elizabeth Kaye McCall. “He was almost human.”
“Corky was a fantastic horseman with generations of knowledge and wonderful stories from a lifetime of working in the strange and demanding world of horse movies,” said Tim Farley, son of the late author and president of Florida-based Black Stallion Inc. “All of us who love horses and been have carried away by the excitement and beauty we see on the screen can think of Corky. He was one of the most generous people I’ve ever met.”
A native of Gering, Neb., Randall was diagnosed with polio as a child. Rather than following the prescribed treatments of the day (metal spikes in legs), his father insisted the boy exercise. By age 10, Corky was galloping thoroughbred colts each morning before school for his father, Glenn Randall Sr., who trained Roy Rogers’ Trigger (and even housebroke the horse) and worked horses for the 1959 classic “Ben Hur.” The younger Randall then went to work at Republic Studios during high school.
For the animated feature logo Pegasus that TriStar Pictures used for its film label, Randall used the same white Arabian horse that appeared in “The Black Stallion Returns” (1983) as the Black Stallion’s love interest. Filming was done on the Randall Ranch in Newhall outside Los Angeles.
Randall was a two-time winner of the Patsy Award (once the animal trainers’ Oscar) and recipient of the Humanitarian Award in 1982 from what was then the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles.
A memorial service for Randall is set for 10 a.m. May 8 at Eternal Valley Memorial Park & Mortuary in Newhall.