All Inductees

Duane Stephens

Empty Saddles

Duane Stephens, born on November 26, 1934, in Nacogdoches, Texas, embarked on his rodeo career in 1952, captivating audiences across the United States for 15 years. He worked with renowned stock contractors like Laurence Winfree, Neal Gay, and Jim Shoulders, showcasing his bullfighting skills and unique horse acts with Smokey, Skeeter, Applejack, and Sal Apatica. Known for “dancing with bulls” and engaging horse skits, Duane’s performances were a staple in rodeos from Texas to Wisconsin and Florida to Oregon.

Smokey, celebrated for performing 37 tricks, including portraying a staggering drunk, was featured on the cover of the Kansas Horse Training Institute publication. Duane’s rodeo earnings supported his and his wife Sandra’s education, allowing them to attend Stephen F. Austin State University and Duane to earn a Juris Doctor degree from South Texas College of Law.

Duane and Sandra, celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary, have four children and eight grandchildren. Post-rodeo, the Stephens family managed the Vizcaya Cattle and Horse Ranch in East Texas, where Duane introduced team penning, securing numerous championships until 1990.

Now a respected lawyer in Tyler, Texas, Duane is recognized as a living legend in his profession, attributing his success to divine guidance.