All Inductees

Frank Rhoades

I entered my first rodeo at 15, riding junior bulls at Saturday night rodeos. Tex Lewis saw me ride and began taking me to RCA rodeos. My first RCA rodeo was in Paris, Texas, and I continued riding bulls that summer in Arkansas until I had to return to finish school. I had won $500 and thought I was “filthy rich.”

In 1951, at the age of 17, I went to New York and rode in the rodeo in Madison Square Gardens. I rode in all the major rodeos from Canada to Cuba until I was called to the Army. The first rodeo I entered after being discharged from the Army was at Chickasha, Oklahoma, in 1959. I qualified for the finals in bareback riding in the first National Finals Rodeo held in Dallas, Texas, and continued riding bareback horses until about 1971.

I started my clowning career in Camden, Arkansas, in 1966 while continuing to ride bareback horses. I developed the infamous Chariot and chicken acts, performing with them all across the U.S. until, after 2 broken necks, I retired in 1979. I am the only cowboy who has been to the National Finals as a contestant in the bareback riding event and later returned to clown it. I have clowned the National Finals 3 times, including the time I was called to take the place of Bill Schumacher, who had been injured. My doctor told me that if I broke my neck again, I shouldn’t return to him but should go to a psychiatrist next time.

I don’t miss the bumps and bruises, but I do miss all the fine people I would get to visit with. After retiring from rodeoing in 1979, I owned and operated a convenience store for 10 years. I now own and operate the “Lonesome Dove Restaurant” on Highway 271 South in Deport, Texas, which is northeast Texas about 17 miles southeast of Paris.