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Ramos celebrates 50 years in showbiz

Lawton’s Rudy Ramos is returning to his home state to honor and be part of those honored for preserving the “Western Heritage.”

He’s been on a wild, wonderful half-century in the movie and television industry. It’s the kind of ride which the hometown actor he couldn’t ask for more.

“I am very happy and grateful for the things happening in my professional life,” Ramos said. “In any profession there are usually ups and downs. Most people get out of acting as they get older because they can’t work or they have had a nice career and they’re fine with that. I am still acting because I love acting and I’ve never thought about retirement.”

A payoff for his career culminates as Ramos has been invited to be a presenter at the Western Heritage Awards April 12 and 13 at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 1700 NE 63rd St, Oklahoma City. It’s another role he was born to play.

Ramos has been part of the ensemble cast of the Paramount Network’s breakout 2018 series “Yellowstone,” starring and executive produced by Kevin Costner. Now, ready for its second season, it’s gaining a large following as a modern American Western. The show earned the Western Heritage Award for Best TV Drama.

“‘Yellowstone’ has been very good for me and, of course, it was the hit of the summer in 2018 and the No. 2 rated cable show,” Ramos said.

Costner is scheduled to receive entry into the Hall of Great Western Performers for his film and television work and Michael Martin Murphy a Lifetime Achievement Award for his music.

On Saturday, Ramos was in Oklahoma City to rehearse the awards production. He said he’s not sure what award he’ll present, but he’s happy to be present.

“I am honored to have been invited to be a presenter and I am very happy ‘Yellowstone’ is getting the award for best TV drama,” he said.

Established in 1961, the Western Heritage Awards honors individuals who have made significant contributions to Western heritage through creative works in literature, music, television and film that share the great stories of the American West.

It’s a perfect fit for Ramos who began his acting career’s arc when he was cast as “Wind” on the late-1960s TV western “High Chapparal.” In the career that followed, he played a series of heavies and occasionally a hero. With “Yellowstone,” he said he’s portraying someone closer to his soul.

“I never had any dreams of what would happen for me or ‘Yellowstone,” he said. “When I read the first two scripts I could see it was the finest writing and the best role I have ever had and I have had some very great roles in my 50-year career. When I got on set I was blown away by the people I was working with starting with Kevin Costner.”

Ramos said everyone was perfect for the roles, from acting to production. He credited series creator Taylor Sheridan with making those choices, including Ramos’ selection for the role of Felix Long. He said the international crew was composed of some of the best in their professions.

He’s still impressed by the “big time production” values that make each episode feel like it’s a movie. Ramos said it’s something special.

“Yellowstone” director of photography Ben Richardson was nominated by the Cinematographer Society for the show’s first episode, “Daybreak,” that Ramos co-starred in. He’s called it “the role of a lifetime.”

When “Yellowstone” comes out a winner at the show, you’ll see Ramos smiling — possibly from the stage.

“If Taylor Sheridan is there, he and Kevin (Costner) will pick it up; I’m pretty sure they will drag me along,” he said.

With the second season set to air in June, Ramos said he’s going to enjoy every moment. He’s as much of a fan as a viewer of the show as he is a fan of being a part of it.

“This may be my last year with the show and it has been a wonderful experience,” he said. “I’ve been allowed to tell a story that needed to be heard.”

It’s been a great several years for Ramos. The success of his one-man performance of “Geronimo: Life on the Reservation” and his induction into the Oklahoma Movie Hall of Fame in 2018 have been highlights he said he couldn’t fathom as a teen graduating Lawton High School in 1963.

“It has been very exciting being on the International stage again, which is where I started with ‘The High Chaparral,’” Ramos said. “Made a lot of new friends and was shown great respect by all.”

The success seen now, in his 50th year in the industry is the stuff from which dreams are made. Ramos knows it and appreciates every moment.

“I love my role,” Ramos said. “I love the people I work with on both sides of the camera and I love watching the show whether I’m in it or not. As much as I love all of that, my one-man show is the finest accomplishment of my 50-year career and I wished everyone could have seen it.”

Ramos said he’s always hoping for another opportunity to bring “Geronimo” back to the hometown audience in Lawton.

The recent death of long-time friend and co-star in the movie “Defiance,” Jan Michael Vincent, coupled with a severe accident that has his sister-in-law in critical condition, have provided perspective about life and death.

Of Vincent, Ramos said he was “a good guy and a good, good friend.”

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