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Services today 10 a.m. for famed animal wrangler ‘Corky’ Randall

Resident of Newhall 40 years died at age 80

Posted: May 1, 2009 1:34 p.m.
Updated: May 8, 2009 9:48 a.m.

Buford "Corky" Randall helped train the Arabian horse featured in the 1979 classic "The Black Stallion."

 

Buford "Corky" Randall, a horse trainer, animal wrangler and ramrod for motion pictures and television, died April 20 at his home after a long battle with prostate cancer. A 40-year resident of Newhall, he was 80.

Randall is survived by his wife, Joan Randall; son Bruce Randall (Verla); daughter Carol Morrissey (John); sister Delores Luckman; brother Glenn Randall Jr; and two grandchildren, Joan and John ("Randy") Morrissey.

Randall was one of the film industry's best-known animal experts, with dozens of major movie credits including "The Alamo" (1960), "The Misfits" (1961), "How the West Was Won" (1962), "Soldier Blue (1970), "Silverado" (1985), "Three Amigos" (1986), "Ishtar" (1987), "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989), "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier" (1989), "Back to the Future Part III" (1990), "Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken" (1991), "Of Mice and Men" (1992), "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" (1993), "The Cowboy Way" (1994), "Wagons East" (1994), "The Mask of Zorro" (1998) and "The Young Black Stallion" (2003).

Randall is perhaps best-known for his work as a trainer of the Arabian stallion featured in the original "The Black Stallion" (1979) and sequel "The Black Stallion Returns" (1983), the latter picture filmed on the family's ranch near Newhall.

Born in Gering, Neb., Jan. 27, 1929, Randall was diagnosed with polio as a child. Instead of following doctor's orders, his father, Glenn H. Randall Sr., insisted the boy exercise to strengthen his weakened muscles.

Randall Sr., also a noted horse trainer and wrangler for films including "Ben Hur" (1959), had his 10-year-old son get that exercise by walking the thoroughbred colts each morning on the family's original ranch, then in North Hollywood.

Throughout high school, the younger Randall wrangled animals on countless B-westerns filmed at Republic Studios. He graduated from Pierce College in Woodland Hills with an associate degree in animal husbandry, served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, then continued working with animals in film and TV.

Randall's father, who trained Roy Rogers' "Trigger," Dale Evans' "Buttermilk" and Zorro's "Toronado" in Disney's 1950s series (all with son Corky helping out), was the lead wrangler on "The Black Stallion" (1979), with Corky his assistant.

On "The Black Stallion Returns" four years later, the father and son's roles were reversed. The younger Randall also trained the white Arabian horse featured in the film.

Corky Randall won the Patsy Award twice from the American Humane Society for his training methods, and also won the organization's Humanitarian Award in 1982.

"Corky was a great man who had an incredible pasion for animals," his family wrote. "He was deeply loved by his family and friends and will live on in our hearts forever."

Working with animals "was their whole life," Carol Morrissey said of her father and grandfather. "Anything from a rooster to a camel -- my father had a connection. He always put the safety of the animal first. We just don't have those old-school techniques, that family tradition, anymore."

"We were friends since we were little kids," said Jack Lilley, also a well-known character actor and Canyon Country-based livestock wrangler for the movie/TV industry. By Lilley's count, he worked with Randall on "maybe 200-300 films."

"Cork, Phil Rawlins, Jimmy Burke, Danny Charboneau and I galloped many miles up and down the L.A. River wash between Barham and Woodman" in North Hollywood as kids before the river was lined with concrete, Lilley said. "We were all in the horse world, not just in the movies. Cork was a good horseman."

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the American Humane Society or another charity in Randall's memory.

Signal Intern Bekka Gunther contributed to this story.

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