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Placerita cowboy remembered

Memorial wreath placed over Phil Rawlins’ Western Walk of Stars plaque

Posted: June 2, 2009 8:49 p.m.
Updated: June 3, 2009 3:36 p.m.

Phil Rawlin's wife, Fran gets a hug from Councilwoman Laurene Weste at a memorial wreath ceremony for western screen stuntman Phil Rawlins on the site of his 2007 Newhall Western Walk of Stars plaque on Market Street in Newhall on Tuesday afternoon. Phil Rawlins died quietly at home in Placerita Canyon on Thursday at the age of 79.

Phil Rawlins once said, "When a person dies, his money stays here, but his integrity goes to the grave." According to friends of Rawlins, who died Thursday, he was a real cowboy who truly walked his talk.

The 40-year Placerita resident died quietly at his home at the age of 79.

Santa Clarita City Councilwoman Laurene Weste, joined by members of Rawlins' family, placed a memorial wreath over Rawlins' plaque on the Western Walk of Stars in Newhall on Tuesday.

Rawlins was a horseman, calf-roper and movie stunt man. He also worked as an assistant director, production manager and director for big- and small-screen productions.

"He was a top-notch cowboy. He was always a fair guy," said Jack Lilley, who said he and Rawlins had been close friends from age 12. Lilley is a character actor and Canyon Country-based livestock wrangler for the movie/TV industry. "Everything he did, he excelled at. He was a good stunt man, director (and) production manager."

Rawlins was also a good and loyal friend who loved practical jokes, Lilley said. He recalled memories shared with Rawlins and a group of friends who grew up in the motion picture business together.

"We maintained good friendships," said Lilley, 75, of Canyon Country. "We'd fight and wrestle around (an) old barn... We broke horses and rode from one end of (the) wash clear from San Fernando to Burbank."

Rawlins grew up in the San Fernando Valley and moved to Placerita Canyon in 1969 to what he considered "the cowboy capital of California," at the time. He was honored with a plaque on the Walk of Western Stars in Newhall in 2007.

"He was one of these living cowboys. He'd be out there roping, pulling his truck and trailer, bringing cattle and cows in and out," said Linda Tarnoff, a friend and neighbor of Rawlins. "He was one of the last living pioneers of the colorful history of Old Newhall in Santa Clarita." The Placerita Canyon Property Owners Association recognized Rawlins as a Placerita Gold honoree, Tarnoff said. The association nominated Rawlins for his Western Star in downtown Newhall.

"He rode up on his horse with his wife Fran to the site when we put the star in a few years ago. He rode all the way from the back end of Placerita, and I thought, ‘you're still a great cowboy,'" said Weste, who had known Rawlins since she was a child. "He will be remembered as this wonderful, friendly, talkative, tall, handsome, cowboy director. He just really had a zest for life."

Rawlins is survived by Fran Rawlins, his wife of 27 years; two sons, Lex Rawlins and Clay (Gaylynn) Rawlins; three granddaughters Kylie, Mackenna and Lacy; his brother David Rawlins and sister Lisa Rawlins-deLorimier.


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