According to Nancysu Herron, Cowboy stuntman Finis Dean Smith has been in her family’s background for years. As the niece of the late Ben Johnson Jr., Herron has enjoyed a special connection to the Hollywood set.
“Dean Smith worked with Uncle Ben, Bob Herron, doubled for Strother Martin in ‘McClintock’ and many others,” she said. “He was in ‘The Alamo’ with John Wayne and performed a stunt that caught John Ford’s attention. Ford more or less told him anytime he wanted, he could work in a John Ford movie.
“My joke is when Dean won the gold medal during the 1952 Summer Olympics; I was in a hospital bed in Canada with three broken ribs after being run over by a horse.”
Herron invited Smith to be her guest for last weekend’s Ben Johnson Steer Roping. Smith came and promoted his new book “Cowboy Stuntman — from Olympic Gold to the Silver Screen.” The book is a fascinating story that chronicles his Olympic win to becoming a movie stuntman.
Herron said, “Dean Smith is a good great man with an awesome family. He has a great attitude and is an excellent role model. You couldn’t ask for a nicer person. Dean’s got Texas roots but he likes to say the only difference between a Texan and an Okie is which side of the Red River you were born on. One of his best friends is James Garner who wrote the foreword in his book.
Garner also introduced Smith to the movie industry. It didn’t take long before his stunts and ability to double for the likes of Dale Robertson and Robert Redford caught Hollywood’s attention.
For over two decades, Smith has performed and participated in celebrity rodeos for charity, including the Ben Johnson’s children’s charities in Arizona, Texas and Oklahoma.