Which member of the Emerson College community has gained the attention and admiration of entertainer Jay Leno, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, and political humorist Jimmy Tingle? None other than part-time faculty member Rex Trailer, who might be named the official cowboy of Massachusetts.
State Senator and Lincoln Democrat Susan Fargo recently proposed the Massachusetts Cowboy Bill, which intends to honor Trailer by proclaiming him the official cowboy of the Commonwealth. Though the bill is in the early stages of the passage process, it has already been creating a stir throughout the state.
Rex Trailer is a Visual and Media Arts instructor who is most noted for hosting the WBZ-TV children’s program Boomtown from 1956 to 1974. The program showcased the cowboy tricks Trailer learned while growing up in Texas as well as cartoons and educational segments. Trailer spent his youth as a rodeo performer in Texas, and also hosted the New York television show Oky Doky Ranch prior to coming to Boston. He has continued to appear at local events, often with his trusty steed Goldrush, and is often cited as a childhood hero of many New Englanders—including both Leno and Mayor Menino.
However, this is not all Senator Fargo wishes to honor him for. While the show was on the air—and for years after it ended—Trailer was an important advocate for disabled children. He was known for frequently making accommodations for disabled children to watch Boomtown live, as part of an audience full of children and parents decked out in Western garb. Most notably, he featured a segment on his show in 1959 in which he and his crew took a parade of 18 horse-drawn wagons around Massachusetts and made stops in multiple towns to raise disability awareness. Since the show’s conclusion, Trailer has maintained a television studio in Waltham, Massachusetts, in addition to teaching part-time at Emerson.