I had a real treat a few years ago at the Lone Pine, CA, Film Festival, being able to finally meet stuntman Rex Rossi whom I’d heard about my whole career.
Rex was born Dec. 13, 1919, somewhere in Kentucky. His Dad, Joe Rossi, was a rodeo performer with Jim Estes Wild West Show and couldn’t afford the luxury of a hospital stay as the show was about to move on. Rex was roping at rodeos by age 4, and eventually worked in the Clyde Beatty Circus and Tom Mix Wild West Show. It was Mix who encouraged Rex to give Hollywood a try, which he did, finding stuntwork in “The Mark of Zorro” (‘40).
Rex wound up doubling for western ace Bob Steele beginning in late ‘38 and continuing in this capacity for about 15 years.
Rex contributed his considerable talent to some 300 films including “Utah” (‘45) and “Bells of San Angelo” (‘47) both with Roy Rogers, “Black Beauty” (‘46), “Three Musketeers” (‘48) as well as TV’s “Rawhide” and “Bonanza”. But he kept returning to live shows, appearing across America at rodeos and wild west shows featuring Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Leo Carrillo, “Wild” Bill Elliott and Hoot Gibson. In ‘50 and ‘51 Rex performed with his act at both Madison Square Garden and Boston Garden.
Rex did stunt work into the ‘80s in such films as “Dead Pool”, “No Way Out” and Clint Eastwood’s “Pink Cadillac”. Rex’s talents are many. Besides his stunt expertise, Rex is a world class roper and trick rider, having been inducted into the Stuntmen’s Hall of Fame. His saddle, tack and trick riding trophy buckle have been on display at the Autry Museum in Griffith Park, L.A., CA.
It was an honor for me to meet Rex after all these years of admiring him and his talent.
One of Hollywood’s true unsung heroes died January 12, 2007, in Florida.