Scope and contents
Title: Jack Case Collection
Identifier/Call Number: MSA.32
Autry National Center, Autry Library
Language of Material:
2.5 Linear feet
Date (bulk): Bulk, 1922-1939
Date (inclusive): 1906-1992
Jack Case was an American rodeo trick rider and Hollywood stuntman popular in the 1930s. This collection includes correspondence
and records regarding Case’s personal and business life, photographs, and promotional materials for rodeo shows, including
his performing horse Rex.
Collection is open for research. Appointments to view materials are required. To make an appointment please visit http://theautry.org/research/research-rules-and-application
or contact library staff at firstname.lastname@example.org. An item-level inventory is available from library staff.
Copyright has not been assigned to the Autry National Center. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts
must be submitted in writing to the Autry Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Autry National Center
as the custodian of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must
also be obtained by the reader.
Willard Luna Case was born on September 3, 1902 in Edneyville, North Carolina to Joseph Fielding Case and Mary Jane Lyda Case,
who also had two daughters in 1905 and 1908. Willard left home at the age of 12, and was gone for years. Case returned to
visit his home as a young man, sharing stories of performing with traveling rodeo shows. Having always disliked the name Luna,
Willard had started going by the name Jack. For the rest of his life, he used the name Jack or J. W. Case, but some family
members always referred to him as Willard.
Jack Case married Edith Corinne Pittenger in 1921, with whom he bore two children, Katherine and Kenneth, in Boise, Idaho.
Case went back out on the road around 1922 and eventually divorced. As an adult, Case's son Kenneth joined the Marines and
was involved in the capture of a German spy in Oahu on December 7, 1941.
Jack Case was named World’s Champion All-Around Cowboy of 1924, World’s Champion Bronco Rider in 1927, and broke the world
record for steer wrestling in 1929. In addition to rodeo fame, Case became a popular stunt double in the film industry for
actors such as Tom Mix, Ken Maynard, Tom Tyler, and Rod LaRoque. Case bought and trained an Arabian horse he named Rex, who
also performed in movies. [Case’s Rex is not to be confused with “Rex the Wonder Horse” who was also a star of Hollywood Westerns
at the same time.]
Jack Case traveled all over the United States during and after the Great Depression, producing and performing in rodeo shows.
He managed his own rodeo shows under the company name Jack Case Rodeo Attractions and a later outfit as the Bar-20 Ranch Rodeo,
whose appearances were sponsored by such organizations as the Family Welfare Agency, American Legion posts, and regional Elk
Lodges. Case was the assistant arena director of the Pendleton Round-Up in 1923 and went on to direct and perform in Buck
Taylor’s Wild West Show at the Million Dollar Pier in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Case also performed with his friend Zack
Miller’s 101 Ranch Wild West Show, which toured all over America, and Case acted as manager of the 101 Ranch shows during
their European tours in 1924 and 1926.
While directing rodeo shows, Case employed many other trick riders and entertainers. One such rider, known as Betty Case was
a trick rider and was also the assistant manager of their company Jack Case Rodeo Attractions. There is no documentation that
Betty and Jack were legally married, though publications often referred to Betty as Jack’s wife. Jack was later associated
with another trick rider, Doris, who was also referred to as Jack’s wife, though no legal certificate has been produced. In
1939, Case legally married Helen Beck, a musician performing with The Bar-20 Ranch band, and the couple bore daughter Jacquelyn
(Jackie). Jack and Helen continued to perform together, and Jackie became a part of the traveling circuit, spending much time
The Bar-20 Ranch show shut down in 1942 or 1943, and the Cases moved around Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, and Idaho.
Both Jack and Helen learned how to wire houses for electricity through the Rural Electric Administration, a product of Theodore
Roosevelt’s administration. The Cases did electrical work and farming to support their family, never staying anywhere longer
than a few months. In 1947, the Cases became acquainted with evangelist Brother Mac and his wife Flossie McAlmond. The McAlmonds
helped the Cases relocate to California, and in 1949, the Cases, now with another daughter Carol, settled down in Los Angeles
for four years, the longest stay in any one city for the family so far. Jack Case got a job working construction in Guam,
and the rest of the family stayed in Los Angeles. Upon his return, Jack got work training horses on his own property, and
taught trick riding skills to his daughter Jackie.
In 1952, the Cases had a son, Gordon, and a year later, the whole family moved to Washington, again staying with the McAlmonds
until they could get their own place. Rex had begun to age, and Jack Case found a farm for him to live out his retirement
in Washington. In 1954, the family moved to Idaho again.
Jack and Helen Case divorced in May of 1956, and in November 1956, Jack married Jacqueline Alice Price in Alhambra, California.
They had two children, Wanda and Jack. This marriage dissolved in 1961. No further marriages or children of Jack Case have
Jack Case’s exact death information is not documented, but most likely died sometime in the last quarter of the twentieth
century. The last time his daughter Jackie had contact with him was a personal visit in Federal Way, Washington in 1962, and
a letter Jackie received from Case postmarked from Seattle, Washington in 1967.
The Autry National Center houses a large collection of Jack Case performance memorabilia donated by Petra and Greg Martin
in 1991. The memorabilia includes costumes, horse tack, and a Colt single action army model revolver which Buck Taylor gave
to Jack Case as payment for his performance with Taylor’s Wild West Show.
91.210, donation from Petra and Greg Martin, 1991 November 18. IT96.245, purchase by the Autry Museum of Western Heritage,
1996 June 16.
Jack Case Collection, 1906-1992, Autry National Center; [item number].
Scope and contents
This collection consists of personal papers, photographs, memorabilia, and business files of Jack Case. The collection is
divided into two series which relate to the acquisition history of the material to the Autry.
Series 91.210 consist of papers that document Jack Case’s life as a performer in traveling rodeo shows, primarily between
1926-1939. This series also includes a significant amount of correspondence and invoices between Jack Case and Buck Taylor,
regarding both personal and rodeo-related subjects.
Series IT.96.245 is mostly comprised of correspondence regarding Jack Case and his rodeos, often featuring his horse Rex.
Other materials in the collection are bumper stickers, business cards, a catalog, legal documents, newspaper clippings, notebooks,
photographs, promotional materials, receipts, stationery, and tickets to rodeos. The majority of the items are dated 1922-1935.
Initial inventory, physical processing, and cataloging by Autry National Center staff. Additional processing and finding aid
completed by Holly Rose Larson, NHPRC Project Archivist 2012 June 22, made possible through grant funding from the National
Historical Publications and Records Commission.
- 91.210 Jack Case Rodeo files, 1906-1939
- IT96.245 Jack Case papers, 1922-1992
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Bar 20 Ranch Rodeo.
Jack Case Rodeo Show.
Miller, Zack, b. 1878
Bronc riding -- United States.
Receipts (financial records).
Rodeo performers -- United States.
Steer wrestling -- United States.
Stunt performers -- United States.
Trick riding -- United States.
Trick roping -- United States.
Wild west shows.
Women rodeo performers -- United States -- History.