Linn’s a Hollywood star, but an Oklahoman at heart

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Rex Linn is backstage at a sold-out “Nashville” show in San Francisco. He's shown here in Chris Cormack. Rex plays his father on TV’s “Nashville.”
Every year, Rex Linn cooks steaks for a fundraiser for widows and children of Los Angeles firefighters who have died doing their job.
Linn in Rush Hour with Jackie Chan
Rex Linn has always been active in charitable causes. Here he is roping a calf at the Lazy E Arena for the Reba McEntire/Ben Johnson Pro Celebrity Rodeo in the 1990s.
Texas fan
Rex Linn with Viggo Mortensen during filming “Appaloosa.”
Rex Linn carries his French Bulldog “Riddler” to this next group judging at the Palm Springs Dog Show. He's carrying Riddler to keep him out of the water and mud at the show site. His dog won “Best of Breed” at the show.
Linn with Ron Wood of Rolling Stones. showing off their badges
Rex Linn was emcee for the 19th annual Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Run for the Roses Gala. He's shown here with 5-year-old Josie Fontenot, who has Type 1 Diabetes.
Linn, Kevin Costner
Rex Linn cover shot
Rex Linn is a spokesman for Joey Boots. He's shown here with shoe founder Joey Jones, a double amputee. Boot sales benefit wounded veterans.

By Sandi Davis

You know the face.

You’ve seen him in movies like “Cliffhanger,” “Tin Cup,” “The Postman,” “Rush Hour” and more recently in “Django Unchained,” “Zombeavers” and “A Million Ways to Die in the West.”

Still no clue?

How about TV series “JAG,” “CSI: Miami,” “Nashville,” and “Better Call Saul”?

You’ll be seeing him in Season Three of AMC’s hit show “Better Call Saul” in November.

Rex Linn has been in 50 movies and 45 TV shows in his 25-year career. He keeps himself busy and has friends everywhere.

His smile lights up his face and gives a hint of just how big the heart is in his 6-foot, 3-inch frame. Linn spends a lot of his off screen time helping others.

He recently was the emcee of the 19th annual Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Run for the Roses Gala.
One young lady, 5-year-old Josie Fontenot, has a crush on Linn.

After posing for a picture with him, Josie asked if she could kiss his cheek.

How could he resist?

Later, Josie asked her mother, Melissa Fontenot, if the handsome man was married. It seems she is interested.
For the record, he is single. He lives with a “dog in a cat suit” Choctaw, a kitten he rescued from a ditch in Choctaw, Oklahoma.

His other family member is on the road maybe as much as his owner.

Linn owns an award-winning French bulldog named Riddler.

He’s had a long love-affair with dogs. In 1981, while he still lived in Oklahoma City and was a banker, he saw a picture of a Mastiff. On Sept. 1, he got his own, a big, beautiful girl named Emmy Lou, after singer Emmy Lou Harris.

“She was brindle,” Linn recalled in a telephone interview from Los Angeles. “I just jumped right into dog shows.

I showed Emmy Lou and she became a champion. Dog shows can be political, so after a while, I got a handler.”

A few years later, when he decided to give up banking and move to California to pursue an acting career, he had to leave his Labrador retriever named Mud in Oklahoma City.

Linn was, and still is, a champion duck caller. Mud retrieved the ducks.

“I had to leave a lot of things behind,” he said.

When he got settled in Los Angeles, he could begin thinking about those “square-headed bastards,” – dogs like his Emmy Lou. He knew a dog that big wouldn’t do well with his LA lifestyle so he looked for a smaller dog with that same square head.

He discovered French Bulldogs.

His first dog was a brindle he named Batman, perhaps because their ears stick up a lot like the superhero’s cowl.

Linn found out the original TV Batman, Adam West, was getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

He took his dog and went to watch.

A couple had the original Batmobile on display as part of the festivities. Linn walked up, the couple discovered the dog was named Batman, and they let him inside the ropes. They offered to let the actor sit in the car, but he said he just couldn’t do it, but he did touch the steering wheel.

Later, when Batman was on the ground, he “baptized” a “bat wheel.”

When Batman died, Linn got another French bulldog, a black one fittingly named Riddler.

Like all his dogs, they are shown at dog shows. Riddler’s handler is Beep Lee.

Linn got to see his dog win Best of Breed at the Palm Springs Dog Show. His favorite memory?

“It had rained and there were mud puddles everywhere. At one point, I have Riddler under one arm and a chair under the other. Ridder had to be spotless for the show ring,” he said.

Dogs aren’t his only passion. He’s also a big fan of the University of Texas Longhorns.

He gets sideline passes to games, he wears burnt orange with pride. He has watch parties at his house when the Longhorns play.

He didn’t graduate from there, his degree is from Oklahoma State University. This can be explained easily. Linn was born in Texas in 1956 and his family moved to Oklahoma City in 1969.

Between movies and parts in TV series, Linn is active with charities both in Oklahoma and California.

Once a year he cooks 100 pounds of beef for a charity benefiting widows and children of Los Angeles firefighters who died in the line of duty.

It’s not just show up and cook, either. A day before the event he marinates and smokes the meat. On event day, he cooks it on a huge smoker courtesy of the Blue Dog Tavern.

“I want to give back,” Linn explained. “My dad ingrained in us to help always. He co-founded the Children’s Medical Research Foundation in 1984.”

Linn has given back for decades. He was always at the Reba McEntire/Ben Johnson Pro Celebrity Rodeo held at the Lazy E Arena on a horse, roping steers. This extensive experience on horseback has paid off in all the western movies he’s done.

His good nature means he has friends from coast to coast from all layers of society.

When he worked as Sgt. Frank Tripp on “CSI: Miami” he volunteered to do set tours.

“No one else really wanted to, so I was fine with it,” Linn said.

Once day, he got a call about doing a VIP tour. He asked what time and the publicist said 2 p.m. and told him to just stay there if the person didn’t arrive on time. When he asked who it was, the publicist told him there was a little band playing in town that night and one member was a big fan of his.

The band was The Rolling Stones.

A black SUV pulled up. Ron Wood jumped out and yelled “Frank Tripp!” He got closer to Linn and said, “You’re taller than I thought.”

Wood was a super fan. He knew dialogue, he wanted to wear the gun Linn was wearing as part of the character he played.

“I let him wear it around the set,” Linn said. “He wanted to take it to wear on stage that night, but that just could not happen.”

When the set visit was over, Wood invited him to the show, VIP style, as a thank you.

“We only shoot a few nights in a season and that night was one of those nights,” Linn recalled. “I had to say no.”

It’s easy to see why he has friends everywhere he goes. His innate kindness is offset by a slightly naughty gleam in his eyes.

Linn is in and out of Oklahoma City often. Every time he comes home he gets in his car and takes Interstate 44 north from the airport and exits on Britton Road.

What he does next is on film.

He was being interviewed by “Entertainment Tonight!” and decided to have a little fun during the interview. The woman speaking to him asked him what he missed most about Oklahoma City.

“I did this with a straight face. I had fake tears in my eyes when I told her I get a ‘Theta with cheese and onion rings.’ She was just stunned.”

She may not have known what he was talking about, but most metro area folks do.

He pulls into to Johnnie’s Charcoal Broiler and orders one of two menu items – that Theta with cheese and onion rings or a Caesar with cheese and onion rings – for the best reason.

“They have the best burgers in the world.”

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