The Tipton Family

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Tipton tips his hat
Tipton trick ropes
Tipton trick ropes
Tipton with daughters
Tipton's daughters

By Mindy Ragan Wood

Marty Tipton stepped in front of a crowd gathered in Sayer, Oklahoma on a stormy spring day. Most of the town was out of work due to the oil crisis.

Their outlook was as bleak as the grey and ominous clouds cast by the tornado that loomed nearby. Looking for a breath of fresh air, they listened to Tipton’s humor and old west wisdom the way many did to Will Rogers.
“I know it’s rough and times are tough,” he said. “But we’re Oklahoma and we stick together. If we look at our history we can figure out our future. It’s not how fast you run in life or how high you climb, but what’s most important today is how you bounce.”

History is Tipton’s life whether he’s portraying himself as the Oklahoma Kid or Will Rogers. He makes history come alive as he performs trick roping, tells stories and makes audiences laugh all over the nation. Using a long, weighted rope Tipton spins a loop large enough to step inside and out, spinning at his feet, at his side and over his head. The largest loop he has on record is 120 feet. He can do it all while talking to his audience, something unique among other trick ropers.

Entertainment is in his blood. As a relative of Will Rogers, famous comedian and trick roper, Tipton grew up hearing the stories of 101 Ranch from his grandmother and Roger’s cousin, Delia McSpadden. His family performed with Pawnee Bill’s Wild West shows, 101 Wild West shows and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West shows to name a few. He knows about an Oklahoma largely forgotten.

Tipton learned trick roping from his father and grandfather at the 101 Ranch where he professionally trained. As a real cowboy, he started riding horses at age six and later competed in youth and adult rodeos as a bare back rider, team roper, and bull fighter.

For a time, Tipton left the cowboy life for the world of finance. He traded his cowboy gear for a suit and tie working for Toyota in Florida.

“I was good at it,” he said, “and I had a lot of money but I was miserable. I wanted to try and be different, and I was very unhappy that way. One day I packed up everything and came back.”

Despite naysayers who told him he couldn’t make it as a cowboy comedian and trick roper in a modern world, Tipton found success and stays booked for shows at least nine months out of the year.

He plays Will Rogers in the musical Will Roger’s Follies and performs as his hero on request anywhere he is in demand. He returned this summer from the Republican National Convention where he performed for a private group. While he didn’t get to meet Donald Trump, he’s had his brushes with several politicians including former President George W. Bush and First Lady, Laura Bush.

Film may be his next stage. Last year he signed a contract with Magna Talent for film performances.
“I haven’t done a lot of film,” said Tipton. “I get six calls a week for commercials and videos for corporations. I’m trying to pick the right film.”

When he isn’t performing, he is an entertainment and historic western culture consultant for several organizations, businesses and corporations including recently, Proctor and Gamble. Tipton said P&G is preparing a commercial to launch a new product line with a western theme.

He was a contributor for the book, Cherokee Strip Land Rush by Dr. Jay Price.

“I told him stories about my family coming here, about the 101 Ranch (because) my family worked on that. Other people have the lineage I do, but no one else talks about it, practices it or carries it,” said Tipton.

He also plans to write a book about his family history. “I have a lot of stories and I need to get them down.”

His passion for history and entertainment isn’t lost on contemporary issues. Tipton regularly raises money for children’s hospitals, education, and other charitable efforts nationwide. He enjoys teaching school children how to rope. In Perkins, he performed for 700 students.

“Kids spend seven and a half hours a day on media devices nationally. Teachers love this (roping) because it gets kids outside to rope and play,” he said.

That love of teaching and outdoor play isn’t lost on Tipton’s daughters. Bella, 8, and Bristle, 6, spend about an hour a day spinning a rope. Thanks to their practice, both girls also perform on stages.

“They do a lot of things,” said Tipton. “They’ve been trick roping on stage for large audiences. We did a show in Los Angeles for the Autry Museum and they roped in front of thousands of people. They were on KTLA news.”

Tipton lives in Shawnee with his two daughters and his wife, Jill, who is a florist and professional film and stage makeup artist. He will perform Nov. 4 at the Fred Jones Museum of Art. Visit the theoklahomakid.com for more information.

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