De Yong’s art expertise and skills horseback led him to a meeting with movie director Cecil B. DeMille. DeMille hired De Yong as a scenario and costume consultant on many classic Westerns, including The Plainsman, Union Pacific, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Red River and Shane. On George Stevens’ 1953 film, Shane, De Yong worked directly with famed costume designer Edith Head and helped create one of the most recognized and mythic Westerns ever produced—this all due in large part to Charlie Russell’s influence to “make it right.”
De Yong’s life in Hollywood continued through 1967, but his involvement with horses was constant. Through the late 1940s and early 1950s he wrote for The Western Horseman about all things horse from “bronc stompin’ ” to “roun’ pen use” and the ways of starting horses. His mission of keeping folks on track when it came to the proper ways of the West and horse handling continued until his death in 1975. To the end, he would often defer to memories of Russell: “I had no particular idea of ever becoming an artist. In fact, handling young hosses and ‘follerin after cattle’ were my main interests in life…. Always better mounted as he was, I’d often found it hard to stay in sight of his dust, in art and in life.”
You can read about Joe De Yong’s life in Bill Reynolds’ new book on the artist, available in May at alamarmedia.com.