National Cowboy Museum to host unique behind-the-scenes photography exhibition

Display showcases candid, intimate, and raw images of some of the greatest movie stars, musicians, and directors of all time.


OKLAHOMA CITY, January 25 – The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum will open the Hollywood and the American West exhibition on February 3, 2017, exposing John R. Hamilton’s private access to the most famous stars in history. The exhibition will remain on display through May 14, 2017.


Hamilton began his career as a photojournalist and achieved fame as a special photographer on films. The first movie he worked on was the 1956 cinematic classic The Searchers. The exhibition includes Hamilton’s behind-the-scenes photos of John Wayne, Natalie Wood, Ann-Margret, John Ford, Paul Newman, Bing Crosby, Jimmy Stewart, Frank Sinatra, Kevin Costner, and more.


During his long career, Hamilton worked on approximately 77 films. Hollywood and the American West features 68 photographs by the celebrity photographer and includes a selection of John Wayne memorabilia from Wayne’s personal belongings.


“This exhibition allows visitors the opportunity to experience informal and intimate photographs from some of the greatest movie stars ever known,” said Museum President and CEO Steven Karr. “We hope these candid and often familiar portraits will provide Museum goers with a more nuanced and subtle understanding of Hollywood luminaries working within the Western genre.” 


Several community programs are offered in conjunction with the exhibition, including a special screening of The Cowboys (1972) starring John Wayne, a family friendly scavenger hunt on March 17, and A Date with the Duke – a delicious barbecue buffet and cash bar on March 31. For more information about programming and upcoming exhibitions, visit or call (405) 478-2250.


This exhibition is organized by John Wayne Enterprises, the John R. Hamilton Archives, and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.


About the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum  

Nationally accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is located only six miles northeast of downtown Oklahoma City in the Adventure District at the junction of Interstates 44 and 35, the state’s exciting Adventure Road corridor. The Museum offers annual memberships beginning at just $40. For more information, visit For high-resolution images related to the National Cowboy Museum or this exhibition, visit


About John R. Hamilton

John R. Hamilton started out as a magazine photojournalist, but he achieved fame as a special photographer on films. The first movie Hamilton worked on was the cinematic classic The Searchers in 1956, and throughout his career he worked on some 77 films. Hamilton’s work covered all genres - he shot Elvis in Vegas, the Beatles in America, and Elizabeth Taylor dressed as a batgirl at a charity baseball game. The list of leading men and women Hamilton photographed reads like a “Who’s Who” of America’s most iconic stars. 


About John Wayne Enterprises

John Wayne Enterprises’ mission is to preserve and protect the name, image, and likeness of John Wayne by associating the John Wayne brand with quality and timeless products and experiences that embody the spirit of John Wayne and give back to the community. To further its mission, John Wayne Enterprises enters into selective licensing or partnership agreements in merchandising, cancer research, treatment and education as well as public facilities, institutions and agencies. For more information please visit