Meet the "Real" Rooster Cogburn . . . As Introduced by his Great-Grandson

For Immediate Release:
September 25, 2013
Contact: Lorenzo Butler
Meet the "Real" Rooster Cogburn . . . As Introduced by his Great-Grandson

The gruff U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn, the central male character of Charles Portis' True Grit, has been immortalized on film by both John Wayne's Academy Award-winning performance in 1969 and Jeff Bridges' Oscar-nominated turn a generation later.

But what if the fictional one-eyed, overweight, larger-than-life lawman was inspired by a flesh-and-blood individual?  Author Brett Cogburn discusses his great-grandfather in a discussion of his book, Rooster: The Life and Times of the Real Rooster Cogburn, the Man Who Inspired True Grit, on Sunday, October 6, 2013, at 2 p.m. at the Central Library, 14 W 10th St.

Born in Arkansas in the wake of the Civil War, John Franklin "Rooster" Cogburn stood six foot three inches tall and was a dead shot. He was never a lawman and had two good eyes, yet several elements of his wayward life are strikingly similar to the "Rooster" in Portis' novel.

Cogburn's biographer and direct descendant illuminates these similarities, as well as those attributed to  several other colorful personalities of Arkansas and Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). They provided Portis with the flavor and "grit" of his fascinating character study.

Brett Cogburn, an emerging Western author, has written two novels, Panhandle and The Texans. In addition to his biography of the "real" Rooster Cogburn, he has written a collection of short stories titled The Devil's Hoofprints: Tales of the American West.

Admission is free. Free parking is available at the Library District Parking Garage at 10th and Baltimore. RSVP at or call 816.701.3407.

This presentation is part of the Missouri Valley Sundays series, a program of the Missouri Valley Special Collections at the Central Library. The series is made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

It is also part of the Big Read, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and bring the transformative power of literature into the lives of its citizens. The project brings together partners across the country to encourage citizens to read for pleasure and enlightenment.  This year's Big Read selection is True Grit.

Kansas City Public Library Beta