Training at the Finley family property in east Mesa, each of the sibs embarked on careers as rodeo stars: Luther “Chipmunk” Finley won the world championship in wild-horse racing twice; Larry was the 1947 world champion in bareback riding; Frank took All-Around Champion titles in Nevada, Detroit and more. Together they competed at national venues such as San Francisco’s Cow Palace and New York’s Madison Square Garden, giving the East Valley a name in the rodeo world.
Eventually, each man embraced a life outside rodeo. Larry pursued bit acting and appeared in dozens of movies, including The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing with Burt Reynolds and The Cowboys with John Wayne. Frank moved on to a different beast – he became a pit boss for Las Vegas casinos. Luther became an engineering professor at Arizona State University and ended up back in Dobson Ranch with his wife, Meity.
After Luther died in 1992, Meity spent years trying to share the brothers’ story, which is now spotlighted at the Tempe History Museum, where The Finley Boys: Arizona’s Royal Family of Rodeo can be seen for free during regular hours through February.
“The exhibit speaks to the ranching heritage in Arizona,” says Josh Roffler, the collection’s curator. It features photographs, artifacts, a children’s dress-up area with a toy bronco and puzzles, and even a video of Larry’s acting chops. For more information, visit tempe.gov/museum.
For the Love of Pete’s
Pete’s Fish & Chips celebrates 70 years of fried fish feasts ...
The Lincoln Legacy
North Phoenix owes two of its hospitals, a street name, a resort, and much of its community spirit to one visionary man. ...
This August, a movie recounting the controversial origins of McDonald’s hits theaters. A crucial part of that story started in Arizona. ...
Dr. Kenneth Hall operated a Sunnyslope hospital with a primate zoo until unauthorized medical surgeries used to illegally finance a nearby bowling alley led to his downfall ...
Celebrating its 75th anniversary, nun-run Xavier College Preparatory has changed as much as Phoenix itself – yet some habits remain the same. ...