SPRINGFIELD, Mo. ― In only two years of traveling up and down the highways with fellow bullfighters Rick Young and the late H.R. Williams, Jack Verbois can recall many meaningful memories and more lasting friendships than 32 years of working in Hollywood as a stuntman.
Verbois, who professionally fought bulls in 1964 and '65, said he "accidently fell into the movie business." He was asked to travel home to Baton Rouge, La., to fight a Mexican fighting bull for a movie that was being filmed in his hometown and it launched a lifelong career that included movies like "The Deer Hunter" and "Predator," along with hit television shows "The Rockford Files" and "The A Team."
In addition to traveling to Thailand for the filming of "The Deer Hunter," Verbois said his most intense film was "Predator."
They used the same crew and camera operators that had been working together for a couple years on "The A Team." He said they had practically burned the entire place up after filming one explosive scene after another for two weeks in the jungle.
Two hundred movies and 1,500 television shows later, he retired and returned home to Louisiana because "I'm a country boy" more apt to wearing camouflage and to go hunting and fishing than he is spending time in the Southern California sun, where he resided since the late Sixties.
Looking back on a life well-lived, Verbois said there were times he was kind of sorry he didn't stick with bullfighting, but he knew all along he was better off financially, at the time, staying in the movie industry.
When he dropped his PRCA card, he gave up following rodeo for years and didn't reconnect with the sport until the formation of the PBR 20 years ago.
"Then I became a fan," he recalled.
Little by little he became more involved.
First he reconnected with old friend Mike Greer, who works as a judge with the PBR and the ABBI. Then he traveled to the Mike White Invitational, a Touring Pro Division event, with Young when they honored Dean Williams. That led to more talks with White and PBR co-founder Cody Lambert, who introduced Verbois and his second wife, Dot, to Ross Coleman.
Coleman, Williams and Russ Gant helped Verbois get involved in the second season of the Back Seat Buckers program.
"I didn't really know the difference between a derby and a futurity," Verbois said, "and I thought I'd get my feet wet with the Back Seat Buckers and learn about it and meet some of the people."
This weekend he'll be in Springfield, Mo., for the third Back Seat Buckers event that takes place Saturday. This will be the final regular-season event before the 2-year old bulls, including Verbois' bull Jumpin' Jack Flash, head to Las Vegas for the World Finals.
"These 2-year-old bulls ― even though they're bred to buck ― to get to the quality of a PBR bull is, of course, tough and you have to pay a little money to get a proven bull," Verbois added. "A 2-year-old bull, to me, is like a teenager the first time they drink. You don't know what the (heck) they're going to do."
Jack, 71, and Dot, who have been married for the past 10 years, are looking forward to driving their RV to World Finals in October where they've already reserved their camping space in Las Vegas.
Neither of them had planned to remarry, but Jack knew Dot's family and soon after they were introduced the relationship quickly and easily developed from there.
It mirrors their relationship with the ABBI.
When not traveling to PBR and ABBI events, the couple now lives in Tylertown, Miss., where they own 66 acres of land.
"It's a great place for a retired guy to be irresponsible and waste time," said Jack, who added, "We're really looking forward to going to events and using that motorhome."
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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