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Wild West show’s 'Nana' celebrates 94th birthday

Fordia Glanville, left, gets a hug from Ginny Carmichael of Oklahoma City, cast member of the Pawnee Bill Wild West Show. [PHOTO PROVIDED]
Fordia Glanville, left, gets a hug from Ginny Carmichael of Oklahoma City, cast member of the Pawnee Bill Wild West Show. [PHOTO PROVIDED]

Fordia Glanville of Pawnee celebrates her 94th birthday on June 30. 

She is still part of the Pawnee Bill Wild West Show, where some of the cowboys, cowgirls and gunfighters call her “Nana.”

“She shows a lot of love for everybody,” said Ginny Carmichael, “saloon gal” cast member from Oklahoma City who always looks for a hug from Glanville.  “I love her like a dear friend.”

Each June during the Wild West Show, a conference room at the Pawnee Bill Ranch Museum is turned into a break room as the heat outside climbs into the 90s.  Glanville volunteers to make sure cast members, volunteers and staff have plates of food, cool drinks and hugs during the long days. 

“I love being with all the people,” she said.  “I’ve been there so long I know a lot of the cowboys and everybody. A lot of them call me ‘Nana.’” She enjoys walking through the museum and talking to visitors.

With her gentle smile, white hair and bright red Pawnee Bill T-shirt, Glanville sets out lunch at noon, then keeps fresh food coming until after 6 p.m. when cast members head down the hill to the evening show. Mary Allensworth, mother of Jesse and Marvin Allensworth, Wild West Show cowboys, also volunteers with the food.

Glanville is the grandmother and great-grandmother to several veteran re-enactors in the show. Her granddaughter, Erin Brown, a Pawnee teacher, is married to ranch manager Ronnie Brown. Their children are Leah, 15; Quinn, 12; and Ian, 8, who have been involved in the Wild West Show since they were babies.

The ranch, with its buffalo herd, longhorns and Clydesdale horses, is operated by the Oklahoma Historical Society one mile west of the town of Pawnee on U.S. 64.

Glanville and her late husband, Donald, lived in Wilburton. In 2005, she moved to Pawnee to be near her granddaughter and great-grandchildren. She fell in love with the Pawnee Bill Ranch and Wild West Show right away.

“It’s been a part of me since I’ve been here,” she said. “I look forward to it every year.”

Glanville has been hospitalized several times in the last year and says her family wishes she would not work during the show. But “Nana” intends to keep appearing as long as she is able.

Teresa Black Bradway

Teresa Black Bradway is a cast member of Pawnee Bill’s Original Wild West Show and a member of the Oklahoma Historical Society Board of Directors. Read more ›