In the early 1970s, Hollywood filmmakers were leaving the studio back lots of Los Angeles with fresh screenplays in hand, actors under contract and movie crews in tow into America’s urban landscapes, rural back country and the small towns of the heartland. They were seeking a realism that could not be recreated on a soundstage, the light, sounds and physicality of the locations, and most important, the real people and places that had inspired the screenwriter’s words.
Over Labor Day weekend in September 1970, my father Jeb Rosebrook received a call from his agent Mike Wise. “Robert Redford wants a rodeo story. Do you have one?” Wise asked. Little did he know that my dad had just written a first draft of a story, “Bonner,” about an aging rodeo star whose career, family and hometown are all on the line. His agent also didn’t know that the highly personal story about my father’s adopted hometown, written after a short visit back to Prescott for the rodeo and the Fourth of July, would change the fates of so many, so quickly—especially our family.
My father, who first came to Prescott as a 9-year-old boarding student to attend the nearby Orme School in early 1945, had not been to Prescott since 1955, and the changes he witnessed driving into the historic Yavapai County seat from Cordes Junction through Mayer, Humboldt, Dewey and Prescott Valley made a strong impression on him, especially the development of the wi