Three generations of bullfighters

Legacy began at local rodeo

(Abstracted from the Messenger Index, July 31, 2013)


The bullfighter's number one job is to protect a fallen bull rider from a rampaging bull. They often throw their bodies between the bull and the bull rider.

It is rodeo time in Emmett and one retired bullfighter says the Gem County Rodeo is where he got his rodeo start. Eddie Heath was inspired by his father Harold, who at 30 years old, became a sad-faced clown with giant proportioned overalls and a large red polka dot shirt. "Curley," as he was known, thrilled audiences in Idaho, Oregon and Nevada. He entertained fans with the help of his trained mule, Minnie Pearl and his dog, Molly. A large attraction of his act was Molly, who did a series of figure-eights, play walking the dog with her master and took on a seal's characteristics by catching rings around her neck.

Another part of the act was his pet skunk, Stinker, which had a stripe down its back was billed as the "the stream-lined kitty with the fluid drive."

LaVerna, Curley's wife, was always found giving assistance to her husband during their numerous trips to rodeo shows. Curley retired at age 50.

Eddie was born and raised in Emmett. At 15, he rode bulls at a farm on the bench. At 16, he teamed up with his father as a bullfighter. They traveled the Pacific Northwest circuit, covering about 30 shows per year and hitting small towns like Lovelock, Nev. and Vale, Ore. Their specialty comedy acts, such as those featuring small mules racing full sizes horses, were popular. The crowd was surprised when the mules won. They also sat on the back of a steer playing cards and performing comedy so the crew would have time to reload the bull chutes. Eddie remembers his mother painting their faces for the rodeo.

"We used a lot of kids in the comedy acts. Their parents came with them and the kids liked it," Eddie said.

Curley and Eddie won silver belt buckles and awards for their bullfighting efforts.

When asked why he did bullfighting, he replied, "It's a rush and exciting."

Eddie has been a real estate broker in Emmett for 43 years. He and his wife Kris own the Heath Auction Company.

Eddie's son Matt is also a bullfighter who has won Bullfighter of the Year three times.

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