Dothan native Johnny Mack Brown gained fame in two very different arenas: college football and Hollywood Westerns. A gifted athlete, he first achieved notoriety as an All-American running back for the University of Alabama for his efforts in a stunning upset of the heavily favored University of Washington Huskies in the 1926 Rose Bowl, earning him the nickname “The Dothan Antelope.” The subsequent media attention brought the notice of Hollywood and Brown went on to a successful career as an actor in film and television. His appearance in the title role of Billy the Kid earned him long-term contracts with a number of studios. He accepted an invitation to return home to Dothan for the 1950 National Peanut Festival, and in 1957 he was inducted into the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame. He was inducted as a charter member of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. Each May, Dothan hosts the Johnny Mack Brown Western Festival, a celebration of Brown’s films and the Western genre.

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Encyclopedia of Alabama

Photos courtesy of: University of Alabama, Alabama Department of Archives and History,