Born Edmund Richard Gibson in Tekamah, Nebraska, he learned to ride a horse while still a very young boy. His family moved to California when he was seven years old. As a teenager he worked with horses on a ranch, which led to competition on bucking broncos at area rodeos. Given the nickname "Hoot Owl" by co-
In 1910, film director Francis Boggs was looking for experienced cowboys to appear in his silent film short, Pride of the Range. Gibson and another future star of Western films, Tom Mix, were hired. Gibson made a second film for Boggs in 1911. After the director was killed by a deranged employee, Gibson was hired by director Jack Conway to appear in his 1912 Western, His Only Son.
Acting for Gibson was then a minor sideline and he continued competing in rodeos to make a living. In 1912 he won the all-
Gibson's career was temporarily interrupted with service in the United States Army during World War I. When the war ended, he returned to the rodeo business and became good friends with Art Acord, a fellow cowboy and movie actor. The two participated in summer rodeo then went back to Hollywood for the winter to do stunt work. For several years, Gibson had secondary film roles with stars such as Harry Carey. By 1921 the demand for cowboy pictures was so great that Gibson began receiving offers for leading roles. Some of these offers came from up-
Hoot Gibson apparently (but unconfirmedly) married Rose August Wenger, a rodeo performer he had met at the Pendleton Round-
Following their separation/divorce, Hoot met a young woman named Helen Johnson, whom he did marry in either 1920 or 1922 and with whom he had one child, Lois Charlotte Gibson. They divorced in 1930. The fact that Hoot Gibson was married to two consecutive women who used the name Helen Gibson in some fashion has led to a good deal of confusion.
From the 1920s through the 1940s, Hoot Gibson was a major film attraction, ranking second only to Tom Mix as a western film box office draw. He successfully made the transition to talkies and as a result became a highly paid performer. He appeared in his own comic books and was wildly popular until singing cowboys such as Gene Autry Roy Rogers displaced him.
In 1933, Hoot injured himself when he crashed his plane while racing cowboy star Ken Maynard in the National Air Races. Later, the two friends teamed up to make a series of low budget movies in the twilight of their careers.
Gibson's years of substantial earnings did not see him through his retirement. He had squandered much of his income high living and poor investments.
By the 1950s, Gibson faced financial ruin, aided in part by costly medical bills from serious health problems. To get by and pay his bills, he earned money as a greeter at a Las Vegas casino. For a time, he worked in a carnival and took virtually any job his dwindling name value could obtain.
For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Hoot Gibson has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1765 Vine Street. In 1979, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.