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Nancy Kelley Sheppard



Year Inducted: 1996

Nancy Kelley Sheppard

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Rodeo Trick Rider
Rodeo Trick Roper

Nancy Kelley was born into a family of cowboys and rodeo hands in 1929. Traveling on the circuit with her father, Cleve Kelley, at age four the little girl learned her first rope trick. Five years later she debuted with Harry Rowell’s rodeo. At 11 she performed at Pendleton, and at 17 she starred at Madison Square Garden.

In the 1940s and 1950s, wearing outfits that she designed and sewed, Nancy Kelley headlined at all the major venues. She changed the look of rodeo by convincing the H. D. Lee Company to make denim pants in a variety of colors. Once offered a Hollywood screen test, the beautiful and talented lady turned it down, preferring to stay in rodeo with her husband, Lynn Sheppard.

Nancy Kelley Sheppard retired in 1961, but she occasionally performed. In 1991, roping in Milan, Italy, at a Giorgio Armani fashion show, she was congratulated by an admirer who said, “I just want to shake your hand. You make me proud to be an American.” Nancy Kelley Sheppard resides in Globe, Arizona.

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