Polly Burson inherited her riding talents from a grandfather who was a bronc buster and a mother who was a relay racer. Growing up on an Oregon ranch, she rode calves at age eight and was riding relay races at age nine.
Polly Burson began her trick-riding career at age 11 in 1930 at movie star Hoot Gibson’s ranch in California. Within a few years she was a headliner, competing at rodeos all around the United States, as well as in Europe and the Orient. Also a top-notch relay racer, she won the last such contest ever held at the Cheyenne’s Frontier Days.
In the mid-1940s Polly Burson left rodeo to become one of Hollywood’s most fearless stunt women. Working for Republic Pictures and for Paramount Studios, she doubled for Barbara Stanwyck, Sophia Loren, Jean Simmons, Susan Hayward, Dorothy Lamour, and many other famous actresses. In 1986 her name was placed on Hollywood’s “Walk of Fame.” For her contributions to rodeo, Polly Burson received the Tad Lucas Memorial Award in 1990.