Caught Our Eyes: One Tall Cowboy

A pair of pictures from the Harris & Ewing Collection caught the eye of Prints & Photographs Division reference technician, Jonathan Eaker.  He shared them with the comment, “Really tall cowboy!”

I looked at the first picture. On the basis of the length of the chaps, alone, not to mention the interested stares of the people visible through the window, I figured that Ralph E. Madsen must, indeed, have been tall.

"Madsen, Ralph E. The Tall Cowboy. At White House."

“Madsen, Ralph E. The Tall Cowboy. At White House.” Photo by Harris & Ewing, 1919. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hec.12701

But nothing compares to the composition of the second picture for providing a sense of scale!

Madsen, Ralph E. The Tall Cowboy. At Capitol, Shaking hands with Senator Morris Sheppard.

“Madsen, Ralph E. The Tall Cowboy. At Capitol, Shaking hands with Senator Morris Sheppard.” Photo by Harris & Ewing, 1919. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hec.12702

Learn More:

  • The next logical question, of course, is how tall, relatively speaking, was Morris Sheppard, the senator with whom Mr. Madsen shook hands? Sheppard appears second from the right in another Harris & Ewing Collection photo, taken nearly two decades later.  He didn’t tower over the colleagues with whom he was pictured, but he certainly wouldn’t have strained to look most of them straight in the eye!
  • Explore the Harris & Ewing Collection for more sights that catch the eye from its documentation of politics, people, and places, particularly in the Washington, D.C., area between 1905 and 1945.

3 Comments

  1. sweet potatoe tiger fourteen
    December 6, 2012 at 10:53 am

    hipophisis.

  2. Tom Shieber
    December 6, 2012 at 11:59 am

    According to the following article in the “New York Times” of September 18, 1919, Madsen was 7 feet, 6 inches tall:

    TALL TEXAN STOPS TRAFFIC.
    Ralph Madsen, 7 Feet 6, Attracts Big Crowd in Times Square

    Ralph E. Madsen, the Texas Giant, made his first appearance in New York yesterday and succeeded in tying up traffic wherever he went. Madsen is 7′ feet 6 inches in height. He is 22 years old and a native of Ranger, Texas.
    His first Broadway appearance was made shortly afternoon in Times Square, and so great was the crowd which gathered to see him that the traffic policeman asked him either to sit down or move on. Madsen moved and the crowd followed.
    The giant is a motion picture actor, and is visiting the Eastern cities in connection with the showing of his films. He called on President Wilson a few weeks ago in Washington.

  3. Jeffrey Alan Castillo
    December 10, 2012 at 11:06 am

    this COWBOY, sure as -TYPEcast – - -, seems related to a GUY i, Jeffrey Alan Castillo, worked along-SiDe at, JEWEL Food stores, in DeKalb, illINOIS, home of N(orthern) I(llinois) U(niversity).T – r – A – n – S – m – I – s – S – i – O – n – _____CASSER——–

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