In last week’s throwback post, I shared some images and clips of Jessie in a sequin-and-glitter-encrusted outfit for the 2000 Oscars. But that wasn’t the only occasion my favorite cowgirl got dressed up for that year. Did you know that, also in 2000, Jessie was honored with the Patsy Montana Entertainer Award by the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame? According to the museum’s website, the award was named for Patsy Montana – an entertainer and “yodeling cowgirl” herself – and it recognizes those whose work in the entertainment field continues the tradition of the cowgirl. Jessie is even listed on the site as a recipient!
I did some searching for old articles, or even images from the induction ceremony, however, going back 15 years, you can imagine I didn’t find all that much. But I was able to unearth the official press release announcing the award, dated October 18, 2000, so here’s what it had to say about Jessie’s recognition:
The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame announced today that Jessie, the spunky cowgirl from Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios’ Toy Story 2, will receive the Patsy Montana Entertainer Award at the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame’s Annual Induction Luncheon. The luncheon will take place on November 10, 2000 in Fort Worth, Texas. Jessie will join Country Western singer-songwriter Emmylou Harris as the second recipient of the award, named after the legendary yodeling cowgirl and 1987 Hall of Fame honoree, Patsy Montana.
Jessie made her screen debut as the endearing toy cowgirl in the 1999 Disney/Pixar film, Toy Story 2. Once the most beloved toy of a little girl, Jessie is heartbroken when she is outgrown and forgotten by her owner. Through the course of the story she overcomes her fear of abandonment and learns to love again. The voice of Jessie is provided by Academy Award®-nominee Joan Cusack. Jessie’s heartfelt, emotional ballad “When She Loved Me” was written and composed by Randy Newman and sung by Grammy Award-winning recording artist Sarah McLachlan. Toy Story 2 was created and produced by Pixar at its Northern California studios.
Pixar has prepared a special animated acceptance speech for Jessie. “Yee-haw! I am just pleased as punch to be receiving this honor in memory of the original yodeling cowgirl, Patsy Montana,” said Jessie. John Lasseter, director of Toy Story 2, added, “We are incredibly honored that Jessie is getting this award. Jessie is a strong female character with spirit and emotion – a true role model to aspiring cowgirls everywhere.”
The Patsy Montana Entertainer Award was established to pay tribute to female western entertainers. “As the first woman to have a million selling country record with her hit ‘I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart,’ Patsy Montana was a real trailblazer in the field of western entertainment,” said Pat Riley, Executive Director of the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. “We established this award in her honor to pay tribute to a female entertainer who is keeping Patsy’s pioneering spirit and love of western music alive. This year who better than Jessie – she introduced the cowgirl to a whole new generation of moviegoers. Besides, Jessie and Patsy are both terrific yodelers!”
The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, in the midst of its silver anniversary, is the only museum in the world dedicated to honoring and documenting the lives of extraordinary women who exemplify the pioneer spirit of the American West. Now located in Fort Worth, Texas, the museum has garnered national recognition for its exhibits, research library, rare photographs, and the almost 150 honorees in its Hall of Fame. Honorees are pioneers, artists, writers, entertainers, humanitarians, businesswomen, educators, ranchers and rodeo cowgirls including: Sacajawea, principal guide for the Lewis and Clark expedition; painter Georgia O’Keeffe; sharpshooter Annie Oakley; Enid Justin, who created the multi-million dollar Nocona Boot Company; Wilma Mankiller, the first woman to serve as the Cherokee Nation’s Principal Chief; and Hollywood film icon Dale Evans, as well as Alice Van Springsteen, her stunt double. In 2002, a new 33,000 square-foot museum and hall of fame is scheduled to open in the heart of Fort Worth’s cultural district.
Toy Story 2 opened in theatres across America on November 24, 1999 and went on to become the second highest grossing animated film of all time. It made its home video and DVD debut on October 17, 2000. Jessie’s Patsy Montana Entertainer Award acceptance speech and other Jessie items will be incorporated into the museum’s REEL COWGIRLS exhibit, which will explore the rich, colorful history of cowgirls in film.
And this article appeared in the Lubbock-Avalanche Journal on November 12, 2000, under the title “Cartoon Makes Cowgirl Hall of Fame”:
The National Cowgirl Hall of Fame has inducted five new members, including an animated character.
Jessie, the yodeling cowgirl from the movie Toy Story 2, snagged the Hall of Fame’s Entertainer of the Year award.
To that, the animated character replied in a video clip, “Yee haw!”
Jessie and three others were honored Friday at the Cowgirl Hall of Fame induction luncheon at the Renaissance Worthington Hotel in Fort Worth. The event and the inductions honored the organization’s 25th anniversary. They join 149 others previously inducted.
Fortunately, a (possibly partial) video of her acceptance speech still exists, and can be found in this Pixar training video, at around the 00:49 mark:
“I’d like to say something to the youngest cowgirls out there. Be kind to critters. Carry yourself with grit and grace. Find your own trail, and follow it with faith and courage. And always saddle your own horse.”
What I really want to know is, was Buzz there too, as her date like at the Oscars? Was he sitting just off camera, wearing the same bow tie as before, and bursting with pride that his girl was being given such an honor? Okay, maybe that’s my imagination getting a little carried away, but that’s a fangirl’s job, after all!
This past January, while on a cross-country road trip, my family and I made a special detour to stop at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas, to see the exhibit there dedicated to Jessie, and also to visit the museum itself. (Besides my Disney and Toy Story obsession, I’m also a history nerd; and having lived in California for a while, I love everything that has to do with the west.) Although our visit was short, due to an event being held there that night, the staff graciously allowed us to take a peek at the children’s room at the front of the building, where Jessie’s display is located. The “Reel Cowgirls” exhibit mentioned in the press release has since been replaced, and Jessie’s acceptance speech is no longer anywhere to be seen on site, but we were able to watch the video about her that plays in a continuous loop (still dated to Toy Story 2, but fascinating nonetheless to see the Pixar filmmakers talk about the movie at that time) and take a quick look at the items in the case. I definitely plan to go back someday, when we have more time to look around at the entire museum.
Last but not least, there’s another chapter to this story of the sparkly clothes. For a while, after Jessie’s induction into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame, the museum sold a limited-edition doll, dressed in the red shirt and silver chaps she wore for her acceptance speech. It’s the same doll John Lasseter is seen holding at the 2000 Oscars. For Jessie collectors like me, this doll is the ultimate quest. Rare and extremely hard-to-find, when it does appear on Ebay it’s usually for upwards of $1,000!
As my favorite character, I think it’s wonderful that Jessie received this honor, and was recognized for being the true role model she is. Not all girls are princesses; and many – like myself – can find inspiration in Jessie’s strength and determination, and the lively spirit she maintains despite her past struggles. I think it’s great, too, that she got another chance to shine in Toy Story of Terror – to me, her animated character has far more depth and relatability than many live-action ones. So here’s to Jessie, and to the hope that we’re given even more reasons to love her in Toy Story 4. Yeehaw!
UPDATE: The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame has since shared the video that has played for years in their museum, celebrating Jessie, which includes her full acceptance speech! Enjoy!
Jessie image and video footage © Disney/Pixar. Doll image found online. National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame photo is mine.