Ariz. 'Duuude' promotes state, western nostalgia

By Ken Hedler

The Daily Courier

Published: Monday, Oct. 24 2011 2:05 a.m. MDT

Bob Roloff is pictured in this undated photo in standing near an on-ramp for Interstate 17 in Black Canyon City, Ariz. On his weekends, Roloff, 68, switches gears and morphs into his role as the official and state-certified "Arizona Duuude." As the Arizona Duuude, Roloff attends festivities throughout the state as a "celebrity envoy" and the state's "#1 Fan," a postcard bearing his photo states.

Courtesy of Bob Roloff, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

PRESCOTT, Ariz. — Bob Roloff of Black Canyon City drives a Shuttle "U'' van from Prescott to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport three days a week.

On his weekends, Roloff, a lifelong bachelor at 68, switches gears and morphs into his role as the official and state-certified "Arizona Duuude." He deliberately misspells "Dude" because he said it is already trademarked and "it is so well-used."

A dude is a wanna-be cowboy, "what we used to call 'drugstore cowboy,'" said Roloff, a native of the Lake Geneva area of Wisconsin who moved to Scottsdale in 1959.

As the Arizona Duuude, Roloff attends festivities throughout the state as a "celebrity envoy" and the state's "(hash)1 Fan," a postcard bearing his photo states.

He said he participates in 12 parades a year and has shared parade processions with Gov. Jan Brewer, former Gov. Janet Napolitano (now U.S. Homeland Security secretary) and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

He said he booked four parades in November, including a Veterans Day parade Nov. 12 in unincorporated Black Canyon City.

"He does a lot of parades," said Diana Kenson, a Black Canyon City resident for seven years who is secretary of the Chamber of Commerce, serves on the fire board and is treasurer of the Black Canyon Historic Society.

"He is definitely on our radar anytime we have events," said Kenson, who has known Roloff for at least four years. "I think he is a very personable person. He is very courteous to people he is around."

Roloff wears an outfit consisting of a shirt, vest and cape — all made from the state flag —as well as blue pants, a drover hat and cowboy boots.

While in costume, Roloff said he tells visitors about historic places to visit and occasionally hands out brochures.

He said his gigs come from convention groups or other organizations that invite him to events. He said Rock Springs Cafe in Black Canyon City is his main sponsor now.

"He's a good ambassador for us at the cafe," said part-owner Augie Perry, who commutes from Prescott. "The Duuude adds a little bit to the color and personality" of the venue. "He is a little bit of a guide with some of the history."

Roloff said he came up with the Duuude character about five years ago after seeing the caricature of a dude on a postcard.

"I wanted to get back into entertainment, but at my age I could not be the young gunslinger," he said. "You could not play what you used to do."

Roloff said he started in western entertainment in the late 1960s after meeting members of the Guns for Hire re-enactment group while tending bar at Pinnacle Peak Patio Steakhouse in Scottsdale. He acted and performed stunts for Guns for Hire, which entertained at conventions, appeared in television commercials, and had parts as extras in movies that included "The Great White Hope" and "Arizona Heat."

Roloff showed a scrapbook of photos of him with Slim Pickens, Pat McMahon, Barbara Luna and other celebrities. He also met John Wayne at his ranch in Casa Grande.

He is comfortable now in his role as Arizona Duude.

"I do the Duuude because it is completely different," he said. "I like to have fun now instead of the intimidating gunman or bad guy."

Information from: The Daily Courier, http://www.dcourier.com

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