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Roy Clark collection opening at Claremore museum showcases musician's unique life

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Posted at 1:25 PM, Aug 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-03 12:32:22-04

TULSA, Okla. — The Roy Clark Exhibit at the JM Davis Arms and Historical Museum in Claremore is set to open on Thursday.

It's a celebration of Roy Clark -- a country music icon, philanthropist, and most importantly, a Tulsan.

"Roy Clark adopted Tulsa as his hometown back in 1974," says Wayne McCombs, Executive Director of the JM Davis Arms and Historical Museum.

McCombs says couldn't be more excited about the new Roy Clark display. What started as an effort to borrow some of Clark's hunting rifles became something much bigger.

"So now we have close to 80 artifacts from the Roy Clark collection," McCombs says.

"It's a fabulous, fabulous collection."

Photos: Roy Clark collection opening at Tusla museum

Thanks to Clark's long-time manager Jim Halsey and his widow Barbara, the collection includes all kinds of things from his 50-year entertainment career.

McCombs says the city's location, being halfway between Las Vegas and Nashville, is what brought Clark to Green Country.

"It was for travel purposes and then he fell in love with Tulsa."

That love affair lasted the rest of Clark's life with the entertainer doing all kinds of good things for our city.

"In fact, he had a telethon one night at the Channel 2 studios in 1979 to raise money to help build at that time, Drillers stadium and save baseball in Tulsa," McCombs says.

Clark also hosted charity golf tournaments to pay medical bills for children and brought some big-time names to town.

"Bob Hope, Glen Campbell, President Gerald Ford, and Mickey Mantle," McCombs says.

"These are just the people that he brought in every year."

McCombs also says Clark might have even saved the planet when we became the first country music singer to travel to Russia.

"His trip to Russia in 1976 they say was one of the cornerstones of beginning the peace talks with Russia in a really, really tense time in history."

If you think Clark was just an entertainer, with a 20-year run on "Hee Haw" and guest-hosting "The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson," think again.

"I didn't know he was a pilot, he was a race car driver, and he appeared on Broadway," McCombs says.

Starting Aug. 5, you can check out the Roy Clark Exhibit and learn more about the legend who is "Positively Oklahoma."

"This is the largest collection of Roy Clark items with photos, awards, banjos, suits, and Hee Haw overalls," McCombs said. "This is the largest."

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