CHERISHING OUR VALLEY 2013
For a century, movie makers used the ranches and rocky outcroppings of the San Fernando Valley, to film America's seemingly insatiable desire for cowboy films. Here are six of the cowboy stars of the era.
(click on images to enlarge them.)
Director John Ford's first major cowboy star was Harry Carey. A Universal Pictures' star, Carey had a small ranch in Reseda where other western film stars hung out. They called the ranch Valleywood.
Cowboy stars postcards - Gift to The Museum of the San Fernando Valley from Gary Fredburg 2013.
Before he was John Wayne the movie star and American icon, he was in 1925 Marion Morrison a high school football player for Glendale High School. Later, while playing football for the USC Trojans, Morrison was "discovered" while working as an extra for a motion picture. With his name changed to John Wayne, he lived for many years in the Valley community of Encino.
Before he got into the movie business, silent film star Hoot Gibson was a genuine cowboy. He was a great horseback rider and stunt rider. Hoot, marginally, made it into talking movies and worked in "B" pictures for Universal Studios. Gibson died in Woodland Hills.
Hop-a-Long Cassidy - the great William Boyd
For over a dozen years, children eagerly awaited the latest serial at the end of Saturday's main feature film. Since the short films usually ended with Hop-a-Long Cassidy riding to the rescue of someone in dire peril, they were dubbed "cliff-hangers." William Boyd's famous Hop-a-Long Cassidy was so popular that the new licensed products business made a fortune on Hop-a-Long lunch boxes, cap guns, decoder rings, hats and even Hallow'een costumes. Quite naturally, The Museum of the San Fernando Valley collects these kids-treasures as examples of Valley culture and the Spirit of the Times. Bill Boyd is buried in Forest Lawn cemetery in Glendale.
Bob Steele was not only a cowboy film hero, but the "heart thob" of many a teenaged girl. A graduate of Glendale High School, Steele became a star of Republic Pictures, bought a ranch in the Valley and is buried in Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills overlooking Burbank.
One of the most successful actors of his era, Warner Baxter made hundreds of movies, from the silent era to talking films. At the final years of his career, Baxter became famous to yet another generation by his portrayal of the Mexican cowboy hero, the Cisco Kid. Warner Baxter is buried in Glendale's Forest Lawn cemetery.