Thursday, May 31, 2012

Reel Cowboys of the Santa Susanas -- Hal Taliaferro

Hal Taliaferro (1895-1980) was an American cowboy actor.  He was born in Sheridan, Wyoming, and raised on a ranch in Rosebud County, Montana, he became an expert horseman. 

After serving in World War I, he moved to California where he worked as a wrangler for Universal Pictures.  He entered films as an extra in 1915, and by the 1920s he was starring in silent Westerns under the stage name Wally Wales.  His career declined with the talkies, so in the mid-1930s, he changed to a new stage name, Hal Taliaferro.  He accepted supporting roles and even bit parts for the rest of his career. 

In the 1950s, he retired to his family's ranch in Montana, and devoted himself to landscape painting until a series of strokes debilitated him.  He died in Sheridan, Wyoming in 1980.

For me this is a nostalgic post because I remember my dad (1914-1998) telling me that Wally Wales was his favorite cowboy when he was a boy.

Hal Taliaferro's Santa Susana locations filmography:

Starring roles:

Pals of the West (1934) - Wally Wales (photo above right), Silver King the Horse and Yakima Canutt (Iverson Ranch) Imperial
The Pecos Kid (1935) - Fred Kohler Jr., Ruth Findlay, Roger Williams and Wally Wales - Commodore
The Vanishing Riders (1935) - Bill Cody, Bill Cody Jr., Ethel Jackson and Wally Wales - William Steiner
Law and Lead (1936) - Rex Bell, Wally Wales and Harley Wood - Colony

Supporting roles:

Fighting Through (1934) - Reb Russell, Rebel and Lucille Lund - Willis Kent
The Law of the Wild (1934) [serial] Rex, Rin Tin Tin Jr., Ben Turpin and Bob Custer - Mascot

Range Warfare (1934) - Reb Russell, Rebel and Lucille Lund (lobby photo above) States Rights  
Mystery Mountain (1934) [serial] Ken Maynard, Tarzan and Verna Hillie (Iverson Ranch) Mascot
The Phantom Empire (1935) [serial] Gene Autry, Frankie Darro and Betsy King Ross (Iverson Ranch) Mascot
The Miracle Rider (1935) [serial] Tom Mix, Charles Middleton and Joan Gale (Iverson Ranch) Mascot
Heir to Trouble (1935) - Ken Maynard, Joan Perry and Harry Woods - Columbia
Western Courage (1935) - Ken Maynard, Geneva Mitchell and Charles K. French - Columbia
Lucky Terror (1936) - Hoot Gibson, Lona Andre and Charles Hill (Iverson Ranch) Diversion Pictures
Law of the Ranger (1937) - Robert Allen, Elaine Shepard and John Merton (Brandeis Ranch)(Iverson Ranch) Columbia
Heart of the Rockies (1937) - Robert Livingston, Ray Corrigan and Max Terhune - Republic

Painted Stallion, The (1937) - Ray Corrigan, Hoot Gibson and LeRoy Mason - Republic
The Trigger Trio (1937) - Ray Corrigan, Max Terhune and Ralph Byrd - Republic
Wells Fargo (1937) - Joel McCrea, Bob Burns and Frances Dee (Iverson Ranch) Paramount

The Lone Ranger (1938) [serial] Lee Powell, Chief Thundercloud and Lynne Roberts (Iverson Ranch)(photo courtesy of Bruce Hickey) Republic
Stagecoach Days (1938) - Jack Luden, Eleanor Stewart and Harry Woods - Columbia
The Thundering West (1939) - Charles Starrett, Iris Meredith and Sons of the Pioneers - Columbia
Frontiers of '49 (1939) - Bill Elliott, Luana AlcaƱiz and Charles King - Columbia
Man of Conquest (1939) - Richard Dix, Gail Patrick and Edward Ellis (Iverson Ranch) Republic
Western Caravans (1939) - Charles Starrett, Iris Meredith and Dick Curtis - Columbia
Zorro's Fighting Legion (1939) [serial] Reed Hadley, Sheila Darcy and William Corson (Iverson Ranch)(Burro Flats) Republic
Bullets for Rustlers (1940) - Charles Starrett, Lorna Gray and Bob Nolan - Columbia

Pioneers of the West (1940) - Robert Livingston, Raymond Hatton and Duncan Renaldo (Iverson Ranch) Republic
Adventures of Red Ryder (1940) [serial] Don 'Red' Barry, Noah Beery and Tommy Cook (Burro Flats) Republic 
The Carson City Kid (1940) - Roy Rogers, George 'Gabby' Hayes and Bob Steele (Burro Flats) Republic
Cherokee Strip (1940) - Richard Dix, Florence Rice and William Henry - Paramount
Texas Terrors (1940) - Don 'Red' Barry, Julie Duncan and Arthur Loft (Iverson Ranch) Republic
The Border Legion (1940) - Roy Rogers, George 'Gabby' Hayes and Carol Hughes - Republic
In Old Cheyenne (1941) - Roy Rogers, George 'Gabby' Hayes and Joan Woodbury (Iverson Ranch) Republic
Under Fiesta Stars (1941) - Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette and Carol Hughes (Iverson Ranch) Republic
Bad Man of Deadwood (1941) - Roy Rogers, George 'Gabby' Hayes and Carol Adams - Republic
Jesse James at Bay (1941) - Roy Rogers, George 'Gabby' Hayes and Sally Payne - Republic 
Red River Valley (1941) - Roy Rogers, George 'Gabby' Hayes and Sally Payne (Iverson Ranch) Republic
Romance on the Range (1942) - Roy Rogers, George 'Gabby' Hayes and Sally Payne - Republic
Tombstone: The Town Too Tough to Die (1942) - Richard Dix, Edgar Buchanan and Frances Gifford - Paramount
King of the Mounties (1942) [serial] starring Allan Lane, Gilbert Emery and Russell Hicks (Iverson Ranch) Republic 
Heart of the Golden West (1942) - Roy Rogers, Smiley Burnette and George 'Gabby' Hayes - Republic
Song of Texas (1943) - Roy Rogers, Sheila Ryan and Barton MacLane - Republic
Frontier Law (1943) - Russell Hayden, Fuzzy Knight and Dennis Moore - Universal
Silver Spurs (1943) - Roy Rogers, Trigger and Smiley Burnette (Iverson Ranch) Republic
Cowboy in the Clouds (1943) - Charles Starrett, Dub Taylor and Julie Duncan - Columbia
The Fighting Seabees (1944) - John Wayne, Susan Hayward and Dennis O'Keefe (Iverson Ranch) Republic
Lumberjack (1944) - William Boyd, Andy Clyde and Jimmy Rogers (Iverson Ranch) United Artists
Cowboy and the Senorita (1944) - Roy Rogers, Trigger and Mary Lee (Iverson Ranch) Republic
The Yellow Rose of Texas (1944) - Roy Rogers, Trigger and Dale Evans (Iverson Ranch) Republic
Haunted Harbor (1944) Kane Richmond, Kay Aldridge and Roy Barcroft (Iverson Ranch) Republic
Vigilantes of Dodge City (1944) - Bill Elliott, Robert Blake and Alice Fleming (Iverson Ranch) Republic 
Zorro's Black Whip (1944) [serial] George J. Lewis, Linda Stirling and Lucien Littlefield (Iverson Ranch) Republic

Utah (1945) - Roy Rogers, Trigger and George 'Gabby' Hayes (Iverson Ranch)(screenshot left above) - Republic
The Scarlet Horseman (1946) [serial] Peter Cookson, Paul Guilfoyle and Janet Shaw (Iverson Ranch) Universal

The Phantom Rider (1946) - Robert Kent, Peggy Stewart and LeRoy Mason (Iverson Ranch)(photo courtesy of Bruce Hickey) Republic [serial]
In Old Sacramento (1946) - Bill Elliott, Constance Moore and Henry H. Daniels Jr. (Iverson Ranch) Republic
Heading West (1946) - Charles Starrett, Doris Houck, Hank Penny and Smiley Burnette - Columbia 
Plainsman and the Lady (1946) - Bill Elliott, Vera Ralston and Gail Patrick (Iverson Ranch) Republic
West of Sonora (1948) - Charles Starrett, Steve Darrell and George Chesebro - Columbia
The Gallant Legion (1948) - Bill Elliott, Lorna Gray and Joseph Schildkraut (Garden of the Gods) Republic
Blood on the Moon (1948) - Robert Mitchum, Barbara Bel Geddes and Robert Preston (Iverson Ranch) RKO
Colt .45 (1950) - Randolph Scott, Ruth Roman and Zachary Scott (Iverson Ranch) Warner Bros.
California Passage (1950) - Forrest Tucker, Adele Mara and Estelita Rodriguez (Iverson Ranch) Republic

'Reel Cowboys of the Santa Susanas' is a continuing series about "six-gun heroes that performed on movie location ranches in Chatsworth, California.  For more information about Chatsworth filming locations see to find information about my books: Rendezvous at Boulder Pass: Hollywood's Fantasyland - 2010 and Reel Cowboys of the Santa Susanas - 2008.

Reel Cowboys index -- Chatsworth's Six-Gun Heroes

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Meanwhile back at the ranch -- Gorge Cabin

In the Iverson gorge--which was located between Nyoka Cliff and the Garden of the Gods--there was a stone cabin.  Researchers say it was dismantled sometime in the late 1940s and moved to the upper ranch, but it appeared in plenty of B-Westerns and serials during the late 1930s and early 1940s.  The still above is probably from the Republic serial Batman (1943) starring Lewis Wilson, Douglas Croft and J. Carrol Naish.

Over a two year period the 'Gorge Cabin' (as it came to be known) evolved from a simple rectangular outlaw cabin as seen above in a screen capture above from Tim McCoy's Phantom Ranger (1938) to a more elaborate homestead cabin.  The cabin also appeared in this form in The Lone Ranger (1938).

By 1940 when they filmed Bob Steele's Billy the Kid in Texas the cabin had a porch across the front and a lean-to had been added to the south end.  Fellow researched Bill Sasser alerted me to the fact that this screenshot shows Potato Rock at the top left center, and helps identify just where in the gorge the cabin had been located.

In the screen capture above from a scene in Wild Bill Elliott's The Son of Davy Crockett (1941) we get a good look at the porch across the Gorge Cabin.

When filmed from a different angle (further northwest) as in the screenshot above from Adventures of Red Ryder (1940) you will see a false mine and fake archway next to the cabin.  See my post about Iverson Archways for more about the Gorge Archway.

Above is another look at the false mine in a screenshot from Outlaws of Boulder Pass (1942) starring George Houston and Al St. John.

Above is a last look at the Gorge Cabin in an out-take from Charles Starrett's Riders of the Badlands (1941).  The cabin also turns up in Hands Across the Rockies (1941) and Ride 'Em Cowboy (1942).

'Meanwhile back at the ranch' is a continuing series about "rock stars" (landscape features) on the old Iverson Movie Location Ranch in Chatsworth, California.  For more information about the Iverson Movie Ranch see:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Best Chatsworth Movies -- The Oklahoma Kid (1939)

Directed for Warner Bros. by Lloyd Bacon and starring James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart and Rosemary Lane.  I won't tell you this film is one of the best cowboy movies you'll ever see, but it surprised me with some great action scenes featuring James Cagney.  

Yup! It's a fact.  Cagney who was more at home playing a Lower East Side gangster is actually a fair to middling' horseman, and pulls off some exciting horseback action.


As the Cherokee strip--a section of Oklahoma--is opened to settlement, a lawless gang led by outlaw Whip McCord takes over.  Respectable citizens including Judge Hardwick and his daughter Jane and John Kincaid and his son Ned are determined to build a civilized town in the strip which is destined to become Tulsa.  

John Kincaid's black sheep son (the Oklahoma Kid) irritates both outlaws and the law with his own brand of individualism.  The Kid who comes from a respectable family, but has gone bad and enters a life of crime.  In the film the Kid tells us, “Listen, I learned this about human nature when I was but so high, and that is: that the strong take away from the weak, and the smart take it away from the strong.”  

Controlled by McCord and his gang drinking, gambling and violence rule the town.  In an effort to fight the outlawry John Kincaid runs for mayor and Ned Kincaid runs for sheriff.  McCord frames John Kincaid for murder and holds a trial while Judge Hardwick is absent.  Kincaid is railroaded into a guilty verdict, and the lack of justice reinforces the Kid's cynicism about the law, so he tries (unsuccessfully) to break his father out of jail.

Later, McCord incites a crowd into lynching John Kincaid.  The Kid takes the law into his own hands, tracks down the killers and forces a confession out of McCord.  Ned Kincaid tries to arrest McCord, and is shot.  As he lies dying he saves the Kid's life by killing McCord. 

In the end the Kid decides to go straight and marries Jane.  All in all it's an entertaining tall tale about a good bad guy known as the Oklahoma Kid.


James Cagney as Jim Kincaid (The Oklahoma Kid)
Humphrey Bogart as Whip McCord
Rosemary Lane as Jane Hardwick
Donald Crisp as Judge Hardwick
Harvey Stephens as Ned Kincaid
Hugh Sothern as John Kincaid
Charles Middleton as Alec Martin
Edward Pawley as Ace Doolin
Ward Bond as Wes Handley
Lew Harvey as Ed Curley
Trevor Bardette as Indian Jack Pasco
John Miljan as Ringo (the lawyer)
Stuart Holmes as Grover Cleveland (uncredited)

From an Iverson Ranch historian's point of view the movie offers an exciting look at most of the 'Rock Stars' that kept film-makers coming back to the location for three quarters of a century.

The film's opening scenes feature the Kid on a rearing horse--where else, but in front of Lone Ranger Rock.

For more information about the Chatsworth filming locations visit and learn about my books: Rendezvous at Boulder Pass: Hollywood's Fantasyland © 2010 (ISBN: 978-0-615-21522-8) and Reel Cowboys of the Santa Susanas © 2008 (ISBN: 978-0-615-21499-3)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day -- Honoring those who gave everything

Today we remember and honor America's fallen heroes who gave their lives, so that we might live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

But, let us also remember their four-legged friends.

Reel Cowboys of the Santa Susanas -- Addison 'Jack' Randall

Jack Randall (1906-1945) was an American singing cowboy star whose career was greatly over shadowed by that of his brother Robert Livingston.  Prior to entering films he acted and sang on Broadway.

In 1937 Monogram Pictures signed him to make a series of singing cowboy films.  After a few poorly received musical Westerns, Randall continued playing leads in B-Westerns, but not as a singer.  His career rapidly declined, so he moved into supporting parts and villain roles. 

At the age of 39, he died as the result of an equestrian accident while shooting a riding scene for The Royal Mounted Rides Again (1945).

Newspaper account of his death:

Corriganville, CA – Jul 16, 1945 – JACK RANDALL KILLED IN HORSE ACCIDENT
On the first day of filming at Corrigan’s Ranch for Universal’s The Royal Mounted Rides Again (1945), Jack Randall was killed in a fall from his horse. During the third attempt to get a clean shot of a running insert, at the end of the run a piece of paper blew in front of Jack’s horse, causing it to spook and bolt to the left, throwing Randall into a tree. He hit his head and died instantly.

Jack Randall's Santa Susana locations filmogrpaphy includes:

The Cheyenne Kid (1940) starring Addison Randall, Louise Stanley and Kenne Duncan (Iverson Ranch) Monogram

Gunsmoke Trail (1938) starring Addison Randall, Louise Stanley and Al St. John (Brandeis Ranch)(Iverson Ranch) Monogram

Land of Fighting Men (1938) starring Addison Randall, Bruce Bennett and Louise Stanley - Conn

Pioneer Days (1940) starring Addison Randall, June Wilkins and Frank Yaconelli (Iverson Ranch) Monogram

Where the West Begins (1938) starring Addison Randall, Fuzzy Knight and Luana Walters (Brandeis Ranch) Conn

'Reel Cowboys of the Santa Susanas' is a continuing series about "six-gun heroes that performed on movie location ranches in Chatsworth, California.  For more information about Chatsworth filming locations see to find information about my books: Rendezvous at Boulder Pass: Hollywood's Fantasyland - 2010 and Reel Cowboys of the Santa Susanas - 2008.

Index for 'Reel Cowboys of the Santa Susanas' -- Chatsworth's Six-Gun Heroes

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Meanwhile back at the ranch -- Adobe Villages

There were at least two adobe villages on the Iverson Ranch, and there may have been some single adobes that were not part of a larger village.  The set for the soldier barracks (photo above) in Wee Willie Winkie (1937) was located in Indian Hills north of the grove and west of cave rocks.

The comparison photo above shows the west side of cave rocks as they appeared in Wee Willie Winkie (1937)--on the left--and Wild Stallion (1952)--on the right.  The comparison helps pin point the location of the adobe village used in Winkie, and also shows us they were long gone by 1952.

In another still (above) from Wee Willie Winkie (1937) we see a lone adobe next to Stacked Rocks on Sheep Flats.  By 1945 the Iversons had a Western Street in this location.  One can't help but think perhaps some of the original Winkie set was converted and used when Gary Cooper had the Western Street constructed for Along Came Jones (1945).

Above is a photo of another lone adobe from an unknown film--maybe it's the same adobe as in the Winkie photo above.  In this still you can clearly make out Hook Rock set off by the skyline (left center).

In my research the first use of adobe type structures was in The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935).  In the publicity still above you can see two adobe buildings on the far left.  What's interesting is that we know an adobe village was located in this area as late as the late 1950s.  In this still you can see Potato Rock on the right and you can just make out Three Ages Rock to the left of Potato Rock.

The screen capture above from a scene in Romance of the West (1946) shows us Potato Rock with an adobe just north of it.

In the still above (from an unidentified Western) we find an adobe located near Devil's Doorway.  Perhaps this is part of the adobe village located against 'The Wall' not far away. 

In the lobby card photo above from the serial Black Arrow (1944) we see 'Hole in the Wall' to the north.  This is consistent with an adobe at 'The Wall' location.

Above is a publicity still from John Ford's Stagecoach (1939).  If you remember--Ford used part of two adobes as stagecoach relay stations.  The first station was Dry Fork (above) which offered a wonderful view of Hook Rock as the stagecoach arrived.  The second adobe must have been the other village located near 'The Wall' that gave us the dramatic view of Garden of the Gods as it arrived.

I'll wrap up this post with a close-up look at an adobe in a lobby card photo (above) from Outlaw Country (1948).  Other films that featured abobe village scenes include Zorro's Fighting Legion (1939), Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941), Fugitive Valley (1941), Rawhide Rangers (1941), Arizona Territory (1950), Wagon Team (1952), and TV shows like "Have Gun - Will Travel" as late as 1957 just to mention a few.

'Meanwhile back at the ranch' is a continuing series about "rock stars" (landscape features) on the old Iverson Movie Location Ranch in Chatsworth, California.  For more information about the Iverson Movie Ranch see:

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Best Chatsworth Movies -- They Died with Their Boots On (1941)

They Died with Their Boots On (1941) is a rollicking good western film directed by Raoul Walsh starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland
Mixing fact with a big helping of fiction the movie is an entertaining--but not historically accurate--account of George Armstrong Custer's (Errol Flynn) life beginning with his time at West Point in 1857 to his death at Little Big Horn in 1876.

In my opinion the movie is a bit lengthy (2 hours 21 minutes), and spends too much time examining Custer's flamboyant dress and outrageous behavior at West Point.

During the Civil War at the Battle of Bull Run (July 1861) Custer disobeys orders and leads a charge into enemy lines where he is wounded in battle, but receives a medal for his valor.

Sent home to recover his battle wounds, Custer again finds Elizabeth 'Libby' Bacon (Olivia de Havilland)--who he had met at West Point--and proposes to her.  After the war concludes Custer marries Libby.

The second half of the film sets the stage for Custer's 'last stand' with the Indians.

Custer learns his old enemy from West Point--Ned Sharp (Arthur Kennedy-left in the photo above)--is trying to start a gold rush in the Black Hills of the Dakota Territory. A gold rush would increase business for Sharp's shipping line, but would cause a stampede of settlement into Native American sacred land. 

Portrayed as an Indian sympathizer--Custer is outraged by the news of an invasion into Indian territory, and goes to Congress seeking their support.  Congress ridicules and ignores him, but later when the presence of gold miners leads to open conflict with Native Americans President Grant restores him to command of the 7th Cavalry.

The film suggests that a hand-full of corrupt politicians provoked Indians into a war that threatened the survival of all settlers moving West.

In the end Custer's "Last Stand" follows through on his promise to teach his men "to endure and die with their boots on."

Errol Flynn as George Armstrong Custer
Olivia de Havilland as Elizabeth Bacon Custer
Arthur Kennedy as Ned Sharp
Charley Grapewin as California Joe
Gene Lockhart as Samuel Bacon
Anthony Quinn as Crazy Horse
Stanley Ridges as Maj. Romulus Taipe
John Litel as Gen. Phil Sheridan
Walter Hampden as William Sharp
Sydney Greenstreet as Lt. Gen. Winfield Scott
Regis Toomey as Fitzhugh Lee
Hattie McDaniel as Callie
Minor Watson as Senator Smith
Joseph Crehan as President Ulysses S. Grant

Iverson Ranch scenes

From an Iverson Ranch movie historian's point of view I can't help but wonder if Raoul Walsh wasn't trying to upstage John Ford's use of Iverson scenes from Stagecoach (1939)?  Walsh carefully lensed scenes that took full advantage of the best landscape formations the ranch had to offer…

Sioux scouts on Boots Rock near the Garden of the Gods.

7th Cavalry troops moving through the Iverson gorge.

Custer with Nyoka Cliff as a backdrop.

7th Cavalry troops moving past Hook Rock.

The famous Custer and Crazy Horse fight scene at the Garden of the Gods.

Gathering of Sioux chiefs at Overlook Point.

Sioux Indians amassing in front of Devil's Doorway.

7th Cavalry troops passing Rock Island.

And, finally 7th Cavalry troops in Indian Hills coming onto Sheep Flats from the Mushroom Rock trail.

If you are an Iverson Location Ranch aficionado this movie is a must see.  And, it's a darn good tall tale to boot!

This film grossed $2.55 million in 1941 making it the second biggest hit of the year for Warner Bros.
For more information about the Chatsworth filming locations visit and learn about my books: Rendezvous at Boulder Pass: Hollywood's Fantasyland © 2010 (ISBN: 978-0-615-21522-8) and Reel Cowboys of the Santa Susanas © 2008 (ISBN: 978-0-615-21499-3)