Friday, September 25, 2009

Valley of the Cowboy Stars

On my way out for the evening, but wanted to introduce a series that I'm going to do for the next week or so on the Santa Clarita Valley, an area just north of Los Angeles. Santa Clarita was a favorite place to film movies especially during the 1910s and 1920s, and many movie stars liked it so much that they ended up living up here as well. Harry Carey, William S. Hart and Tom Mix all lived up here at one point or another.

The Santa Clarita Historical Society has a television show called Points of Interest and many of the episodes on their web site. One is a fascinating tour of the Harry Carey Ranch, and you can see it here. If the link takes you to the main page, go to "Harry Carey, Tom Mix and the Early Cowboys." There are some stills in this one of unbelievable stunt films.

All this started when I picked up William S. Hart's autobiography, My Life East and West, and I decided that it was time that I talked about the Santa Clarita Valley and some of the Western actors that made their home here, as well as the history behind some of the movies made up here.

I know the valley a little bit, but I'm ashamed to say that I never really paid much attention to its history until I became interested in Westerns and the history of the west several years ago. My best friend and her daughter - my goddaughter - have lived here since before Sara was born. As you can guess, the valley is nothing like it was. It's now a bedroom community of Los Angeles and has experienced explosive growth over the past five years. It's traffic, tract homes, and big box stores. BUT there are some hidden gems around, like the William S. Hart home and the Harry Carey Ranch. I've been to the William S. Hart ranch and plan on going back in the next weekend or so to take some photos, and I'm definitely plan on visiting the Harry Carey Ranch.


Evan Lewis said...

What a great poster! I've seen the photo of Hart in this pose, but not the painting. I look forward to your series.


What a great post and I agree with Evan the poster is great.