Monday, June 13, 2011


We all know that Buffalo Bill Cody led a life of adventure and danger, but few of us guessed how close to home that danger was, nor did we see parallels to Charlie Sheen’s recent troubles! But Brian Lebel’s 2011 Denver Old West Auction, in Denver, Colorado, from June 24th through June 26th, brings some amazing details to light. In 1905, Louisa Cody and Buffalo Bill were on the brink of divorce (they later reconciled). Her original copies of witness depositions are going on the auction block. Here are a few interesting quotes:

She was angry, and she shook her fist at me, and said “I will bring you Codys down so low the dogs won’t bark at you.”

She claimed that he was unloyal to her and immoral with other women

She said she would rule Colonel Cody or ruin him and I said, “You had better leave him alone.” She said “Before he goes from under my control, I will kill him.”

She gave him a drug she called “Dragon’s blood.” I don’t know what it is. She gave it to him in his coffee. She told me she had given him two doses and wanted to give him the third. She put it in his coffee and I switched cups and give her the Colonel’s cup and the Colonel the one that didn’t have anything in it and it made her sick.

She said he is a drunk. You are a drunken brute.

During the time that you have testified to his drinking, gambling, and frequenting houses of ill fame, where were his wife and babies?

The estimate is from $5,000 - $8,000. I’ve already described in the Round-up another item up for bid, the famous tintype of Billy the Kid, the only authenticated photo of the Brooklyn-born bandit. Among the other fascinating pieces of Western history are a pair of Clayton Moore's Colt Single Actions, a John Wayne movie hat, Buck Jones's belt buckle, and a gold and diamond presentation badge of Leo Carrillo’s.

To learn more about the auction, go HERE.

(Photos: Buffalo Bill poster, divorce documents, Cody's watch, Billy the Kid tintype)


At Saturday’s screening of a 35mm print of George Steven’s SHANE, the most startling revelation about the film in curator Jeffrey Richardson’s introduction was that Jack Palance had so much trouble getting on and off of a horse in those early days that they actually played the ‘off-the-horse’ shot in reverse to get him back on!

But he also revealed some good news about up-coming screenings. On Thursday, June 23rd, the Autry will show the brilliant and often hilarious documentary REEL INJUN, which examines the role of American Indians in film from the American Indian point of view. Also shown will be the short AMERICAN INDIAN ACTORS. This program is from 7 to 9:30 p.m., and a Q&A with filmmakers will follow. Free tickets are available online and at the box office.

On Saturday, June 25th at 2:00 p.m. they’ll show HEART OF THE RIO GRANDE (1942), which, unlike the first-Saturday-of-the-month screening will be a 35mm print from the UCLA Archives. Speaking of first Saturdays, on Saturday, July 2nd at noon, the Autry will screen Gene in RYTHYM OF THE SADDLE (1938) and COW TOWN (1950).

Also, the titles and dates for the monthly ‘What Is A Western?’ series have been announced for the next ten months. All on Saturday at 1:30 p.m., and all 35mm prints, the films will be:
July 9th 2011, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (1968)
August 13th, 2011 GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL (1957)
September 17th 2011 TOMBSTONE (1993)
October 22nd, 2011 WINCHESTER ’73 (1950)
November 12th,2011 UNFORGIVEN (1992)
January 21st,2012 THE PROFESSIONALS (1966)
February 11th, 2012 THE WILD BUNCH (1969)
April 14th 2012 MY DARLING CLEMENTINE (1946)
June 9th 2012 THE GUNFIGHTER (1950)


Actor Joe Billingiere has doubled for Steven Seagal, helped bring Josh Brolin back from the dead in JONAH HEX, and will soon be seen as Chief White Eagle Feather in the upcoming YELLOW ROCK. But the picture he did that has all the steam-punks buzzing is JOHN CARTER OF MARS, based on the series of novel Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote before moving on to create TARZAN.

“Actually we shot JOHN CARTER OF MARS between JONAH HEX and YELLOW ROCK, but they’re shooting two movies at one time. And as we weren’t really on Mars, there’s a lot of CGI. I was involved in the opening scenes of the book, where John Carter is involved in the Old West of the 1860s or 1870s. He gets caught in a fight, a battle between the U.S. Cavalry and some native peoples.” Joe plays Apache #1. “He and his partner are caught in the middle, and escape to a cave. The Native Americans follow him, and they see some sacred symbol which scares them, and it’s unclear what happens in that cave, but somehow he’s transported to Mars. When I got the call to go for that audition, I was really excited, because I’m a reader, and I grew up borrowing those books from my library – I read so fast I used to take two or three at a time. I read that whole series, which is Edgar Rice Burroughs’ first series. The first book is called A PRINCESS OF MARS, and it’s really the beginning of what morphed into sword and sorcery.

“Luckily I was cast, and Andrew Stanton, the director, was fantastic, just what I think a director ought to be. He was friendly, personable, very accurate in how he directed us and explained what he wanted in the scenes. It was just a lot of fun. And of course we shot it in Moab, Utah. The red rocks of the Southwest, the incredible formations. We had a day off and four of us actors rented a Jeep and drove off to Arches National Park; awesome scenery, great heights.”

JOHN CARTER OF MARS stars Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins,Willem Dafoe and Thomas Haden Church, and has a projected release date of March 2012. We’ll have a more extensive interview with Joe in the coming weeks.

Photos: Joe Billingiere between two John Carter of Mars illustrations)


When events of interest come to my attention at the last minute, I post them on our Facebook page. We had a plethora of them for this Saturday, June 11th: a 70mm screening of GLORY at the Aero with director Joel Zwick; a 35mm screening of SHANE at the Autry; a Raoul Walsh bio-signing and double feature at the Egyptian with author Marilyn Ann Ross and actors L.Q. Jones, Jack ‘Jimmy Olsen’ Larson and Richard Erdman; and a four-day free preview of ENCORE WESTERNS CHANNEL, featuring a 24 hour James Arness marathon. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for late-breaking Western movie news!


The beautiful and immensely talented Debbie Reynolds struck Hollywood like a comet when, in 1948, she won the Lockheed-sponsored Miss Burbank title, her talent being lip-synching to a Betty Hutton record (an odd choice, considering she also played the French horn, and was a champion baton twirler). On the panel of judges were talent scouts for both Warner Brothers and M.G.M. The Warner’s rep won the coin toss, winning the opportunity to screen-test the high-schooler, and the rest is Hollywood history. She was still so young when she did THE DAUGHTERS OF ROSIE O’GRADY (1949), co-star Marcia Mae Jones told me, that she sold her troop’s Girl Scout Cookies to all of the other actors on the set.

She became a star at the tail end of the Golden Age with films like SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN, THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN and HOW THE WEST WAS WON. Sadly, the Studio System began to implode in the late 1960s, and the majors began selling off their props and costumes and finally their real estate in a frantic bid to stay above water. Debbie, as big a fan as she was a star, was a ubiquitous sight at the MGM and 20th CENTURY FOX auctions, where she amassed the world’s greatest collection of movie wardrobe from classic films. Her goal was always to create a museum to share her collection with the public, and in 1993, after many false starts she got her museum, in Las Vegas, with the Debbie Reynolds Hollywood Resort and Casino. Sadly, the museum only lasted for about five years, before financial problems forced the casino’s closure. Since then, re-openings were announced at Hollywood and Highland and adjacent to Dollywood, but neither happened, and now Debbie is selling her collection. The auction, by Profiles in History, will take place on Saturday, June 18th, at the Paley Center For Media, at 465 North Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills.

Although the majority of items are not Western in nature, there is plenty to interest any movie fan. Among the items with a cowboy connection are Marlene Dietrich’s ‘Frenchie’ costume from DESTRY RIDES AGAIN; Cesar Romero’s pistol, gunbelt and costume from the CISCO KID series; Glenn Ford’s saddle, hat and boots; Howard Keel’s Winchester, boots and costume from ANNIE GET YOUR GUN; Marilyn Monroe’s saloon-girl gown, by Travilla, from RIVER OF NO RETURN; and costumes of James Stewart, Gregory Peck and Debbie Reynolds from HOW THE WEST WAS WON.

Previews continue at the Paley, Wednesday June 15th through Friday June 17th, from noon to 5 p.m., with the auction beginning Saturday at noon. To find out more, and download the catalog, go HERE.

(Photos: Debbie Reynolds in HOW THE WEST WAS WON; Cesar Romero's CISCO KID costume; guns - above, SGT. YORK guns, below, CISCO KID; Monroe RIVER OF NO RETURN dress; Glenn Ford's hat, boots and saddle and, in background, W.C. Fields' costume from MISSISSIPPI. All auction pics courtesy of Sabrina Parke)


Built by cowboy actor, singer, baseball and TV entrepeneur Gene Autry, and designed by the Disney Imagineering team, the Autry is a world-class museum housing a fascinating collection of items related to the fact, fiction, film, history and art of the American West. In addition to their permenant galleries (to which new items are frequently added), they have temporary shows. The Autry has many special programs every week -- sometimes several in a day. To check their daily calendar, CLICK HERE. And they always have gold panning for kids every weekend. For directions, hours, admission prices, and all other information, CLICK HERE.


Across the street from the Hollywood Bowl, this building, once the headquarters of Lasky-Famous Players (later Paramount Pictures) was the original DeMille Barn, where Cecil B. DeMille made the first Hollywood western, The Squaw Man. They have a permanent display of movie props, documents and other items related to early, especially silent, film production. They also have occasional special programs. 2100 Highland Ave., L.A. CA 323-874-2276. Thursday – Sunday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. $5 for adults, $3 for senior, $1 for children.


This small but entertaining museum gives a detailed history of Wells Fargo when the name suggested stage-coaches rather than ATMS. There’s a historically accurate reproduction of an agent’s office, an original Concord Coach, and other historical displays. Open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. Admission is free. 213-253-7166. 333 S. Grand Street, L.A. CA.


A staggering number of western TV episodes and movies are available, entirely free, for viewing on your computer at HULU. You do have to sit through the commercials, but that seems like a small price to pay. The series available -- often several entire seasons to choose from -- include THE RIFLEMAN, THE CISCO KID, THE LONE RANGER, BAT MASTERSON, THE BIG VALLEY, ALIAS SMITH AND JONES, and one I missed from 2003 called PEACEMAKERS starring Tom Berenger. Because they are linked up with the TV LAND website, you can also see BONANZA and GUNSMOKE episodes, but only the ones that are running on the network that week.

The features include a dozen Zane Grey adaptations, and many or most of the others are public domain features. To visit HULU on their western page, CLICK HERE.


Every weekday, TV LAND airs a three-hour block of BONANZA episodes from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. They run a GUNSMOKE Monday through Thursday at 10:00 a.m., and on Friday they show two, from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m.. They're not currently running either series on weekends, but that could change at any time.


Check out your cable system for WHT, which stands for World Harvest Television. It's a religious network that runs a lot of good western programming. Your times may vary, depending on where you live, but weekdays in Los Angeles they run DANIEL BOONE at 1:00 p.m., and two episodes of THE RIFLEMAN from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.. On Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. it's THE RIFLEMAN again, followed at 2:30 by BAT MASTERSON. And unlike many stations in the re-run business, they run the shows in the original airing order. There's an afternoon movie on weekdays at noon, often a western, and they show western films on the weekend, but the schedule is sporadic.

Also, AMC has started showing two episodes of THE RIFLEMAN on Saturday mornings.

That's all until next week, folks!

Happy Trails,


All Contents Copyright June 2011 by Henry C. Parke - All Rights Reserved

1 comment:

  1. I was fortunate enough to see Debbie Reynolds when she did a show down here at The Lawrence Welk resort last August. She was just awesome. I sure would love to have some of that collection.