Monday, July 4, 2011


I recently had the pleasure of visiting the home of comedian and game show host Peter Marshall, in conjunction with a documentary that I’m working on. He and his wife have a beautiful home, which he built with his profits from the years he was teamed with Tommy Noonan as Noonan and Marshall, before he became a household name hosting THE HOLLYWOOD SQUARES. Peter gave us a fascinating and hilarious interview about comedian and SQUARES regular George Gobel.

As we were leaving, I had to ask Peter about a framed letter from the great John Wayne. It’s a little unusual because it appeared to be…well, a threatening letter. It came about because of a question to a contestant on THE HOLLYWOOD SQUARES. Peter had asked, “According to Rona Barrett (the gossip columnist), what do John Wayne’s children call him? And the answer was ‘sir.’ And he took umbrage to that.”

On stationery dated April 14th, 1975, John Wayne wrote:

Dear Mr. Marshall:

I take a dim view of your assumptions concerning my life and my family. My children are the dearest things in my life, and I speak to them with nothing but affection; and I God damned well resent your saying that I make them call me Sir, and I suggest that you correct it on your show or don’t ever pass me on the street.

I am available. I have an office with two secretaries. It is mighty easy to check the verity of your trivia. Please don’t misunderstand me. I mean this.


John Wayne

“So I wrote him a letter, and I apologized, and said I didn’t write the question – I was the host. But it’s one of my favorite things I own.”


On July 29th, the much-anticipated feature-film version of the comic book will reach the screen everywhere! Directed by Jon Favreau of IRON MAN I & II fame, the film toplines Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde and Harrison Ford, with a strong supporting cast of familiar Western faces like Sam Rockwell, Paul Dano, Keith Carradine, Adam Beach and Buck Taylor. Interestingly, while the original poster featured only Craig, the current poster features Craig and Ford side-by-side, recognition that, in Favreau’s words, “Harrison Ford is our generation’s John Wayne,” and a definite selling point for a western, with or without aliens. To see the TRAILER, click HERE. To see a FEATURETTE featuring Favreau, producers Stephen Spielberg and Ron Howard, and the writers, click HERE.


In L.A., the best entertainment deal of the summer has long been the film series at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This year it’s SUMMER OF SILENTS, featuring nine silent features that have won the Photoplay Magazine Medal of Honor, an award that predates the Oscars.

On Monday, July 11th James Cruze’s 1923 epic of the Oregon Trail, THE COVERED WAGON, starring J. Warren Kerrigan, Lois Wilson and Alan Hale, will screen in 35mm, and tickets are still available for $5 a piece. Live musical accompaniment will be by Bill Ryan and the Cactus County Cowboys. Also screened will be the few reels that survive from ABRAHAM LINCOLN (1924). It’s directed by Phil Rosen, who started as a cameraman for Edison in 1912, and is best known for his Charlie Chan movies. The screenplay is by Oscar-winner (for THE BIG HOUSE and THE CHAMP) Frances Marion. An actress who was a child when she appeared in the film will be present to discuss it!

To buy tickets, go to HERE or visit the box office 9 to 5 on weekdays at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90211.


Mel Brooks’ riotous western comedy BLAZING SADDLES (1974), starring Gene Wilder, Cleavon Little, Madeline Kahn and Slim Pickens, plays today, Sunday July 3rd and Wednesday July 6th. The theatre is at 340 Main Street in Seal Beach, CA 90740. Call 562-431-9988 for details.


Karie Bible, co-author of Location Filming In Los Angeles – see my review HERE, and one of the most knowledgeable people about Hollywood history who you could ever hope to meet, will teach a five-part course on Thursday nights, 7/7/2011 to 8/4/2011, from 7:30 to 9:30 pm at Vidiot’s Annex at 302 Pico Blvd. Santa Monica, CA. The price is $129.95, but click HERE to learn how to cut that down by seventy bucks!


Every Friday in July Turner Classic Movies will be saluting the singing cowboy in the movies. The first Friday featured Roy Rogers. This coming Friday, July 8th, that star of the night is Gene Autry, who’ll be seen in OLD CORRAL, HOME ON THE PRAIRIE, BACK IN THE SADDLE, TEXANS NEVER CRY and WAGON TEAM. Also on the 8th – I don’t know at what time yet – TCM will run the short documentary I was interviewed for, about folks who are nuts for Westerns. On July 15th the night is split between Tex Ritter and Jimmy Wakely, July 22nd it’s Dick Foran and Monte Hale, and on July 29th we’ll hear from Rex Allen, Herbert Jeffrey and Ken Maynard.


Weekends in July will be packed with double-bills of that sleepy-eyed cowpoke Robert Mitchum, presented at the Billy Wilder Theatre in the Westwood Hammer Museum. It all starts Friday, July 8th at 7:30 PM with PURSUED (1947), directed by Raoul Walsh from a Niven Busch screenplay, and BLOOD ON THE MOON (1948), directed by Robert Wise from a Lillian Hayward script. Saturday July 9th it’s Nicholas Ray’s THE LUSTY MEN scripted by They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? novelist Horace McCoy. On Sunday July 10th, at 11:00 a.m., it’s THE RED PONY (1949) scripted by John Steinbeck from his own stories, and directed by Lewis Milestone. This one’s not just family-friendly, it’s free! All the screenings listed are in 35MM, and later in the month will be THE SUNDOWNERS, TRACK OF THE CAT, RIVER OF NO RETURN, THE WONDERFUL COUNTRY, WEST OF THE PECOS, RACHEL AND THE STRANGER, and EL DORADO. To learn more go HERE.


The pictures above are from Swedish gum cards. Their actual size is 1 ¾” by 2 ¾”, about the same as cigarette insert cards. They were very popular with kids in Europe when they started appearing around 1950, and were issued well into the 1970s. It’s hard to gather much definite history on them because they were issued and reissued over the years in many countries – Holland, Belgium and France among others. Mostly they were found singly in gum or candy, but sometimes they were sold in whole sheets. Western themes were very popular, and here is a selection of popular sidekicks.


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.


Have a wonderful day, fly your flag, blow some things up if you get the chance, and don’t forget the folks who’re in uniform, letting us stay independent! I work with OPERATION GRATITUDE when I get a chance (not nearly often enough),and there are other fine organizations that help our military, and others that help our vets.

Happy Trails!


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


  1. Henry: Enjoyed the John Wayne story. That letter couldn't possibly have been written without tongue at least partly in cheek. Not that Wayne wouldn't take umbrage but putting it in writing that way doesn't quite fit my idea of him.

  2. That's just the way I took it. The Duke certainly wasn't above using his ability to intimidate to amuse himself and others.

  3. Hi Henry -- thanks for the great blog! Loved it all. What did you think of the Favreau movie? I'm interested in light of my own writing, and wanted to know your thoughts!

  4. Hi Garda -- I haven't seen it, of course, but I'm optimistic. I like his IRON MAN movies, and the trailer and featurette look very good. And if you take a look at my Aug. 8, 2010 Round-up, you'll see exec producer Steven Speilberg personally gave Favreau and the writers a grounding in westerns. It does worry me how many sci-fi westerns there are -- JONAH HEX was ghastly, and we're about to get another with R.I.P.D. -- but no use crying over milk that hasn't been spilt yet!