May-June 2006 Year 12, Number 3.
Four Added To Western Walk.
Four Western luminaries joined the Walk of Western Stars on April 28 when bronze "saddle plaques" were embedded into the sidewalks of Old Town Newhall in their honor.
Inducted into the Western Walk this year were a quartet of stars from the big and small screen: James Arness, Rhonda Fleming, Robert Horton and Andrew Prine. Their names can be seen on the east side of San Fernando Road in front of the parking lot (future parking structure) between 5th and 6th Streets.
Sponsored by the city of Santa Clarita and the SCV Chamber of Commerce and timed to coincide with the city's annual Cowboy Festival, the walk has honored sixty-eight Western film, stage, television and radio personalities since 1981. Bronze plaques framed by terrazzo tile line both sides of San Fernando Road and Newhall Avenue and extend along Market Street between San Fernando and Railroad.
Each year's installation is followed by a gala dinner. The 2006 gala was held at the Hyatt Valencia and included a special tribute to a 1984 inductee who died earlier this year Dennis Weaver, who played Arness' sidekick, Chester Goode, during the first six years of "Gunsmoke." Later, in 1971, Weaver starred in Steven Spielberg's first feature film, "Duel," the story of a traveling businessman who is terrorized by a psychotic trucker on Sierra Highway.
Generations have grown up with James Arness as Marshal Matt Dillon on television's longest running series, "Gunsmoke," which used Gene Autry's Melody Ranch in Placerita Canyon for exterior locations in its initial years.
Arness was born in 1923 in Minneapolis and served in the U.S. Army. Wounded at Anzio during the invasion of Italy, he earned the Purple Heart.
Arness began his career in entertainment as a radio announcer in Minnesota in 1945. He soon moved to Los Angeles and took acting lessons. His big break came in 1947 when he landed a prime role opposite Loretta Young in "The Farmer's Daughter."
After landing the title role in the 1951 science fiction classic, "The Thing," Arness signed a contract with John Wayne's production company, Bat Jack. The Duke was instrumental in landing him his biggest break ever in 1955 as the lead in "Gunsmoke."
Arness stayed with the show for twenty years, gathering three Emmy nominations along the way. "Gunsmoke" was the longest running dramatic series ever produced and gave Arness the distinction of the longest time playing a single role. At 6-foot-7, Arness was also the tallest actor ever to play a lead role at the time.
After "Gunsmoke" wrapped in 1975, Arness starred in the television series, "How the West Was Won" (aka "The Macahans") and the short-lived "McClain's Law," and he made four "Gunsmoke" movies for television.
Throughout his career, Arness was widely recognized for his work and dedication to law enforcement. He was made an Honorary United States Marshal in recognition of his many contributions to their charitable activities over the years. He was inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City and received numerous Western Heritage awards.
A native Californian, Rhonda Fleming has appeared in more that forty motion pictures, starting with top featured roles in David O. Selznick's "Spellbound," directed by Alfred Hitchcock and RKO's "Out of the Past" and "The Spiral Staircase." Fleming landed starring roles in classics such as "Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court," "Gunfight at the OK Corral," "Home Before Dark," "Pony Express," "Slightly Scarlet," "Home While the City Sleeps" and "The Big Circus."
Included in Fleming's stellar list of co-stars are Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston, Glenn Ford, Burt Lancaster, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Rock Hudson and Ronald Reagan with whom she made four films.
In addition to motion pictures, Fleming made in her Broadway debut as the star of Clair Booth Luce's "The Women." She appeared as Lalume in "Kismet" and toured as Madame Dubonnet with "The Boyfriend." She made her stage musical debut in Las Vegas at the opening of the Tropicana Hotel's Showroom. Later, Fleming appeared at the Hollywood Bowl in a one-woman concert of Cole Porter and Irving Berlin compositions.
She has guest-starred on many popular television shows including "Wagon Train," "Police Woman," "Love Boat," "The Last Hours Before Morning" and "McMillan and Wife." The 1990 television production, "Waiting for the Wind," reunited her with her former co-star, Mitchum.
Fleming was a founding member of Stop Cancer with Dr. Armand Hammer in 1988. She is an ambassador of Childhelp USA, a life associate of Pepperdine University, a founding member of The French Foundation for Alzheimer Research and a member of the Los Angeles Music Center's Blue Ribbon Board of Directors. In addition, Fleming created the Rhonda Fleming Mann Research Fellowship at the City of Hope to advance research and treatment associated with women's cancer.
Robert Horton is best remembered for his years as the hero of the top-rated television series, "Wagon Train" with Ward Bond, and he is easily recalled as the lead in "The Man Called Shenandoah" his second successful television creation. Horton starred on Broadway in the original production of the musical, "110 in the Shade."
Graduating magna cum laude from the University of California at Los Angeles, he became an increasingly familiar face on television when he appeared on "Climax," "Studio One," "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and "Playhouse 90." It was a performance for Hitchcock that led to Horton's regular role on "Wagon Train." Early Western film appearances include "Pony Soldier," "Apache War Smoke" and "Return of the Texan."
In developing the character of the scout Flint McCullough on "Wagon Train," he created one of the first "thinking man's cowboys." McCullough was educated, well spoken and thoughtful without ever sacrificing the toughness expected of a wagon train scout.
Horton's female co-stars included Barbara Stanwyck, Linda Darnell, Rhonda Fleming, Felicia Farr, Susan Oliver and Nina Foch.
The musical theater has occupied much of Horton's time, including performances in "Oklahoma," "Guys and Dolls," "Carousel," "Pajama Game," "Brigadoon," "Show Boat," "Kismet," "The Music Man," "Zorba," "Man of La Mancha" and "1776." He starred in one of Great Britain's most popular television programs, "Sunday Night at the Long Palladium," which was followed by his own television special, "The Robert Horton Show." In addition, he was asked to sing at a command performance for Queen Elizabeth II.
A native of a Florida farm town, Andrew Prine soared to Broadway stardom in the leading role of the Pulitzer Prize winning play, "Look Homeward Angel." His first film was the Academy Award winner, "The Miracle Worker." Prine starred in several television series, beginning with "Wide Country" and including "Have Gun, Will Travel," "Gunsmoke," "Wagon Train," "Bonanza," "Walker: Texas Ranger" and "Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman."
Appearing in more than thirty films including "Gettysburg," "The Avenging Angel," "Chisum," "Bandolero," "Texas Across the River" and "This Savage Land," Prine has starred with Hollywood legends John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Dean Martin, Raquel Welch, William Holden, Anne Bancroft, Glenn Ford and Ben Johnson.
Having spent two years starring in television's "Dallas," Prine has guest-starred on numerous shows throughout the years including HBO's "Six Feet Under," "JAG," "Cybil," "L.A. Law," "In the Heat of the Night," "Murder She Wrote" and "Melrose Place." He can be seen on the Western Channel's "Conversations with Andrew Prine."
A member of the prestigious Actor's Studio, Prine continues to work in theater, appearing at the Ahmanson in "Long Day's Journey into Night" and "The Caine Mutiny." Taking the leading role in Sam Shepard's "Buried Child" at the Strasberg Institute, Prine won his second Dramalogue Critics Award for Best Actor.
©2006, Old Town Newhall USA. All rights reserved.