Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
Hoot Gibson, Sally Eilers Divorce
Actors & Saugus Residents

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Actress Sally Eilers confirms that she obtained a quickie divorce from Western screen star Hoot Gibson in Mexico on Aug. 28, 1933. Gibson owned the ex-Baker Ranch Rodeo (future Saugus Speedway) at the time. They had married at the Saugus ranch in 1930.

6¼x8¼ Associated Press wirephoto showing Eilers on a tennis court, with a newspaper photo editor's crop marks. Extended caption reads:

(Associated Press Photo.)

Hollywood, Cal., Sept. 20 [1933] — (AP) — Sally Eilers, screen actress, said today she had been granted a Mexican divorce from Hoot Gibson, film cowboy, in Chihuahua on Aug. 28. "Neither Hoot nor I wanted any more publicity," said Miss Eilers. "So we just decided on a quiet divorce in Mexico."

The actress and Gibson were married June 29, 1930*. They were separated and reconciled many times.

Gibson has been reported engaged to June Gale, another actress. His marriage to Miss Eilers was his third.

The 1933 divorce didn't stick — but not because they didn't want it to. Read this.

He didn't marry June Gale. His fourth and last wife was Dorothy Dunstan, a 22-year-old yodeler whom he married in 1942. That marriage lasted 20 years, until his death in 1962.

* Other sources give the date as June 28, 1930.

Edmund Richard Gibson earned the nickname "Hoot" when he worked as a messenger for the Owl Drug Co. He was born August 6, 1892, in Tekamah, Nebraska and appeared in more than 200 films (including short features) between 1910, when he earned $50 for his role in "The Two Brothers," and 1960, when he made an uncredited appearance in "Ocean's Eleven." Gibson did most of his work as a silent cowboy actor between World War I and the early 1930s. He directed a bit in 1920-21 and produced some of his own films from 1923-30. The 5'9" Hollywood giant died of cancer on August 23, 1962, in Woodland Hills — five days before a wildfire burned down Gene Autry's Melody Ranch in Placerita Canyon, where Gibson made some of his movies.

In addition to using the Santa Clarita Valley as a backdrop for filming, during the time he was married to Dorothea Sally Eilers (a popular leading lady in late silents and early talkies), he owned a ranch in Saugus now known as the Saugus Speedway. SCV historian Jerry Reynolds writes:

"Roy Baker purchased a 40-acre tract east of Bouquet Junction during 1923, starting construction on a rodeo arena a year later. Hoot Gibson bought the ranch and stadium in 1930, putting on shows that attracted such stars as Tom Mix, John Wayne and Clark Gable. In 1934 Gibson sold out to Paul Hill, who ran the Western Livestock yards and leased it to film companies for three years until a huge flood filled the home and arena with mud and debris. (Hill) was unable to make payments, and the bank repossessed the property, which was eventually taken over by a professor of economics at Occidental College, William Bonelli (who started the Santa Clarita Water Co. and built one of the first local housing tracts in the late 1940s). Today (the rodeo arena) is known as the Saugus Speedway."

LW3009: 9600 dpi jpeg from original photograph purchased 2017 by Leon Worden.
Behind the Scenes


Marries Sally Eilers 6-28-1930


Hawaiian Honeymoon April 1931


Separation May 1932


Crashes Plane, 7-3-1933


June Gale Comforts Hoot in Hospital, July 1933


Eilers Confirms Divorce, August 1933


Hoot Gibson Broke, Sept. 1933

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