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

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The separation of actress Sally Eilers from her husband, Western screen star and Saugus resident Hoot Gibson, came to light after Eilers was involved in an automobile accident in the spring of 1932. It was less than two years after the couple married at Gibson's Saugus ranch home (the ex-Baker Ranch Rodeo, later Saugus Speedway).

6x8-inch Associated Press photo dated May 9, 1932, with a newspaper photo editor's instructions to the paste-up room to use only Hoot Gibson's mugshot (which is why Eilers' face is crossed out). Cutline reads:

Associated Press Photo ... From New York.
Sally Eilers, film actress, whose troubled domestic affairs with Hoot Gibson, motion picture cowboy, were disclosed as the result of a motor car accident, said on May 9 she and Gibson had agreed on a temporary separation to see "what that would bring." Miss Eilers is recovering in the Santa Monica, Calif., home of Bebe Daniels from injuries suffered in the auto accident. She admitted she and Gibson separated on May 7. They married in June 1930. Photo shows Hoot Gibson and Sally Eilers.

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."

LW3011: 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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