Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

"Death Valley Rangers"

Based at Monogram (Melody) Ranch, Placerita Canyon

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Publicity Photo


Publicity Photo

Bob Steele drives the wagon while Hoot Gibson (center) and Ken Maynard dispatch the bad guys in "Death Valley Rangers" (Monogram Pictures 1943), which was based at Ernie Hickson's Placeritos/Monogram Ranch (later called Melody Ranch) in Placerita Canyon.

The Corrigan movie ranch in Simi Valley was used for some of the location filming; the backdrop for this scene is probably Corriganville.

Using the same theory as with the "Rough Riders" — Buck Jones, Tim McCoy and Raymond Hatton — Monogram teamed up Gibson, Maynard and Steele as the "Trail Blazers" in a series of "buddy pictures" in the early 1940s. The idea was that a trio of actors who were past their prime would be a bigger draw than just one.

Detail, enhanced. Click to enlarge.

A (rubber) stamp on the back of this 8x10 publicity photo shows it was distributed to theaters by Independent Poster Exchange of Philadelphia. The embossed stamp at lower left (inset) reads: "Property of N.S.S. Co. / May be distributed only by poster companies licensed by N.S.S. Co." What that means is this: National Screen Service, established in 1919 in Hollywood, generated about 90 percent of the promotional materials for all motion pictures in the United States and had a lock on distributing them to theaters — until N.S.S. was successfully sued for monopolistic practices. After 1943, it still owned the advertising materials but licensed third parties — such as Indpendent Poster Exchange of Philadelpha — to distribute them.

"Death Valley Rangers" is produced and directed by Robert Emmett Tansey from a screenplay by Elizabeth Beecher adapted from a story by Tansey and Frances Kavanaugh. The stunt performers are Ben Corbett (Gibson's double), Rex Rossi (Steele's double), Jack Hendricks, Cliff Lyons and Wally West. The picture also features Weldon Heyburn, Linda Brent, Bryant Washburn, Glenn Strange, Forrest Taylor, Karl Hackett, Lee Roberts, Charles King, George Chesebro, John Bridges, Al Ferguson, Steve Clark, Curley Dresden and Frank Ellis.

LW3722: 9600 dpi jpeg from original photograph purchased 2020 by Leon Worden.
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