LOS ANGELES (AP) — Gene Autry's dream of building a museum of Western lore went up in smoke yesterday, his wife said.
A swift-moving brush fire destroyed 75 per cent of the cowboy actor's famed Melody Ranch. Only a few ranch buildings and a small house were spared.
"My husband had been collecting Western antiques for years," Autry's wife, Ina, explained. Her husband, who had inspected the damage, was out for the evening.
"He planned to display his collection in a museum on the ranch," Mrs. Autry said. "He was just waiting until he had time to get everything organized."
Autry, in addition to producing Western television series and motion pictures, also is a part owner of the Los Angeles Angels baseball team. He purchased the ranch from the old Monogram Studios 10 years ago.
"We're not sure what's been saved," Mrs. Autry said. "My husband had a fine gun collection and another of more than 200 mounted longhorn steer heads."
"Our horses were all in fireproof stables and all of them were rescued," she added. "Any my husband's rodeo saddles all were stored in a fireproof tack room."
Firemen also saved one of the veteran cowboy star's most precious collections — the films he's made over his long career.
1. Actually, Autry purchased it from the widow of Ernie Hickson, who leased it to Monogram and others. Although its real name was Placeritos Ranch, it was known as the Monogram Ranch before Autry bought it and renamed it Melody Ranch.