Here's what the Iverson Movie Ranch obsession is all about ...

For an introduction to this blog and to the obsession a growing number of vintage film and TV fans have with the Iverson Movie Ranch — the most widely filmed outdoor location in movie and TV history — please read the site's introductory post, found here.
• Your feedback is appreciated — please leave comments on any of the posts.
• To find specific rock features or look up movie titles, TV shows, actors and production people, see the "LABELS" section — the long alphabetical listing on the right side of the page, below.
• To join the MAILING LIST, send me an email at and let me know you'd like to sign up.
• I've also begun a YouTube channel for Iverson Movie Ranch clips and other movie location videos, which you can get to by clicking here.
• Here's a link to Garden of the Gods, the best-known section of the Iverson Movie Ranch (featured in the movie "Stagecoach," the "Lone Ranger" TV show and hundreds of other productions).
• To go right to the great Iverson cinematographers, click here.
• Readers can email the webmaster at

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Shirley Temple dies — and she probably never knew she had a rock named after her

Shirley Temple, 1928-2014

I was sorry to hear the news this week of the death of Shirley Temple Black at age 85. She was a unique talent and had an enormous impact not just on movie fans of the 1930s, but on American culture. She also earned a special place in Iverson Movie Ranch history, starring in one of the most important Iverson productions, "Wee Willie Winkie," released in 1937.

Shirley Temple was the biggest movie star in the world in the mid-1930s, even though she was still just a little kid. When she appeared in the John Ford epic "Wee Willie Winkie," along with established Hollywood stars including Victor McLaglen and Cesar Romero, Shirley — who was 8 years old during filming of the movie — was top-billed. And McLaglen was already an Oscar winner for his lead role in "The Informer" in 1935.

Shirley Temple, as young Priscilla Williams — Wee Willie Winkie — with Cesar Romero, as the warrior 
Khoda Khan, in a promotional still for John Ford's "Wee Willie Winkie." The photo, shot on the 
Iverson Movie Ranch, comes from the collection of film historian Jerry England.

As she always did, Shirley stole the show in "Wee Willie Winkie," a war movie about the British colonial period in India. Shirley's character charmed her way into the hearts of soldiers on both sides of the conflict, while the young actress chewed up the scenery across two elaborate sets built for the movie on the Iverson Movie Ranch — widely considered to be the most extensive construction ever done for a movie at Iverson.

In a battle sequence from the film, Shirley stopped to survey the situation from atop a particular rock, seen above. The scene takes place in the Iverson Gorge, among buildings that were part of the set built as India freedom fighter Khoda Khan's mountain stronghold. I've blogged about this scene before — and you can click here to read that earlier post. Shirley's scene on this rock led to the rock being referred to — by me, initially, but to some extent by other location researchers as well — as Shirley Temple Rock.

Here's a wider view of Shirley Temple Rock from "Wee Willie Winkie," with 8-year-old Shirley scampering down from the rock feature.

The rock has turned up in other productions as well, which helped pinpoint its location. Here's an appearance by Shirley Temple Rock many years after the "Wee Willie Winkie" filming, in an episode of the TV show "The Virginian" called "Run Quiet," which first aired Nov. 13, 1963. Shirley Temple Rock is the shade-covered rock feature occupying the lower left corner of the frame. This shot also includes a number of other significant features of the Iverson Gorge — I'll post an annotated version of the photo below to point those out.

Here you can get an idea of the various rock features seen in the shot above this one, from "The Virginian." The hill in the background, across much of the top of the frame, is Cactus Hill, located to the north of Iverson Gorge. Most of the rock features seen in this shot remain in place today — but Shirley Temple Rock was not as fortunate. Sadly, the rock did not survive the development of the former Iverson Movie Ranch, being demolished to make way for condos.

Here's another appearance by Shirley Temple Rock, in the 1938 Bob Steele B-Western "Thunder in the Desert." The picture quality isn't the greatest, but you may be able to make out the rock at the left, below the shooter's outstretched arm. The background is filled by the rock feature known as The Wall, and a portion of Potato Rock, on top of The Wall, can be seen. I'll point out these features in the next shot.

This is the same shot as above, from "Thunder in the Desert," with key rock features highlighted. Unfortunately, all of the rocks seen here — including Shirley Temple Rock — were destroyed to make way for the Cal West Townhomes.

Shirley Temple on the set of the India outpost, built at Sheep Flats on the Iverson Movie Ranch,
in a scene from "Wee Willie Winkie." 

Other key scenes in "Wee Willie Winkie" took place on Iverson's Sheep Flats, where a massive set, usually called the India outpost or the India fort, was built. A small portion of this set can be seen in the shot above. By coincidence, my previous blog entry, published about a week before Shirley Temple's death, also featured Shirley Temple, "Wee Willie Winkie" and the India fort. You can go to that entry by clicking here, or you should be able to find it below this post. Additional posts about "Wee Willie Winkie" may be found here.

Shirley Temple Black

I would be shocked if I found out Shirley Temple Black ever heard of Shirley Temple Rock, or knew she had a rock named in her honor — a rock she scampered up as a child, with that scampering preserved for future generations thanks to the magic of celluloid. The rock name is a modest honor, to be sure — nothing formal, just a tribute to an actress and a little girl who won over the hearts of millions.

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