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.
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• 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).
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Friday, December 12, 2014

How cool is James Coburn? Cool enough to be filmed at Zorro's Cabin ... which is extremely cool

James Coburn, right, at Zorro's Cabin in "Bat Masterson" (1959)

I'm going "Off the Beaten Path" here — veering away temporarily from the Iverson Movie Ranch — but I was pretty excited to find shots of Zorro's Cabin during a recent scan of some old episodes of the "Bat Masterson" TV show. Best of all, I ran across shots of one of my favorite actors, James Coburn, at the cabin and out in the nearby rocks.

Coburn had a major shoot on the Bell Location Ranch for a guest appearance in an episode called "The Black Pearls," playing a character named Poke Otis. The episode premiered July 1, 1959, toward the end of the show's first season. The rocks seen here are just across from Zorro's Cabin, on Bell Ranch's Upper Plateau.

Coburn had kind of an innately menacing look that made him a natural for Westerns — maybe not Lee Van Cleef menacing, but menacing enough. He appeared on just about every TV Western of the late 1950s and early 1960s — "Wagon Train," "Bonanza," "Have Gun — Will Travel," "Cheyenne," "Wanted — Dead or Alive," "Zane Grey Theater," "Black Saddle," "Rawhide," "The Rifleman" ... the list goes on.

Bad guys defend Zorro's Cabin in "The Black Pearls"

Zorro's Cabin played a pivotal role in the "Bat Masterson" episode, with a couple of bad guys holed up in the place before Poke, Coburn's character, and Bat, played by Gene Barry, partnered up to flush 'em out.

They also dragged Carol Otis, played by Jacqueline Scott, into the dispute. In this shot the three main protagonists are out in front of the cabin.

James Coburn in action, in front of Zorro's Cabin

The rocks seen here come up a lot during the action sequences shot at Zorro's Cabin for the episode. The same rocks can be seen in the shot above this one, and in a shot higher up with Coburn walking among the rocks.

Here's Bat Masterson himself — Gene Barry — at the front of Zorro's Cabin.

Bat regroups after dispensing with one of the ne'er-do-wells. The last couple of shots offer a good look at the fake movie wear and tear applied to give Zorro's Cabin that "lived-in" look.

They used the other side of the cabin for this shot, which appears elsewhere in the episode.

Bat comforts Jacqueline Scott's character, Carol, after rescuing her from being drug by a horse. Everybody except Bat gets a little messy in this one, with all the action taking place around Zorro's Cabin.

Zorro's Cabin in recent times

Zorro's Cabin still stands on the site of the former Bell Location Ranch off Box Canyon in the hills above the western San Fernando Valley. This portion of what we now think of as Bell Ranch was previously owned by the Berry family and has also been called Berry Ranch.

Zorro's Cabin, up close

I've heard a couple of different origin stories about Zorro's Cabin. One widely circulated story has it that the place was built by Disney for the old "Zorro" TV series, although another version of the story says the cabin was built by the owners at the time, the Berry family, and was not originally meant to be a movie building but served as the family's weekend getaway.

James Coburn as Leo Talley, with Carol Ohmart as Lisa Truex,
in the "Bat Masterson" episode "Six Feet of Gold" (1960)

James Coburn subsequently made a second guest appearance on "Bat Masterson," playing a different character, Leo Talley, in "Six Feet of Gold" in early 1960. Coburn's character in this one is more of a "dude," and Coburn never has to get his boots dirty much — although on the downside, I believe he gets killed off in both episodes.

"Bat Masterson" (1961) — the Western town at Bell Ranch

"Bat Masterson," which aired for three seasons on NBC, from 1958-1961, shot quite a bit on the Bell Location Ranch, and is a good source for screen shots of not only Zorro's Cabin, but also the Bell Western town. The above shot, from the episode "Run for Your Money," which premiered March 2, 1961, provides a sample of what the Western town looked like. To read an earlier post about a "Bonanza" shoot at Bell Ranch, please click here, and to read about a "Star Trek" shoot at Bell, try this link.

Off the Beaten Path is a series of posts that are not specifically focused on the usual subject matter of this blog, the Iverson Movie Ranch. Past subjects have included Pioneertown, Corriganville, Oak Park and other old filming locations. You can go directly to the Off the Beaten Path posts by looking up the term "Off the Beaten Path" in the long index of labels at the right of the page, or by clicking here.

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