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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• 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.
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• 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.
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Sunday, July 30, 2017

Happy campers? Oh, the celebration when Adolph Zukor paid a visit to the Iverson Movie Ranch 100 years ago

Left to right at the table: Adolph Zukor, his son Eugene Zukor, Kenneth McGaffey,
Lambert Hillyer, E. H. Allen, Mrs. Smith (Vola Vale's mom), Vola Vale, William S. Hart

Here's a jubilant bunch, "celebrating" a visit from the boss during a break from filming the William S. Hart Western "The Silent Man" on the Iverson family farm — not yet known as the Iverson Movie Ranch — in 1917.

The big surprise here — and judging from the stunned looks on everyone's faces, it may have in fact been a surprise — was the appearance by legendary Hollywood mogul Adolph Zukor, on a visit from the East Coast.

Adolph Zukor on the cover of the Jan. 14, 1929, issue of Time

Zukor, who founded and presided over what was then Famous Players-Lasky — the company that would evolve into Paramount Pictures — was one of the most important figures in early Hollywood, even though he ran his empire from New York City until late in his life.

Blurb in the Dec. 15, 1917, issue of Motography

Zukor's sojourn to "the Coast" (Hollywood) in late 1917 was a big enough deal to be written up in the trade publications of the day.

Probably not a photo that young Zukor OR his dad was happy to see in print.

Young Eugene Zukor appears to be frozen in terror, but it may be nothing more than the usual teen angst about being seen in public with one's parents. Technically, Eugene had recently turned 20 at the time the photo was taken, and was being groomed for executive roles in his father's company.

Vola Vale and William S. Hart, stars of "The Silent Man"

Of course, it may be simply that young Zukor can't take his eyes off the beautiful Vola Vale. An "older woman" by several months, Vale was also 20 years old at the time of the photo.

Vola Vale in 1915

Vale, who changed her name from Vola Smith in 1916, was one of the more successful actresses of the silent era, appearing in about 100 movies from 1913 to 1927. Her career did not survive the transition to the talkies.

William S. Hart in one of his trademark poses

One of the top cowboy heroes of the silent screen, William S. Hart starred in a number of the earliest movies known to have been filmed on the Iverson Ranch.

"The Silent Man" (1917): Vale and Hart on the Iverson Ranch

I published a detailed post a while back breaking down some of the Iverson Movie Ranch features seen in "The Silent Man," which you can find by clicking on this link.

I couldn't find much about Vola Vale's mom — even a trade publication that ran the photo in 1917 referred to her as "Vola Vale's mother," without a name. But I assume that she would have gone by Mrs. Smith.

Poor Kenneth McGaffey was head of publicity on the West Coast for Zukor's film company, and apparently got the assignment to escort the boss and his son to the various film sets. His expression suggests the 26-mile trip out to Chatsworth may have been among the least enjoyable of the week's activities.

Lambert Hillyer tries to hide in the shadows

Lambert Hillyer was an uncredited assistant director on "The Silent Man," with William S. Hart credited as the film's director. A close look at the photo reveals that his mood appears to match that of the rest of the table.

Lambert Hillyer

Hillyer would go on to a durable career as a B-Western director for Monogram, Columbia and other outfits, returning often to the Iverson Ranch. He transitioned successfully to television in the 1950s.

Thomas H. Ince: conspicuously absent

One key player who avoided the grim meal with Zukor was pioneer filmmaker Thomas H. Ince, who "supervised" production of "The Silent Man" during a short-lived partnership with Zukor, but was apparently pretty hands-off at the time when it came to actual moviemaking.

The mysterious E. H. Allen, Ince's business manager and consigliere

Ince and Hart were said to be feuding during this period, which may be why Ince skipped the festivities. Ince did send his lieutenant, E. H. Allen — officially Ince's business manager and studio manager, but a figure who has been described both as Ince's "strongarm" man and as the actual director of many of the movies credited to Ince.

The photo as it appeared in the Dec. 15, 1917, issue of Motography

I saved this for the end because I love the caption. I don't suppose the use of the word "enjoying" was intended to be ironic, but it sure turned out that way.


Mark Sherman said...

Always Good! Thanks

Brenda Negri said...

I made it once to Hart's old place. In its day it must have been fabulous. Great post, thanks again - keep them coming!