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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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Commemorating one of the baddest of the Western bad guys — Glenn Strange gets an Iverson Ranch rock dedicated in his honor

Glenn Strange, fixin' to do some ambushing at "Glenn Strange Rock" in "The Lone Ranger"

Something's happening this month that will be of interest to fans of the Iverson Movie Ranch, "The Lone Ranger" and perennial Western bad guy Glenn Strange — Glenn is having a rock dedicated in his name.

Glenn Strange as Sam the Bartender on "Gunsmoke"

You might remember Glenn as Sam Noonan, the gruff but lovable bartender on "Gunsmoke." But before he mellowed out enough to tend bar in Dodge for 12 seasons, most of his characters were harder to love.

Glenn Strange as Frankenstein's Monster

Sometime after Boris Karloff decided he was sick of being typecast as Frankenstein's Monster — and after brief, not entirely successful stints as the Monster by horror icons Lon Chaney Jr. and Bela Lugosi — it was Glenn Strange who stepped up to the plate.

Strange donned the green facepaint and neckbolts for Universal's final three Frankenstein movies of the '40s, making his debut as Frankenstein's Monster in "House of Frankenstein" in 1944.

Karloff stepped up from his old role as the Monster to play the Mad Doctor this time around, and Chaney returned to his familiar role as sad sack Larry Talbot — aka the Wolf Man.

Strange didn't rate a mention of his name on the lobby card or other promo material for "House of Frankenstein," part of a conscious effort by the studio to downplay that the role had been handed off yet again.

Swedish poster for "House of Frankenstein" (1944)

The lack of recognition for Strange's work as the Monster went global, as in this example from Sweden, where, as usual, Strange's name is nowhere to be found — even though his face is prominently depicted.

Poor Elena Verdugo had a lot of monsters to contend with in "House of Frankenstein," but Lon Chaney's Wolf Man was especially persistent in letting his intentions be known.

Verdugo was much more receptive to Chaney when he wasn't in one of his "moods."

Red "X" poster for "House of Frankenstein"

The studio made a point of marketing the sex angle. Here it's Anne Gwynne's character who's depicted in peril, although Gwynne's name is kept out of it — as is Glenn Strange's, yet again.

Anne Gwynne — World War II pinup girl

This is what Anne Gwynne — no relation to "Herman Munster," Fred Gwynne — looked like in the flesh. She was one of the most popular pinups among U.S. servicemen during World War II.

Two monsters share a tender moment in "House of Frankenstein"

Karloff and Strange — the former Frankenstein's Monster and the new one — are featured in a promo still for "House of Frankenstein." Karloff, who reportedly had health problems related to the heavy makeup, appears to be checking on how Strange is feeling under all that greasepaint.

"House of Dracula": Glenn Strange has another go at the Monster

Strange apparently didn't mind the makeup, the anonymity or other inconveniences of playing the Monster, tackling the role two more times — in "House of Dracula" in 1945 and "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" in 1948.

Onslow Stevens and Glenn Strange in "House of Dracula" (1945)

By the time of "House of Dracula," Boris Karloff had seen enough of Universal's monsters and bowed out of the franchise for the time being, opening the door for Onslow Stevens to slide into the role of the Mad Doctor.

"Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" (1948)

It was only a matter of time before Universal brought in Abbott and Costello to take the series in a whole different direction — and once again, Glenn Strange was on board in all his green glory.

"Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein": Bela Lugosi and Glenn Strange

Strange wound up working with all three of the movies' "Big Three" classic horror icons — Karloff, Chaney and Lugosi. Here he has a scene with Bela in "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein."

Glenn Strange in his "Abbott and Costello" monster makeup

The movie may have played the monster thing for laughs, but Glenn was as terrifying as ever.

"The Lone Ranger," episode one: "Enter the Lone Ranger" (premiered Sept. 15, 1949)

Still, the scene that cemented Glenn Strange's place in TV history and the annals of Western bad-guydom took place one year after Glenn wiped off the green goo for the last time, and it took place on the Iverson Movie Ranch.

It was 1949 and TV was just getting up to speed — with "The Lone Ranger" poised to become one of its first big successes — when Strange, as Butch Cavendish, masterminded the ambush of the Texas Rangers that launched the saga of the Lone Ranger — all from a perch behind the rock that will now bear his name.

Glenn Strange Rock in modern times

The rock where Strange made TV history back in 1949 remains in place today on the former Iverson Movie Ranch. The rock is on public land and is easy to get to, so "Lone Ranger" fans can visit the spot whenever they want.

This is what Glenn Strange Rock looks like from a bit farther back — that's it on the right.

Butch Cavendish would have been perched on the south side of the rock during the "Lone Ranger" ambush — on a precarious slope, presumably with some scaffolding in place to make his stay more hospitable.

I suppose there's some poetic justice in the fact that the spot where the venomous Cavendish once did his nasty business is now home to a massive infestation of poison oak.

Glenn Strange Rock keeps some good company — the Phantom, on the left, appears in hundreds of productions, and in the center is the "laundry rock" made famous by Laurel and Hardy as the foundation for the massive pile of Foreign Legion laundry in the 1939 RKO comedy "The Flying Deuces."

Stan Laurel stands atop the famous laundry pile in "The Flying Deuces"

In fact, Glenn Strange Rock apparently had a hand in that famous laundry scene — it's probably the source of the telltale bump noted here. (You can read all about the Laurel and Hardy laundry scene by clicking here.)

The prolific and imposing Glenn Strange may not have received the recognition he deserved during his career, but the dedication of Glenn Strange Rock should begin to make up for that oversight.

A special event celebrating the dedication of the rock takes place Friday, Sept. 22, at the Valley Relics Museum, 21630 Marilla St. in Chatsworth, Calif. Doors open at 6 p.m., with the presentation set for 7 p.m.

Julie Ann Ream, the niece of Glenn Strange, will be on hand to give the inside scoop on her famous uncle, and will present the first episode of "The Lone Ranger." I plan to be there to help out if needed.

Valley Relics Museum founder Tommy Gelinas shows off the old Iverson Movie Ranch sign

The event is a fund raiser for the Valley Relics Museum, which is doing much-needed work to preserve the history of the San Fernando Valley. Some readers may recall that earlier this year I discovered an old sign for the Iverson Movie Ranch at the museum.

I hope to see some of you there next week! For more about Glenn Strange Rock and the "Lone Ranger" ambush, including a map to the site, please click here to see my post from 2015.


Mark Sherman said...

Would love to go...just can't make it happen. Thanks!

Steve Wilson said...

Great job, and good luck at the event!

Brian Harrington said...

Great post, hope the event goes well, very well done as usual, thanks Brian from Dallas Texas