Promo still for "Never Say Die," 1939 (Bison Archives)
Bob Hope in "Never Say Die"
Bob Hope stands near the fence in this shot from the movie. You may recognize the rocks and hills in the background, which are located southwest of the Iverson Ranch, below Santa Susana Pass Road.
Promo still for "Dick Turpin" (Fox Film Corp., 1925)
Another intriguing shot that recently surfaced from the Bison Archives is this promo still for the 1925 silent movie "Dick Turpin," starring Tom Mix. It's a historical adventure in which Mix plays an English highwayman.
The "Dick Turpin" promo shot in the photo's proper orientation
Somehow it occurred to me to rotate the photo to get a fresh perspective, and suddenly it made sense. The photo had been rotated 90 degrees for the promo still, but this is its correct orientation.
The Sphinx, in the Iverson Movie Ranch's Garden of the Gods
It turns out Mix is "climbing" — or crawling, to be more accurate — along a horizontal crack in the heavily filmed Iverson rock feature known as the Sphinx.
"Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ" (MGM, 1925)
We can see in this screen shot from the silent "Ben-Hur," released the same year as "Dick Turpin," that no such nature-defying tree actually existed in that spot.
Drone shot taken in 2017
But in fact, the illusion remains intact, as this drone shot taken by Dennis Cohee in 2017 illustrates. When we're able to view the rock from an elevated position, the circle appears.
"Ben-Hur": The illusion of the perfect circle
The angle seen in "Ben-Hur" tightens up the illusion by making it almost perfectly circular.
Tom Mix and Kathleen Myers in "Dick Turpin" — not exactly an Iverson movie
It should be noted that the movie "Dick Turpin," at least in its surviving form, does not contain the Sphinx shot, nor does it include anything readily identified as Iverson. It may be that only the promo still was shot at the ranch.
click here if you haven't seen that post — or just want to refresh your memory.
The intruder rock area in 2018
Given the intruder rock's rounded shape, it may have been inevitable that it would roll off, whether it was prompted by an earthquake or just got sick of being stuck there. Maybe a bug moved and that was all it took.
Promo still for "Excuse Me" (MGM, 1925): Nyoka Cliff in the background
Still another gem from the Bison Archives is this promo still for the silent comedy "Excuse Me," starring Norma Shearer and Conrad Nagel. Watching the young couple embrace are actors William V. Mong and Edith Yorke.
Norma Shearer in "He Who Gets Slapped" (MGM, 1924)
One of MGM's top stars of the late silent era and into the 1940s, Shearer made her mark playing sexually liberated women — one of the first major actresses to do so.
Shearer shows off her Oscar in 1930
Nominated six times for Academy Awards for her leading roles, Norma won her only Oscar in 1930 for MGM's "The Divorcee." She was nominated twice that year, including one for MGM's "Their Own Desire."
"Upstage" (MGM, 1926): Norma reaches new heights
Like most teenage girls, Norma had her "massive beehive" phase. I grew up in the East Valley and had a big sister, so this is nothing new to me.
Norma dazzles in her new hat in "The Tower of Lies" (MGM, 1925)
She also could rock a funny hat if the producers insisted.
Norma Shearer on the rocks ... sounds like it would make a fine cocktail
Speaking of rocking, Norma wasn't just another pretty face in the rocks. While she was at Iverson for "Excuse Me," she got out there and got her hands dirty shooting the film's rocky climactic action sequence.
"The Michigan Kid" (1928): Conrad Nagel and Renee Adoree
Adoree and Nagel apparently hit it off. They went on to work together in five movies, including making the jump to Universal for the 1928 melodrama "The Michigan Kid."
"The Cossacks" (MGM, 1928): Renee Adoree and Ernest Torrence
Adoree also tangled with the feared contrabass balalaika in "The Cossacks," another silent movie filmed on the Iverson Ranch. From the looks of that thing, we may be lucky the movie was silent!
"Heaven on Earth" (1927): Renee Adoree on mandolin, with Conrad Nagel
But Adoree apparently did have some musical chops. They found a more "size appropriate" instrument for her, something in the mandolin family, in MGM's "Heaven on Earth."
"The Pagan" (MGM, 1929): Adoree with Ramon Novarro
The diminutive Adoree was downsized all the way to a ukulele for "The Pagan."
Adoree in a photo shoot for "The Cossacks"
Born in Lille, France, Adoree was the daughter of circus performers and got an early start in showbiz. As a youngster she toured Russia — where herds of wild balalaikas reportedly still roamed free at the time.
"The Big Parade" (1925): Adoree reminds John Gilbert what he's fighting for
Adoree, whose stage name means "adored," was apparently a good kisser. She practiced on John Gilbert in "The Big Parade," considered by many historians to be one of the best films of the silent era.
"Forbidden Hours" (MGM, 1928)
She later got to show off her skills for Ramon Novarro.
"Exchange of Wives" (1925): Renee Adoree and Creighton Hale
Adoree even wound up in bed with a snoozy Creighton Hale, in the provocatively titled "Exchange of Wives." This was years before the Hays Code forced Hollywood to pretend it didn't know about the birds and the bees.
"Back to God's Country" (Universal, 1927)
Renee's "adorableness" may have got her in trouble during filming on "Back to God's Country." In a juicy rumor right out of "Hollywood Babylon," she was accused of an illicit affair with director Lynn Reynolds.
Renee Adoree at home by the fireplace, circa 1927
As the story goes, Reynolds' wife, actress Kathleen O'Connor, got vocal about the alleged affair during a dinner with cast and crew, prompting Reynolds to ruin the party, first by hitting O'Connor and then by killing himself.
Renee Adoree — publicity still for "Rose-Marie" (1928)
Life wasn't all that kind to Adoree either. She lived to be just 35, dying of tuberculosis on Oct. 5, 1933.