"The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp" (1956): Gray Rock
One of the most mysterious movie rocks on the former Iverson Movie Ranch was a relatively obscure stacked feature that I call "Gray Rock."
Burt Lancaster in "Ten Tall Men" (1951) — Gray Rock keeps a low profile
I started calling it "Gray Rock" because it reminded me of the so-called "Grays," or "Gray Aliens" — the extraterrestrial figures widely associated with UFOs and Roswell, N.M.
The "Gray Alien"
You've almost certainly seen pictures of the "Grays," or "Greys" — they usually look about like this.
Famous photo of a "Gray Alien" meeting some presumably important human
We see the alien term spelled both ways, either "Gray" or "Grey." For consistency, I try to spell "Gray Rock" with an "a," but even I have to admit it probably doesn't matter.
"Sky King" episode "Carrier Pigeon" (1952): A charismatic Gray Rock steals the scene
This is one of my favorite shots of Gray Rock, from the second episode of the TV series "Sky King." Everyone else in the shot is oblivious to it, but I can't find a way not to see that totally out-of-place alien at top right.
"Gray Alien," left, and "Gray Rock," right
Is it just me, or do you see the resemblance too?
A more ominous version of the "Gray Alien"
The "Gray Aliens" have a number of other names too, including "Roswell Grays" and "Zeta Reticulans."
"Whistling Hills" (1951): Johnny Mack Brown butts up against Gray Rock
Anyway, the reason I'm finally reporting on Gray Rock after all these years is because there's been a development.
"Wyatt Earp" episode "Wyatt Wins One" (1959): Gray Rock and Sabertooth Rock
To understand the significance of the find, and the mystery of Gray Rock, it may help to get the lay of the land. One of Gray Rock's closest neighbors is a rock I call Sabertooth Rock.
Sabertooth Rock in its current role, as landscaping for the Cal West Townhomes
Sabertooth Rock still has a "public life" of sorts, remaining visible to residents of the Cal West Townhomes who happen to live near the rock. The condos were built in the 1980s on former Iverson Movie Ranch property.
Sabertooth Rock "points" toward its former neighbor, Gray Rock
In a way, the former movie rocks remain neighbors — Sabertooth intact, and Gray Rock, not so much.
Sabertooth Rock, the Gray Rock base and environs, in 2020
This shot taken from a higher vantage point on a recent visit to the site again shows Sabertooth Rock on the left. The base, at center, is all but consumed by a tree, and a drainage channel runs downhill from near the base.
Bring me the head of Gray Rock!
That's right — it's the long-lost "head" of Gray Rock. It turns out the thing was hiding in plain sight all along.
Gray Rock: Not quite ready for its closeup
The rock is barely recognizable, all turned around, and in brutal shape. You have to crawl around the back side to see anything remotely familiar, and much of what was once an intact "alien" head today lies in pieces.
The "business end" of Gray Rock: Its back side
But once we work our way to the back side of the rock, we can begin to put some of those pieces together. This is the side we almost always saw when the rock was in the movies and on television.
"Ghost Valley Raiders" (Don "Red" Barry, 1940): Close encounter with Gray Rock
The devil's in the details, so let's see how well they match up. This shot of Gray Rock in "Ghost Valley Raiders" provides a good starting point.
"Annie Oakley" TV episode "The Runaways" (premiered July 24, 1954)
This shot from the TV series "Annie Oakley" provides one of the best views of Gray Rock during its Hollywood career. Even though the rock is partially cut off, the detail in the picture surpasses what we usually see.
"Smoking gun": The shoe heel mark is still there
The "shoe heel" mark is a little harder to see on the present-day rock, but if you look closely, it's still there.
Gray Rock's "cranium" (difficult to replicate today)
Even though the best shots of the rock in modern times show off its "eye," "shoe heel" mark and other features, they don't tend to match the distinctive curved "cranium" displayed in the movie shots.
Gray Rock today: Its curved cranium remains intact
Because of the rock's current position in the condo complex landscaping, this was a difficult shot to get — but it's the closest I could come to showing that the "cranium" still looks about how it did in days gone by.
"Clash of the Wolves" (1925): Rin Tin Tin stands on a rock on the Iverson Ranch
I ran into a similar problem back in 2017 when I found a rock that Rin Tin Tin stood on in 1925 for the movie "Clash of the Wolves." The rock had been moved and it was impossible to match the angle seen in the movie.
Parker demonstrates proper "standing on a rock" etiquette — using the Rin Tin Tin rock from 1925
But upon careful examination — and with help from Parker the Wonder Dog — it became clear that it was the same rock. You can click here to read all about the rock and some of Rin Tin Tin's other Iverson Ranch exploits.
The former base of Gray Rock, hidden today beneath a tree
As part of my exploration of the Gray Rock site, I crawled through the underbrush beneath the tree that has swallowed up the former foundation of Gray Rock, hoping to find evidence that the rock feature was manmade.
White residue from the material used to fasten the head to the foundation
I was unable to determine the exact nature of the material, which I would think would be some type of cement. But the residue provides the evidence that Gray Rock was indeed a manmade feature.
It was almost too much to hope for that we might one day find the head of Gray Rock, which may explain why, in my 12 years of exploring the movie ranch, it never occurred to me that it might be sitting right out in the open.