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.
• Your feedback is appreciated — please leave comments on any of the posts.
• 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.
• To join the MAILING LIST, send me an email at and let me know you'd like to sign up.
• 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.
• Readers can email the webmaster at

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

"American Pickers" may want to leave
the movie research to the experts

"American Pickers": A favorite of pickers, collectors and hoarders since 2010

I'm a fan of the TV show "American Pickers," but the show has a tendency to get in trouble whenever it ventures into the realm of movie history.
Whoopsie! (Screenshot from "American Pickers" with botched ID)

I was watching the "Zephyrville" episode, which premiered last summer, when a couple of whoppers popped up on the screen. I know a lot of my readers will immediately spot what's wrong with this picture.
Are you gonna trust television ... or your own lyin' eyes?

In what is probably about the billionth example of "Never believe what they tell you" — and that's about a billion just in the realm of movie history — here we see yet again where "even" television gets it wrong.
The same photo, with correct ID

Our version of the photo may not be as "official" as the original screen shot, but at least we got the name right. And that's only fair, considering it's Leo Carrillo, one of the most interesting figures in Southern California history.
Leo Carrillo — more than just "Pancho"

It's not as though Leo Carrillo is just the answer to some obscure TV trivia question, or that he's defined by the malapropisms he often delivered as punchlines in the popular "Cisco Kid" feature films and TV show.
Just a small part of the Leo Carrillo legacy

Along with being a pioneer on screens large and small, Carrillo was a philanthropist, preservationist, activist and civic leader — he has beaches and parks named after him, for cryin' out loud.
Leo Carrillo's former retreat and working ranch in Carlsbad, Calif.

And when I say "parks" I mean multiple parks, as in more than one, spanning multiple counties — not to mention a 1.5-mile span of beaches in the Malibu area.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, with a tip of the cap to Leo Carrillo

A longtime member of the California Beach and Parks Commission, Carrillo was at the forefront of preserving Hearst Castle, the L.A. Arboretum and the Anzo-Borrego Desert State Park, among many other landmarks.
"Gidget Goes Hawaiian" (1961): Leo Carrillo State Beach

All of the above-named sites have also been filming locations, and today's Leo Carrillo State Beach has a movie history going all the way back to the silent era.
Leo Carrillo State Beach in modern times (matching photo by Tony Hoffarth)

Filming continues today at the beach named in honor of Leo Carrillo — which has been called the most heavily filmed beach in the world.
Movie history for sale

If he were alive today, Leo Carrillo would probably be fighting to preserve that 16-acre corner of the former Iverson Movie Ranch that has been up for sale for a few years now and is presumed to be fated for development.
Duncan Renaldo, left, as Cisco, and Leo Carrillo as Pancho

For fans of early TV Westerns and B-Westerns from the heyday of the B-Western, Leo Carrillo remains largely associated with his "Pancho" character and his long partnership with the "real" Cisco Kid, Duncan Renaldo.
Leo Carrillo and Thelma Todd in "Deception" (1932)

But there was much more to Leo Carrillo the actor than just "Pancho." He appeared in about 85 movies, often as a leading man, working alongside some of the biggest stars of the '30s and '40s.
Leo Carrillo's 1948 Chrysler Town and Country

But Carrillo did have the requisite "eccentric cowboy movie star car" — a 1948 Chrysler Town and Country convertible with a longhorn's head attached to the front end.
"American Pickers," "Zephyrville" episode: Here we go again!

Believe it or not, the Duncan Renaldo/Leo Carrillo mixup probably wasn't the worst mistake on "American Pickers" that day. My vote for biggest flub in the episode goes to this one.
This is getting embarrassing

I might be pretty good at identifying rocks, but I don't claim to be a master at recognizing actors and actresses. Even so, I'm reasonably confident that this is a picture of Roy Rogers, not Gene Autry.
Correcting the unacceptable "American Pickers" gaffe

OK, so what, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, what's the difference, right? ... Well, the difference is they're two completely different cowboy stars, and the show's inability or unwillingness to go to the trouble to tell them apart is a slap in the face of all cowboy stars — not to mention their fans.
Mike Wolfe, left, and Frank Fritz — stars of "American Pickers"

I'm sure the show meant well. Mike and Frank are always trying to honor the history they uncover on their picks.
Mike and Frank check out a poster for the 1935 Tom Mix serial "The Miracle Rider"

And they seem to show genuine interest whenever they run across old movie memorabilia.
Frank sizes up a potential investment in an Audie Murphy poster

Even so, dropping not one but two boneheaded misinformation bombs in a single episode suggests something's seriously wrong in the fact-checking department.
"American Pickers" episode "Big Bear": Mike and Frank home in on some prime junk

I imagine the task of looking up the IDs for the Roy Rogers and Leo Carrillo photos — if anyone even bothered — probably fell on an unpaid 20-something intern. So we shouldn't be surprised — and I'm not.
Mike Wolfe and a guest longbeard admire a "Captain of the Guard" poster from 1930

People who have old movie history junk are notorious for not having their facts straight. The most likely scenario is the owner of the Leo Carrillo and Roy Rogers photos provided the errant IDs and the show just took his word for it.
"American Pickers" episode "Scrappy Go Lucky"

Full beards aren't exactly a requirement for making it onto the show as a guest seller, but they definitely help.
History repeats itself on the episode "The Belly Dance"

Frank explains what they're looking for — you'll find one of the show's want lists below.
"American Pickers" episode "You Betcha"

Another episode, another impressive beard.
Mike Wolfe, left, Danielle Colby and Frank Fritz on "American Pickers"

After Mike and Frank, the next-in-command and one of big attractions on "American Pickers" is Danielle Colby, an accomplished picker in her own right and the show's no-nonsense office manager and pick finder.
Dannie Diesel

It's no secret that Danielle has a number of other irons in the fire — including a second career as a burlesque performer, appearing under the stage name Dannie Diesel.
Danielle works out with her roller derby pals

Danielle also was a member and owner of an all-female roller derby team, the Big Mouth Mickies, until a shoulder injury forced her to hang up her skates.
The "American Pickers" wish list, and how to get on the show

If you have your own massive hoard of junk and wish you could get on the show, there's a number you can call. It's on the above flier, along with the show's want list — click on it to see a larger version.