Melody Ranch - 110-acre frontier backdrop for the western
adventure THE GENE AUTRY SHOW/CBS/1950-56.
Melody Ranch was the headquarters for singing cowboy Gene Autry and his
sidekick Pat Buttram who fought injustice on the range.
According to Gene Autry:
"When I bought the old Melody Ranch (in 1952), as I called it, from Monogram
Pictures, it had been used for the filming of hundreds of Western movies (since
1915) with stars like Harry Carey, Johnny Mack Brown, Bob Steele, Tom Tyler and
My first feature picture for Republic Studios, Tumbling Tumbleweeds, had
been filmed at the Placerita Canyon ranch in 1935. Years later, in 1958, John
Wayne and I worked there together for the first time in a television (ninety
minute) special called "The Western" for the NBC series WIDE, WIDE WORLD.
Directed by John Ford, the 90-minute show was essentially a history of the
Western movie, with a cast that included Walter Brennan, Ward Bond, James Arness,
Gabby Hayes, James Garner and dozens of familiar cowboy and Indian faces."
Gene Autry leased his Melody Ranch to such classic TV western productions as
CISCO KID, GUNSMOKE, HOPALONG CASSIDY, SHERIFF OF COCHISE, WILD BILL HICKOK,
WYATT EARP. In addition, Gene Autry produced several series under his own
company, Flying A Pictures. They included THE GENE AUTRY SHOW, THE RANGE RIDER,
ANNIE OAKLEY, BUFFALO BILL, JR., and THE ADVENTURES OF CHAMPION.
Sadly, in August, 1962 a massive firestorm raged through the San Gabriel
Mountains and devastated much of Melody Ranch. Among the items destroyed were
priceless Indian relics and a collection of rare guns, including a set used by
Billy the Kid. Fifty-four structures were burned on the 110 acre ranch, as
well as Gene’s prized collection of antique automobiles and stagecoaches, his
wardrobe and costumes, documents and memorabilia, and an archive of 17,000
Before the fire, Gene had planned to build a museum at Melody Ranch, Years
later, Gene realized that dream. The remainder of his western memorabilia are
now on display at "The Autry National Center" (formerly "The Gene Autry Western
Heritage Museum") at 4700 Western Heritage Way (Zoo Drive), in Griffith Park,.
Los Angeles, CA.
After the fire,
Gene Autry slowly sold off most of the Melody Ranch to developers, but kept
twelve acres to stable his horse, Champion Three. When the horse died in 1990, Gene sold
Melody Ranch to brothers Renaud and Andre
Veluzat who decided to restore the ranch to
its former glory.
As of 1994, Melody Ranch hosted Santa Clarita Cowboy Poetry
and Music Festival. In recent years, Melody Ranch was used as a backdrop for the
HBO series DEADWOOD.
The actual ranch (now surrounded by modern homes) is located on Oak Creek
Avenue at Placeritos Boulevard, north of Placerita Canyon Road in Newhall,
TRIVIA NOTE: In 1940, Gene Autry starred in
the motion picture Melody Ranch (also known as Gene Autry's Melody
Ranch). Directed by Joseph Santley, the film co-starred Jimmy Durante, Ann
Miller, Barton MacLane, Barbara Jo Allen, George 'Gabby' Hayes and William
'Billy' Benedict. The storyline featured Gene Autry as a singing cowboy who
returned to his hometown of Torpedo only to find it filled with corruption.
Hired as the Honorary Sheriff, he cleans up the town, in between singing such
songs as "We Never Dream the Same Dream Twice."
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