Little Hollywood’s All-Star Roundup
Kanab’s Rich Movie History
Did you know that the classic American Western Movie got its foothold right here in Kanab? Yup, Hollywood directors fell in love with our beautiful Red Rock canyons and friendly folks in the early 1920’s. Practically every studio in Hollywood has used our local color, canyons, Western Atmosphere and unique scenery in the filming of classic Western stories. And since that early day over 300 movies, commercials, and photo-shoots have been made in our backyard–earning Kanab the nickname “Little Hollywood”.
Every year Western Legends Round-up celebrates This Western Movie History with a film festival, complete with movie stars, professional film critics, and a chance for fans to learn more of thier favorite stars!
Theme: “Remembering Gunsmoke”
The Gunsmoke TV series ran from September 10, 1955, to March 31, 1975, on CBS, with 635 total episodes. It was the second Western television series written for adults, premiering on September 10, 1955. During its second season in 1956, the program joined the list of the top ten television programs broadcast in the United States. It quickly moved to number one and stayed there until 1961. It remained among the top 20 programs until 1964. The television series remains the longest-running, primetime live-action series of the 20th century.
Gunsmoke was TV’s number one-ranked show from 1957 to 1961 before slipping into a decline after expanding to an hour. In 1967, the show’s 12th season, CBS planned to cancel the series, but widespread viewer reaction (including a mention in Congress and the behind-the-scenes pressure from the wife of CBS’s longtime president William S. Paley prevented its demise–and the network cut Gilligan’s Island instead!
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Gunsmoke: The Kanab Connection
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As you may know, Gunsmoke was set in the 1800’s-era of Dodge City, Kansas. But like most movies, the episodes were actually filmed in several locations: on sound stages in Hollywood, in various locations in California. . . . And a few episodes right here in Kanab! A full-size Dodge City was built in Johnson Canyon, complete with the Long Branch Saloon, church, sheriffs office and outbuildings. But like “most things Hollywood”, the buildings were simple facades, not meant for habitatioin or even durability. Today the Gunsmoke Movie Set stands as a memorial to the longevity of the Gunsmoke TV series, and it’s ‘ghost town’ look makes for great photo-ops.
Moderator: Julie Ann Ream
Julie is a writer, Western historian, and producer of live events and Western Award Shows. She has worked in television and radio alike, and came by her love of the West naturally.
Julie spent 10 years as an investigative agent in the TV series “Unsolved Mysteries”, and has worked for NBC, CBS, and Lifetime. She produced the Silver Spur Awards, and presents the Western Legends Awards each year. She recently produced the “GUNSMOKE 60th Anniversary Reunion” in Studio City, CA. Her background and passion make her the perfect moderator for Panel discussions at many Western Festivals around the US. She is also the granddaughter of Cactus Mack and kin to Rex Allen & Glenn Strange. Gunsmoke alumni Glenn Strange (“Sam the Bartender in Gunsmoke) and stunt double Ben Bates will be receiving their plaques this year on the Little Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Born into a family rich in Western entertainers, Julie understood early on how very hard they worked their craft & how very happy their work made others.
That’s why she happily spends her time these days bringing that happiness to others, by working to preserve Entertainment & Western Heritage. And, shucks, doesn’t everybody loves a cowboy!