Days at Corriganville
By Patrick (Richard) Bousquet, 2002
THIS IS HISTORICAL INFORMATION ONLY
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I arrived in California in July of 1957 and one of the first places I visited was Corriganville Movie Ranch. It was a daytime visit so there were no shows taking place. However, two TV series were being filmed this day; Wild Bill Hickok and Rin Tin Tin. Guy Madison and Andy Devine were there and, in another location, the complete cast of Rin Tin Tin. Little did I know that in a short three years later, I would be working in the re-created historical western shows.
It all came about because a friend of mine, an Antique dealer, knew that I was a big western movie fan, was into fast draw, had owned my own horse and did lots of riding, had done some tumbling, and had some acting experience. In conversation one day, this friend asked me if I would be interested in working in the shows at Corriganville and I said, "Sure."
I met my friend one Sunday morning at Corriganville and after watching a couple of shows, I was introduced to "Crash" Corrigan. He looked just like I remembered him from movies and television.
"Crash" interviewed me and I started work two weeks later. This was in the late Spring of 1960. The actors had to supply ALL of their own wardrobe and be as close to period costume as possible. I soon learned that the Salvation Army and Goodwill store was a good place to build my wardrobe. In those days, you could find clothes that resembled period clothes. I already had hats, boots, and gunbelt.
I started out by being just a street extra as background but I watched everything very closely, including all the different feature parts that I might be called on to play at one time or another.
All the shows were recorded on, at that time, reel to reel tape. You had to react to the recording and the narration was done by "Crash." I listened, observed, and asked lots of questions from the "ole" timers who had been in the shows for a number of years. Most of the "ole" timers were glad to help, especially if you didn't have a big ego about yourself.
As time went on, I started playing different characters. Storekeeper, doctor, deputy sheriff, undertaker, and etcetera. One of the ways I got to play any major part was when one or more people called in sick or just didn't show up.
Because of my background, I started filling in on more and more major parts such as Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid, Sheriff, and so on. I finally played Morgan Earp full time in the OK Corral show and much of the time, Bat Masterson.
Top pay for a day was ten dollars with no discount for food or drink in the café or snack bar. If you were injured, you paid your own medical bill. That wouldn't happen today.
My three years at Corriganville Movie Ranch was a great experience. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity and I enjoyed every part of it.
Because of being a part of Corriganville for a little while, I took part in the Hollywood Lane Christmas parade, the Huntington Park parade; met Roy Rogers and Dale Evans (at their Chatsworth, California, ranch), Gene Autry, Jack O'Shea, Dale Robertson, Bud Osborn, and Mickey Simpson, to mention a few.
One of my fondest memories -- I lived on Corriganville Movie Ranch for a short time. I lived in the Memory of an Old West Town . . .
This article was written for PhantomRanch.net by our fellow Trail Riders of the West club member whose club handle is "Stoney."