Tuesday, January 16, 2007

"26 Men" and Phoenix's Cudia City Studios



As mentioned by Tom Wright in an earlier posting, some old TV shows were filmed at the Cuda City Studios, which was a 2-street Western set at 40th Street and Camelback Road in Phoenix, Arizona. The TV series "26 Men" was filmed at this studio in the late '50's, and on location around Camelback Mountain, the Superstition Mountains, Pinnacle Peak, and other desert areas. I ordered the 3-volume DVD set of "26 Men" and having been watching some of the shows in the past few days; it's pretty neat seeing the Arizona and Phoenix-area scenery back in those days. Above are a couple of screen captures, can any reader recognize the scenery? :o) You can click on the photograph for a bigger view.

The DVD covers says "26 Men is based on the real life exploits of the Arizona Rangers, who were commissioned to clean up the outlaw territory in preparation for statehood."

There's one episode where Robert Blake plays a young outlaw, his family just kidnapped a young girl; and Robert Blake says to the girl, "You're prettier than a pearl handle pistol." I'm sure that line would be just as effective today at any of the local club scenes.

But as Marty Manning mentioned in a previous posting, the Cudia City Studios burned to the ground in 1967.

17 comments:

Mariah Fleming said...

Why Lowell, "You're prettier than a pearl handle pistol" is what my cowboy said to me when we met a the Rockin' Horse Saloon in Scottsdale (o: Do you know any stories about that wonderful place? What a sad day for music here when that baby sizzled.But hey! Now there's an upscale Scottsdale store there! Who could ask for anything more?

BTW I still shudder to think of all those signed photos in the green room that went up in smoke that night...Karla Bonoff, Lucinda Williams, Richard Thompson, Jon Martyn, Chris Smither, The Story...talk about shot through the heart. What a great place for Shooter Jennings to play too. At least the Orpheum in Flagstaff has picked up the reigns on outsanding 'not on your local dial' acts.

Tom Wright said...

The first photo was taken in what is now Echo Canyon Park at the northeastern corner of Camelback Mountain. The distinctive rock formation in the background is the Praying Monk. The second photo, I'm 90% sure, is in the Pinnacle Peak area. Very cool photos! Maybe I'll try looking up those DVD's myself. Thanks, Lowell!

As another bit of local color: there's a CD on the Arhoolie label of a black preacher named the Rev. Louis Overstreet, perfoming in his church in south Phoenix in 1962. This is some of the wildest, most intense gospel music I've ever heard, belted out over a distorted electric guitar with the congregation shouting out in a call-and-response pattern. AMAZING stuff! Hard to believe that something this raw and beautiful was happening just a few miles away while I was attending second grade school here in lily-white Scottsdale! Look for it online or at the Arhoolie website. Buy it today. Guaranteed to change your life (or at least your perception of Phoenix culture).

By the way, for general blog readers... I havn't reported on the KCAC tapes for a while because there's nothing new to report. I contacted a company in Tempe that could do audio restoration but they don't have a tape deck that would play back at the proper speed. The guy there recommended another audio engineer, also in Tempe, and I hope to contact him today. Still no idea about cost. As soon as I have news, I'll post it on the blog.

Tom

Lowell Hollars said...

Tom: You are correct on both the Praying Monk and Pinnacle Peak. The Pinnacle Peak scene was from an episode of "26 Men" called "Trouble at Pinnacle Peak."

I checked out the Rev. Louis Overstreet CD and listened to many of the tracks. I'll order that CD.

Mariah Fleming said...

Definitely will get that cd. There is a lot of great gospel music in this city. The First Institutional Baptist Church on Jefferson used to have some wonderful services but that was many years ago. I haven't heard of the Arhoolie label in years! Phoenix is full of little known treasures!

Anonymous said...

As a little guy growing up in Phoenix in the late 40s I can barely remember Cudia City. I remember my dad taking me to the Fox Theater downtown and seeing the black and white 'cowboy movies'. The movie stars that were friends of our family were differant back then. My dad had a business on 13th street and Van Buren back then. That was Phoenix then, probably a city of 5o k or so. I remember our milk man coming down our street in a horse drawn wagon. It must have been around 1949 when we went out east to a place later named the 'Tom Mix Highway' which is now east of the freeway to Tucson. There was a dedication, a small roadside memorial to that early film celebrity where we were a part. I still have my pic of my cousin and I together with Gene Autry. I barely remember going to Cudia City...they were filming something there but I was too young to understand. 'Wild Bill Elliott' stayed with us when he was in Phx (in our little house downtown on 13th Place north of Van Buren). I remember asking him about his horses and he told me he would ask about having a 'cowboy' show at my grade school. It happened! I remember him pulling his horse trailer onto the field there and doing some roping tricks for all the kids on those Garfield grounds that day. These were my heros of yesterday. Cudia City was a part of those memories of a Phoenix which few seem to remember...a dusty desert town with such a spectacular, unanticipated and significant future.
Bruce Clack

Anonymous said...

I remember Cudia City somewhat differently. I was an actor with the Virginia City Players (of Montana) in 1952. After our Summer stock season ended, we toured around Montana, Idaho and Washington for a few months, then headed for Cudia City where S.P.B. Cudia wanted us to perform melodrama and vaudville for his dinner theatre. I don't know if it was a miserly advertising budget, poor foor, or tack of talent, but our audiences were not large enough to pay our saleries. We closed after a New years Eve performance when there were only four members in the audience. The most famous member of our troupe was Elmarie Wendel, who achieved some fame as Mrs Dudcek in 3rd Rock From The Sun and other shows.

cdf said...

My Father played an extra in the movies at Cudia City Studios. He had a six shooter and a big black hat. His gun was given to a member of the family who has no memory of the studio or the movie 26 men and I would love to find a gun similar to the one he used. They were doing a shootem up scene one day using blanks and one of the guys did not raise his gun high enough and shot my dad in the side of the head. He had black gun powder marks until the day he died.

Anonymous said...

My buddies and I acted out our own westerns in the abanodened Cudia lot in the early 60's. What a great back drop for our childhood and a short walk from our homes on 39th and Campbell/Coolidge!

Anonymous said...

I live blocks from where Mr Blake was searching for his pearl handled pistol @ Vitellos resturaunt one evening a few years back

Julie LaSalle said...

My father, Charles La Salle, was a well known western painter during that time, and played an extra in the 26 men series. He played a judge an was thrilled...but...he had a strong Boston accent being born and raised there. He also, by accident, happened to have his zipper down and they hollered, " Cut, Cut! Damn it, Charlie, your fly is down!" I am not sure I knew exactly what that meant as an eight year old, but priceless, now.

Brian Grawburg said...

My brother and I used to hike up to Camelback in the mid-50's and I remember Cudia City (although until now I didn't know the correct name - we called it Cudios City). But I only recall it as being abandoned. I remember a fake waterfall, a building, and a stagecoach. I also remember the Hitching Post bar. The amazing thing is that we were both under 10 at the time. We moved to Michigan sometime between '57 and '58.

Anonymous said...

Cudia City served in other ways as well. Christ Church Lutheran,40th Street and Indian School which became the largest Lutheran church west of the Mississippi in the 60's, began using the Cudia City saloon as its first worship place. We were told by charter members that the first thing they did on Sunday mornings was to put a sheet over the nude painting that hung behind the bar. I am told she was "voluptuous".

Anonymous said...

I loved Cudia City Studio and went there often. I watched them film 26 Men many times at El Coranado Estates south of 47 Street and Osborn Road. I met Tris Coffin and Kilo Henderson, Bill Erickson the stunt man and the sound director Earll Gille. All those cowboys could tell some wild tales! I remember watching Wayne Newton in one of the shows. His only part was walking a horse across the street. I have wonderful memories of those days

Earl "Chris" Gille Jr. said...

Thank you for mentioning Sound Director Earl Gille on the Set of 26-Men, Those will always be the most memorable of Times Gone By. Earl "Chris" Gille Jr.

Anonymous said...

I rode my first horse at the Cudia City Stables...his name was El Gato! Cudia City was abandoned then, except for the stables. I remember going in to the saloon and how you couldn't climb the stairs because they would fall! I lived at 41st Street and Camelback.

Anonymous said...

We moved to Scottsdale in 1951 from Chicago. We would go to Cudia City and have lunch outside by the pool. We watched the stage coach ride through the authentic western village and filming of the tv series, 26 men. Loved it! Scottsdale Rd. was dirt and there were hitching posts for horses instead of parking spaces. People would ride up tie there horses to the posts and go into The Pink Pony Lulu Belles, etc. It was so cool. Now all the charm and fun is gone. So sad!

vagabondvet said...

A fascinating history...