In this Blockbuster episode of Magic of Kanab, Hal talks movies. Hundreds of westerns have been shot in the Kanab area and stars such as The Rat Pack have stayed in town. But old westerns aren’t the only Hollywood action Kanab gets—there’s a new movie coming to town in the near future.
The Magic of Kanab is a part of the Destination Marketing Podcast Network. It is hosted by Hal Johnson and produced by the team at Relic.
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Hal Johnson: [00:00:00] You are listening to the Magic of Kanab Podcast, part of the Destination Marketing Podcast Network.
Welcome to another episode of the Magic of Kanab Podcast. This morning we’re privileged to have a couple of guests with us. We have Dennis Judd and Kelly Stowell. We’re going to talk with Dennis first for a few minutes and then we’ll flip over to Kelly. They’re going to talk about the Magic of Kanab, Little Hollywood, our filming tradition here in Kanab. And so let’s dive right in. Dennis?
Dennis Judd: [00:00:29] Yes, good morning Hal.
Hal Johnson: [00:00:31] Good morning to you. So tell me your first memories. I’m just curious. And if you wouldn’t mind Dennis, you could tell us your approximate age. That’s not a secret, is it?
Dennis Judd: [00:00:41] I’m 29.
Hal Johnson: [00:00:42] That’s what I thought. See?
Dennis Judd: [00:00:43] I look like I’m 29.
Hal Johnson: [00:00:44] Well, I was going to say 31, but close enough.
Dennis Judd: [00:00:46] Well, let’s go for almost 80.
Hal Johnson: [00:00:49] Okay. Almost 80. So give me your earliest recollections Dennis.
Dennis Judd: [00:00:54] Well, I have a great, great story to tell. I was raised in Ranchi like most kids were in those days in the Kanab area, so raised lots of horses and on the ranch and all that kind of stuff, but I wasn’t making enough money. So I decided, well I had this chance to go be a bellhop at Parry’s Lodge now. Parry’s Lodge, of course in Kanab was the main mainstay of all the motion picture companies that come there and stay. So I was a young man of about, oh, I’d say 12, 13 years old, I was sitting there in the lodge, waiting for a tourist to come in to get a room and I’d show him the room and I’d go through all that.
But anyway the door opened. An income Victor Mature and Victor Mature was here making a movie called Timbuktu with Barbara Stanwyck. And when he walked in Parry Lodge front door he came in with his shirt unbuttoned down to his belly button and he’s wearing a big gold necklace with a cross on it on his chest. And he was wearing alligator shoes and he came walking in the door and he says, “Hi, I’m Victor Mature. Where’s my room?” And that was my first that I can remember introduction to the motion picture world and from then on I worked for Parry for Whit Parry for probably about six years and I was mainly a bellhop. And in those days the bellhop was a very coveted job because the tips were great and you met lots of fun people. And so it was a wonderful experience.
Then after I got to meet Victor Mature, which I did inherit those alligator shoes because he left him at Parry’s. So I got to get to keep him.
Hal Johnson: [00:02:33] Wait, wait, wait, did they fit you in your 12 years old?
Dennis Judd: [00:02:35] They fit me.
Hal Johnson: [00:02:36] They did?
Dennis Judd: [00:02:37] I wore about a size 12. And he did too. So it worked out just right. So anyway then Alan Ladd come along and he was here making and I can’t recall the name of the show that he was on but Alan Ladd came in and so I took him to his room and I can remember going into his room and he said, “I’m sorry Dennis, I haven’t got enough change, enough money here for a tip but I’ll catch up with you later.” But anyway he emptied his pockets on the bed and gave me a handful of change he had in his pocket from my tip and then of course I would go to the rooms. Going back to Victor Mature, he ordered one night, he ordered a steak and he said, “All I wanted kind of cooked on both sides but I want it deep red all through it.” So I took over the steak to his room for him and it was a real rare steak and I can still remember that.
So I began to in those days the movies started coming to Kanab in droves. At one time we had three companies staying in Kanab, MGM, Warner Brothers and Paramount, all three at one time and they were staying all over town. Of course, in those days they hire the whole town to be in the shows as extras or Wranglers or teamsters or drivers or cooks or whatever and so it was quite a treat.
Hal Johnson: [00:03:51] That would have been a big cash infusion.
Dennis Judd: [00:03:53] Like icing on the cake, that kind of money. And so anyway, Parry had a big backlot and you see these big MGM trucks coming in from Hollywood and in those days there was about 1947 but these trucks that had big canvas backs on them, but that came in the Parry’s Lodge and pitched these big tents and one tent would be a big wardrobe tent and one tent would be a big prop tent. Then the wardrobe tent that had rows and rows and rows of calvary uniforms and immaculate Indian headdresses and spirits and lances and all that good stuff. Leather, leather leggings. I always wanted a pair of those Apache leggings used to see those Apaches were so somehow I remember I talked to the wardrobe out of some of those Apache leggings. I forgot I had what I had to give to them, maybe a bottle of whiskey or something, I can’t remember. But anyway, I got a pair of those Apache leggings.
Anyhow, then you go into the wardrobe tent, you’d see him unloading this, I mean the prop tent, you see him unloading this prop and they’d be throwing these big anvils back and forth to each other. These big blacksmith anvils and I couldn’t figure out those guys must be pretty strong to have left those anvils and everything was made out of balsa wood. Those black anvils looked just like they were the real thing, but it was all balsa wood. The irons that fit in the kitchen in the log cabin was all bolster wood black painted to look like iron.
Anyhow, they then load all this wardrobe that they had these Winchester rifles and they had these 45 colts and they were all real. They had to be real for the close-up shots. And you have these people that go to movies and all they go there for us to criticize because everything has to be just for the period of time that the movie is shot.
Hal Johnson: [00:05:42] Sure. Sure.
Dennis Judd: [00:05:43] And so these people who criticize if they recognized the 45 colt being the 38 special, then they’d write a thing about it and say, “Oh ho! So in some movie, they were using, they weren’t using the right guns.” So anyway, then they had rolls and rolls of these as the Indians did too of these big, they had rubber guns. I can remember a little later as I become an extra in the movie would be on a horse up on some set in Johnson Canyon or Kanab Canyon or someplace as such would be in a hand-to-hand combat scene with the Indians on these horses would have these rubber rifles and the Indians would have rubber lances and we’d be hitting each other over the head with these rubbers and rubber lances and then which of course paid extra to fall off the horses if we got the opportunity and that was always a real treat.
Hal Johnson: [00:06:31] So you kind of became an expert coming off a horse?
Dennis Judd: [00:06:33] So I got becoming extra coming off the horse. Of course that brings me to that joke that and it’s not really a joke because the first 2 days of filming, good shootout or westerns was the guns going off and the Indian shooting their big rubber-tipped arrows and hitting the horses on the rear end would cause these horses to rear up in the air and go crazy. And so the first two days was a big rodeo. Anyway, I always like to tell the story and this is basically true, but we had to have 300 Indians at one time to attack a wagon train in Buffalo Bill with Joel McCrae and of course, they found the 300 Indians because in those days when the Indians in Navajos mainly on the reservation about 60 miles, 80 miles away would hear about the movies in town that all come to Kanab to be in the movies. And we had a race track in those days with the stalls and these Navajos would come to town and camp out up to what we call the racetrack grounds and they must be 300 of these Navajos all camped out waiting to be hired to be in these movies.
You have the big bonfires going, the next day the producer, the director, the casting director would always go up there and pick out as many Indians as they wanted for certain scenes and so that’s how we got the 300 Indians to attack the Wagon train. Anyway, they always have to have these Indians fall off the horses. And yes, they did bring out their stuntmen from Hollywood that were trained to fall off a horse, and the horse was trained to fall down and all that kind of stuff. But they still had to have Indians or extras to fall off the horses along with the stuntman.
So the word got out and the director found 50 of these Indians to fall off the horses and they were told they would be paid extra money to do so. Well, the day comes to shoot the scene. So we had the 300 Indians all lined up along the Creek Bank ready to attack the Wagon train and they were told when, where and how to fall off the horses. We just didn’t realize that the 50 Indians had bragged a little bit, the rest of the 300 they said, “Hey if you fall off your horses you get paid more money.” And so when the director said, action, the 300 Indians attacked the Wagon train and they all fell off the horses. That’s somewhat of a true story. That’s the way it went.
Hal Johnson: [00:08:53] So they had to do a second take or a third or fourth of that one?
Dennis Judd: [00:08:56] All lots of takes. I can see why making westerns were very expensive because they shot a lot of film.
Hal Johnson: [00:09:03] Right. Well, Dennis when I came back from, I think of a Europe college, come back for the summer and this would have been a man close to 30 years ago. So I’m assuming you have been around 50 and all I can remember is you were talking to the big shots, I think you were talking about locations they could go to. And I just thought, wow Dennis is really immersed with this Hollywood group. So I’m assuming you went from busboy to higher up.
Dennis Judd: [00:09:24] Not busboy, I was a bellhop. You can’t call me a busboy. Those are fighting words.
Hal Johnson: [00:09:30] I apologize. I never started that low on the totem pole. Yes. So what a revolution. What did start doing? Scouting sites or –?
Dennis Judd: [00:09:41] What happened was, as I mentioned, everybody in town was used as an extra and I was too, but a little later on as I got a little older because of the ranch and we all had horses and trucks to haul the horses and things of that nature when these companies would come to town they quickly found out that they had to have the ranchers become teamsters. And that’s because in those days the film companies were very, very strong union. In fact they come to Kanab wearing their union badges on their hats because nobody could work unless he was a member of the union, even an extra had to be a member of the union.
And so Kanab very quickly, in fact is that your grandfather Calvin Johnson, he was head of the union at one time and he went back for the canal people in organizing these unions. He and Merrill Johnson and Fay Hamblin and those guys, they realized that Hollywood would come to Kanab and they were just going to do their own thing and they’ll hire the local people. But they found out that the people, the drivers that bring from Hollywood would go out in these sand dunes of these mountains around and get stuck and then get lost. And so they had to hire the cowboys to be not only Wranglers for the horses, but the local Teamster Union, they called it. And that would mean driving trucks, driving their local cars to haul the extras or the actors or whatever.
And so Calvin and Merrill and Faye Hamblin began to put forth this Teamsters Union and that was out of Salt Lake City. And so I was just still a bellhop but I was in those days Parry Lodge acquired this white van and the company wanted to hire this van to haul people out to the set and that the people on the board said, “No, we don’t want the Hollywood driver, we want a local driver to drive this van,” and they said that’s fine. And my dad was on the committee and he said, “I got a son that would do it.” And so he asked if I would drive the van, I said, “Fine, I love to drive the van.”
So I drove the van full of carpenters to go out and restore the sets and one day Gunsmoke was here filming and so I was there, I had a store across the street from Parry Lodge and I was walking across the street one day in this big old black Cadillac car stopped right in the middle of the road and this great big guy got out of the car right in the middle of the road there. “Are you Dennis Judd?” And I said, “Yes, I sure am.” And he says, “How come you didn’t tell me that you weren’t on the union to drive that van?” And I said, “Well nobody ever asked me,” which nobody ever did. He says, “Well I’m Tiny and I am the director.” I forget what you call him, but he was one of the mainstays of gun shows and he says, “We got to have you a member of the union right now.” And so I said, “Yes sir.”
And so they had a guy from Salt Lake come down from the Teamsters Union and cost me $75 that day to sign up to be a member of the Teamsters Union. So that’s how I kind of got into the films and Merrill Johnson and Calvin would hire me to drive either a truck full of horses or to drive me what I ended up doing was driving a car, a station wagon with the director and the producer and those kinds of guys and Merrill Johnson would usually drive the main actor in his car and then Calvin would kind of be over the Wranglers and so he would drive a truck or he’d just make sure that all the trucks would be full of white horses and stuff like that. That’s how I kind of got into it.
Hal Johnson: [00:13:10] Okay, well that’s fascinating Dennis. I’m guessing that $75 was a big steep thing back then.
Dennis Judd: [00:13:16] It was, it was hopefully still is a lot of money.
Hal Johnson: [00:13:20] That’s right. Hopefully, you got well that’s right. I don’t know with inflation though, what can you buy with $75? But anyway, okay, well just, I got to ask you a couple more questions and we’re going to go over to Kelly here, but I have to ask you who was the biggest name in your mind that came to town, you were just like kind of in awe of as an actor or who really stood out to you?
Dennis Judd: [00:13:39] Well, I think the biggest name in those days was the Rat Pack when Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin and Joey Bishop and all those guys come to Kanab, they had the fence off Parry Lodge to keep the local people out and all that stuff for getting autographs and so, but you know, you go down the list and Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, a very quick sideline. I was a stunt double for Dean Martin in the Rough Night in Jericho. I was slim and trim and had long black sideburns and they said, “Hey, you will be a good double for Dean.” So they dressed me up just like him and I rode a bucking horse for him in the Rough Night in Jericho.
But then you go down to guys like James Arness in Gunsmoke and although there’s a lot of big actors that came as I said, Victor Mature, he was a huge actor in those days.
Hal Johnson: [00:14:31] Yeah, yeah. Wow.
Dennis Judd: [00:14:31] Robert Stanwick, you know. I remember Jane Russell was on the Parry Lodge pool and she broke an ashtray one time out there and me and my buddy flip quarters to see who was going to go out and clean up the ashtray for her.
Hal Johnson: [00:14:46] Well, I’m guessing you do remember Jane Russell. She was kind of a bombshell in the day. Right?
Dennis Judd: [00:14:48] Oh yeah, no kidding.
Hal Johnson: [00:14:50] Well Dennis, thank you. I wish we could talk a lot.
Dennis Judd: [00:14:54] I could tell you a story. I could take it go for an hour.
Hal Johnson: [00:14:55] Yeah, well, I’d like to listen for more than that, but we’ll have to cut it off today. But you know what, let’s try to get you back. If you’re willing to come back, I’d love to have you any time.
Dennis Judd: [00:15:03] Any time. You better hurry though because I’m 80 years old.
Hal Johnson: [00:15:07] Oh goodness. I’m looking across the table here at a vital, vital young-ish man. Dennis. Thank you again for coming again. Dennis is such a local rock star and so well known. I’ve known him my whole life and he’s a local legend. We appreciate him so much coming in. And so we’re going to transition out of Kelly Stoll who’s been working on the film commission and with films locally for some time. Kelly, I’m just letting you dive in. Tell me your initiation, and how you got started in this endeavor. And what the origins were?
Kelly Stowell: [00:15:36] Thanks, Hal. it’s great to be here with you. I really appreciate it. One of my favorite topics and my name is Kelly Stowell and do the film commission here locally. I got into it basically because no one else was doing it and largely out of need and we had production companies coming here. They needed help and support and it’s a difficult challenge to come into a new community where you don’t know anybody and you’re trying to do a great big project.
Hal Johnson: [00:16:03] I can imagine. I can imagine. When was that? I’m just curious. How many years ago?
Kelly Stowell: [00:16:06] This was probably 12 years ago.
Hal Johnson: [00:16:09] It’s been a while then.
Kelly Stowell: [00:16:10] So about 2010, we had a movie. It was a Disney movie called John Carter from Mars and spent a lot of money here locally, spent about nine months here in Kane County shot all over from Lake Powell to Orderville. They built a giant set with a fort and general store and it was quite a project. It was a lot of fun and we loved having the film crew here. That was my first introduction into –
Hal Johnson: [00:16:39] Well you dove in deep, you went the deep end of the pool, right on the gates. I like it.
Kelly Stowell: [00:16:43] Yeah.
Hal Johnson: [00:16:44] So let’s talk about current events. I’m just curious. Is there a ramping up in our production locally in filming commercials and films? Is it staying kind of stable over the last few years? Is it increasing? Where we at right now?
Kelly Stowell: [00:16:56] So one of the issues with film projects is it fluctuates and it’s hard to plan. Sometimes we really try to be proactive in getting projects here and it can range from a few to several dozen every year. We wanted to be more consistent. So we’ve implemented a number of programs to help bring production into the area, such as we have a resource library, we’ve inventoried the whole county, we tried to identify places where it’s easy to film logistically permit wise, all of those things because it is a challenge. It’s like a puzzle where over 90% of our county is owned by the government of some sort. We have less than 10% private ownership.
It’s important that we work with our federal partners, with our state partners, we have two state parks, we have three BLM offices, and we have four national parks in the area.
Hal Johnson: [00:17:58] So a lot of coordination that has to take place.
Kelly Stowell: [00:18:00] Uh-hmm, including state of Utah Trust Land administration property and all the private property ownership. So we have a good idea of beautiful scenic places that we can take the crew easily.
Hal Johnson: [00:18:16] Well, that’s kind of good because in essence going to have a resume as a community of locations and things that they can look to. You have the contact information for the people who can make things happen. And I have seen Kelly really scramble on things. I mean get a lot done in a short period of time. It’s pretty impressive.
Kelly Stowell: [00:18:31] And try to make things happen and in today’s world and I’d love to listen to Dennis all day. I especially want to hear about all the calamities out in the desert, people getting stuck because we still deal with all of that still today. But really appreciate our history and our culture for filmmaking in this area. I try to build on that and highlight that.
Hal Johnson: [00:18:57] That’s great. Well, so let me ask you, let’s go to stories because I enjoyed Dennis’s stories that are much. So Kelly, what was one thing that you can remember that was notable, that stood out to you that you’re like, I can’t believe I’m here. I’m witnessing this or whatever it is? What stands out to you?
Kelly Stowell: [00:19:12] Well, I’m really lucky and there’s a lot of moments that stand out to me like that. Any time spent out in the desert or mountains with the film crew is a good time. Typically minus all the drama. Every project has some challenges, whatever it may be, whether it’s a remote location or transportation, we got to hear a lot about that from Dennis. But one of my favorite projects was called Westworld. They were here several years ago, it was one of the biggest projects I’ve ever been involved with. They spent a lot of money. They had a huge crew and it was just a lot of fun and it’s fun to hear Dennis talk about it because sometimes it’s just out of need and I ended up being an extra on that one and I haven’t even seen the show but I’m in there somewhere. That was a lot of fun riding horses with Ed Harris.
Hal Johnson: [00:20:07] Or maybe you’re on the cutting room floor. We don’t know, right?
Kelly Stowell: [00:20:10] Exactly.
Hal Johnson: [00:20:12] I do remember I had a brief exposure, I was in Grizzly Adams. They were trying to kind of reboot it, bring it back when I was in college and I got to be an extra for a short time and they put me in as I think the Indian’s name was Nakima, if I can remember right. It’s been a few years.
Dennis Judd: [00:20:27] They still owe me $5,000.
Hal Johnson: [00:20:29] Dennis says they still owe him $5,000.
Kelly Stowell: [00:20:32] Plus interest.
Hal Johnson: [00:20:33] Plus interest, which is up there, wow. Well, okay, cash infusion into the community, but occasionally they leave a dead outstanding. It sounds like.
Kelly Stowell: [00:20:42] Now I’m really happy to hear about Dennis’s experience and the madness of Hollywood that is inherent to the industry. We get a lot of crazy requests for different productions, whether it’s some crazy animals, like a grizzly bear or a wolf or a bald eagle to lots of other requests. So it’s always an adventure, but we really appreciate the economic benefits that film brings to the area. Like I said, we really try to be proactive.
One thing that is going to help us be more consistent with film projects is we just had a bill that was passed in the legislature that created a rural film incentive. So in the rural areas of the state, we really feel the economic impacts of film and it’s –
Hal Johnson: [00:21:31] It’s a big bonus.
Kelly Stowell: [00:21:33] It is. It is right on the surface. We especially love projects that are here during the off-season. We had a Ford commercial that was here about a year and a half ago that spent over a million dollars in December, which is great and you can still see that Ford commercial if you’re watching any kind of sporting event or TV. You see Kane County, welcome to Kanab.
Hal Johnson: [00:21:57] You said off-season. So I’m assuming that the bulk of the filming is done when the trees are green when summer spring fall. What do you mean by off-season?
Kelly Stowell: [00:22:05] So during the less busy months, we especially love film projects to come in and fill up the hotels and eat in the restaurants and in my opinion, I think that we have the best weather in the state in Kanab, were not as hot as Saint George, we’re not as cold as Cedar City in the winter. The winter months are a great time to be here. We try to tell that story and let the production companies know that there’s no better place to film than right here.
Hal Johnson: [00:22:32] So I think you’re saying the Red Rocks are red year round.
Kelly Stowell: [00:22:35] That’s right.
Hal Johnson: [00:22:36] Awesome. Well Kelly, so something kind of exciting that’s on the burner that we’re hearing about locally and I think it’s kind of a done deal. You’ll let you tell me. Kevin Costner is coming to town to start filming. Is it in November?
Kelly Stowell: [00:22:47] Yeah, it’ll be this fall. So there’s a number of projects in the works. I think it’s safe to say that the film incentive works and we are definitely seeing the benefits of it. We have a number of projects that are looking to come here including the highly anticipated and much talked about project from Kevin Costner called Horizons. So they’ll be here this fall and we get to bring back the heyday of western movie-making to Kanab.
Hal Johnson: [00:23:18] Well that’s awesome. And on a side note, I’ve talked to a few people locally who had the privilege and opportunity to talk with Kevin Costner or visit with him personally. What a nice guy, remembering specific names that are not usual names and correcting others saying no, her name is blank and just after having met person one time. So what a gentleman.
Kelly Stowell: [00:23:36] Yeah, it’s been fun to have him in town on a few different occasions and just a super nice guy. We appreciate everyone’s enthusiasm for the project and we welcome with open arms.
Hal Johnson: [00:23:50] Amen to that. We can always tell when Kevin is coming into town or leaving. Right? We’ve got loud jet engines coming in. I don’t know if it’s a sonic boom or not, but we’re like, what is coming into our little airport here? And apparently, it’s long enough for him to land on.
Kelly Stowell: [00:24:04] It is and a nice big airplane that takes lots of fuel and we try to have some of the cheapest fuel around to try to entice pilots to fly into Kanab and it works.
Hal Johnson: [00:24:19] Awesome, awesome. Well and just going back quickly to what Dennis had talked about, I wanted to mention that those who are listening that a lot of this history of the old time Hollywood stars and Hollywood actors, state of Parry’s Lodge, where Dennis, did he say, purloined a pair of alligator shoes, whatever the word is and some shaps. Anyway, Dennis would never do that. I know him better, but he managed to acquire them somehow.
Anyway, Parry’s Lodge has pictures of the actors and the stars from all over the decades and it’ll even show over the room who stayed there, Ronald Reagan room, John Wayne room, etcetera. It’s kind of a neat thing. There’s a lot of things in town, Little Hollywood Museum. Other things that talked about was going to say the golden area of movie-making. That’s certainly true. But I have to say that golden era is still pretty shiny today Kelly with what’s going on.
Kelly Stowell: [00:25:08] Absolutely. It’s still a great place to film. One of the benefits of this area is we have a lot of landscape diversity. So we have anywhere from the high mountain forests that can double as the alps all the way to our own ocean with Lake Powell and a lot of desert and slick rock and slot canyons in between.
Hal Johnson: [00:25:32] Well. And Kelly knows that very, very well. When I talked with Kelly on occasion, he is out in the hills exploring, finding things and looking for locations for film crews and other people –.
Kelly Stowell: [00:25:41] I mean really when you think about it production companies don’t even need to leave Utah.
Hal Johnson: [00:25:46] Amen.
Kelly Stowell: [00:25:47] We have it all. We have your city landscapes and your rural landscapes and everything in between. And we have a great support crew across the state of Utah but also here in Kanab, we have a lot of local folks that are reliable and great to come out and work on set.
Hal Johnson: [00:26:06] Well, that’s so good to hear that there’s a lot of locals still involved. Sounds like the tradition started back in Dennis’s day and with my grandpa with one of the persons individuals, he mentioned Calvin Johnson assisting in that. So it’s good to see.
Kelly Stowell: [00:26:19] Which I think it’s something unique to Kanab that and I love to hear everyone’s stories about working in the movies. It’s something that’s unique here that if you go to other small towns in Utah, you don’t get that.
Hal Johnson: [00:26:32] Right. Well, even my wife when she first visited here when she first came as my fiancé, she’s like, “I thought this was all backdrops in Hollywood. I didn’t know there was this kind of scenery in real life.” She’s shocked then, she’s still amazed today. We get out quite a bit and she loves to see the sites and who wouldn’t, right?
Kelly Stowell: [00:26:50] Like we say, it’s hard to take a bad picture. In this area.
Hal Johnson: [00:26:52] There you go. There you go. There you go. I like it. And on that note just real quick this is anecdotal, but I’ve heard, Kelly maybe you know the story that either a producer or a director was saying one of our locations locally, “I don’t want to film there,” and Kevin Costner was quite attached to a cave-like Canyon and apparently Kevin overruled him. But he said, “Why?” It looks staged, it’s too perfect, the scenery is amazing. It looks like it’s just staged. Well, Kevin’s like, “It’s not, it’s natural.” Am I close on that story?
Kelly Stowell: [00:27:27] Yes, you’re pretty close. And yeah, it was just, he wrote the scene for that spot and it just fits too perfectly.
Hal Johnson: [00:27:38] Well that’s great. That’s great. Well Kelly, thank you for coming today. Very fascinating information that you have and an update on our filming that’s happening locally and projects and your history and stories behind it. Wonderful. Great augmentation to add to Dennis’s wonderful storytelling today. Any final words? Anything else that you feel like we haven’t expressed Kelly that you’d like to throw in there?
Kelly Stowell: [00:27:58] Really appreciate you having me and for highlighting this subject. It’s important to our economic development efforts in Kane County. It’s not everything, but it’s one of the prongs on our economic development strategies.
Hal Johnson: [00:28:14] Yeah. So important to a small community like ours, so vitally important. And we’re fortunate to have the landscapes that we do.
Kelly Stowell: [00:28:20] Well and it’s interesting to go back and watch a lot of the westerns and films that were made here over the years that they’re the same places that we take film crews today.
Hal Johnson: [00:28:32] Right, right.
Kelly Stowell: [00:28:33] Really, they paved the way for us to be able to do that.
Hal Johnson: [00:28:37] That’s right. Thank you. Kelly, thanks again for your input. Dennis, thank you, gentlemen. Appreciate you both for coming in.
Kelly Stowell: [00:28:41] Thank you.
Hal Johnson: [00:28:42] We’re going to transition now. We’re going to have Camille with the local office of tourism also multigenerational local Kanabian steeped in its history and traditions. She loves it. She promotes us very well internationally and nationally. Privileged to have her here today. We’re going to have Camille just kind of bring us home today a little bit. Tie in maybe a few things she’s heard and thought of while she’s listening to Dennis and Kelly. So, Camille, the stage is yours.
Camille Taylor: [00:29:06] Awesome. Thank you Hal. It’s so fun to be here. This has been so much fun. I could listen to Dennis and Kelly talk all day. That’s what I just said to Dennis. I’m like, there is a whole library in that head that I wish I could just tap into.
Hal Johnson: [00:29:19] Amen.
Camille Taylor: [00:29:20] Then I said this is embarrassing, but I think people who… man, there’s Clint Walker before he died, he had such swagger. I mean I had a crush on an 80-plus-year-old man and just picturing him walking down the streets of Kanab in his prime, all I can say is hubba hubba.
Hal Johnson: [00:29:39] Oh so I’m thinking of Jayne Mansfield. I know what you’re talking about.
Camille Taylor: [00:29:43] We all have our crushes and just picturing this small, rural, remote community with these huge stars in our daily life, had to just be so magical. So I wish I could go back in time a little bit, but Kelly brought it to the present and I love that he’s working on the projects that he is and I actually got to meet Kevin Costner when he was here in town and it was so much fun. I was trying to be cool, but I was a little shy and I got a photo with him and it’s so embarrassing. It’s the worst photo of me ever. I looked like Cheshire cat like my chin collapsed and my cheeks got really wide.
Hal Johnson: [00:30:20] So thrilled to be there.
Camille Taylor: [00:30:22] So thrilled to be there. But you know, as I was listening to both Dennis and Kelly, a couple of thoughts struck me that I think it was really, really cool and worth pointing out. When Dennis was promoting the area for Hollywood and Kelly is currently promoting the area, really not a lot has changed. The value proposition is still there. Our land is pretty much the same. We live in an area with so much public land, and very little private land but it really hasn’t developed out. And so the scenery is still there and you know, I know it’s like Gunsmoke the movie set, it’s huge. Like that is the number one driver of traffic to our website is Gunsmoke searches.
Hal Johnson: [00:31:02] Is that right? Wow.
Camille Taylor: [00:31:03] Which it blows my mind.
Hal Johnson: [00:31:05] Even off the air for how many years now and it’s still the number one draw.
Camille Taylor: [00:31:08] People love it. And so I think the thing that is cool is the Gunsmoke movie set that exists at Jonson Canyon is this scenery is still the same. You know, I’ve been a scene hunter in different movies like where was this filmed and you go there and you have to really use your imagination because high rises are built up or something has changed. Whereas you go out to the Gunsmoke movie set and it still is the same backdrop that they had when they filmed it back in the day.
And then the other thing, the common thread is the people. To live in the high desert, you have to be a pretty hardy, resourceful human. And I think that translates into a benefit for Hollywood because the people here are so talented, they know how to do a lot of things, they have animals and they have this can-do mentality. In this rural, remote country we are used to helping each other out. That’s kind of how you have to survive the high desert in remote rural Utah. And so when Hollywood does come to town, we’re all in whether you’re a union member or not, like we’re like, “Oh yeah, you can use that old wagon, you can use that old tractor,” like we’re just so willing to participate and make cool things happen.
Hal Johnson: [00:32:12] Yeah. All right. I’ve seen Kelly sent out or others as well kind of an open call request for old harnesses or leather goods or Western wear or whatever it is just trying to gather the stuff to make the authenticity there and they don’t want new, they want weathered and antiqued and something has been in the shed and used for 20 or 30 years, right?
Camille Taylor: [00:32:32] Which can describe a few of us.
Hal Johnson: [00:32:35] Well, you know, when you said hardy, it takes a hearty human being to live in the high desert. I just want to point out that as of recent, we do have electrical, we got that indoor plumbing somewhat recent. We’re not quite as hard as we used to be.
Camille Taylor: [00:32:48] We got the interweb.
Hal Johnson: [00:32:49] Interweb. That’s funny. But we do have the backdrops, you’re right. Like Kelly mentioned 90% give or take of our county is public lands and so it has not been built out. What you see in the backdrop of One Little Indian or Big Jake or High Chaparral or any of these things. Gunsmoke for sure. It’s still there. It’s still recognizable. It looks like it did 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago.
Camille Taylor: [00:33:12] That’s right. And the other thing, the third thing that I thought we can’t not mention is Parry Lodge. Like Parry Lodge is this common thread and it’s had so much impact on this community in so many ways and it’s still a great property to go and experience today to see the movie history and kind of all that it encapsulates. But so many of us, most of us who grew up in Kanab worked there at one point or another. And I thought how could you almost have Kanab without Parry Lodge? It’s impacted the community that much.
I know that was my first in town job. Dad ran the trading post out to Navajo Mountain and so I worked out there when I was 11 and 12 years old, you just don’t hear that anymore. But –
Hal Johnson: [00:33:53] We got to do a separate segment on that.
Camille Taylor: [00:33:55] Yeah. Exactly. So much history there. But, the summers when I was 13 and 14 years old, I was a stripper at Parry’s Lodge and that’s not the title that you would think. That’s obviously –
Hal Johnson: [00:34:07] Okay. It does take a hardy human being in the high desert. We do what we got to do around here to make ends meet.
Camille Taylor: [00:34:14] Yeah. Not stripper in the Vegas sense it was a stripper in the linen sense like you remove the dirty linens and so, but it is kind of a fun conversation piece when we’re talking to her international tour operators that a 13-year-old girl was a stripper. But yeah, I’m like, “No, I stripped the dirty linens,” and then –
Hal Johnson: [00:34:30] I’m glad we’ve been very clear on that point, very clear.
Camille Taylor: [00:34:33] And then I couldn’t wait to go swim in the pool, which I understood John Wayne purchased. He wanted to party and we didn’t have a pool there. So he purchased that at Parry Lodge.
Hal Johnson: [00:34:43] Well is that right? He funded it.
Camille Taylor: [00:34:44] Am I lying, Dennis? He’s still here in the room. Not mic’d up. But is that true?
Hal Johnson: [00:34:49] You know that one, Dennis?
Dennis Judd: [00:34:50] I’ve never heard that before.
Hal Johnson: [00:34:51] It’s new to Dennis.
Camille Taylor: [00:34:53] Kelly?
Kelly Stowell: [00:34:54] Sure oh yeah.
Hal Johnson: [00:34:55] Kelly says, absolutely true. So that wouldn’t surprise me in the least.
Camille Taylor: [00:35:01] Anyway, there’s just so much to still experience and enjoy brought Hollywood here from the beginning and brings them back still.
Hal Johnson: [00:35:12] Yeah, well, thank you so much Dennis and Kelly and Camille wonderful talking to all of you. And Camille, thanks for telling us much about Parry’s Lodge of course and your former profession.
Camille Taylor: [00:35:24] Stripper to tourism director.
Hal Johnson: [00:35:25] See? There’s the fast track right there.
Camille Taylor: [00:35:29] Come see us. You’ll see we’re real people. We’re a little silly, but –
Hal Johnson: [00:35:33] That’s right. That’s right. Okay, well, thanks again, everybody. Hope you guys listeners enjoyed this. We ask that you subscribe to our channel on whatever medium or platform you listen to podcasts on. We’d love to continue the conversation in the future. Thanks so very much.
This has been another episode of the Magic of Kanab Podcast, part of the Destination Marketing Podcast Network, hosted by Hal Johnson and produced by Relic.