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Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Wednesday, Feb 27, 2013
Darryl Manzer

Darryl Manzer

Dale Robertson, a twice-wounded veteran of battles in North Africa and Europe during World War II, prize fighter and film star died Tuesday in La Jolla. He was 89.

Robertson was familiar with the Santa Clarita Valley in that many of the television shows and movies in which he appeared were shot locally. To see some of his episodes of “Tales of Wells Fargo” is to see Valencia long before the houses and shopping malls were built. He knew Melody Ranch well, along with other filming locations in Placerita Canyon.

Robertson acted primarily in Western films and television series at a time when the Western was America’s favorite genre. Series such as “Tales of Wells Fargo,” “Iron Horse” and “J.J. Starbuck” were his trademarks throughout his career. He also appeared in the first season of “Dynasty.”

dalerobertsonironhorseUsually cast as the leading man, Robertson’s good looks were first noticed when he was still in the Army. A portrait shot of him at a Hollywood photography studio (to send to his mother) was also placed in the studio’s window. A producer saw the picture and Robertson was on his way.

With more than 60 motion pictures to his credit, mostly B-Westerns, he was known as the “usual good guy” both on and off the set. When he retired to his ranch in Yukon, Okla., he raised horses and became the big ranch owner he frequently portrayed in films.

His ranch and his collection of memorabilia from his career were sold last year when he moved back to California with his wife, Susan. A friend and neighbor in Oklahoma, Cecil Tippin, said of him, “He’s one of a kind, Dale is. Never met anyone that had an unkind word to say about him. … If you’ve never known Dale, you’ve missed a lot.”

Robertson received the Golden Boot award in 1985 – the third year they were awarded, for significant contributions to Westerns in TV and film – and he was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers and the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.

dalerobertsonjjstarbuckHe was honored locally for his work in the Santa Clarita Valley in 1988-89 when he was inducted into the Newhall Walk of Western Stars. His bronze and terrazzo tile was placed on the corner of Main and 5th Streets at Newhall Avenue.

In Hollywood, on the Walk of Fame, flowers are placed on the star of a person who dies. That’s not done in Newhall; maybe it’s a tradition we should emulate. Some simple flowers placed on the artist’s tile – we could start with Dale Robertson. He’d just say, “Aw, shucks,” but what better way for us to express our thanks for his work in films and TV which, for an hour or two, made us part of the Old West?

Farewell, friend. As you ride into the sunset, know you are remembered and still a star to us all.

 

Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com and his commentaries, published on Sundays, are archived at DManzer.com. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].

 

dm1301

 

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