Lights! Camera! Action!.. In 1927 Paramount Pictures purchased 2,400 acres of the old Rancho Las Virgenes for use as a "movie ranch." For 25 years a veritable who's who of Hollywood practiced their craft at Paramount Ranch (P-Ranch) including director Cecil B. Demille and actors Clara Bow, Gary Cooper and Mae West. The diverse landscape was the real star of the show. It offered film makers the freedom to create distant locales such as colonial Massachusetts in "The Maid of Salem ancient China in "The Adventures of Marco Polo" and numerous western locations including San Francisco in "Wells Fargo.' The art of illusion was mastered in these films.
For more information about the P-Ranch including:
- Maps and Directions
- Agoura Hills
- Malibu Creek
- Building the Town for Dr. Quinn
- Dressing the Cast
- Writing the Scripts
- Shooting the Episodes
Back at the Ranch ... The "golden era" of movie making at Paramount
Ranch came to an end when changes to the studio system prompted Paramount
Pictures to sell the ranch. In 1953 the southeast portion was leased by
William Hertz, an ardent fan of movie westerns. As a tribute to the history
of the ranch, he built a permanent western town on the site utilizing
the old prop storage sheds left behind by Paramount Pictures. As a result
of his efforts, the area found renewed life as a film location when television
companies began producing westerns here such as "The Cisco Kid" and "Zane
Grey Theatre." In 1955 Bill Hertz sold the ranch.
Ride Off Into the Sunset ... The area was sub-divided and sold several times during subsequent years but the tradition of film making continued. After purchasing the property in 1980, the National Park Service took steps to revitalize the old movie ranch. In its current incarnation, the western town appears as a Colorado mining town in the television show "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman."
Map of the Paramount Ranch http://www.nps.gov/samo/maps/para.htm (currently suspended)
Santa Monica National Park's Recreation Area http://www.nps.gov/samo/index.htm (currently suspended)