The Westworld Set -- Home To Iconic Shoots For More Than 90 Years -- Has Burned Down
Paramount Ranch's iconic Western-themed set is no more.
The backdrop for classic movies dating back to the 1920s and current TV shows like HBO's Westworld fell victim Friday to the fast-moving Woolsey Fire.
The faux-western town is located in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, part of the National Parks Service. The park's official twitter account spread word of the damage around noon on Friday.
The structures were among others destroyed after the Woolsey Fire crossed the 101 freeway moving south toward Malibu, where tens of thousands of residents were evacuated.
A BRIEF HISTORY
Paramount Pictures bought the land in 1927, and early Westerns starring actors like Gary Cooper quickly made use of the studio's new "movie ranch." Bob Hope, Claudette Colbert, Mae West and the Marx Brothers were among the other stars who shot there.
Later on, a permanent set was built to provide a western town setting for 1950s TV shows including The Cisco Kid. Paramount Ranch also featured a racetrack seen in movies like such as Elvis Presley's 1966 film Spinout and 1975's Death Race 2000 with Sylvester Stallone.
The dusty Old West set also featured prominently in the 1990s CBS show Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and scores of other productions.
Proximity to L.A. and the versatility of the set had kept the location popular.
Director S. Craig Zahler filmed much of his first movie, the 2015 western horror Bone Tomahawk, at Paramount Ranch. Some cast members had shot on the same set years earlier.
"I remember Kurt Russell remarking that he worked there as a child actor," Zahler said.
Directors could rearrange the set according to their needs. Zahler said since working there, he can now spot how others have altered structures like the saloon or the sheriff's station.
"I watch a lot of old Western TV shows, and it pops up," he said. "If you're dealing with something that has decades and decades of history, there's an atmosphere that comes from that."
Gina Vreeland worked in the location department for a 2015 episode of Bones that shot at Paramount Ranch. She said it was a unique location because it was open to visitors.
"Even if you're not in the film industry, it was one of those treasures," she said. "You can't take a kid to the Disney [Golden Oak] Ranch. You can't take them into these other movie ranches. But that was accessible to the public."
We are sorry to share the news that the #WoolseyFire has burned Western Town at #ParamountRanch in Agoura. We do not have any details or photos, but it is our understanding that the structures have burned. This area is an active part of the incident and we cannot access it. pic.twitter.com/oC4n7KR8ZT— Santa Monica Mtns (@SantaMonicaMtns) November 9, 2018
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