Celluloid Sendoff

Douglas TowneSeptember 2012
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Cudia City is remembered as much for the Hollywood glamour it bestowed on the fledgling desert city as the Westerns produced there. Located at the northwest corner of Camelback Road and 40th Street, the replica frontier town was a well-trafficked film and TV production spot from 1939 until it was redeveloped in the 1960s. 

 Cudia City’s cinematic highlight was its last major production: the ABC television show 26 Men. The 78-episode series starring Tris Coffin ran for three years in the late 1950s and was based on the adventures of the Arizona Rangers who brought bad guys to justice during territorial days. The show proved popular with viewers and, when its cast wandered off the set for lunch one day, created a skewed impression of the Valley for one newcomer. “I remember in 1957 going to the drugstore at 44th Street and Camelback and seeing various cowboys in full costume at the lunch counter,” says Milly Bolek, who had just moved from Cleveland. “I thought to myself, ‘People sure dress like authentic cowboys out here in Phoenix!” 

Besides fans of the Western genre, 26 Men has also drawn notice from those seeking views of Camelback Mountain and other natural Valley landmarks before they became gilded with mansions and five-star resorts.

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