Medicine Bow Set Destroyed by Fire 51 Years Ago this Week

10919046_908179905870966_1822517873261353603_nOn May 15, 1967, the Universal Studios backlot caught fire resulting in roughly $1 million worth of damage. Denver Street (Medicine Bow) was one of the sets destroyed in the fire. It was rebuilt to enable filming on “The Virginian” and other Universal TV series and films to continue without major disruption. (UPI photo)

Author: PGreen

Published work in U.S.A. for McFarland & Co. Inc. : A History of Television’s The Virginian 1962-1971 (2006, 2009 Softcover edition) Pete Duel : A Biography (2007, 2009 Large Print edition; Kindle edition) Encyclopedia of Weird Westerns (2009) Jennifer Jones : Life and Films (2011)

2 thoughts on “Medicine Bow Set Destroyed by Fire 51 Years Ago this Week”

  1. I remember when CBS’ “Ghost Whisper” was forced to move to Warner Bros. after the 2008 inferno at Universal, so your comment that there was little disruption sounds like a statement from a studio publicist “stretching the truth” i.e., lying. It takes considerable time to clean up; several weeks to a few months to rebuild such a massive set(s).
    Re May 1967 it would be helpful to know how long it took to rebuild Denver St.? what were the significant alterations (I definitely notice some)? how did they recover/replace the train, a MAJOR asset? since “The Virginian” starts production in May, did filming focus on the Shiloh property, soundstages and local locations OR delay that season’s prod’n start? How much livestock (e.g., picture horses) and rolling stock (i.e., stagecoaches, buckboards, carriages) were lost? (At the series’ 50th anniv. celebration at the Autry I attempted to get an answer at the Q&A, but the attempt at replies got lost in the cross talk. Sigh.)
    I was a fan in my teens and distinctly recall the 1967 AP photo of future guest star Barbara Rhodes (in the light-hearted “With a Little Help from Ulysses” 1968) in her wardrobe from “The Shakiest Gun in the West” handling a working fire hose on the smoldering western set.
    Thanks, Paul, for your reminder of the sad anniversary.

    1. Common sense would tell us these sets couldn’t be rebuilt quickly. It would be easy to include stock footage of the old Medicine Bow set, including the train station, and just continue to shoot studio interiors of the jail and saloon sets. I don’t have ready answers regarding livestock etc.

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