A surprise arrived in the mail courtesy of a fellow Reno divorce history buff… an old metal ashtray from the Del Monte Dude and Guest Ranch in Reno. The “Del Monte” was active in the 1930s and ’40s when it catered to the Reno divorce trade. In 1947, Bill McGee stayed at the Del Monte for a week before landing the dude wrangler job on the Flying M E in Franktown. Later that same year, the Del Monte ranch house burned down, killing a divorcee who refused to evacuate naked. Today, driving through Reno on U.S. Highway 395, the Neil Road exit is the former Del Monte Lane. (Yellow Page ad circa 1947)
Archive for the ‘Reno Divorce Era’ Category
Tags: Divorce Hotels, Jim Halfens, Netherlands, New York Times
In a recent Internet search for “Divorce Ranches”, this interesting story showed up from the New York Times: “Quick Getaways at the Divorce Hotel” (5/27/2012). A Netherlands entrepreneur came up with the idea of “Divorce Hotels“… places where a couple check in on Friday, married; check out on Sunday, divorced. According to the story, the concept is already up and running at six high-end hotels in the Netherlands and may be coming to the United States soon. Click here to read the story… Quick Getaways at the Divorce Hotel
What do you think… Will this way of divorcing catch on in the United States? -Sandra
Tags: "The Misfits", A. J. Liebling, Arthur Miller, Bill McGee, divorce in Reno, divorce seekers, Marilu Norden, Marilyn Monroe, Pyramid Lake Guest Ranch, quickie divorce, six-week divorce
Marilu Norden is on a short list of Reno divorce era “survivors” — people who went to Reno in the 1940s and ‘50s to get a six-week divorce.
In 1951, Ms. Norden resided for six weeks at Pyramid Lake Guest Ranch, one of a handful of divorce ranches (as they were called) scattered around Reno. Pyramid Lake was remote then – and still is today. However, its remoteness is exactly what attracted many high-profile types who wanted to spend their six weeks in privacy and avoid the prying eyes of the press.
In 1949, noted writer and journalist A. J. Liebling stayed at Pyramid Lake and later wrote “The Mustang Buzzers” for The New Yorker. In 1956, Arthur Miller stayed at Pyramid Lake to free himself up so he could marry Marilyn Monroe, and penned the short story for Esquire that would later become the basis for the movie, “The Misfits”. In 2008, Marilu Norden wrote a fictionalized account of her six weeks at Pyramid Lake in Unbridled: Tale of a Divorce Ranch.
Bill McGee is a former 1940s Nevada divorce ranch wrangler and the co-author of The Divorce Seekers: A Photo Memoir of a Nevada Dude Wrangler.
Tags: Bill McGee, divorce in Reno, divorce seekers, John Cork, quickie divorce, six-week divorce
October 2012 – The cameras rolled this month as producer/writer/director John Cork shot four interviews for his upcoming documentary RENO and The Romance of Divorce . (Pictured) Sandra McGee, Reno divorce expert and creative consultant on the project.
Sandra and her co-author husband, Bill McGee, who is also a creative consultant on the documentary, wrote what is regarded as the Reno divorce era ”bible”, The Divorce Seekers: A Photo Memoir of a Nevada Dude Wrangler.
Others giving on-camera commentary included: Bill McGee, a former 1940s Nevada dude wrangler on the famous Flying M E divorce ranch; Joan Wagner, who got a 1948 divorce at the Flying M E; and Christopher Caproni, whose grandmother got a 1938 divorce at the TH Ranch in Sutcliffe, Nevada’s first ranch to take in paying dudes and divorce seekers.
The project is currently accepting tax-deductible contributions of any amount for the next phase of production at Indiegogo.com.
Tags: Cloverland, divorce in Reno, John Cork, KNPB (PBS) Channel 5 Reno, Lisa van Eyssen, quickie divorce, six-week divorce
As you may know, we’ve raised over $16,000 so far, much of that through the efforts of the wonderful Bill and Sandra McGee. We’re in the process of seeking out grants and donations to raise the rest of the production budget. We’ve received one grant from Nevada Humanities, and we have PBS sponsorship through the local Reno public broadcasting station, KNPB Channel 5.
We’ve accomplished a great deal of the core research for the project, made important in-roads with key historians and many who have great stories from the “Reno divorce era.” It is a slow process, but amazingly fruitful.
In early October, we will start shooting our first key interviews. We are very excited about getting cameras rolling!
As those of you in the business know, $16,000 is not much of a budget for a documentary. In fact, our production budget is $100,000, and our total budget—including post-production, licensing, music, sound-mixing, mastering and publicity—is just under $500,000.
Most of that money will be raised through grants, and your early support has been key to putting us in a great place to obtain those grants. Some of the remaining money will come from other generous folks like you.
All of us working on the film want to let you know of three ways you can continue to help:
1) Foundations – If you know of any we should reach out to, please contact us. We have a great package, a strong track-record, and we want to connect with those who might be willing to support our project.
In addition: many families that set up charitable remainder trusts as part of estate planning. These have a much lower profile than incorporated 501c3 foundations, but they are set up only to make charitable donations. If you know of any individuals who have a charitable remainder trust whom you think would be interested in this project, we would be very grateful to you if you mentioned the project to them or facilitated an introduction.
2) IndieGoGo Link – Please share with any friends who might like to be a part of this great project with a tax-deductible donation:
Or, for those who might be interested in donating, but don’t want to do so over the Internet, here is the mailing address of our non-profit sponsoring organization. Checks should be made out to “The San Francisco Film Society” with “In support of ‘Reno and the Romance of Divorce’” on the MEMO line:
San Francisco Film Society
39 Mesa Street
San Francisco, CA 94129
3) Home movies - As always, we are looking for photographic archives, home movies and memorabilia of the era to illustrate our story. Please let us know if you know of resources we should investigate.
Again, we are tremendously grateful for your support. This project is exciting and important to all of us who are working on it.
From the entire team, thank you for helping to spread the word and for supporting documentary filmmaking. We feel confident you will enjoy the results!
Tags: Cloverland, Deb Geraghty, divorce in Reno, Guy Rocha, John Cork, KNPB (PBS) Channel 5 Reno, Lisa van Eyssen, Mella Rothwell Harmon, quickie divorce, San Francisco Film Society
Tags: divorce in Reno, divorce seekers, Donner Trail Guest Ranch, Lily Tuck, six-week divorce, VOGUE Magazine
The fascination with Reno divorce ranches continues on with a story ”On Her Own” by Lily Tuck (VOGUE, June 2012). Yes, that’s VOGUE magazine and the story’s author is novelist Lily Tuck who got a divorce in 1970 at the Donner Trail Guest Ranch, the last of the legendary Reno divorce ranches. Check it out… the June issue is on the stands now. -Sandra McGee, Divorce Nevada Style
Tags: "Charlie Chan in Reno" (1939 Film), divorce in Reno, divorce seekers, quickie divorce, six-week divorce
A Reno divorce provided the storyline and-or setting for many Hollywood movies. When the script called for a wife or husband to declare to their spouse, “I’m going to Reno!” it meant only one thing: a Reno “quickie” divorce.
Hollywood movies often portrayed divorce as glamorous, lighthearted or fun — particularly movies made during Hollywood’s pre-code era from the late 1920s to 1934.
“Oh, we’ll have a wonderful divorce!”
–Alice Brady to Edward Everett Horton in
The Gay Divorcee (1934)
The following list of Reno divorce movies were produced from 1910 to 1961. Today, sadly many of these films are not available for viewing on videotape or DVD. However, the movies I have viewed are in red and coded with asterisks as to how I viewed them:
If you have a Reno divorce movie to add to this list, please send it to me in a comment!
-Sandra McGee, Divorce Nevada Style
SILENTS (1910 – 1928)
A Message from Reno (1917 silent)
A Reno Divorce (1927 silent)
A Reno Romance (1910 silent))
All Aboard for Reno (1911 silent)
Half Way to Reno (1913 silent)
Lightnin’ (1925 silent)
On the Road to Reno (1915 silent)
On to Reno (1928 silent)
One on Reno (1911 silent)
Ready for Reno (1915 silent)
Reconciled in Reno (1912 silent)
Reno (1923 silent)
Reno or Bust (1924 silent)
Reno: All Change! (1919 silent)
The Divorce Cure (1912 silent)
To Reno and Back (1913 silent)
1929 – 1961
Affair in Reno (1957)
Born to Kill (1947) ***
Location shooting on Virginia Street, Reno
Charlie Chan in Reno (1939) * & **
“Charlie Chan Volume 4”, the recently released box set of four DVDs from 20th Century Fox, includes this film plus special featurettes on the Reno divorce era.
Crashing Reno (1931)
Girl Crazy (1934) *
Location shooting at South Lake Tahoe, Tahoe Tavern in Tahoe City, and Reno
Maisie Goes to Reno (1944) ***
Merry Wives of Reno (1934) *, ***
Great opening shots of divorce seekers getting off the train in Reno; breezy divorce dialogue; lawyer signs; women talking to their attorneys; and location shots of Reno.
Good line: “So this is Reno!”
Next Time I Marry (1938)
Night Life in Reno (1931) *
Peach-o-Reno (1931) *
Phffft (1954) **
Lawyer to Nina Tracey (Judy Holliday): “Miss Tracey, m’am, As your lawyer, I ask you… wasn’t that a beautiful, beautiful divorce? A really lovely ceremony?”
Nina Tracey (Judy Holliday) to lawyer: “You mean it’s really all over… that’s all there is to it? It was so quick… are you absolutely sure it’s legal?”
Private Detective (1939) ***
Not set in Reno, but good dialogue about a Reno divorce.
A print of this film survives in the Library of Congress.
Reno (1939) ***
Opening montage shot on Virginia Street and in Reno.
Good line: “You know, Jessie, I’ve run across a very queer law here… Just a little while to establish a residence. Politicans cooked it up a long time ago to get the vote from the immigrant miners.”
Reno or Bust (1930)
Reno or Bust (1934)
Reunion in Reno (1951)
Rolling Down to Reno (1947)
She Asked for It (1937)
Smarty (1934) *
The Misfits (1961) **, ***
The Opposite Sex (1956) **, ***
A musical re-make of the 1939 film, “The Women”.
The Road to Reno (1931)
The Road to Reno (1938)
The Women (1939) **, ***
Vacation in Reno (1946)