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)
Posts Tagged ‘divorce seekers’
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: 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)
Tags: Bill McGee, Cloverland, divorce in Reno, divorce seekers, John Cork, Lisa van Eyssen, quickie divorce, six-week divorce
April 2012 — John Cork and Lisa van Eyssen, acclaimed writer/director/producers of the upcoming documentary, RENO and the Romance of Divorce, met with two of the project’s creative consultants Bill and Sandra McGee en route to Reno. John and Lisa will conduct some serious research and meet with key historians and players in the history of divorce in Nevada. (View the documentary trailer on this blog.) –Sandra McGee, Divorce Nevada Style
Tags: Bill McGee, Cloverland, divorce in Reno, divorce seekers, John Cork, KNPB (PBS) Channel 5 Reno, Lisa van Eyssen, quickie divorce, San Francisco Film Society, six-week divorce
The producers of RENO and the Romance of Divorce, an upcoming documentary on the Reno divorce era, are seeking home film footage and photographic stills of Reno from the 1920s to the 1950s.
Reno and the Romance of Divorce will be a feature-length documentary that tells the story of the vital role a small town in Nevada played in changing America’s understanding of marriage and divorce.
Acclaimed documentary filmmakers John Cork and Lisa van Eyssen of Cloverland will write, direct and produce. Creative consultants on the project are authors Bill McGee and Sandra McGee (The Divorce Seekers: A Photo Memoir of a Nevada Dude Wrangler); Mella Rothwell Harmon, Nevada Humanities Scholar; and Guy Louis Rocha, Nevada State Archivist (Retired) and “2012 Distinguished Nevadan”. The San Francisco Film Society is the fiscal sponsor and KNPB (PBS) Reno is the sponsoring broadcaster. The documentary is expected to be completed in 2013.
To discuss your home film footage, photographic stills, or other memorabilia of Reno from the1920s to the 1950s, please call or email Bill or Sandra McGee at (415) 435-1883 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
–Sandra McGee,Divorce Nevada Style