Old Tucson Movie Studios Page One


Saguaro National Park
Old Tucson Movie Studios
Arizona Ghost Towns
Missions In Arizona

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum


Pima Air and Space Museum

AMARC (Graveyard Of Planes)

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Page Two

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Old Tucson Studios is a movie studio and theme park just west of Tucson, Arizona, adjacent to the Tucson Mountains and close to the western portion of Saguaro National Park. Built in 1939 for the movie Arizona, the studio was opened to the public in 1960.

Old Tucson Studios was originally built in 1939 by Columbia Pictures on a Pima County-owned site as a replica of 1860s Tucson for the movie Arizona, starring William Holden and Jean Arthur. Workers built more than 50 buildings in 40 days. Many of those structures are still standing.

After Arizona completed filming, the location lay dormant for several years, until the filming of The Bells of St. Mary's (1945), starring Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman. Other early movies filmed on this set included The Last Round-Up (1947) with Gene Autry and Winchester '73 (1950) with Jimmy Stewart and The Last Outpost with Ronald Reagan. The 1950s saw the filming of Gunfight at the OK Corral (1956), The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold (1957), and Cimarron (1959) among others.

In 1959, entrepreneur Robert Shelton leased the property from Pima County and began to restore the aging facility. Old Tucson Studios re-opened in 1960, as both a film studio and a theme park. The park grew building by building with each movie filmed on its dusty streets. John Wayne starred in four movies at Old Tucson Studios. Rio Bravo (1959) added a saloon, bank building and doctor's office; McLintock! (1963) added the McLintock Hotel; El Dorado (1967) brought a renovation of the storefronts on Front Street; and with Rio Lobo (1970) came a cantina, a granite-lined creek, a jail and a ranch house.

In 1968, a 13,000 square foot (1,208 square meter) soundstage was built to give Old Tucson Studios greater movie-making versatility. The first film to use the soundstage was Young Billy Young (1968), starring Robert Mitchum and Angie Dickinson.

The park also began adding tours, rides and shows for the entertainment of visitors, most notably gunfights staged in the "streets" by stunt performers.

Old Tucson served as an ideal location for shooting scenes for TV series like Little House on the Prairie, and later Father Murphy, featuring Merlin Olsen. Three Amigos was a popular comedy shot there in the 80s, utilizing the church set. The main street appears prominently in 1990s westerns such as Tombstone and The Quick and the Dead.

On April 25, 1995, a fire destroyed much of Old Tucson Studios. Buildings, costumes and memorabilia were lost in the blaze.

The origin of the fire is not known. However, several factors contributed to the degree of devastation. Fire control efforts were hampered by high winds. A 25,000 gallon water reserve was inaccessible and water had to be brought in from areas up to 40 miles away. Most of the buildings in the studio were classified as "Temporary Structures," meaning fire prevention devices such as sprinklers were not required. Liquid propane and gunpowder stored near the fire area demanded the attention of firefighters and much of the scarce water supply. So much water was used in the attempt to prevent an explosion that the surrounding areas became flooded, further impeding the firefighters as they attempted to wade through the mud.

When the fire began, 300 guests and employees were forced to evacuate the park. After approximately four hours, the flames were finally extinguished. Damages were estimated to be in excess of $10 million, with 25 buildings destroyed including the sound stage. Among the memorabilia destroyed was the wardrobe from Little House on the Prairie.

After 20 months of reconstruction, Old Tucson re-opened its doors on January 2, 1997. The sets that were lost were not recreated; instead, entirely new buildings were constructed, and the streets were widened. The soundstage was not rebuilt. In 2003, Old Tucson reduced its hours of operation, remaining open on a limited basis. Focusing on seasonal events, Old Tucson hosts the popular Nightfall event for Halloween.

Some movies filmed at Old Tucson Studios

  1. 1940: Arizona
  2. 1945: The Bells of St. Mary's
  3. 1947: The Last Round-up
  4. 1950: Broken Arrow
  5. 1951: The Last Outpost
  6. 1955: Strange Lady in Town
  7. 1955: Ten Wanted Men
  8. 1955: The Violent Men
  9. 1956: The Broken Star
  10. 1956: Walk the Proud Land
  11. 1957: 3:10 to Yuma
  12. 1957: Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
  13. 1957: The Guns of Fort Petticoat
  14. 1958: Buchanan Rides Alone
  15. 1958: The Badlanders
  16. 1958: The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold
  17. 1959: Last Train from Gun Hill
  18. 1959: Rio Bravo
  19. 1959: The Hangman
  20. 1961: The Deadly Companions
  21. 1962: Young Guns of Texas
  22. 1963: McLintock!
  23. 1964: The Outrage
  24. 1965: Arizona Raiders
  25. 1965: The Great Sioux Massacre
  26. 1966: El Dorado
  27. 1967: Hombre
  28. 1967: Return of the Gunfighter
  29. 1967: The Last Challenge
  30. 1967: The Way West
  31. 1967: A Time for Killing
  32. 1968: The Mini-Skirt Mob
  33. 1969: Heaven with a Gun
  34. 1969: Lonesome Cowboys
  35. 1969: Young Billy Young
  36. 1970: Dirty Dingus Magee
  37. 1970: Monte Walsh
  38. 1970: Rio Lobo
  39. 1971: Wild Rovers
  40. 1972: Joe Kidd
  41. 1972: Night of the Lepus
  42. 1972: Pocket Money
  43. 1972: The Legend of Nigger Charley
  44. 1972: The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean
  45. 1973: Guns of a Stranger
  46. 1974: Death Wish
  47. 1974: A Knife for the Ladies
  48. 1974: The Trial of Billy Jack
  49. 1975: Posse
  50. 1976: The Outlaw Josey Wales
  51. 1979: The Villain
  52. 1980: Tom Horn
  53. 1981: The Cannonball Run
  54. 1986: ĄThree Amigos!
  55. 1990: Young Guns II
  56. 1993: Geronimo: An American Legend
  57. 1993: Nemesis
  58. 1993: Tombstone
  59. 1994: Lightning Jack
  60. 1995: Hard Bounty
  61. 1995: The Quick and the Dead
  62. 2005: Seven Mummies
  63. 2007: Legend of Pearl Hart

Some scenes fom the 1994 arcade game Lethal Enforcers II: Gunfighters were also shot at Old Tucson Studios.


02 Wagon Wheel



05. Saloon Doors

06. Palace Hotel Saloon

07. Gallows

08. Mission. This mission played a big role in the movie Three Amigos

09. Same as 8

10. Same as eight

11. Same as eight

12. Same as eight

13. Same as eight

14. Movie set cemetery

15. Movie set cemetery

16. Movie set cemetery

17. Movie set cemetery

18. Grand Palace Hotel on right

19. This engine has been used in many movies


21. Railroad Station


23. Chapel

24. Chapel

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