Friday, July 01, 2011

Knott's Gunfight

"Ma, I want to see me some killin' "
"What, AGIN?"
"Let's you, me, Lurline, and Pa go to Knott's Berry Farm. It'll stop those voices in my head."
"Oh all right."
"Hot diggity!"

There's nothing as entertaining as faux shooting and killing! Disneyland had gunfights for a while, but they survived at Knott's for much longer. In this first photo, a lawman has the drop on a thievin' coyote. It sure looks like he's surrendering, and ready to go quietly...

... but frontier justice prevails, as the lawman shoots anyway. Once a yellow-bellied sidewinder, always a yellow-bellied sidewinder. The varmint plummets gracefully, landing on a giant foam rubber pad on the balcony, just like the ones they always had in the Old West.

From another lot, you can see another scalawag taunting the man with the rifle. Words of wisdom: Don't taunt a man with a loaded rifle!


Pilsner Panther said...

I never saw this show, but on a very early family trip to California from the east coast (at age ten), I saw a very similar one at Universal Studios. I wonder if both parks used the same crew of expert stunt men?

TokyoMagic! said...

Oooooh, nice Knott's pics. And the entrance to the Covered Wagon Show ("Ma, I'm thirsty!) was just to the right of that stairway. We can even see a light on in the lobby. I wish that was still there!

I remember they did these smaller unscheduled stunt shows in this spot (the rooftop of the Gold Trails Hotel) and also in Calico Square. I think there was also a show that was done with all the performers on the ground in the area of the Ghost Town Grill and Silver Dollar Saloon. And of course there was the big Stunt Show in the Wagon Camp, which they still do today.

Connie Moreno said...

Major, a very cool blast from the past!

The Knott's Berry Farm Museum said...

These stunt shows were performed by the "Funfighters on the Streets of Ghost Town" which was created by Gary Salisbury in 1971, before moving to the Wagon Camp and being renamed the "Wild West Stunt Show" in 1974 (which is still there today!).

The original stuntmen you are looking at now consisted of Bob Rochelle, Bob Holden and Bob Stansbough.

Universal Studios also had a Western-themed "Stunt Show" which also began in 1971, but they employed a different set of stuntmen.

Major Pepperidge said...

I don't recall seeing gunfights at Knott's personally, although this is definitely the right time period for me to have done so.

Pilsner Panther, I have a photo (or two) from the Universal Studios stunt show, a suprisingly bloody shootout!

TokyoMagic!, I am really surprised that they still do stunt shows (involving guns with blanks?) with all the PC-ness today.

Connie, "blast" from the past, I get it!

Jay, thank you for all the excellent info!!

Gary Salisbury said...

The pictures that you are looking at are of the Roof Show. This show was written in 1972 and lasted for about 30 years. The individuals in the picture are:

Bob Holden on the ground.
John Wigert on the roof.

Bob now works for a welding company and John is a retired School teacher.

We had many different street shows. They would include:

The Bank Show.
The School House.
The Brothers.
The Motts Flop.
The Massacre.
The Roof Show.
The Count 5(Still performed today)

The Wild West Stunt Show was written by myself and was performed in the Wagon Camp beginning on October 7, 1974. It played in this 900 seat facility for 31 years and was replaced by the show Fool's Gold. I take no responsibility for the show Fool's Gold.

Gary R. Salisbury

Major Pepperidge said...

Very cool Gary, thanks for all of the info! I saw plenty of stunt gunfights at Universal Studios, but never had the luck of seeing them at Knott's, even though I went there many times.