Southern Utah News Articles
Top Stories for August 22, 2013
Area icons - Denny Judd
Kanab resident Dennis Judd doesn’t need a formal introduction ... fifth generation Kanab resident, rancher, businessman, would almost encompass it. But most would agree, Dennis Judd is a Kanab icon! He, along with Robert Houston and Lyle Heyborn, decided an area event was needed to focus on our western heritage, and the movie years as well. He credits Karen Alvey, Christina Schultz and others for the idea, but Judd, Houston and Heyborn made it happen!
That was appropriate, because Dennis Judd remembers and lived the “Little Hollywood” years.
His first interaction with the stars as a young man was when he landed a coveted job in town. He was hired as a bellhop at Parry Lodge (1958-59). What that entailed was basically providing service to the many stars making movies here.
“We could meet and rub shoulders with movie stars!” Judd said. “I started at 14. The first one I took to their room was Alan Ladd. He didn’t really have a tip (gave small change), but said he’d catch up with me later. He certainly did!”
“The next one I remember,” said Judd, “was Joel McCrea. He was doing ‘Boots and Saddles’ or ‘Western Union.’”
Judd added his brother recently told him that when he held the coveted bellhop job, he served Ronald Reagan. “He said that Reagan took him aside to ask about his home, family, and school. Reagan then related a movie scene shot here, in which he screwed up. Reagan said that he was told to ride left with his horse, and instead he went right. All the extras were supposed to follow the lead character,” said Judd, adding that apparently the shot didn’t go well.
“So they weren’t so different from us,” said Judd, with a smile.
Parry’s was a classy place, according to Judd, concerning the Little Hollywood years. “White uniforms, white doilies and tablecloths ... the food was excellent. There was always a line to get in and often went outside way past the pool. There was Peaches restaurant across the street and the Blue Bird down the street, (which was later Chef’s Palace.) But everything was first class with Whit Parry. He was a master at getting along with people ... but he did have a temper,” Judd said.
Judd said the movie stars were fun people. He served as bellhop during the famous ‘Rat Pack’ days. These were serious stars! “In those days, they didn’t have ice machines, so I’d make a deal with them to leave an ice bucket in their room for a dollar,” said Judd.
“ Dean Martin had his Lear jet, (that the Kanab Airport runway was extended for), and they’d fly to area sites,” remembers Judd. “Frank had his helicopter, and they made numerous trips to Las Vegas.”
The Buckskin Tavern was a hangout for the stars, as was Calvin Johnson’s Kanab pool hall. “It had pool tables and beer drinking. That was what they enjoyed,” said Judd.
On the question of whether they were spoiled eccentrics, Judd stressed they were not. “There were some prima donnas (usually low level assistants), but the stars were fun, and the stuntmen were just trying to make a living. The union was strong and the money was amazing. Most of the stars would ask about your family.”
Dennis Judd was actually in films as well! Not starring roles, but important ones, none the less! In ‘Westward the Women’ and ‘Duel at Diablo,’ he was the guy on the scene as an extra! Judd played Indian, white or Mexican, with the help of movie make-up!
“I eventually wised up, and understood that wranglers were making more money,” said Judd, who came from a ranching family. “We had the ranch. When I got that job (at 18-19), we knew that we could assist in providing what they needed.”
He related that sometimes they would saddle 100 horses and deliver them to the old Kanab racetrack ... and it had to be done before dawn ... for the right shot! “They wouldn’t always use the horses, but we had them there by their request. “
Judd credits (among many) Faye Hamblin, who was the contact man; Merrill Johnson, transport; LaVar Pratt, extras contact; Scott Betensen, water truck; Wester Lewis, who drove the stars to location; Finlay Bundy, night watchman; and Calvin Johnson, who was over the ranchers.
“Our purpose for creating Western Legends was to keep alive the western traditions and history of the area,” said Judd.