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Jerry Whittington remembers Sunset Carson, Ken Maynard, Tex Ritter ... and the July, 1972 filming of the MARSHAL OF WINDY HOLLOW. It was never released and remains lost / missing.

(Courtesy of Jerry Whittington)

In the images above and below are Sunset Carson and Jerry Whittington. In addition to working behind the camera on the MARSHAL OF WINDY HOLLOW, Jerry portrayed Sunset's deputy.

Sunset was born Winifred Maurice Harrison on November 12, 1920 in Gracemont, Caddo County, Oklahoma. He was 51 years old when he worked on WINDY HOLLOW. Sunset passed away on May 1, 1990 at the Washoe Medical Center, Reno, Nevada.

(Courtesy of Jerry Whittington)

In the early 1970s, Hal Miller and Jack Cates arranged the financing of a low budget oater starring Sunset Carson with supporting roles for Tex Ritter (as the Mayor) and Ken Maynard (as a Texas Ranger). Filmed in July, 1972, THE MARSHAL OF WINDY HOLLOW was Ken Maynard's last film appearance. Ken passed away March 23, 1973 at the Motion Picture Home in Woodland Hills, California. Ritter died from a heart attack on January 2, 1974 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Jerry Whittington directed and did the film editing. Co-producers were Sunset Carson, Cates, and Miller.

In early 2003, Jerry and ye Old Corral webmaster connected, and I asked him to jot down his memories of that 1972 film shoot. Special thanks to Jerry for sharing his memories and many wonderful photos. The following is a consolidation of several e-mails from Jerry:

We shot the film in July of 1972, using 16mm film, at Windy Hollow which is about 10 miles south of Owensboro, Kentucky. Windy Hollow was the site of coal strip mining years ago. The mining left canyons that looked like Utah with water rushing through them --- a great set for a western like the ones shot in the 30s and 40s. We used 16mm for cost reasons, as the film stock and processing was significantly less than 35mm. And the 16mm camera and equipment was more portable than 35mm gear.

We picked up all the old cowboy stars at the Evansville, Indiana airport. Ken Maynard, we didn't know, had a long beard and we had to cut it off for the part he played as a Texas Ranger. Hal Miller was the owner of Windy Hollow and the films backer. The western town he built for the film was great --- saloon, bank, hotel, general store and all. There was a western museum in the town and all the cowboy stars had their picture taken in the museum with their posters and lobby cards. Ken Maynard brought a pair of his boots, shirt, pants and his hat he used in his old westerns to give to the Museum.

The first day on the set Sunset Carson gave us a tour of the locations. We couldn't believe our eyes, as it looked just like the old B-western locations of years ago. The filming equipment had not arrived as yet so we blocked out the shots with the script. There was an old restaurant at the end of the town set where we grubbed out every day. On our way to the airport to pick up the stars, we passed the fire trucks. Sunset Carson said I hope the western town is not on fire. Well just about --- when we got back to the restaurant, it had burned to the ground and a lot of 16mm films of Sunset Carson, Ken Maynard, Tex Ritter etc. were lost in the fire.

The fire set us back a little but we used a chuck wagon like they used in the old westerns to cook the meals for the cast and crew. The cooking that was seen in the film was our meals. You couldn't get much "realer" than that --- a lot of beans and cornbread --- I got sick of them.

I think the whole State of Kentucky came to watch the filming and get parts in the film. We had 27 covered wagons in one scene. Every July, Hal Miller, the owner of Windy Hollow, had a wagon train show and everybody was invited to bring their wagons and be in the film. They came from all over the states, and we had that chuck wagon fired up to feed all the people.

Film collectors and movie buffs came from all over the USA to see the filming when we did the big wagon train shot and pushed several over a cliff into the water, destroying four wagons. There were over 10,000 people there to see the filming. I never saw so many people on a movie set in the 40 years I worked on films. The local TV stations had on their news that we were going to do the big scene on July 4, 1972. Hal Miller had a big camp ground on the Windy Hollow grounds and it was full of campers and motorhomes from everywhere. That night, Tex Ritter and his band played for the hundreds of cast and crew of the wagon scene and a lot of the crowd stayed also to see Tex Ritter sing.

The film was shot in 12 days just like the old B-Westerns of the 30s and 40s. We shot it in 16mm color and did some slow motion shots of the wagons going over the cliffs, outlaws being shot and falling into the water, and when we blew up the outlaw's shack and a barn. The film was full of action just like all of Sunset Carson's films.

Tex Ritter was great to work with. It was a treat to see Ken Maynard. He signed one of his 8x10 pictures for me back in 1945 in my uncle's theatre when he and his horse Tarzan did a personal appearance. By the way, I pinned the last Sheriffs badge on Ken Maynard --- it was a Daviess County (Kentucky) Sheriff's badge, and I forgot to get it back from Ken before he left to go back to California.

When I completed the editing, Hal Miller and Jack Cates came to High Point, North Carolina from Owensboro, Kentucky and picked up the film (which was on A-rolls and B-rolls and title rolls with all sound tracks and special EFX sound tracks ready to be printed at the lab). Jack Cates was to take the film to the MPL Labs in Memphis for printing and processing into a complete 16mm print ready for showing. I recall that Cates was also to pay the cost of this 16mm color print (the cost of a timed, color corrected release print in 1972 was about 75 cents a foot or around $3,000.00).

That was the last I saw of the MARSHAL OF WINDY HOLLOW. It was never released and the whereabouts of the film is still a mystery to me.

If the finished film was not properly stored for all these years, the hot glue splices in the A and B rolls would be brittle and loss of color at the splices and the film warp could make it no good for completing the 16mm release print. The film would have to be printed with all the rolls. And the mag sound track rolls would have to be mixed into one roll and a optical track made. This optical track would then have to be printed on the finished print for sound.

Jerry Whittington
March, 2003

Sad to report that 74 year old Jerry Lee Whittington passed away on September 13, 2015.

  Although some of the data may be incomplete, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Jerry Whittington:

Link to the Internet Movie Database entry on MARSHAL OF WINDY HOLLOW:

Jerry Whittington uploaded about 15 minutes of 8mm film on YouTube which was shot during the filiming of the MARSHAL OF WINDY HOLLOW:

Jerry Whittington recalled that Ken Maynard's sister 'Bessie' visited the WINDY HOLLOW filming location and may have stayed in her car.

Steve Hicks and I connected via e-mail back in 2009 and he was one of the Maynard family members visiting Ken and the film shoot. Steve's grandmother was Trixie, Ken's middle sister. The group included Maynard's sisters Trixie and Bess (not 'Bessie'). Following is a summary of several e-mails from Steve:

Our entire family stayed in two of Hal Miller's trailers or cabins located on Windy Hollow Lake. Hal Miller had contacted Aunt Bess through the Kentucky Colonels (she was one, afterall). Family members in attendance at Windy Hollow besides Aunt Bess were my grandmother Trixie, my parents, older sisters, and myself. Also in attendance were my Aunt Betty (Mom's sister), her two daughters, and one son.

Owensboro, Kentucky newspaper articles on the lost / missing film. These will open in a separate window / tab:

July 4, 1972 Owensboro, Kentucky Messenger-Inquirer article on the filming:

September 1, 1972 Owensboro, Kentucky Messenger-Inquirer had an ad for Sunset 'Kit' Carson's show at the Windy Hollow Race Track during Labor Day. "Whip master" Wild Bill Cody was one of the acts:

January 15, 1973 Owensboro, Kentucky Messenger-Inquirer article and headline reads: "Kentuckians still awaiting western filmed in summer":

March 22, 1973 Owensboro, Kentucky Messenger-Inquirer article on lawsuit filed by Sunset Carson and Hal Miller against Herschel L. 'Jack' Cates:

March 2, 1975 Owensboro, Kentucky Messenger-Inquirer article and headline reads: "After three years, future of 'Marshal of Windy Hollow' still in the air":

April 20, 2014 Owensboro, Kentucky Messenger-Inquirer had the death announcement for 90 year old Hal Coleman Miller (1923 - 2014). Hal Miller owned the Windy Hollow restaurant and museum, and helped finance the MARSHAL OF WINDY HOLLOW western in 1972:

(Courtesy of Jerry Whittington)

L-to-R at the Windy Hollow Museum are Hal Miller, Max Harrison, Tex Ritter, Sunset Carson, Tex Barr and Jerry Whittington. Jack Cates and Hal Miller financed the project and Jerry directed and did the film editing. Max Harrison was a cartoonist, comic book artist, et al, and did a lot of ads for Sunset's shows (and others). Max was the Art Director for the MARSHAL OF WINDY HOLLOW and did the ads and artwork.

(Courtesy of Jerry Whittington)

A bearded Ken Maynard - with his customary cigar - chatting with a newspaper reporter. Maynard shaved off the beard for his role as a lawman in the film. Maynard passed away at the Motion Picture Home in Woodland Hills, California on March 23, 1973.

(Courtesy of Jerry Whittington)

Tex Ritter autographing one of his posters at the local museum. Tex's role in the film was playing the local Mayor. Tex passed away on January 2, 1974.

(Courtesy of Jerry Whittington)

Above are the hat, shirt, boots, and other memorabilia which were donated to the local museum by Ken Maynard.

(Courtesy of Jerry Whittington)

Jerry Whittington and cameraman Darrell Cathcart set up a shot at the outlaw shack. Look at the hilltop, and you should be able to spot a half-dozen or so silhouettes of visitors watching the filming.

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