Unveiling a Piece of SCV Film History – Bo Hopkins and Renaud and Andre Veluzat will be added to the Western Walk of Stars
Three influential names will be commemorated in to the Western Walk of Stars in Old Town Newhall this April, and each has contributed to the richness of Santa Clarita’s film history with their own strengths and passions. From the sandy-haired actor who brought life to The Wild Bunch, to a pair of brothers who ensured our community’s film history would carry into the present, the Walk of Western Stars is about to get a little brighter.
With more than 100 acting credits to his name, Bo Hopkins has appeared in 34 Westerns and captured a lasting and loyal following. Born in Greenville, South Carolina, Hopkins was raised by his mother and grandmother after his father passed away at a young age. By age 16, he had enlisted in the U.S. Army, to return with his sights on the movie business. While he started with summer stock productions and TV guest spots, Hopkins’ first major film acting role was in the Western classic The Wild Bunch (1969), starring as the ill-fated Crazy Lee under the direction of acclaimed director Sam Peckinpah. The two built up quite a rapport, and Peckinpah later picked up Hopkins for roles in The Getaway (1972) and The Killer Elite (1975), effectively launching his career in Western films. His career picked up in the 80s and 90s, as he garnered more TV guest roles, including Charlie’s Angels, Hotel, Dynasty and more. Hopkins also appeared in films such as Midnight Express, American Graffiti and From Dusk Till Dawn 2. While Hopkins was collecting roles and playing villains, however, many young boys were on the other side of the silver screen, falling in love with the movie business.
As Newhall teenagers enchanted by the world of make-believe, Renaud and Andre Veluzat spent hours peeking through the fence at Gene Autry’s Melody Ranch to spot their Wild West idols – including William S. Hart, Gary Cooper, Tom Mix, Roy Rogers, Bill Boyd and John Wayne – making movies and TV shows. Little did they know that one day they would be the owners of Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studio. Today the studio features a wide variety of sets, from a ranch home to a furnished Spanish hacienda. The Veluzats even restored the main Western street that burned to the ground when a fire swept through Placerita Canyon under Autry’s ownership. With so much history and versatility, Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studio is bustling with feature, television, commercial and video filming, such as Deadwood and Westworld. Many great Westerns that have filmed there include The Lone Ranger, Wyatt Earp, Rin Tin Tin, The Cisco Kid and Django. The Veluzat brothers didn’t just stay behind the camera, however; both brothers worked as stuntmen during the 90s, and Renaud drove a tank in the final episode of the TV series M.A.S.H.
Since 1981, the Walk of Western Stars has honored the legends of Western film, television and radio who have contributed to America’s heritage. Inductees are honored with bronze stars and terrazzo tiles stamped into Main Street in Old Town Newhall. The unveiling ceremony will take place on Sunday, April 23 at 5 p.m. between Market Street and 8th Street on the west side of the street, just north of the middle of the block, and it’s free and open to the public. Hopkins and the Veluzats will appear in person at the ceremony.
Seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Parking is available at the Cowboy Festival Shuttle site, and a courtesy shuttle will drop off and pick up from the park.
Tickets are still available for the reception event, and can be purchased at www.CowboyFestival.org.
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