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What Do Mae West, John Wayne, and Elvis Presley Have In Common?

By
Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Realty NRDS # 146013739

The Biggest Little City in Arizona 

 ~ ~ Cottonwood ~ ~

Mae West

What Do Mae West, John Wayne, Burt Lancaster, Elvis Presley, and Al Capone Have In Common?

A Little Western History

It was the 1800s, and the land rush was on in Northern Arizona.  Farmers & ranchers were looking for land to start a new life. The Verde Valley looked promising, so many settled in the area.  

Other people were looking to establish businesses and homes in the area to support these settlers.  They decided to establish the town we know as  Cottonwood today. Cottonwood got its name from the (Cottonwood) trees that line the Verde River behind the old jail.  By the way, Al Capone carved his name in the jail cell of the Cottonwood Jail.  (Below)

The Cottonwood Jail. The first "tenant" of the jail was Bootlegger Joe Hall!stone jail building

The Old West ...(Two point O) 2.0!

In the early 1900s, other more unsavory characters, who were driven out of the company (mining) towns, such as Clarkdale and Jerome, decided to give Cottonwood a go.  The town developed a reputation of lawlessness even though there was a strong foundation of law-abiding families.  

Prohibition and Bootlegging

Then Prohibition hit the nation, and Cottonwood was no exception other than the fact that they developed some of the best bootlegging around.  The bootleggers in and around Cottonwood were infamous and were known far and wide.  People came as far away as Phoenix and Los Angeles.  

Enter Mae West!

Before Mae West was famous, she spent much of her time on what is Main Street in Old Town Cottonwood.  She was known in every Speak-Easy in the area.  Her Hollywood character was developed here in Cottonwood long before she hit the silver screen.

Cottonwood Hotel - 930 N. Main St. Cottonwood, AZ 86326

Cottonwood Hotel 930 N Main St Cottonwood

Stage left...The oldest business in Cottonwood; enter "The Cottonwood Hotel." It continues to have the same name and location for 106 years. Initially, there were ten rooms for rent.  In the 1950s, the rooms were converted into four suites of 2-3 rooms each.  Arizona's bootlegger king (Joe Hall) stayed in this hotel in 1917.

Coffeepot Rock Movie Set - image taken 1962

The above image was taken in 1962 by a Sperry family member. 

The image below is the Sedona West Subdivision as of 2009. Rick and I drove the area to get as close as we could to the 1962 image.

Sedona West Subdivision 2009 by RP Sperry

Another image shown below shighlights the Telegraph Office and the rest of the set made famous by the movie "Johnny Guitar."  It was created by Sally Hallermund, of the Red Rock Ranch. Learn more below.

Johnny Guitar was one of over 100 movies made in and around Sedona.  It was made in 1954 and starred Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden, Ward Bond, and Mercedes McCambridge.

Coffeepot Rock Movie Set - Creater Sally Riordan

 Others who spent their downtime during the making of Sedona/Cottonwood movies were stars such as  John Wayne, Burt Lancaster, and Elvis Presley.

John Wayne and Cathedral Rock

John Wayne

John Wayne's 1947 movie "Angel and the Badman" was filmed in Sedona. Wayne and his costar Gail Russel would sneak off to Cottonwood and enjoy romantic time alone. Interestingly, the Tavern Grille, just a few doors down from the hotel, was once the Rialto Theater.  The "Angel and the Badman" had regular screenings at the Rialto.

John Wayne and Gail Russel - Angel and the Badman

John Wayne Gail Russel - Sedona movie 1947

Movie Prop Finds Home At The Sedona Heritage Museum

Train Depot from John Wayne movie in Sedona

This "telegraph office" was constructed well over 100 years ago in Winona, AZ.  Over 100 westerns were filmed in Sedona during the Golden Age of western movie-making. It was brought to Sedona for those movies and was featured in "The Angel and the Badman," when Gail Russel helped wounded John Wayne send a telegram.

Sally Hallermund bought and lived in the "Telegraph Office."  on the Red Rock Ranch.  The Red Rock Ranch was the last cattle ranch in Sedona (1938-1979).

The Sedona Heritage Museum has restored it to its former glory, and there are movie props inside the building from many of the westerns filmed in Sedona.

History of the Telegraph Depot

Elvis Presley and His Sedona/Cottonwood Connection

"Stay Away Joe" was a 1968 Western comedy starring Elvis Presley.  He filmed this in Sedona and Cottonwood. As you might suspect, Elvis also stayed in Cottonwood during the filming of the movie.

Elvis and the Red Rocks of Sedona Arizona

The Academy Award-Winning cinematographer Fred J Koenkamp worked on this movie.  It takes a cinematographer to showcase Sedona, and he made the red rocks of Sedona shine like red rubies.  Sedona remains a favorite location for the movie industry.

Stay Away Joe - filmed in Sedona and Cottonwood starring Elvis Presley

Here is a clip that shows the different locations where Elvis did filming.  There is a National Bank of Arizona location in the clip below. That bank has moved from Uptown to West Sedona.  You can imagine how different uptown looked fifty-five years ago!  Enjoy the clip!

 

The Resurgence of Cottonwood

 

Irrigation Waterway from Verde river

The city of Cottonwood took on a large project to refurbish the Old Town area and make it an attractive place with unique stores, great wine-tasting rooms, and eateries.

Today it is a fun place to go to stroll Main Street and check out all the shops while tasting a little of the flavor of the Old West. 

Cottonwood is not far from Sedona, about a 20-minute drive, but it has a couple of the key big box storefronts; Super Wal-Mart and Home Depot are located kitty-corner to the main intersection of the 89A and the 260.  There is also a central Regional (Verde Valley) Medical Center. This gives support to a lot of doctor offices and other medical facilities nearby.

Throwback Thursday!

A Look at Home Prices from 10 Years Ago (2013)

The Cottonwood real estate market had an average listing price of $182,820 and 58 days on market.  The distressed listings average is low at 8%.

Where Is The Cottonwood Market in 2023?

This week the median list price for Cottonwood, AZ 86326 is $486,250, with the market action index hovering around 48. This is an increase over last month's market action index of 41. Inventory has decreased to 26. The average days on market is at 78 days. 

Home sales continue to outstrip supply, and the Market Action Index has been moving higher for several weeks. This is a Seller’s market, so watch for upward pricing pressure in the near future if the trend continues. 

 

Other Old Town Cottonwood  Pictures

Antique Store

Old 1950's Gas Station

 

Antiques

Stone Building

Main Street Cottonwood Arizona

Old Town Cottonwood Arizona Main Street

Many images courtesy of Sellsedona.com, ricksperry.com, and IMDb.

Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

They keep making this area better and better Bob "RealMan" Timm.  They are building a new hotel right off of Main Street on a hill.  It should be nice.

Apr 01, 2023 10:32 AM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Laura Cerrano - Over 100 movies were made in Sedona.  Many from the movie industry moved here. Ann Miller, the dance partner of Danny Kaye, owned a home down the street from me. 

Being in this industry, we hear things about the celebrities who own homes. However, there is a code not to divulge info. 

Apr 01, 2023 10:39 AM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Leanne Smith - I am glad you enjoyed it!

Apr 01, 2023 10:40 AM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Jeff Dowler, CRS -  We enjoy having a good meal and walking around on Main Street.

Apr 01, 2023 10:42 AM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Roy,  Happy April Fools Day!

Apr 01, 2023 10:42 AM
Ed Silva, 203-206-0754
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

I will have to go back to some of the photos we took when in Sedona to see if I have any of those backscenes. I do remember that John Wayne movie, however.

Apr 01, 2023 01:39 PM
Dr. Paula McDonald
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

What a fun post to read! Love all the pictures and information. Gotta love our wonderful history.

Apr 01, 2023 04:27 PM
Dorte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Sheri,

It is obvious why Cottonwood was and maybe is so attractive to movie makers. It has a lot of natural and cultural beauty.

Apr 01, 2023 07:08 PM
Steve Penner
Royal LePage Dynamic RE / Pro Ledger Bookkeeping Software - Winnipeg, MB
REALTOR® / Pro Ledger Online (owner)

Was in Cottonwood with my wife just 6 months ago...we loved it.  Some nice shops on the main strip... and I particularly enjoyed the smoked meat restaurant.  Heard a lot of good things about a pizza restaurant but was closed.. will try it next time. Highly recommend.  Next best place to Sedona in my opinion. 

Apr 01, 2023 08:18 PM
faye schubert
Retired - Branson, MO
Living the Branson Lake Life

Wow! I absolutely LOVED the history of Cottonwood AZ and all the great movies that were filmed in the area. This is a post I had to bookmark to reread a few times!

Apr 02, 2023 07:27 AM
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA
ePRO, SRES, GRI, PMN

Thank you, Sheri. I enjoyed the photos and the descriptions a great deal. We have good friends that live in Sedona. We have visited and enjoyed our experience very much.

Apr 02, 2023 10:30 AM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Ed Silva - It is fun to go back and look at the pics you have taken and how they match up to today or yesteryear!

Apr 02, 2023 04:38 PM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Dr. Paula McDonald - We don't have the same history as the east coast. But we do enjoy the old west history. 

Apr 02, 2023 04:40 PM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Dorte Engel - There is a lot of old west charm in the town.  It prevails even today.

Apr 02, 2023 04:42 PM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Steve Penner - You were probably eating at Colt Grill.  I grew up in Houston TX and we take our BBQ seriously. (haha) I think Colt's is one of my favorite places.  Pizzeria Bocce could be the Pizza Place you were talking about. It opens around 4 PM.  On Saturday it opens at Noon and on Sunday it the hours are Noon to 4 PM.

Apr 02, 2023 04:52 PM
Steve Penner

yes, that all sounds right. w

 

Apr 02, 2023 07:16 PM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Thank you faye schubert - I did include a lot of info.  I appreciate the bookmark.

Apr 02, 2023 04:53 PM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi John Juarez - When you have friends who live in Sedona, you get an insider's tour of the area from a local perspective.  Not many get that extra perspective.  I am glad you have had that opportunity.

Apr 02, 2023 04:56 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

I love to find new ways it to experience old things, and to find out what they have in common and tired all together

Apr 03, 2023 11:08 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Sheri, you seem to have accomplished a great day with Kathy’s response when the other person feels educated, in a great way, you know you’ve done something, right. @

Apr 03, 2023 11:10 PM
Kieran Jackson
Keller Williams Hollywood Hills - Los Angeles, CA
Realtor®, SFR, U.S. Army Veteran

Thanks for this post. I'm intrigued by movie history. I'm sort of shocked that Cottonwood is more than 50 miles north of Interstate 10. I was expecting it to be even closer to the 10 which would make it more convenient from Los Angeles. I travel to Tucson, AZ several times per year. My next trip, I'm going to have to make the extra time to visit Cottonwood.

All the best,
Kieran

Kieran Jackson, CA DRE 01903647
Keller Williams Hollywood Hills CA DRE 01385866
https://kieranjackson.realtor

Apr 28, 2023 09:37 AM