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Robert Shelton's Old Tucson Studios Collection among items in Hollywood memorabilia up for auction
Old Tucson Large Original Script Archive.

BOSTON, MASS.- The Old Tucson Studios Collection of Robert Shelton is among a 600-piece Hollywood Auction from Boston-based RR Auction.

Robert “Bob” Shelton was a cinematic industry icon and all-around Tucson, Arizona legend best known for literally bringing Hollywood to the desert. When Bob purchased Old Tucson in 1958, his original intentions were for a Western theme park, but to the benefit of us all, the story took an unexpected, albeit befitting turn. The intricately authentic set, originally built for 1940’s film Arizona, starring Jean Arthur and William Holden, ended up becoming the filming home to over 300 motion pictures, all under the masterful helm of Shelton.

Born in Columbus, Ohio on March 21, 1915, Shelton was—first and foremost—an incredible person. His friends will passionately tell you no one ever had a bad word to say about him. Regardless of his personal well-being, even towards the end of his rich 95-year-long life, Bob’s concern was always others above all else: “how are you and your family,” he would inquire. The many employees of Old Tucson over the course of his career there (1958–1985) felt the exact same way, especially after Bob retired and the studio was turned over to new management.

Originally a country club developer, Shelton first investigated Old Tucson as a site for a theme park. Having gone unused for two decades, it had seen better days, but Bob had a special feeling for its potential and once said, “As I walked around in the rubble, I felt a spirit that said ‘do it.’” The movie magic at Old Tucson really all started for Bob when he befriended Western legend John Wayne in the early 1960s, as ‘The Duke’ searched for a place to film McClintock. Wayne and Shelton were fast friends and the larger-than-life star became a studio investor, integral to its success.

Among the numerous films filmed at Old Tucson are: Gunfight at the OK Corral (1956), Cimarron (1959), four John Wayne flicks Rio Bravo (1959) McClintock (1963), El Dorado (1966), and Rio Lobo (1970), and Tombstone (1993). Cult classic Old West sixties and seventies TV shows Little House on the Prairie, Gunsmoke, and High Chaparral also called Old Tucson home. Fondly referred to as “Tucson’s Movie Man,” Bob was as well-known in Hollywood as he was in the desert, and counted icons John Wayne, Elizabeth Taylor, Lee Marvin, Michael Landon, Maureen O’Hara, Robert Wagner, and Paul Newman among his many friends.

On April 25, 1995, a devastating fire rocked Old Tucson destroying much of the studio, including countless costumes and props lost to the destruction. That unfortunate event renders these remarkably intact Old Tucson relics direct from the studio’s founder extremely rare and highly sought-after by Hollywood collectors.

Bob’s beloved widow, Carolyn Olson Shelton, is partnering with RR to bring this remarkable collection to light in the hopes of placing these rare relics in the hands of people who will treasure them. Bob always intended to create a museum for fans to enjoy, and although the painstaking work required for that endeavour did not come to pass, Carolyn and we hope you will take up his mantle and curate these Western artifacts as your own.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance bid on film artifacts that were integral to Hollywood magic over several decades,” said Bobby Livingston, Executive VP at RR Auction. “Considering that these relics survived the tragic fire and are coming directly from the studio’s founder makes the extremely rare and highly sought-after by Hollywood collectors.”

Highlight’s from Shelton’s collection include;

• John Wayne Winchester Centennial 1966 Carbine presented by Wayne to Shelton during the filming of Rio Lobo.

• Pair of presentation tablets from The Ten Commandments; created by Paramount to precisely replicate those used in Cecil B. DeMille's epic 1956 religious film The Ten Commandments, cast in a composite resin material which has been hand-painted with a reddish speckle finish to resemble granite quarried from Mount Sinai.

• James Garner's screen-worn black Stetson cowboy hat from 'The New Maverick.’

• Ornate screen-worn Snake Top Hat from The Young Riders. The impressive screen-worn top hat from the Western television series The Young Riders, worn by Seth Foster in the 'Blood Moon' episode that aired on October 13, 1990.

• Old Tucson large original script archive of nearly 200 original scripts for film and television projects produced between the 1960s and 2000s at the legendary Old Tucson Studios.

• Collection of four Guidon Poles including one from John Wayne's 1960 film ‘The Alamo.’

• Spurs from 'F Troop' gifted to Shelton By Forrest Tucker, who starred as Sergeant Morgan O’Rourke on the satirical Wild West sitcom.

The Hollywood auction featuring The Robert Shelton “Old Tucson Studios” Collection from RR Auction will conclude on May 23.

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