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Since the days of silent film, the surrounding area had contained several movie studios, including the Christie Studios (on the northwest corner) during the 1920s, then later, Columbia and Republic Studios to the south along Gower Street. Western films at both studios were extremely popular, especially from the 1930s through the 1950s, and actual working cowboys would come to Hollywood hoping to find work in the movies. They would congregate at that particular street corner, which is how it acquired its nickname. The Columbia Drug Store, which stood on the southeast corner for several decades, was a hangout for many western film extras in hopes of finding work, knowing the casting agents from the studio could reach them there. Indeed, John Wayne, Gene Autry, and Roy Rogers all got their start in this neighborhood, as did director John Ford. Columbia Studios was filming western films about every ten days for a time. The cowboy extras stood at the corner already dressed in their Stetson hats, boots, and bandannas, ready for saloon scenes, as cattle rustlers, or as members of a posse. The pay was about $5 a day or $10 for a minor speaking role.
A strip mall "paying homage to the past" and designed in the style of an Old West backlot was built in 1976 on the southwest corner of Sunset and Gower. The name "Gower Gulch" is painted on the side of a vintage western medicine show wagon. The strip mall remains unchanged as of 2014 and has been described as "Old West kitsch".
In pop culture
- The name Gower Gulch is a locale near Los Angeles in the Warner Bros. 1943 movie "Thank Your Lucky Stars".
- A B-movie was released in 1950 called The Kid from Gower Gulch starring Spade Cooley. In the film, singer Red Murrell sings a song called "Gower Gulch is Home Sweet Home".
- The November 13, 1948, episode of the CBS West Coast radio detective series Jeff Regan, Private Investigator is entitled "The Dude from Gower Gulch"; its plot revolves around a missing South American racehorse and its connections to a travelogue.
- The name Gower Gulch also appears in the Warner Bros. 1950 cartoon "All a Bir-r-r-rd". It is the name of a western-looking town Tweety's train passes through.
- In another Warner Bros. 1951 cartoon, Drip-Along Daffy, Porky Pig sings a Michael Maltese-written song entitled "The Flower of Gower Gulch". Another version of the song is performed in the Warner Bros. animated short Nelly's Folly.
- In the 1942 Abbott & Costello film "Ride 'Em Cowboy" a bus depot is identified as Gower Gulch by a hanging sign.
- Richard Alleman (2005). Hollywood: The Movie Lover's Guide: The Ultimate Insider Tour of Movie L.A. Crown Publishing Group. ISBN 9780767916356., p. 76
- Cary, Diana Serra (1996). The Hollywood Posse: The Story of a Gallant Band of Horsemen Who Made Movie History. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0-8061-2835-6.
- Broverman, Neal (July 6, 2012). "Downtown San Dimas Losing Its Cheesy Old West Motif". Curbed LA.
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