‘Wild Bill’ Wellman returns to Oakridge

When men were men: William Wellman, director

William Wellman, Jr. will introduce his award-winning documentary Wild Bill Hollywood Maverick (1995), a film about the life and career of his father, the legendary director William Wellman, at a cool event soon to happen at the Hollywood-historic home Oakridge. One can only guess that Wellman was among the guests to visit the hilltop English manor-style home that Barbara Stanwyk built and dwelt in, in the area of the San Fernando Valley called Porter Ranch.


Wild Bill, who earned his nickname as a decorated WWI fighter pilot, won the Academy Award for Best Writing for A Star is Born (1937), which he also directed. A Star is Born is partially based on the relationship between Stanwyck and Frank Fay, the couple who built and resided in Oakridge, the very home where the Wild Bill Hollywood Maverick will be screened. After Stanwyk, sans Fay but with Robert Taylor, relocated to Beverly Hills, Jack Oakie lived in the home, giving it its name.

barbara stanwyk, horsewoman

Wellman directed Stanwyck, who was his favorite actress, in five other movies (Great Man’s Lady, Lady of Burlesque, Night Nurse, The Purchase Price, So Big). He also directed Oakie in four pictures (Call of the Wild, Looking for Trouble, The Man I Love, Chinatown Nights).

For her role in the A Star is Born, actress Janet Gaynor was nominated for Best Actress. Gaynor and her husband costume designer Adrian, lived in the Zeppo Marx home, nearby to Oakridge at Marwyck Ranch for roughly a decade beginning in 1942.

Who knew this cluster of creatives nestled in The Big Valley?

artsmeme’s debra levine with barbara stanwyck’s bathtub at oakridge

Wild Bill Hollywood Maverick | filmmaker William Wellman, Jr. in person | Oakridge Estate | May 19, screening 2 pm, grounds & house 1 pm

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