Robert Shelton, founder of Old Tucson Studios and a longtime advocate for the Southern Arizona movie industry.
Shelton founded Old Tucson Co. in 1959, 20 years after Columbia Pictures built the Wild West town as a set for “Arizona," an epic Western film starring Jean Arthur and William Holden.
"Bob Shelton was Tucson's movie man. During his 26 years at Old Tucson, he built up the annual visitation at the attraction to be second only to the Grand Canyon," said Tom Moulton, Director of Economic Development & Tourism at Pima County, in a recent release from Pima County. "He became friends with the Duke (John Wayne), Elizabeth Taylor, and many other actors, producers and directors, which attracted movie-after-movie to Tucson."
Shelton was involved in the production of more than 300 movies and television shows between 1959 and 1985, when he sold Old Tucson.
In 1968, a 13,000-square-foot soundstage was built, which launched Old Tucson into a frenzy of moviemaking. The first film to use the soundstage was "Young Billy Young," with Robert Mitchum and Angie Dickinson.
At one point in 1970, Shelton recalled in 2011, Burt Lancaster, Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin worked simultaneously on four different movies here.
When Gene Wilder died in August 2016, Tucson News Now, reached out to Shelton to talk about Wilder filming Stir Crazy (1980) and The Frisco Kid (1979) in the area.
Shelton said 'The Frisco Kid' filming started around Nogales and moved to the Mescal location. Shelton said his interaction with Wilder at the time was limited. However, he explained he remembered seeing Wilder on set where he was friendly and the two would "exchange greetings on a daily basis."