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Joel McCrea gets plaque on Walk of Western Stars

Ceremony for star of 90-plus films kicks off 2009 Cowboy Festival

Posted: April 24, 2009 10:18 p.m.
Updated: April 25, 2009 9:25 a.m.

David McCrea, Lauralea McCrea, Lisa McCrea, Wyatt McCrea and City Councilwoman Laurene Weste pose for photos next to the plaque honoring late film legend Joel McCrea, Friday afternoon in downtown Newhall.

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The late film legend Joel McCrea got his day in Newhall Friday, when city officials unveiled a plaque in his honor on Main Street's Walk of Western Stars.

McCrea, who died in 1990 weeks shy of his 85th birthday, appeared in more than 90 films, including Sam Peckinpah's "Ride the High Country," "The Virginian," "Buffalo Bill" and "Foreign Correspondent."

"What most impressed me was how he always portrayed people of good character," said Bill Kennedy, chairman of the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce. "It's extremely pleasing that we can honor him here today."

Kennedy was flanked by City Council members Laurene Weste, Bob Kellar and Marsha McLean, plus a small group of family members and photographers.

"We want to keep alive the legends of the West," Weste said.

McCrea, born in 1905, was married for 57 years to actress Frances Dee, raising their three sons in the Conejo Valley.

He grew up on a ranch at 7755 Hollywood Boulevard, an address which is today home to one of myriad Tinseltown apartment buildings.

"He was a good man. (Our parents) kept us in line as well as they could," his son David said.

David's son, Wyatt McCrea, said his grandfather was "bigger than life as a kid, (but) he loved to laugh.

"I think (his) goodness got passed down to my father. What you saw was what you got."

Friday's event was a kickoff of sorts for the annual Cowboy Festival held this weekend at Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studios.

The bronze and terrazzo McCrea tile sits on the sidewalk at the corner of Main Street and 9th Street, outside the Way Station Coffee Shop. McCrea's plaque is one of more than 60 lining Main Street in downtown Newhall.

After the ceremony a casual reception was held inside the Way Station, where the McCrea family, city officials and local diners enjoyed slices of pie and plates of the diner's locally famous hash-brown potatoes.

A few hours later, members of the family were guests of honor at a screening of "The Virginian" on Main Street at Melody Ranch, where the classic Western was filmed. The event was sold out.

McCrea's induction as a Walk of Western Stars honoree and the screening in his honor were kickoff events for the 2009 Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival, which runs through the weekend.


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