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3/26/2012 9:01:00 AM
Arizona's Little Hollywood Museum: Foundation will preserve Sedona's film history
Joe McNeil, owner of Sedona Monthly magazine, was a movie buff long before he began questioning stories being passed around the Sedona area about movies and movie stars who had come to the area. Courtesy of Joe McNeill
Joe McNeil, owner of Sedona Monthly magazine, was a movie buff long before he began questioning stories being passed around the Sedona area about movies and movie stars who had come to the area. Courtesy of Joe McNeill
Rock Hudson at the Sedona Lodge checks out a list of films shot in Sedona. (Courtesy Joe McNeil)
Rock Hudson at the Sedona Lodge checks out a list of films shot in Sedona. (Courtesy Joe McNeil)
If You Go ...
• What: Arizona's Little Hollywood Foundation fundraiser

• Where: Talk of the Town, 320 N. 89A, Suite 7, Sedona

• When: Friday, March 30, 6 to 8 p.m.

• How Much: $25 per person

• Contact: (928) 282-8728

Steve Ayers
Staff Reporter

A movie buff since childhood and an illustrator, artist and publisher for much of his adult life, Joe McNeill's past didn't take long to catch up with him after he retired in 2001 and moved to Sedona.

First he started his own magazine, Sedona Monthly. Shortly afterward he heard tales of the area's movie industry, some with a ring of truth and some that just didn't add up.

Not one to let a question go unanswered, he began a seven-year search for the truth, which in 2010 resulted in the publishing of his seminal history of the area's celluloid past, "Arizona's Little Hollywood: Sedona and Northern Arizona's Forgotten Film Industry 1923-1973."

In addition to being an inquisitive sort, McNeill is also not one to waste any effort made to find the truth or discard any treasures found along the way.

During his search he came across stuff he just couldn't pass up.

There was Zane Gray's original contract for the film Call of the Canyon, the first full-length film shot in Sedona, that he discovered in a Los Angeles bookstore.

Then there were the papers of Lee Doyle, Hollywood's go-to guy in Sedona for nearly 30 years and owner of Rex the Wonder Horse. The papers were found in a Phoenix storage locker and McNeil them bought off E-Bay.

And of course there were all those movie posters, costumes and memorabilia he scrounged up at auctions or through old friends and acquaintances he made during his years in the magazine business.

With some 4,000 artifacts collected, the question arose, what to do with it all. That's when the idea behind the Arizona's Little Hollywood Museum was born.

"I credit my wife, Debbie Weinkauff, with the idea of putting it all in a museum, here in Sedona," says McNeill.

As much as it was his book, her idea and their magazine, he says it's not for him.

"It is not a Joe McNeill project and it's not a Debbie Weinkauff project or a Sedona Monthly project," he says, "It's a community project. All this stuff rightfully belongs on display for the world to come here and see."

But he says he does not want to limit the scope of the museum to just Sedona's cinematic past.

"The story of Arizona's Little Hollywood cannot be told without putting it in the context of the world in which the films were being made.

"To tell that story, we need to also tell the story of the film industry as a whole and how the events of the day influenced the movies being made," says McNeill.

To bring the museum to reality, McNeill has formed a 501(c)(3) foundation, not surprisingly called Arizona's Little Hollywood Museum Foundation.

This Friday, March 30, the fundraising will begin.

The event, which will feature a display of items from McNeil's collection, will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. at Talk of the Town, 320 N. 89A, Suite 7, in Sinagua Plaza, Uptown Sedona.

Tickets are $25 each and are available on line at or at Talk of the Town. Wine and hors d'ouevres will be served.

"Now if I could just find Rex the Wonder Hose and inter him at the museum," says McNeill, "that'd be great."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Article comment by: Deb Bentlage

The unique, vibrant cultural history of the Sedona/Verde Valley area and its growth was depicted on film in many ways during 1923-1973.

Movies were made around Clarkdale, Camp Verde, Jerome and so many other areas surrounding Sedona. Monument Valley was a backdrop, along with the Red Rocks, in numerous Westerns. Flagstaff was often the first stop for movie companies after they flew in from Hollywood. This new museum will preserve this history and educate the public about what a great contribution the movies have made. It will be a complement to every other tourist attraction in Sedona and its surrounding areas in Northern Arizona.

Thank you, Steve Ayers, and to KUDOS/Verde Independent for letting your readers know about this nonprofit museum project and the eventual contribution it will make to our tourism economy! It's all going to happen with the support of our community and the citizens who decide to support and contribute to building the Arizona's Little Hollywood Museum.

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