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'Misfits' Remembered this Weekend in Dayton
by Harry Spencer
Sep 17, 2010 | 1344 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For those locals who happened to be around this area 50 years ago and remember the long summer of the 1960 on-location filming of “The Misfits” motion picture starring Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable there is a two-day celebration of that event occurring in the town of Dayton today and Sunday.

It is probably very fitting that Dayton is the scene of the 50th Anniversary party because it was the most widely photographed of all “The Misfits” location shoots. A special stadium was set up for the rodeo shots featuring actor Montgomery Clift and the most exciting sequence, Marilyn with the paddleboard and Gable getting drunk, was filmed inside of the oldest bars in Dayton.

The other main locations utilized by director John Huston included the Reno train station, Harrah’s tiny Virginia Street Club and the Washoe County court house steps. Pyramid Lake was also featured in the early scenes as was a tiny cabin up a canyon on the way to Pyramid Lake. The most intense horse-trapping filming was done on the edge of the 40-mile desert east of Sparks.

Retired state archivist Guy Rocha and Kay Winters are the co-grand marshals of the parade through Dayton that will kick things off at 10 a.m. today. Rocha is particularly conversant with “The Misfits” history and will be moderating a “rap” session later in the day with participants who were associated with the filming.

For more information on the list of events please contact Laura Tennant at 246-3256 or 721-3080 or at

Nevada vs. the WAC

Another bump in the road occurred this week when the controversial move by the University of Nevada, Reno’s Athletic Department’s defection from the Western Athletic Conference (WAC_ to the Mountain West Conference (MWC) in 2011-12 season was challenged by a lawsuit filed on behalf of the WAC against Nevada, Fresno State and the MWC.

WAC Commissioner Karl Benson was quoted as saying that he had contacted Nevada about further discussing the matter but had no response. UNR President Milton Glick expressed dismay of the filing of the lawsuit and said that he had hoped for a more peaceful discussion and resolution of the problem.

At the heart of the matter seems to be that both Fresno State and Nevada missed a deadline for notifying the WAC of their plans to defect by June 30. It is Benson’s contention that if that breach of contract should occur then both Fresno and Nevada would have to pay the WAC a $5 million fine, as specified in the WAC bylaws.

At present the schools and the MWC have less than 30 days to respond to the lawsuit. After that, Benson has said that he expects a ruling within the next 30 days. So, by the middle of November the situation may be resolved.

What it means to local Wolf Pack fans, who have been salivating over playing their college games in the MWC, is that they will have to wait until the 2012-13 season or, if the schools prevail may have to figure out ways to raise the money for the $5 million fine.

Some wags at the morning kaffee klatch at the Gold and Silver restaurant in Reno noted that maybe Glick had a “Miltdown” when he agreed verbally to the fine portion of the WAC bylaws.

Reno Air Races

Today and Sunday mark the final days of this year’s edition of the Reno Air Races.

Since 1964, when the first race was held on the dusty airfield at the Sky Ranch airport north of Sparks on Pyramid Way, this event has grown and prospered to the to tune of bringing a very affluent group of people to the Truckee Meadows.

Often overlooked, and seldom remembered, is the one man responsible for bringing the Reno Air Races to this area and that is one Bill Stead, whose family ranch was located not too far from the Sky Ranch airport.

Stead first approached his good buddy, Charles Mapes, owner and operator of the Mapes Hotel and sought his support. Next to come aboard in a very big way was Harold’s Club. Harold’s PR man, Roy Powers, took the initial event to another level by having his boss sponsor a coast-to-coast race that started in Florida and ended up in Reno. In addition, Powers was one of the members of the first board of directors that helped Stead stage the successful event.

Since only seven planes were available in 1964 Stead contacted some hot air balloon people and a number of the lighter than air creations were on hand. It might have been the inspiration for the successful Great Reno Balloon Races that we now enjoy during the week prior to the Reno Air Races. Also, Stead asked me to get in touch with U.S. Sen. Howard Cannon and see if he could provide an appearance by the Air National Guard demo flying team. Cannon delivered handsomely and the pilots showed up with a good friend of mine, Ed Mack Millier, of Denver, as their announcer and backup pilot.

While it is appropriate that the races are now held at the Stead airport it is worth noting that the Stead field was not named after Bill Stead but rather after his brother Crofton Stead, who was also a pilot. Someday, if things ever work out that way, a statue or plaque recognizing Bill Stead will appear at the present location.

Harry Spencer is a freelance writer in Reno. His column about the past and present of northern Nevada appears weekly in the Tribune.

Editor’s note: Opinions expressed in Harry Spencer’s column are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Tribune.
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