Old Tucson Studios founder Bob Shelton dies at 95
By Michael Cooper
December 16, 2016
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -
Bob Shelton, the founder of Old Tucson Studios and a fierce supporter of the film industry in southern Arizona, had died.
According to Old Tucson, Shelton died Thursday, Dec. 15, at the age of 95.
Shelton, originally from Kansas City, moved to Tucson in 1959 while looking for a place to start up an 'old west' tourist attraction.
He said he found what he was looking for when he saw the Old Tucson film set.
Shelton formed the Old Tucson Company, investing his own money into the property and operated the studio until 1985.
In 2015, Shelton was awarded the David J. Nivison Award for Excellence in Tourism by the Southern Arizona Attractions Alliance.
"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 and attracted movie-after-movie to Tucson."
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 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.”
The following is a news release issued by Old Tucson announcing Shelton's passing:
It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of Robert Shelton on Dec. 15, 2016.
Bob was the founder of Old Tucson Studios and devoted to the preservation of our region’s western film legacy. He was just at Old Tucson Dec. 3rd to celebrate the second annual Bob Shelton Day.
From all of us at Old Tucson, present and past, we offer our prayers and blessings to Bob’s family.
If you visit the park this weekend, you will notice we’ve draped several areas in black and white bunting to honor, Bob, including the Bob Shelton Museum and other areas.
If you want to learn more, visit the museum, or ask one of our historians to share Bob wonderful storied past.
SHELTON, Bob (Robert Shelton)
Born: 1911, Kansas City,Missouri, U.S.A.
Died: 12/15/2016, Tucson, Arizona, U.S.A.
Bob Shelton’s westerns – actor:
Arizona Raiders - 1965 (Jim)
Death Valley Days (TV) – 1967 (Sid)
El Dorado – 1967
Return of the Gunfighter - 1967 (cowboy)