Ranger Exes Memorial - Texas - Old Texas Theaters Making of the movie "GIANT":RevisitedThe 1956 movie epic "GIANT" won 4 Oscars and 12 nominations. It was based on the novel by Edna Ferber which covered the family life of a Texas cattle rancher and their conflicts. Stars of the movie were Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean (final film role), Chill Wills, and Dennis Hopper. One of the many filming locations was outside of Marfa, TX. At the time of the filming, I was a young teenager in school. My family and I took a vacation trip to the Big Bend National Park in West Texas. On the way and a short distant out of Marfa, we stopped to watch the movie being filmed. As we stood with other tourists by the roadside in complete silence, Leslie Benedict (Elizabeth Taylor) and Jett Rink (James Dean) were doing a filming scene over and over. She was getting out of her car to visit him at his ranch, Little Reata. Later we were allowed to walk around to take pictures where the cast and crew were taking a break. James Dean was killed in an auto collision near Cholame, CA, shortly after the movie was made. (Photos below by Webmaster)
Little Reata movie set in 1955
Elizabeth Taylor & then husband, Michael Wilding posing for pictures.
Filming of "GIANT" near Marfa with Elizabeth Taylor by the car.
Rock Hudson & Elizabeth Taylor on the set of "GIANT"
In 2006 after 50 years of the movie release, I returned to Marfa with my wife. We first visited The Hotel Paisano (1930) in Marfa where cast and crew members stayed during the filming. James Dean stayed in Room 223 which has remained the same. But the rooms for Rock Hudson (#211) and Elizabeth Taylor (#212) have been expanded. In the hotel is a special memorabilia room devoted to the movie. Across the street from the hotel is the now closed Palace movie theater where the filming was reviewed each day after shooting. We then drove out Highway 90W looking for remains of the movie set. After a few miles, "there on the right!" I shouted. The old windmill still stands at the place of Jett Rink's ranch and was the only visible remains of the movie set. On our way back to Marfa, we looked for the remains of Reata (home of "Bick" Benedict) but didn't find it. Heard that the house facade is in ruins and located on private property. Pictures taken by Webmaster. Remains of GIANT movie set near Marfa, TX
Palace Theater in downtown Marfa where film was reviewed everyday after shooting of GIANT.
The Hotel Paisano in downtown Marfa where cast members stayed
Patio at The Hotel Paisano
The movie "GIANT" is continuously being played at the hotel in a memorabilia room.
GIANT memorabilia room at The Hotel Paisano
On our 40th wedding anniversary in 2007, we returned to San Antonio where we had spent our honeymoon at the historic 1859 Menger Hotel. Hanging in the lobby of the hotel is a painting used in the movie "GIANT". Painting "Venting Cattle on the Frisco System" by F.L. Van Ness used in the movie "GIANT". 1859 Menger Hotel in San Antonio, TX MEMORIAL TO THE CAST JAMES DEAN, 24, died on Sept. 30, 1955 in a car crash in California. He was born on Feb. 8, 1931 in Marion, Indiana. He starred as a troubled teenager Jim Stark in "Rebel Without a Cause" (1955). After a role in "East of Eden", he was the ranch hand Jett Rink in "Giant" (1956). Dean's fame rest on his performances in only three films. DENNIS HOPPER, 74, died of cancer in Venice, CA, on May 29, 2010. He was born on May 17, 1936, and began his career with roles in movies like "Rebel Without a Cause." He appeared with his friend, James Dean, in the movie "Giant" as Jordan Benedict III, son of Bick Benedict. His greatest success on screen was "Easy Rider." He was also a director & respected photographer. He was married five times. ROCK HUDSON, 59, died in 1985 at Beverly Hills, CA. of AIDS. He was born Roy Harold Scherer, Jr. in Winnetka, IL. During WWII, he served as a Navy airplane mechanic. His first movie was "Fighter Squadron" (1948). In 1956, he received an Oscar nomination for the movie "Giant" in his role of wealthy Texas rancher Bick Benedict. He starred in many comedies with Doris Day & had a TV series "McMillan & Wife" (1971). ELIZABETH TAYLOR, 79, died on March 23, 2011 in Los Angeles, CA from congestive heart failure with interment in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, CA. She was born Feb. 27, 1932 in London, England. The family relocated to Los Angeles in the late 30s. Elizabeth first appearance in a film was in 1942 at the age ten. In 1955 she appeared in the hit movie "Giant" (1956) as the wife of Bick Benedict. She became a major actress starring in numerous hit movies winning an Oscar for "Butterfield 8." Her multiple marriages & divorces included actor Richard Burton. CHILL WILLS, 76, died Dec. 15, 1978 in Encino, CA of cancer. He was born July 18, 1902 in Seagoville, TX. At an early age, he performed in vaudeville and formed a musical group. Later they appeared in several low-budget Westerns. He married ballet dancer Betty Chappelle and they had two children. She died in 1971 and he remarried. Chill played Bick's Uncle Bawley in the movie "Giant."