In the four months since moving from California to southern Utah, the Hollywood Stuntmen's Hall of Fame has lined up more than a dozen celebrity appearances for a June grand opening.
Remodeling of 22 rooms in an old church housing the museum has nearly been completed with the aid of dozens of local volunteers, said founder-director John G. Hagner."I thought it could be done 15 years ago, and we're close to being right on target," Hagner said. "Everything is falling together real fine."
The museum, open Tuesdays through Sundays, is a non-profit enterprise mostly supported this first year with more than $250,000 in local, state and federal grants and contracts.
The agreement with Hagner was negotiated by Moab Film Commission Executive Director Bette Stanton, brought to Moab more than 600 crates full of movie memorabilia, film footage, antique film artifacts and photographs collected over 36 years.
Hagner moved the collection from Palmdale, Calif., this winter for permanent display in Moab. Exhibits span movie history from the silent era to contemporary cinema, including displays on the rise of professional stuntmen in the '30s and '40s. Hagner said the space limits the exhibit to only 30 percent of his collection, so displays will be changed every few months.
Visitors got a sneak preview of the opening exhibit during Easter weekend.
"They like what they see. They can't wait to see it when it's fully open," said Hagner, a veteran stuntman, author, artist and stunt instructor.
Among the highlights are exhibits of cowboy and Indian costumes, weapons and equipment used by John Wayne, Iron Eyes Cody who has played Indian roles in more than 2,000 films and other actors and stuntmen in various movie genre, including several set in medieval times.
Also arranged throughout the building are 60 out of 200 of Hagner's concrete impressions of footprints, handprints and autographs of stuntmen and stars, including Lee Majors, Jimmie Stewart, Yakima Canutt, and David Sharpe.
Residents have contributed the wooden frame from the front of a cave in Castle Valley filmed in "Against A Crooked Sky,' starring Richard Boone and numerous stills from movies filmed in the Moab area.
Grand opening of the museum, set for the weekend of June 23-25 in conjunction with the annual Butch Cassidy Rodeo Days celebration, will draw some of the best-known stuntmen in the movie industry, as well as movie stars, Hagner said.