Two Reno Divorce Era “Survivors” – Then and Now

00_MaryLou_1951MA29217747-0005Then. In 1951, the glamorous singer/dancer Marilu Norden registered at the Pyramid Lake Ranch to wait out her six weeks for a “quickie” divorce. The guest ranch was 34 miles north of Reno in Sutcliffe, a location that was remote then and still is today.

Bill McGee on the Flying M.E., Washoe Valley, NV, 1947

In 1947, Montana cowboy Bill McGee hired on as head dude wrangler at the famous Flying M.E. dude ranch, twenty miles south of Reno in Washoe Valley. He went on trail rides with an Astor, a du Pont, and a Vanderbilt. He went hunting and drinking with Ava Gardner and Clark Gable. He said those were some of the best years of his life.

IMG_1070Now. Though Bill’s and Marilu’s paths did not cross in those years, the two met up in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2012. (Photos of Marilu Norden, and Marilu and Bill: Courtesy Chris Norden)

In honor of Marilu’s upcoming “forever 42” (as she refers to her birthdays) , I thought a tribute to her and Bill – now both in their early nineties – would be in order. After all, they may be two of a dwindling group who lived through the glimmering days when Reno was the “Divorce Capital of the World” and can tell the stories. And tell the stories, they did.

Marilu recounted hers in a memoir mixed with fiction, UNBRIDLED: A TALE OF A DIVORCE RANCH. Bill told his story in the illustrated coffee table book, THE DIVORCE SEEKERS: A PHOTO MEMOIR OF A NEVADA DUDE WRANGLER. Both books available on Amazon.

 

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