SCENE: Reno, Nevada, 1947. A handsome young cowboy hires on as the head dude wrangler at the famous Flying M.E. divorce ranch twenty miles south of Reno
It was the heyday of the Reno divorce era. Divorce seekers — as the media called them — came running to Reno by the thousands… the rich, the poor, the famous, and the working class. If they had the money and wanted their privacy from the prying eyes of the press, they stayed on a divorce ranch… and the Flying M.E. was the most exclusive of them all.
From 1947 to 1949, Bill McGee was the head dude wrangler on the Flying M.E. He entertained wealthy Eastern socialites with names like Astor and du Pont, and Hollywood movie stars Ava Gardner and Clark Gable.
As Bill liked to say, “At age twenty-two, being the only man on the ranch, and surrounded by all those beautiful and wealthy women, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Those were some of the best years of my life.”
Meet Bill McGee
Bill and his co-author/wife, Sandra,
recapture Reno’s divorce ranch era
The Divorce Seekers — A richly-illustrated coffee table book with a collection of stories about the changing cast of fascinating guests who came and went every six weeks on the Flying M.E.
The stories are true… only some names have been changed to protect The Divorce Seekers.
“The images – with their smoky, black-and-white, retro allure – are what brought the time and place alive for me so that I could bring my characters to life in my novel … This book is a treasure if only for the photos alone.”
—Deb Caletti, bestselling author of The Secrets She Keeps
“The best book yet about Nevada’s famous dude-divorce ranch business.”
—Eric Moody, Curator of Manuscripts, Nevada Historical Society, Reno
“As Bill McGee recounted stories of life on the Flying M.E., it was like an old Hollywood movie coming to life.”
– Jonni Hill, Gardnerville Record -Courier
THE DIVORCE SEEKERS
A Photo Memoir of a Nevada Dude Wrangler
by William L. McGee and Sandra V. McGee
Foreword by William W. Bliss
444 pp, 502 B/W photographs and illustrations, maps, appendices, notes,
bibliography, index. Hardcover 8.5″ x 11″, $39.95. BMC Publications, 2004
The Divorce Seekers is currently under option for a television or streaming platform series.