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Wildfires in Southern California destroy iconic Hollywood artifacts

Ian Harvey

The Southern California wildfires that have been burning during the summer of 2016 have left a path of destruction across hundreds of miles of the state and show no sign of letting up. Homes, businesses, recreation areas and historical landmarks have been destroyed. Even the Hollywood elite have found themselves in the path of devastation.

2016 California wildfires Source:By Zackmann08 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
2016 California wildfires Source:By Zackmann08 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Irreplaceable mementos from movies and television have been destroyed along with the homes of actors, stunt people, stagehands and all of those who help create the illusions that entertain us.

When the fires reached the home of former Hollywood stuntman, Loren Janes, a collection of cinematic treasures was lost forever.

Loren Janes Source:Today's Wild West/Youtube
Loren Janes Source:Today’s Wild West/Youtube

According to his website,, Janes, born in 1931, started his career as a stuntman in 1954. His first appearance was in the 1955 movie Jupiter’s Darling, starring Howard Keel and Esther Williams, in which he performed a 30-foot leap off a cliff.  For the past 62 years, he has been involved in the stunt industry as a stuntman, stunt coordinator and founder of the Stuntman Association of Motion Pictures and Television which helped in creating standards of safety.  He was also once President of the Screen Actors Guild.  In 2001 he was the recipient of the lifetime achievement award, the Golden Boot, for his work in Westerns and the World Stunt Award’s 2011 Taurus Lifetime Achievement Award. He has worked with many A-list actors and directors including Yul Brynner, Tony Curtis, Charles Bronson, Steve McQueen, Paul Newman and many others. Janes has appeared in more than 500 movies including Back to the Future, The Dirty Dozen and thousands of TV shows such as McGuyver and The Fall Guy.  He was a stunt double for McQueen for over 20 years beginning with the television show Wanted Dead or Alive in 1961.  His last appearance before retirement as a stunt man was in the 2002 release of Spider-Man at the age of 71.

Strangely enough, with all the years Janes performed stunts he never broke a bone.  He believes that his knowledge of discipline and focus learned early on from his coaches as well as healthy living and strong faith in God have kept him safe for so long.

Janes and his wife Jan Sanborn, a renowned musician, were forced to flee their home in the middle of the night this past July as the wildfires approached their neighborhood.  Upon their return, they found their home and all of their possessions had been destroyed.

Countless mementos such as an engraved Rolex watch given to Janes by Steve McQueen and a collection of cups once owned by John Wayne were destroyed.  Also lost was the famous survival knife used by Sylvester Stallone in the 1985 movie, Rambo: First Blood Part II, which was given to Janes as a gift after the film completed filming.  Not only movie memorabilia was lost, but musical compositions and other works by Sanborn were also destroyed. She is the author of a large library of books about music, especially Christian holiday music and hymns, and is an accomplished classical pianist.

The couple, who had no fire insurance, is now residing at a refugee shelter.  A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family rebuild their lives, which have become increasingly following Janes’ Alzheimer’s diagnosis in 2012.

The page has already raised $99,000 toward the goal of $380,000 needed to find a home, buy furnishings, clothing, supplies and food to hopefully restore some normality to their lives.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News