ZANE GREY INDUCTED INTO THE
ARIZONA MUSIC AND ENTERTAINMENT HALL OF FAME
Zane Grey was born January 31, 1872, in Zanesville, Ohio. In 1889 Zane
moved from Zanesville to Columbus, Ohio.
From an early age he had a great interest in history.
He would eventually become a world renowned author whose books brought
the American frontier and the wild west to life in the world. He wrote
his first story, "Jim of the Cave," when he was fifteen.
As a teen, he had aspirations of becoming a major league
baseball player. He was spotted by a baseball scout and received offers
from many colleges. Grey chose the University of Pennsylvania on a baseball
scholarship, where he studied dentistry. He graduated in 1896. Grey went
on to play minor league baseball with several teams, including the Newark,
New Jersey Colts in 1898 and also with the Orange Athletic Club for several
He struggled with the idea of becoming a writer or baseball
player for his career, but decided that dentistry was the most practical
choice. His father was a dentist and he followed in his footsteps
and became a dentist himself. In his mid-20’s he started using his middle
name, Zane instead of Pearl. Grey established his practice in New
York City under the name of Dr. Zane Grey. He began to write in the evening
to offset the tedium of his dental practice. Grey eventually closed his
dental practice and became a full time writer.
In 1907 Grey arranged for a mountain lion-hunting trip
to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Upon returning home in
1909, Grey wrote a new novel, The Last of the Plainsmen.
With the birth of his first child pending, Grey felt compelled to complete
his next novel and his first Western, The Heritage of the Desert.
He wrote it in four months in 1910. It quickly became a bestseller. Two
years later, in 1912, Grey produced his best-known book, Riders of
the Purple Sage. This was to be his best selling book.
It is one of the most successful Western novels of all time.
In addition to the commercial success of his printed books,
many films and TV shows were made of his works. As of 2012, 112 films,
two television episodes, and a television series, Dick Powell’s Zane
Grey Theater, had been made that were based loosely on Grey’s novels
and short stories
Grey’s greatest passion was for fishing. From 1918 until
1932, he was a regular contributor to Outdoor Life magazine. The
Greys moved to California in 1918. In 1920 they settled in Altadena, California.
He built a cabin around this time in Arizona. From
1923 to 1930, he spent a few weeks a year at his cabin on the Mogollon
Rim, in Central Arizona. Grey’s career blossomed at the same time the motion
picture industry was beginning. His works were adapted to the screen
from the earliest day of movies. Zane loved the rugged country of Arizona
and spent a lot of time here.
He visited many areas of Arizona and Zane Grey stories
abound in Northern Arizona. The time he spent in Arizona has put his mark
on our history. The Weatherford Hotel in Flagstaff has placed plaques of
recognition up honoring the times he spent staying there and writing. After
years of decay, the cabin he had built on the Mogollon Rim was restored
in 1966 by Bill Goettl, a Phoenix air conditioning magnate. He opened it
to the public as a free-of-charge museum.
The Dude Fire destroyed the cabin in 1990. It was
later reconstructed 25 miles away in the town of Payson. In 2003, the Zane
Grey Cabin Foundation raised $200,000 to build a replica of the cabin on
the grounds of the Rim Country Museum in Payson’s Green Valley Park. It’s
still a popular tourist destination. A first-edition copy of one of Grey’s
first books, Betty Zane, is displayed at the cabin in Payson.
Zane Grey died of heart failure on October 23, 1939, at
his home in Altadena, California. He was buried in the Lackawaxen and Union
Cemetery in Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania.
The National Park Service maintains his former home in
Lackawaxen as the Zane Grey Museum. Zanesville, Ohio also has a museum
named in his honor, the National Road-Zane Grey Museum. His home in Altadena,
CA is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Zane Grey Terrace,
a small residential street in the hillsides of Altadena, is named in his
“My beloved Arizona” was the term of endearment Zane Grey
bestowed upon this state. Our history, landscape and people inspired many
of his western novels. Zane Grey was a major force in shaping the myths
of the Old West. He inspired many Western writers who followed him.
His tales of the western frontier made him “The Father of the Western Novel."
Arizona is proud to have been one of Zane Grey’s favorite inspirations
to write classic novels depicting the great old days of our wild western
You can find out more information about Zane Grey
at the Zane Grey West Society website at: www.zgws.org.