Garé and Carl Barks were a well-known
married couple when they lived in the hamlet of Hemet, California,
from 1954 to 1969. The focus was on Garé who participated in
multiple artistic events such as gallery shows, theatre plays,
and diverse promotional activities for the town, and it was not
generally known that Carl was drawing the immensely popular
Disney duck stories (see more about some of his community
Hemet's greatest annual and social event was - and still is - The
Ramona Pageant* and the couple attended
every year for both pleasure and business. Here are a few
accounts of the event as such and the Barks couple's activities
in connection with it.
* Generally, a Pageant is
defined as an elaborate public presentation depicting a
historical or traditional event. It is mostly held outdoor and
involves shows, processions, and displays.
Although its official title is The
Ramona Outdoor Play it is commonly known as The
Ramona Pageant. It dates back to 1923 and is
held over three weekends in April and May based
in a natural amphitheatre called The Ramona
Bowl in the foothills above Hemet. All cast
members are volunteers from the residential areas
and features about 400 citizens making the
pageant the largest - as well as the longest-running
- outdoor play in the USA.
Hemet is situated in an area which was populated
by many ethnic groups some of which were Indian
tribes and Spanish settlers, and this fact is
also reflected in the pageant's vast program as
both intriguing and colourful events, but local
artists also have a platform where they can
present their work.
is the front cover of the couple's own program
for the 1967 Ramona Pageant. Notice the names of
Helen Hunt Jackson
Ramona, first edition
In 1884 Helen Hunt Jackson's (1830-1885)
historical romance novel Ramona was published.
In the story Ramona, the child of
a white father and an Indian mother, falls in love with
an Indian sheepherder named Alessandro. Jackson's story
has never been out of print, it inspired popular songs as
well as 4 films, and it became the pivotal point for the
annual pageant - and the inspiration for Carl's 1951
story In Old California!...
Road sign to the Bowl
Panchita and Rolando
Carl only made one romantic story, FC0328
In Old California! from 1951, and it became one
of his favourites because of its sentimental qualities: The
one I always liked best for sentimental value was In Old
California! I created an atmosphere and then
kept that atmosphere through the whole story.
In fact, we are treated to an all-embracing story
that has all the ingredients of a traditional and
romantic Wild West film; a dashing hero, a beautiful
heroine, shady characters, gold diggers, settlers,
cowboys, and campfire songs as well as love, heroes,
villains, history, nature, gold rush, atmosphere and
nostalgia. And for once, Carl did not need to consult his
beloved National Geographic Magazines for backgrounds in
order to draw this epic story. He lived right in the area
next to the Soboba Indian Reservation, the Estudillo
Mansion, and the Ramona Pageant Bowl...
This fact also enticed him to fill the story with real
locations and numerous in-jokes. He later stated when
referring to the story as 'partly as an introductory
prop to establish the locale and historical period of the
main plot, and partly to amaze my San Jacinto neighbors,
few of whom knew that the duck comic books they saw on
the newsstands originated in their little town. You
can see a few examples of Carl's 'insider' information HERE.
See more of Carl's
comments on this particular story HERE.
was never afraid of promoting herself with the confidence
that comes natural when you know your own professional
worth. At the pageant she would hand out folders like
Carl and Ramona
Garé and 'Earl'
At the 1968 pageant Carl presented
one of his already numerous paintings. It was made
shortly before and called Ramona's Decision,
evidently a tribute to the pageant. It depicts a Spanish
donna who obviously has difficulties choosing her jewelry
for the evening.
Carl was published in the local newspaper holding his new
art (left), and he later grumbled: Even my wife says
I don't look like myself in this photo. In another
newspaper the other day my photo came out looking like
Chief Justice Earl Warren (the famous judge who
presided in the first committee investigating President
John F. Kennedy's death - Editor's remark). I burned
Maybe he did, but the newspaper photo still exists (right)
and it shows the couple at the Chiswood Gallery in Hemet.
Garé is pointing to one of her own paintings, while 'Earl'