Friday, April 1, 2011

Sam Peckinpah ...

Mentioning Richard Brautigan here a few days ago brought to mind a few of the other celebrities who have called Livingston home since the 1970s. The list of literary and Hollywood figures with Livingston connections is impressive and long: Tom McGuane, Jimmy Buffet, Margot Kidder, Michael Keaton, Peter Fonda, Dennis Quaid, and on and on.

One of the most intriguing members of that group was Sam Peckinpah, the Hollywood director responsible for films such as The Wild Bunch and Straw Dogs. Peckinpah leased a residential suite at the Murray Hotel in Livingston for years, and was a regular at the local bars, shooting pool and playing poker and drinking. He was quite a character, his activities providing the source material for stories that are still told in Livingston today. Here's one of the best-known, as recounted in a 2001 article written for the Missoulian by Vince Devlin. This version of the story came from an interview with Patty Miller, a former owner of the Murray:
Peckinpah loved to play poker, but, says Miller, "he was a terrible poker player - the worst." . . . A plaque in "Peck's Place" in the Murray Hotel tells of Peckinpah taking $1,000 into a high-stakes poker game in Livingston, and quickly losing $700 of it.

"Well boys," Peckinpah said, standing and picking up his last three hundred-dollar bills. "You ain't gonna get these."

And then he ate them.


  1. Oh, my goodness!!!
    I had to laugh at that, and be horrified at the same time...

  2. Livingston is a great place to spend a bit of "social" time. As a child I stayed with my father at the Murray and in 2009 took my 32 year son(born and raised in Australia) on a trip through Montana that included stays at such icons as the Olive Hotel in Miles City and the Murray. In addition in Livingston we had what my son pronounced as the best cheeseburger ever at the Stockman.

    I obviously enjoy your site. Keep putting it on.

  3. Isn't that a great story?! There are a lot of other stories out there about Sam Peckinpah's days in Livingston ... most of them wouldn't be appropriate for a family-friendly blog, though. :)

    And Myron, that sounds like a wonderful father-son trip. (The Stockman does have great burgers, too!) I visited Australia about three years ago, and really saw some similarities between rural Montana and rural NSW ... not in specifics, necessarily, but definitely in overall "feel." If Australia only had real mountains, I could almost emigrate!