Actor and stuntman Rene Veluzat died March 21 at the age of 80 after losing his battle with cancer.
Veluzat was a Santa Clarita native, born on Dec. 28, 1940, and soon began to dip his toes in the film industry in his early teens as a child actor.
As he grew up, Veluzat went on to wear many hats in the industry as a stuntman and actor, supporting crew, then in later years as a creator of two movie ranches: Blue Cloud Movie Ranch and later Diamond V Movie Ranch.
Before starting either of the ranches, Veluzat had already worked for 45 years as a contractor building and remodeling homes across the Santa Clarita Valley.
Veluzat was also a philanthropist who was awarded SCV Man of the Year in 1975 for his efforts.
“He was a man about the community,” said his son Marcel Veluzat, now ranch manager at Diamond V. “He was really proud of Santa Clarita.”
That pride also showed through as he worked with productions, making the SCV a destination for filming.
“I was lucky enough to know and work with Rene for 20 years, and he was such a special, one-of-a-kind, ball of enthusiasm for his passion: Filming in Santa Clarita,” said Jason Crawford, city of Santa Clarita planning, marketing and economic development manager. “He championed this community, was a friend and partner to the city and the film office, and will be greatly missed.”
Veluzat taught his son early on to treat everyone equally, whether celebrity or not, as you never know who is going to be the next big star, Marcel said.
“Sometimes, we’ll do small shows that really don’t have a lot of money, and we’ll do them just because we’re trying to help those people get to a bigger stage in their career,” Marcel added.
The Veluzats devoted themselves to these smaller films, hoping to give each one the opportunity to succeed.
“A lot of the times when these people would just … say, ‘Thank you so much, we would have never been able to do this without you,’ I mean, for him, that was its own praise that he was a part of it,” Marcel added.
One of these smaller shows, a Western called “The Long Ride Home,” even won Veluzat a Telly award, which Veluzat said was his “ultimate accomplishment.”
“He always wanted to make the movie companies happy, and he always wanted to make them feel good about filming on his ranches and in Santa Clarita,” added his nephew Daniel Veluzat, co-owner of Melody Ranch. “His generosity to film productions and his years of knowledge in the industry I think really helped film companies believe and trust in filming a lot in Santa Clarita.”
It was this notion, as well as that of hard work, that Veluzat instilled in his son as well, which Marcel said he credits for allowing him to run the movie ranch now.
Dylan Lewis, who purchased Blue Cloud from Veluzat, also appreciated being able to go to Veluzat for advice or help when needed.
“I loved every interaction I ever had with him, and I know he was excited when he was retiring to know his baby was going to somebody that was going to keep it as a movie ranch and sort of take the baton and run with it, and I was excited to do that,” Lewis added.
Veluzat was described as “a man full of life” whose stories were one in a million.
“He could take the simplest story, and have you on the edge of your seat, listening to it,” Daniel said. “He was just a fascinating storyteller.”
Most stories were thought of as fantasies — until Veluzat provided the listener with photographic proof.
“That’s what an incredible life he lived,” Marcel added.
Many of these stories can be read in Veluzat’s book, “My High Adventures Behind the Movie Scenes,” which was published just recently.
“He was particularly proud of that book,” Marcel said. “In his book, he tells some of the craziest stories … (but) he just wanted to portray Hollywood in a positive light. … When we meet some of these (stars), they just turn out to be the most genuine people in the world, and that’s kind of what he wanted to portray in his book.”
Veluzat is survived by his wife of over 40 years, Patti, his son, Marcel, as well as his grandchildren, Logan and Holland.