I never met Milo Holt, but I can’t help feeling that I knew him.
A few days ago, Nikki Ellerbe shared some memories of Milo as he reflected on the 30-year history of the Ed Wyatt Chapter of the Western Film Preservation Society.
“First of all, Milo was a true Western gentleman. He was a showman, but I don’t think he ever knew how good he was. He could have easily been a character actor in B-Western films, but chose just to enjoy them and share them with all the people he knew. “In 1981, Milo taught a course about B-Western Films “with the zeal of a young boy” on the campus at NC State University. Out of that class, 18 “converts” committed to create the Western Film Preservation Society–dedicated to keeping the memory of Saturday afternoon shoot-em-ups alive for any who would come. After 30 years, the club lives on–as do the movies they enjoy every third Thursday of the month (except July, August and December).
Showing movies to the public was nothing new for Milo. He had shown old 16mm prints in the Siler City Courthouse since the 1960s and continued to do so until his health failed.
Nikki remembers attending a few of Milo’s showings back in the 70s.
“I first met Milo back in the early 1970s in Siler City. I was a big fan of cowboy movies and had heard about Milo from different friends for years. Occasionally there would be an article in the newspaper about Milo’s movie showings in Siler City. One day, I decided to go. The first time I attended one of Milo’s films, I couldn’t believe it. I walked in and there stood Sunset Carson! I thought, ‘Man, this is going to be nice!’ Sunset was one of my heroes when I was a boy and there he stood–alive and in person! And in Siler City! At Milo’s!
The next time I attended, I met Lash LaRue! It was incredible. All my boyhood heroes were still living and hanging out with Milo. It was at that point, I asked myself, ‘Who is this Milo Holt?'”
Over the years, many people forgot the B-Western films and cowboy stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood, but not Milo. When the fan clubs faded and the fan mail dried up, Milo continued to write. Over the years, he forged friendships with some of the great reel cowboys from the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Milo truly loved the B-Western movies he watched as a boy. Those films continued to be Milo’s passion and he possessed a knack for infusing that passion into others who met him.
At the time of his death in September 2011, Milo’s legacy may not have consisted of great financial wealth or priceless works of art, but Milo Holt indeed left a legacy. And not just the legacy of several grateful film clubs that meet regularly to watch Buck Jones, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and the many other great stars of B-Western films. Milo also left a legacy in memory for many people in Siler City. On May 19, Siler City will honor its native son with an event he would have loved: “Milo Holt’s Western Film Festival.”
Hope you will come and bring a young one you can introduce to Milo’s passion. The big screen B-Western movies that Milo loved still resonate today.