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Van Swearingen, 62; Owned Filming Site

January 31, 2002|CAROL CHAMBERS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Van L. Swearingen, the owner of the Iverson Location Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, died of cancer Tuesday at a hospital in Woodland Hills. He was 62.

Swearingen and his wife, Phyliss Murphy, bought a six-acre portion of the 2,000-acre movie ranch in 1997, keeping the location available for film and television production. The once-sprawling ranch served as a backdrop for such film classics as ''The Grapes of Wrath'' and ''The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.''

An avid automobile enthusiast who at one time raced cars at the Saugus Speedway, Swearingen was restoring the Iverson ranch house and building a 3,200-square-foot garage to keep his collection of more than 80 cars, about half of them 1957 Chevys, Murphy said.

Swearingen became involved in Nascar racing at 15, Murphy said, and was well-known in racing circles for helping to launch the careers of young drivers.

In recent years, Swearingen had hosted the Wild, Wild West Days festival at the ranch to benefit the Happy Trails Children's Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by the late Roy Rogers and Dale Evans to help abused youth.

Born in Summerfield, Fla., Swearingen was a resident of the San Fernando Valley for more than 30 years. In addition to his wife, survivors include a daughter, Sharon Swearingen Sabo of Bellview, Ill.; a stepson, Michael Murphy of North Hills; and three grandchildren.

Services are scheduled for 1 p.m. Feb. 9 at the Iverson Ranch.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Happy Trails Children's Foundation, 10755 Apple Valley Road, Apple Valley, CA 92308.

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