It's been a busy month for all The High Chaparral folks, so catch up on what's happening at the ranch in this edition of the newsletter:
- Susan McCray provides two great recordings of Henry Darrow and Don Collier, who share stories at the 2007 High Chaparral Reunion.
- Deadline for Reunion Reservations before price increase
- Listen to Audio links and interviews with The High Chaparral cast and crew.
- Review of My Fair Lady, with Henry Darrow
- A remembrance of the late Phil Rawlins, High Chaparral Director
- Results of our Fan Costume Contest
- Mark Slade Studio updates
- Vintage Reprint article, Mark Slade Gave Up Fishing for Acting
- Tillie the Camel from Stinky Flanagan episode, by Wendy
- List of Reunion Sponsors
- Upcoming cast appearances
Listen to Henry Darrow's thoughts about The 2007 High Chaparral Reunion in this very special interview with Susan McCray:
The enthusiasm and excitement you hear in Susan and Henry's voices is exactly what The High Chaparral Reunion is like. You don't want to miss the fun or this once in a lifetime chance to join the cast and crew in Tucson!
Don Collier, High Chaparral's ranch foreman Sam Butler, is remembered for many great episodes and scenes - particularly for the episode Follow Your Heart, which featured Sam.
Susan McCray interviewed Don at the 2007 Reunion. This clip from that interview features just one of Don's great stories out of many that are shared when attending a Reunion.
Listen as Don tells about a time he and Bob Hoy tried to play a joke on Producer Kent McCray.....you decide who played the joke on who.
Do you miss the sound of The High Chaparral voices? Ever wondered what a Reunion is like? Want to hear backstage stories about the show?
Visit The High Chaparral Newsletter AUDIO page and listen to interviews with Henry Darrow, Susan McCray, Kent McCray, Don Collier, Bob Hoy, Rudy Ramos, and more!
June is the last month you can make your High Chaparral Reunion reservation at the early discounted price of $225 per person, so don't miss out. Get your reservation together right now and join us in Tucson. A variety of payment options - Credit Card, Paypal, or check, are available.
$225 for the 3 day package until June 30th- Increases on July 1 to $300
BOOK YOUR RESERVATION NOW
Visit The High Chaparral ranch set at Old Tucson in person - join us in
Tucson at The High Chaparral Reunion, October 16-18.
Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Jan Pippins
Henry Darrow as Alfred P. Doolittle in My Fair Lady
Thrilling choreography, talented amateur performers, unforgettable songs and spot-on costuming raised Wilmington’s Opera House Theatre Company 2009 revival of My Fair Lady from competent to captivating. But much of the show’s appeal rested on the three professionals in lead roles (Dan Morris, Eric Paisley and Henry Darrow).
Morris, who brought On Golden Pond and Glengarry Glen Ross to Broadway, has a long list of credits in theater and film. His skillful portrayal lent narcissistic, domineering misogynist Henry Higgins charm enough to make him believable as feisty Eliza Doolittle’s Pygmalion.
In contrast, Paisley’s more charitable Colonel Pickering was the requisite officer and gentleman. A stage and screen veteran, the accomplished Paisley was credible as the kindly aristocrat who shows flower-girl Eliza how to be a lady by treating her as one.
But if Dan Morris and Eric Paisley were the show’s wings, Henry Darrow was rocket-fuel as Alfred P. Doolittle, Eliza’s morally unencumbered father. Theater-goers mainly familiar with Darrow from his star-turn as Manolito Montoya on TV Western The High Chaparral or starring roles in several versions of Zorro might have been puzzled to find him playing a Cockney dustman in a musical. But theater is the versatile Emmy-winner’s first home. When he belted out “With a Little Bit of Luck” and “Get Me to the Church on Time”, it was the best of Broadway. Whether acting, singing or dancing, he radiated a glorious, unadulterated joy that transcended mere command of the stage.
Says screenwriter Richard Leder, “He has that quality where the audience must love him. I have worked with a lot of great actors who command the stage, but that is different than falling in love. It is very rare where the audience has no choice. He walks out, he starts talking and you fall in love.”
Darrow’s innate ability to woo the audience is rivaled by his innovation when fellow performers have the prowess to enjoy and incorporate it. Morris and Paisley did and they were delighted. “He sort of stole everything he was in,” says Morris, laughing. “We just had a ball with him. He was always doing something that’s a little bit different. That experience of making it fresh every night was wonderful.”
“Henry is probably one of the most inventive actors I’ve come across,” says Paisley. “He never takes the safe routes. He is a consummate pro, but you never know what the hell he’s going to do!” Paisley notes My Fair Lady’s dialogue is straight from Shaw’s Pygmalion and, “It’s hard to improve on Bernard Shaw’s dialogue. Unless you’re Henry Darrow and he gets away with it!”
Darrow’s adlibs fit the shiftless, shameless Doolittle perfectly. Other actors picked up one in particular and ran with it. During the scene where Doolittle visits Higgins, for several performances Darrow’s uninhibited Doolittle gestured for a drink from Higgins’ decanter. Time and again, Higgins refused. Then, at the closing matinee, Higgins relented. Doolittle poured a shot, made an elaborate toast to “the dustman’s friend, the rat” and knocked back his drink only to interrupt Higgins by begging another. Long after Doolittle’s exit, Higgins called to his housekeeper. Disdainfully plucking Doolittle’s glass from a table, he handed it to her, instructing, “Throw this in the dustbin.” As if touching diseased tissue, she took it and departed. It wasn’t Shaw and it wasn’t the play, but artful execution integrated it seamlessly with the script.
Although moments like that required participation from other skilled actors, Richard Leder emphasizes that gifted Darrow elevated the play from being very good to outstanding. The enthralled audience agreed. When the curtain came down and Darrow strode onstage to take his bow, a sell-out crowd scrambled to their feet. The applause was deafening.
© Henry Darrow and Jan Pippins 2009. All rights reserved.
The High Chaparral family was saddened by the death of Phil Rawlins on May 29th. Rawlins directed nine HC episodes: A Matter of Vengeance, Mi Casa Su Casa, The Lost Ones, Alliance, The Little Thieves, The Long Shadow, The Guns of Johnny Rondo, No Trouble at All, and Sangre.
Beginning as a stuntman at the age of 18, he worked in such notable productions as Rawhide and Gunsmoke then moved to Production, earning credits in Cheyenne, Bronco, 77 Sunset Strip, F-Troop, Adam 12, High Chaparral, Star Trek, Gremlins I, Coma, and more.
SCVTV interview with High Chaparral director Phil Rawlins
HC Fan Chris Casey poses as a Comanchero
Photos continue to arrive, so meet some of your fellow HC fans at the Fan Costume Contest - we have some very creative fans out there.
Do you have a photo of yourself to send that isn't strictly 'in costume'? Think outside the box, maybe you're a miscellaneous townsperson or time traveler from the future!
If you didn't email your photo, send it in, we want to hear from you! Send your fan photo to email@example.com.
Mark Slade as Blue Cannon in the pilot episode
Vintage Reprint from Sunday, October 8, 1967
Reprint: Sunday, October 8, 1967
Mark Slade almost gave up show business, but then his ship came in. Actually, it wasn’t a ship; it was a horse.
Slade thought he was through as an actor when NBC-TV’s The Wackiest Ship in the Army, in which he played Seaman Pat Hollis, was not renewed last year
“I went to Europe for a vacation and when I came back I went to the see the producer,” said Slade. “I thought of quitting acting and going into production. Two weeks later through, my agent said he had an interview for me with David Dortort about a new Western. I didn’t think much of it. Besides, I wanted to go fishing that day. I said I wasn’t interested, but my agent insisted that I keep the date.”
Slade went for his interview with Dortort, the creator and executive producer of NBC Television Network’s Bonanza and The High Chaparral.
Slade in Wackiest Ship in the Army
as Seaman Pat Hollis
“I waited 45 minutes in the office. I was going to stay only five more minutes and then go fishing, when I was called in. At first Dortort thought I was a real wise guy, until I read for the part. I was told not to go anywhere that day. My agent called at 7:30 p.m. and said I had the part.”
That’s how Slade landed the co-starring role of young Billy Blue Cannon, in The High Chaparral dealing, among other things, with the generation gap between father and son. The series follows Bonanza at 10 p.m. on Channel 8.
“This kid is growing up fast,” said Slade of the character. “He wants to get out on his own but he’s not yet ready to handle it. When he blows up he goes all the way. He has a stepmother. He can’t communicate with his father, Big John (Leif Erickson), but he wants to be like him. Right now, however, he likes his Uncle Buck (Cameron Mitchell) better because he is more colorful. Billy Blue is a character with whom the younger generation can identify.”
Slade is no stranger to rural life: “I lived in Putnamville, Mass. until I was 15 years old. I worked for Pearly Clark’s chicken farm in Danvers. I was out in the coops three days a week. I went to a one-room school house where I had the same teacher for three years.”
Slade, who is single, has two younger sisters and a brother. He had planned on a career as a ventriloquist or cartoonist (he’s a good one) until he substituted for a sick cast member in “The Male Animal,” at Worcester Academy of Dramatic Arts, which he attended to study acting but which he left 18 months later to appear on Broadway in “There Was a Little Girl,” starring Jane Fonda.
Eliza Kazan brought him to Hollywood in 1960 for the feature film, “Splendor in the Grass.” Slade also appeared in the feature “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.” On TV, he played in 14 “Gomer Pyle” episodes, “Rawhide,” Perry Mason,” and “Mr Novak.” In the latter he played a baby-faced narcotics pusher which led to his regular role in “The Wackiest Ship in the Army.”
Slade likes horses better than ships. “It’s every young actor’s dream to be in a Western. Since coming here in 1960 I only did one western episode. I had two lines to say. I never thought I’d be given a Western series.”
Lightning in a Bottle,
Henry Darrow Biography Excerpt Available Online
An excerpt of the work in progress Henry Darrow biography Lightning in a Bottle, by Jan Pippins and Henry Darrow is now available. To read this new piece, visit www.HenryDarrowBook.com. While you're there, sign up for the mailing list, so you'll get news and be informed when the book is published.
Audio sound files of interviews with Henry are available on the website too, so you can listen to Henry at http://henrydarrowbook.com/Interviews.shtml
Artist, actor and writer Mark Slade
Tillie the Terrific
by W. St. Germain
Today I’m writing about the Stinky Flanagan episode of High Chaparral which I recently enjoyed watching. Remember that one? If not, here’s a quick summary. As usual, the full story can be found on the episode guide.
In this episode, we meet Stinky Flanagan, played by the late Frank Gorshin. He was a remarkably versatile performer and I’ve always felt he could play any character convincingly. His role in HC was no exception. I would’ve sworn he always spoke with Flanagan’s Irish accent, he did it so well. (You probably know him best as The Riddler in the original Batman series). We also meet the gangly but loveable Tillie, the camel. Tillie is played by herself.
Buck purchases Tillie the camel and learns it's not easy to ride in this video clip from Stinky Flanagan..
In my recent April article, I commented that the cactus couldn’t rise to fame because none had ever successfully learned to act. Come to think of it, that hasn’t stopped some of the celebrities getting airtime these days. In fact in some cases, a cactus displays more talent growing a new arm (and is more interesting to watch), but we won’t go there*. I suspect this is why people continue to enjoy the ‘classics’ like our own High Chaparral. Here we see true talent. Tillie the camel showed that even though she wasn’t acting per se, she had true star quality, too. If only she could speak she could’ve been the next... Oh I don’t know quite who to compare her to but she’d have been big. As it was, she shone.
Tillie was shipped ‘at great expense’ from overseas to Flanagan’s US Cavalry outfit by the commanding officer and had lived with the troop ever since. She once saved Stinky’s life, though we aren’t told how. Pity, that would’ve made a good episode in itself, I’m sure. When Flanagan is told to shoot her, he can’t bring himself to do it. We later learn that the original command to ‘shoot her’ was misinterpreted and was meant to be ‘shoe her’. Stinky and Tillie are quite devoted to each other. In fact we never find out Trooper Flanagan’s first name because, after spending so much time with Tillie, he smells like her and earned the name Stinky.
Flanagan decides to fire his gun so those at camp will think he shot Tillie. Then he sets her free. His hope is that she can live wild and he will have returned the favour of saving her life. Unfortunately, her devotion to Stinky means she soon returns and he is forced to desert his unit in order to save her. A wonderful chain of events occurs and all ends well. Like many HC episodes, this story is based on a real event. The US government actually did import camels to use in the southwest desert – prospectors reported seeing them up through the 1900’s. They were also used in the Canadian gold rush but not with the greatest of success since they frightened other pack animals. We see this sort of reaction from the animals that encounter Tillie at the ranch. It would appear they aren’t fussed on her scent either.
Naturally, things about this episode got me wondering (you should know by now that everything gets me wondering). Firstly, I wondered about the name Stinky. I find words like stinky, ugly, beautiful and the like quite unhelpful as words go - ‘nice’ being the worst of all! For example, a friend once told me that the smell of steak frying in butter is disgusting and she throws open every door and window when her husband ‘stinks the place out with it’. Can you believe it? I love the smell and I’m sure many of you do, too. I would never pair ‘frying steak’ and ‘stink’ in the same sentence. Stink/stinky is one of those words that could mean different things to different people. What did it really mean in terms of Tillie and Trooper Flanagan? Did she smell like a steak frying in butter? I doubt it. Maybe my friend would like the smell of a camel and disagree with the label Stinky, who knows?
Clearly Tillie had an unpleasant smell but it doesn’t reveal more than that. I could tell you that lions have a ‘unique scent’ and it would mean nothing to you. I could also tell you that they smell like a fruity tobacco and you’d get a better idea. To some, they would stink, to others they wouldn’t. I can only conclude that if no one in Flanagan’s camp and no one at High Chaparral liked the smell – including the animals, it wasn’t very pleasant. Exactly what a camel smells like remains a mystery to me, but I am determined to find out. If I do, I’ll let you know. Perhaps a reader already knows and can write in and tell the rest of us. (But please don’t use words like horrible or smelly! Compare it to something we will be able to relate to.)
My next query was with regard to Tillie herself. What sort of camel was she? Camels are often called, Ships of the Desert and there are two kinds of camel; the Bactrian and the Dromedary. Bactrians have two humps, the dromedary has one. Tillie had one so she was a representative of the dromedary group. I understand that dromedaries actually have two humps, but the front one is so under developed that it looks like they only have one. I know, I’m getting technical here but we might as well get these things right. Bactrian comes from a Latin word meaning rod + form. I can only guess it’s because people used rods on the poor beasts and not because they in any way resemble them that they get this name. Or maybe it’s because they have rod-like legs – if you really extend your imagination. Dromedary comes from the Greek dromas which means running. Since camels can outrun horses this one makes sense. A good way to remember one from the other is this: The letter D in Dromedary (turned sideways) has one hump while the letter B for Bactrian has two. Same as the camels! By the way, if you’re curious about the lifespan of a camel, it ranges from 30-55 years depending on health and living conditions. I suspect Tillie would’ve been one of the longer lived animals given the care she received.
OK, so let’s get back to the story... When Flanagan turns Tillie out to live wild, I was glad she returned. Not only because there’d be no story if she ran off never to be seen again, but because he didn’t remove all his gear from her back! I thought it would be kind of hard for her to blend in among the desert landscape all decked out to be ridden. But we’ll overlook that detail.
Prior to writing this, I didn’t know much about camels but I did know that while they are ungulates (meaning hoofed), they don’t have the hard hooves that horses and other ungulates have so shoeing a camel is impossible. Camels have thick, leathery pads. Imagine something like the pads on your dog’s feet only much tougher. Tough or not, you couldn’t put a nail in them without doing the animal harm. Clearly whoever gave the original order to shoe Tillie was unaware of this fact if he believed it could be done, or this would explain how the word was confused with shoot.
Tillie’s devotion to Flanagan contradicted all I had heard about camel behavior. I was of the belief that they were bad tempered and uncooperative animals. Since the writers of HC are pretty good at getting their facts right, I had to investigate. Were the rumors true or was HC’s portrayal of the species the more accurate depiction? I was delighted to learn that Tillie presents a fair image of her kind. Her faithfulness to Trooper Flanagan is entirely possible and certainly not unusual.
My research revealed many camels who were equally devoted to their keepers. In one instance, I heard of an affectionate animal that would occasionally try to ‘shoo’ visitors from her owner if she felt her owner wasn’t paying enough attention to her! This camel was friendly with guests as a rule, she simply wanted to be a part of every aspect of her owner’s social life – whether it was convenient or not. (I would love to see a camel mingling among guests at a cocktail party, wouldn’t you?) Certainly, some camels can be awkward but then every species, including humans, have their difficult individuals. Why should camels be any different?
Kneeling for Buck on a single word command shows us that Tillie was not only bright enough to learn, but more importantly, willing to obey. I spoke with one man who owns a few camels (he uses them to give people rides) and was told that all of his animals were ‘patient and very intelligent, each with personalities of their own.’ They would certainly have to be patient and reasonably well natured if they are always being ridden by strangers.
When Tillie arrives at HC and Buck goes so far as to lean a ladder against her in an attempt to get on her back, she doesn’t flinch at what was surely a new experience. A certain amount of blind trust was shown in that scene. Think about it, would you want someone pressing a ladder against you? You will have heard her groan when she rose. This noise has been attributed to bad temper in camels (whining, grumbling) when it fact it isn’t. She, like other camels, simply groans when she lifts a weight, much like we do if we are lifting something heavy. Remember, she also rises from a kneeling position. That wouldn’t be easy.
While I have always loved and respected animals of every species, Tillie showed me that I was missing out by not investigating the camel more closely. I’m a converted camel lover now and will think of her every time I see one. Nowadays camels are used mainly for racing and for milk or meat. I understand the meat tastes like a tough version of beef which surprised me. I thought everything tasted like chicken. I suspect my friend would hate the smell of camel being fried too, who knows? I’m just glad Tillie stayed in one piece and lived happily ever after – even if she did smell. But then, maybe she thought the troopers smelled too!
* This is entirely my own opinion and not necessarily that of anyone else associated with this newsletter.
Can't see the videos?
Did You Know?
There are an estimated 300-600 wild Bactrian camels left in the world? This makes them more highly endangered than the Giant Panda – in fact they are listed as critically endangered. Unfortunately, it’s hard to compete with the panda’s appeal so they don’t get anywhere near the press coverage. The wild species Camelus bactrianus ferus is a species in its own right, with DNA (genetic material) unlike the other, domesticated camels. It is the only species so adapted to harsh environments that it can drink both fresh and salty water. For Tillie’s sake, why not find out more about them. I know I will.
$225 for the 3 day package
The High Chaparral
Costs increase on July 1 to $300
(other costs increase too - so book today!)
Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guests at the 2005 High Chaparral Reunion
Thank you to the generous folks who are helping sponsor the reunion and bring the HC family home to Tucson!
Listen to this special Thank You from Susan McCray:
- Kent McCray
- Susan McCray
- Kola's Screen Graphics LLC
- Share-A-Vision Productions
- Luisa Victoriano
- Patrikya Duryan y Chaves
- Ana Maria Romero Romera
- Heleen Helsdingen
- Patricia Schantz
- Walter Fornero
- Sandra Smythers
- Paula Evans
- Brenda Greenwood
- Helen Campbell
- Ginger Kullman
- Jackie Hoell
Arbuckle Coffee is a proud sponsor of The High Chaparral Reunion. Don Collier is their spokesman and the official Arbuckle Cowboy. Try a good cup of Arbuckles, the Coffee That Won the West.
Do you have a favorite piece of memorabilia, or an article you'd like to share with other fans? Send it to email@example.com, and we'll do our best to add it to a future newsletter.