post Tillie the Terrific

June 7th, 2009

Filed under: Interviews & Articles — admin @ 6:04 pm
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.

clip from Our Lady of Guadalupe

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?

clip from Our Lady of Guadalupe

Buck and Trooper Flanagan arrive at the ranch, causing havoc in this Stinky Flanagan video clip..

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? Open the newsletter in a web browser.

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.

post Fan Costumes

June 7th, 2009

Filed under: Interviews & Articles — admin @ 6:01 pm

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

clip from Our Lady of Guadalupe

HC Fan Chris Casey poses as a Comanchero

post Listen to High Chaparral Cast & Crew

June 7th, 2009

Filed under: Interviews & Articles — admin @ 5:58 pm

The High Chaparral Cast

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!

post Don Collier: Follow Your Heart to Reunion

June 7th, 2009

Don Collier

Don Collier

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… decide who played the joke on who.

Susan Sukman McCray message

post Victoria’s Lady

May 15th, 2009

Filed under: Interviews & Articles — admin @ 2:06 pm

by W. St. Germain

I recently enjoyed the Our Lady of Guadalupe episode of The High Chaparral and it got me thinking (again). For those of you who might’ve forgotten what happens, in a nutshell, we see the late, great Ricardo Montalbán playing Father Sanchez, a poor but kind hearted priest whose parish is in Casa Cueva, Mexico. In an attempt to raise money to distribute among his parishioners, Father Sanchez calls for donations to help with his search for a missing religious icon. The icon is a statue of Mary, the mother of Jesus. It is called ‘Our Lady of Guadalupe’.

Father Sanchez tells everyone that the huge sum of 8,000 pesos will recover the statue, assuming no one will ever be able to raise this amount. Since his parishioners are less willing to give more than necessary to their local ‘charitable’ needs, yet nothing was too much to ask for the recovery of the icon, this was how the kind priest collected money for the poor. Father Sanchez thought he was onto a good thing. The donations provided a steady supply of cash to help those in need. So long as the imaginary statue was never found, he could continue helping others. It was a clever idea, if somewhat dishonest. Then he hit a snag.

When the devout Victoria asks John for the 8,000 pesos Father Sanchez claims will recover the statue, and John agrees to pay it, the priest is left in a rather awkward position. He must now find someone to make a statue. He prays for help and God, being the sort of God who wants his children to learn from their mistakes, leaves the priest to sort out the mess he made, himself.  There is an interesting scene here as Father Sanchez looks up at the full moon while he prays. We get God’s ‘answer’ in the form of a dark cloud moving to obscure the silvery light of the moon. Without a single word, we know that he’s on his own – or so we think.

The icon is supposedly made of gold and covered in precious jewels, something that would be hard to replicate, so it was doubly inconvenient to have the money provided. The purchase of a fake statue leads to a whole chain of events that show God’s hand in some of what happened. The good father was not alone after all. I tip my hat to the writers of this episode. It’s beautifully done. Full details can be found in the episode guide on The High Chaparral Website so I will move on to the things I wondered about.

To begin with, Father Sanchez’s parish is in Casa Cueva. I wondered. Is it a real place? If so, what does the name Casa Cueva mean in English? You must remember that my training resulted in my having to look up many old Latin words in order to better understand what my science books were trying to drum into my head. A by product of this routine is that I’ve now become rather hooked on wanting to know what any interesting, non-English word might mean. So we’ll start there. Yes, it is a real place and Casa Cueva translates to house cave. How intriguing! I wondered if this meant that people lived in such homes and sure enough they do. Much like the cozy hobbit holes of Lord of the Rings, I searched the internet and found some gorgeous images of homes built into the sides of hills and the like. No danger of a roof blowing off in a big wind for those home owners.

My next question related to the icon itself. Victoria is an intelligent and what I’d call, ‘deep’ woman. There is certainly nothing frivolous about her. The importance she placed on the statue interested me. I wanted to know why that particular icon mattered so much to her. I am aware that Catholics revere many icons of Mary, each with a name and story behind them so my first query was, is there really a Lady of Guadalupe or was she invented for the episode? If so, what’s the history of this icon?

It turns out there is a ‘Lady’ and a most interesting tale is behind the icon. Clearly, Victoria already knew what I was about to discover. It dates back to 1531. Throughout history, there have been many stories of apparitions of Mary, the mother of Jesus. In this one she appeared before a humble Mexican peasant named Juan Diego (1474-1548). She appeared as an Aztec Princess and spoke Juan’s native language to him. On 9 December 1531, Juan Diego was walking home when he encountered a beautiful, young girl surrounded by an unnatural light. She asked that Juan tell the local bishop, Fray Juan de Zumárraga, that she wished for a church to be built in her honor. Juan recognized her as the mother of Jesus and went to the bishop. Understandably, the bishop wanted some kind of proof of the existence of this mysterious heavenly visitor. Knowing that no flowers could be found at that time of year, he told Juan to go to the top of Tepeyac Hill and bring him some. If he could do this, it would be a miracle and he would believe.

Juan found roses growing on the hill and collected them. He put the flowers in his tilma (or tilmàtli) a cloak-like garment and returned to the bishop. To the bishop’s astonishment, not only did Juan return with flowers, but with Castilian roses. Castilian roses were not native to the area but were native to the bishop’s homeland. He took this as a sign that the young lady knew exactly who she was dealing with and that she expected her request to be granted. Even more astounding, when Juan poured the roses out before the bishop, a miraculous image of the lady appeared on his tilma.

The Mexicans call her la Morenita, which roughly translates to, ‘the little dark one’ or ‘the young dark complexioned one.’ This describes how she looked when she appeared. Juan Diego’s story would have meant a lot to Victoria as it would to other Mexicans. You must remember that HC took place at a time in history when many white settlers looked down on Mexicans (and Indians). Juan’s experience was proof to Victoria that God loved her people so much that he sent ‘The Queen of Heaven’ to visit them. In other words, they had just as much worth to him as other races. It’s no wonder this particular image was so important to her.

The feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe is one of the most important dates on the Mexican calendar. It falls on 12 December since the apparitions were recorded as taking place between 9-12 December. Festivals occur all around the country and no doubt Victoria would’ve partaken in them as well. A magnificent Basílica de Guadalupe is built in honor of this event. The miraculous image of la Virgen Morena is kept at the basilica. This is the image that appeared on Juan’s tilma. Juan Diego was canonized in 2002, making him America’s first indigenous saint.

I now understand why Father Sanchez’s call for funding led Victoria to ask John for the money. I also understand why his Mexican parishioners were so willing to donate to this cause. However even the aristocratic Victoria, who was used to fine things, was astonished at the 8,000 peso price. Naturally I wondered how much this was. At the time of writing this article, 8,000 pesos translated to about US $605. My research indicated that during HC’s time, a loaf of bread cost two cents. That would buy 30,250 loaves. No wonder Victoria was aghast. If you’ll excuse the pun, that’s a lot of bread!

post Fan Costumes

May 15th, 2009

Filed under: Interviews & Articles — admin @ 2:05 pm

Check out the results of our Fan Costume Contest – we have some very creative fans out there!

If you didn’t email your photo, send it in, we want to hear from you! Send your fan photo to

Costume Contest

Fan Vickie Harvey in her classic black costume

post Authorized Henry Darrow Biography Under Way

May 15th, 2009

Filed under: Cast & Crew News,Interviews & Articles — admin @ 2:04 pm

by Jan Pippins

Henry Darrow Biography Lightning in a BottleHenry Darrow’s upcoming biography Lightning in a Bottle is the intimate portrait of a professional performer, a slice of show-business history, a short-course on acting technique and a lesson in surviving Hollywood fame. It is a joint project. Darrow’s ongoing involvement ensures the book’s accuracy and infuses it with his own distinctive spark.

Best known for his portrayal of sexy, complex Manolito Montoya in The High Chaparral, Darrow has been a working actor for over fifty years. He considers himself primarily a character actor, but his stage and screen career spans dramas, comedies, musicals, romances and adventures, encompassing bit-parts and award-winning performances. His talent, charisma, integrity and intense dedication to his craft have sustained him in a profession not known for longevity.

One of the first Hispanic actors to achieve prominence in non-stereotypical roles, he opened doors for those who came later through both his career and as one of the founding members of Nosotros, an organization devoted to enhancing opportunities for Hispanics in the performing arts. He has been a mentor, teacher, inspiration and friend to countless actors and actresses.

Loved as a person and performer, respected for his absolute professionalism, Darrow is a biographer’s dream. He has a phenomenal memory for detail, an extensive memorabilia collection and friends and family happy to talk about him.

Henry Darrow Biography Lightning in a Bottle

The many faces of Henry Darrow

Although Darrow is the star, his biography includes interviews and anecdotes from many contributors: director Raymond Austin, boxing promoter Al Bernstein, actress/comedienne Ruth Buzzi, writer Harry Cason, actor Don Collier, actress Linda Cristal, Darrow’s brother Dennis Delgado and cousin Solange Delgado, actress Marie Gomez, actor John Hertzler, university professor Robert Jacobs, screenwriter Richard Leder, actor Denis Lehane, Darrow’s wife actress Lauren Levian, director Lee Lowrimore, actress Patrice Martinez, producer Kent McCray, casting director/radio host Susan McCray, director Francisco Menendez, actor Denny Miller, actor Dan Morris, actor/aviation industry entrepreneur Eric Paisley, actor Rudy Ramos, director Dorothy Rankin, publicist/writer Luis Reyes, journalist/poet Miluka Rivera, actress Sally Struthers, actor James Victor and actor Morgan Woodward.

Interviews are still being conducted. Anyone with recollections to share about Henry Darrow, please contact author Jan Pippins at For updates on progress and publication, visit our website designed by Penny McQueen:

He was everything a director could ever possibly want. I call him ‘lightning in the bottle’ because he would show up ready to go. Take one, he’s great!
~Francisco Menendez

It’s my passion. I’m there to do my best. Rehearsals are a step back, because I’ll be well-prepared and other people won’t be. I research the part. I have all of my dialogue memorized, then work in my interpretation, my own personality, where it works and where it doesn’t. Somebody says it’s not competitive and I say, oh yes it is! Be ready, guys!
~ Henry Darrow

When Henry Darrow came onto the set, it was like the sun came up.
~Linda Cristal

© Henry Darrow and Jan Pippins 2009. All rights reserved.

post Home is Where the Heart Is

May 15th, 2009

Filed under: High Chaparral Reunion 2009,Interviews & Articles — admin @ 2:04 pm

by Tanja Konstantaki

I was nine when the Cannons, the Montoyas and the bunkhouse boys first rode into our living room. It was magic, from the very first moment I was enchanted by the series. Arizona became my dream world and the ranch my home.

High Chaparral ranch house at Old Tucson, photo by Penny McQueen

High Chaparral ranch house at Old Tucson, photo by Penny McQueen

When I planned to attend the reunion in 2007 I just knew I would have to visit the ranch in Old Tucson as well, so after the reunion a small group of enthusiastic fans crossed the desert and headed for the Cannon Ranch. Although I had seen the landscape a thousand times on TV (and in my dreams) nothing could have prepared me for the breathtaking view of slopes covered with saguaros against a clear blue sky.

It was the country we had traveled over a thousand miles to see, just as the Cannon family had.

When we neared Old Tucson I braced myself, after all I’m a ‘two-feet-on-the-ground’ woman and things are not always what they seem on TV. We walked up to the ranch, and my heart skipped a beat. I was nine again. This was the house I had dreamed of so often when I was little. It was real. It felt like coming home. I could not help myself and tears were trickling down my cheeks. It felt like the High Chaparral, the heat, the dust, the whinnying of the horses. Any time Reno would shout “Riders coming” and Buck and Blue would come riding in after a hard day’s work.

High Chaparral Ranch House at Old Tucson

Side view of the Cannon Ranch House
Photo by Tanja Konstantaki

One of the best things is that I was able to share this with kindred souls. Imagine what it will be like this year, when a large group of fans are going to visit the Old Tucson set together!
Register today for The High Chaparral Reunion, October 16-18, Tucson, AZ.

post Rudy Ramos Reunion Thoughts

May 15th, 2009

Filed under: High Chaparral Reunion 2009,Interviews & Articles — admin @ 2:01 pm

Rudy Ramos

Actor Rudy Ramos appeared in The High Chaparral as Wind

Rudy Ramos (High Chaparral’s Wind) received his invitation to the The High Chaparral Reunion and responded with a message for fans.

“I am looking forward to the reunion,” he said, “and seeing Old Tucson where it all began for me. Good memories.”

Visit Rudy’s website at, and while you’re there be sure to check out the Reels section for great clips of his work.

post Great Memories Can Be Yours Too

May 15th, 2009

Filed under: High Chaparral Reunion 2009,Interviews & Articles — admin @ 2:00 pm

by Rusty LaGrange

Susan McCray

Fan Rusty LaGrange

I must admit, I’ve been to each and every High Chaparral Reunion, and even a few small fan parties we’ve held prior to the large organized Reunions. Each one is just like the first. I’ll never forget the first encounter and my first Autograph Show in Tucson in 1999. We were a small group of six fans but we were there in spirit for all of the hundreds of new members that followed. The excitement of meeting a childhood star is breathtaking… and it lives within you forever.

Now let’s image that you won’t be able to make the great pilgrimage to Tucson this year, and you’re a bit bummed out by all the talk and excitement. You know you want to wish the best for the other members of HCDG and their guests who are lucky enough to go… but just the same, you wish it were you.

Hold on!

There is a way that you can bask in the light of the event of a lifetime. No matter where you are, you can be a part of it all. Why not receive the taste of the event by supporting those who are working to make the reunion a spectacular show. In return for your small investment, you’ll receive:

  • A hand-signed thank you note from The High Chaparral stars. Believe us when they say they enjoy all this attention and they really do want to give back to the fans all they can. Place it in your album. Better yet, put it on display.
  • An original 2009 HC Reunion invitation embellished with the amazing artwork of our own HCDG member Patricia Schantz. Her detailed sketches offer the best of talent from our worldwide membership. And we’re honored to have her represent the group’s pride in sponsoring this gala event.
  • A special listing on the Sponsor’s Web page. This commemorates you, and your selfless gift of support. If you have a business, we’ll be glad to pin it on this page for all the members to see. You’ll never know who might surf the site and need your expertise.
  • A special identification Sponsorship Name Tag to keep or to wear at the reunion. One of my jobs on the Reunion Posse this year is to create a keepsake name tag that will stand the test of time, and be a cherished memento. It’s a tough assignment but I’m up for the job. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.
  • For all Sponsors who give at least $100 and up, you’ll find a seat waiting for you at the Sponsorship Dinner Friday night. This is your chance to dine with the stars. And leave room for dessert.

As you can see, we have some great gifts and grand challenges ahead. Your sponsorship will help to cover many of our costs for different portions of the event throughout the three day program.

Oh, I almost forgot. If you send in your sponsorship and make arrangements with one of the fans, you might have a live cell phone conversation with an HC celebrity. This won’t be guaranteed, but I know we’ll make an extra effort to get you a few moments of talk time.

So is this a package deal or what? Just send $40, $50, $100 or more if you can help, and get all the bonuses coming right to your home. For information on how to send sponsorship money, check out the details from Penny in this newsletter.

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