March 13th, 2014
Fan Fiction has a long history – it dates at least as far back as the tales of Chaucer. Charlotte Bronte wrote it, as did fans of Alice in Wonderland and Sherlock Holmes The High Chaparral has many fan writers and stories.
What A Tangled Web
by Penny McQueen
A black-haired Irishman, starving when potatoes died in the field, brought his fiddle to America in 1846. He serenaded the hazy mountains of Appalachia and sent haunting melodies westward with his children. Miles and years twisted the heavy brogue from the notes, but an aching hint of yearning and loneliness remained. A cowboy, trampled by a rank bronc, remembered the Celtic tune as he argued with his doctor. Legs and arms broken, collar bone fractured, face criss-crossed with scars, he stayed behind when his pardners left town. To soothe his pain, he sang to his pretty nurse. Weep all you little rains, wail, winds, wail, all along, along along, the Colorado trail.
Reno didn’t know the romantic history of the song he sang. Work finished, heat easing, breeze kicking up across the valley, his hands picked familiar chords on the guitar. Watching Buck Cannon lean against a post at the ranch-house porch, Reno considered a bawdy number he’d learned in Tucson, but decided against it. Mrs. Cannon might hear through the open dining room door. Instead he fingered Dixie and nudged Joe Butler with his boot. “Buck’s got himself a hair-trigger temper these days. What’s got into him?”
Chair tilted against the adobe bunkhouse wall, the muscular wrangler’s eyes were closed, hat pulled low. Opening one eye, he muttered, “He ain’t been to town since Polly and Bess skinned off half his hide. I never knew a woman to fight fair.”
His tall frame slouched, elbows on the low divider, Sam Butler cleaned his fingernails with a Bowie knife and snorted. “That ain’t the first time Buck’s tangled with painted cats.” Sheathing the knife, he straightened and tapped his pocket. “He’s been losing poker money to me for the past month, ain’t even got drinking money.”
“Maybe.” The music stopped as Reno tuned his guitar. Satisfied, he picked out the melody to Little Brown Jug. “You and Joe been here five years, ever know Buck to go thirsty?” he said as the subject of their gossip stomped for the barn. “Unless Buck changed his habits while me and Ira was in Montana, he’s got a bottle stashed.”
Joe peered from underneath his hat brim toward open stalls at the corral edge where two shadowed figures were in cozy conversation. “Yeah, and I got five dollars says he’s headed straight for that bottle of redeye in the hayloft.”
“If you had five dollars, which you don’t, you’d lose it.” Sam kicked a loose corner brick away from the barbecue pit and groped inside the open cavity, then withdrew a dusty bottle. He uncorked it and shrugged. “You ain’t the only one who loses bets to me, Joe. You two want a drink?”
A cow’s grand stupidity lets man eat beef without remorse. Adoring canine eyes fill hearts with guilt, cats make him believe in Egyptian gods, but cows are meat wrapped in thick-headed dullness, erasing regret and inviting appetite. Long-lashed eyes may remind a tired cowpuncher of a saloon dolly he proposed to six months ago, but from dainty hooves to swivel hips, cows are portable larder, shoe leather, and soup stock.
To John Cannon, cattle were rows of dollar signs and debits, marching through ledger books after dinner. Thanking Victoria for the coffee she sat beside him, he pushed papers across the dining table and plucked a delivery sheet from the pile. “Ah ha, there you are!”
“Mas café, Buck?” Victoria held the silver urn toward her brother-in-law, who shoveled a third piece of pie into his mouth.
“Yes ma’am, thank you.” Victoria poured the coffee, left the urn, kissed her husband, and retreated to the living room. Crust and apple traces clinging to his mouth, Buck poured coffee into his saucer, blew on it, and slurped it down. Leaning back in his chair, he patted his stomach and offered, “Thought I’d head down to Tubac in the morning. Things been quiet around here.”
“Nope, I don’t think so. We’ve got that bunch of steers coming in from Stephenson tomorrow.”
Fork half-way to his lips, Buck stopped and stared at his brother’s bowed head. John’s pen continued to scratch at the ledgers when Buck clattered his fork against the plate. He said through tight lips, “Them’s from El Paso.”
“That’s right.” John Cannon’s rows of dollar signs, cheap cattle from Texas, were a gamble. Grizzled cowhands, swapping tales around the campfire, swore the Texas herds were plague cattle, breathing fever and death on Arizona beeves. Old-time ranchers re-lit cold pipes and speculated they bled infected fluid from cut hooves. John Cannon looked for answers.
When El Paso short-horns came on the market dirt cheap, frugal Big John paced the floor, long arms swinging in frustration. If a rancher found a way to safely mix Texas cattle with his own beef, he stood to make a small fortune, but the risks werehigh. Once a cow showed symptoms, it was time to rip up the tally sheet. Whole herds died in less than a month, leaving empty ranches and dreams behind with the carcasses.
click to read the rest
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March 13th, 2014
What Happened to the Cast of High Chaparral?
Vintage Article Reprint from the 1970s
The High Chaparral was one of NBC-TV’s top shows from 1967 until it rode off into the sunset in 1971 – and for many of those who starred in the series it was the high spot of their careers. Most are still active in show business, but none have returned to regular series TV.
Tall Leif Erickson had had a string of unspectacular roles since he began acting in 1933, but the show about rugged life in the Arizona Territory in the 1870s was his big break. For four years he starred as Big John Cannon – but when the show went off the air he went back to unspectacular roles. He has since guest starred in such movies and TV films as “Twlight’s Last Gleaming,” Wild Times’ and “Winterhawk.” Now 70, he’s “taking it easy.”
Cameron Mitchell’s career hit a bad snag after the show ended. In 1973 he formed a production company – but then went bankrupt, listing debts of $2,400,00 and a bank account of $26. Mitchell, who played Buck Cannon, has stayed in films and TV, working in such features as “Swiss Family Fobinson” and “the Klansman.” He is currently making a television special in Germany.
For Linda Cristal, who won two Emmy nominations for her portrayal of Victoria on the show, the pace has slowed very little. She guest stars frequently, has done TV series in Mexico and her native Argentina and has appeared in a number of films. “It’s been a long career and very satisfying,” she said.
Mark Slade, who played Billy Blue Cannon, has stayed very busy. “My wife and I work as a writing team and we just finished a TV movie pilot,” said Slade. “In acting, I costarred in an episode of ‘Today’s FBI.’”
Things slowed for a while for Robert Hoy, who played Joe Butler. “But I’ve made a living as a working actor, said Hoy. He has appeared in “The Outlaw Josey Wales,” “Five Card Stud” and other films, and such TV series as “Dallas,” “Magnum, P.I.” and “Quincey.”
Henry Darrow, who played Manolito, has no complaints at all. “Im in that percentage of actors who have made a comfortable living through the years,” said Darrow. “Besides features and TV, I also teach in acting seminars and work in outdoor dramas and dinner theater.”
For Ted Markland, the role of Reno was the only steady work he’s had. He says his size has cost him a lot of parts. “I’m 6-foot-4, as tall as Leif,” he said. “Some stars won’t work with me.” Markland has appeared in the films “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Wanda Nevada.”
Frank Silvera, who played Don Sebastian Montoya, and Rudolfo Acosta, who portrayed Vaquero, have both died. Silvera in the shows last season and Acosta in 1974.
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March 13th, 2014
BALLET TUCSON “BOOTS AND BALLET” WESTERN FUNDRAISER
This year Ballet Tucson is reinventing its major Spring Fundraiser, the Urban Picnic, as Boots and Ballet—a family affair with a Western flavor. The fundraiser supports Ballet Tucson—Tucson’s only professional dance company.
Boots and Ballet at the Stardance Event Center on Sunday, March 23, will include roping demonstrations, line-dancing, and great music. Highlights will include a silent auction of art and other unique items along with an energetic live auction of one-of-a-kind “boot boxes,” paintings and other fine art. Boots and Ballet is an authentic Tucson experience for the entire family. Enjoy prickly pear mimosas, lemonade and beer, and be treated to a chuck wagon style lunch. The horseshoe hunt is sure to delight the younger guests.
Dig out your best western wear and ride on out to Stardance Event Center nestled in the Sombrero Peak area of the Tucson Mountains. Stardance is an easy drive, a few minutes off of the I-10 Cortaro Road exit. Entertainment will be provided by Bill Ganz Western Band, Cowboy Poet Eldon Housley, a roping demonstrations by the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus, and special performances by Ballet Tucson’s own talented dancers!
Silent and live auctions showcasing collectible regional art, jewelry, and even vintage treasures will be featured, including autographed photos and DVD by Don Collier. Special “boot boxes”—Western style lunch boxes—by local artists will be a highlight of the live auction. The grand finale will be Western dance lessons led by Chris Candalario and dancing to the live music of the Bill Ganz Western Band.
Boots and Ballet is a great day for kids and adults, all the while helping to keep Ballet Tucson on its toes as Tucson’s Professional ballet company.
Ballet Tucson Fundraiser: Boots and Ballet
March 23 from 12 – 3:30pm
Stardance Event Center
8110 N Scenic Dr, Tucson, AZ 85743
$50 for adults, $25 for children under 12
Families of 4 (2 adults & 2 children) for $135.
For reservations call Ballet Tucson 520.903.1445 or www.ballettucson.org.
About Ballet Tucson
Ballet Tucson is in its 28th season and its 10th year as the only professional dance company in Tucson and Southern Arizona. Each season, the company presents the highest quality dance productions with a full range of historic classics and contemporary works. In addition, an exceptional children’s company of more than 75 perform alongside Ballet Tucson’s professionals in full-length family-oriented productions such as The Nutcracker, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake.
Ballet Tucson has been hailed as “a treasure in our community” by the Arizona Daily Star. Chuck Graham (Tucson arts writer) exclaims that the company “proudly maintains its place as the keeper of the flame of classical ballet in the Old Pueblo.”
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March 13th, 2014
Original artwork by Scotty Phillips that he’s donating to the Reunion – thank you Scotty for your talent, dedication and generosity!
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March 13th, 2014
Under The Radar
By Neil Summers
Reprinted by permission from Western Clippings
(High Chaparral alumni Neil Summers writes a regular column in the well known magazine Western Clippings. The March/April issue of Western Clippings contained a special HighChaparral article by Neil, and publisher Boyd Magers graciously allowed us to reprint it here for fans to enjoy. If you haven’t seen Western Clippings then visit the website to get a copy –westernclippings.com. )
In this issue of Western Clippings I’m varying from the usual “Under the Radar’ format to relive an important part of my early career as a professional stuntman and actor.
All I ever wanted to be was a cowboy in the movies. My primary models were Dick Jones and Jock Mahoney and the amazing action they both performed on “Range Rider”. I decided early on, “That’s for me,” and during some of my high school vacations and right after my graduation I diligently went after film work all over Arizona (where I grew up) and all over the Southwest. I went from one famous location to another seeking employment, making contacts, learning my craft.
I was working on Dean Martin’s film “Rough Night in Jericho” at Kanab, UT, where stuntman Henry Wills was doubling Dino as he was called. On day between scenes Henry told me about a script he had for a TV pilot called “The High Chaparral” that he was going to coordinate in Tucson, AZ in a few weeks. He said the project was chock full of action and he was going to need a core group of excellent horsebackers to augment the professional men he was going to bring in form Hollywood. Would I be interested in showing up in Tucson to work on “High Chaparral”? Without hesitation I of course said “Yes!” And true to his word Henry called me with the start date of production. Well, the pilot sold and we were soon into production on the series.
Henry made sure I kept working for the next four years. He groomed me, handing me simple stunts to begin with, doubling for some actors, and periodically a bit part here and there. Working on location in southern Arizona in the summer is no cake walk, it was hard work and I was in the thick of it all, being a raiding Apache, Mexican Banditos, ranch hand, Cavalry trooper or rustler and I never wanted it to end! It takes between 100-150 people to make an hour TV series and every member of our crew, under the supervision of producer Kent McCray was a joy to be around.
After “Chaparral” ended its run Henry called me to work on ”Shootout” starring Gregory Peck. I was to double one of the bad guys. We filmed it in New Mexico at Valle Grande and Cerrillos. It was on this job that Henry asked if I was ever going to move permanently to California (as I was not happy there in previous visits and kept leaving Hollywood). He said I was ready for membership into the prestigious Stuntman’s Association. Henry was my main sponsor (along with four other stuntmen also vouching for me) and I was admitted for membership. My career took off because of these men having faith in me.
Sadly, I was a pallbearer at Henry’s funeral many years later. He never let me down, we were family on “High Chaparral” and even though paths go off in different directions I periodically ran into folks from “Chaparral” and it was always brought up about how we miss the show, even though the Arizona heat was Hell (especially with Apache wigs on).
As the years have passed respect has grown for “High Chaparral” and a dedicated group of admirers now put on a yearly reunion. Spearheaded by Penny McQueen this year’s reunion will be in held in Tucson and at Old Tucson Western town on March 20-23. In attendance will be actors Don Collier, Rudy Ramos, produce Kent McCray and the famous casting director Susan McCray. WC’s Boyd Magers will be moderating our panel discussions. I’m honored I’ve been invited along with Kiva Hoy, widow of Boy Hoy.
Some of my friendships with Henry Darrow, Cameron Mitchell, Boy Hoy, Don Collier and Rudy Ramos have lasted 40 plus years! One of the big reasons I accept invitations to reunions and memorabilia shows is so I can see and visit again with dear friends, co-workers and personal heroes of mine. Please plan to be in Tucson on the above dates to come by and visit us. Info can be found at thehighchaparralreunion.com .
A big tip of the hat to Penny and all the ladies that keep the memory of “Chaparral” alive. It was a classy show and I think I speak for all of us that helped make the series, we are proud to have been a part of it! If you enjoyed “Chaparral” don’t let this event go “Under the Radar”!
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March 13th, 2014
“Around the tables was the spirit of Thanksgiving. We had been gathered from all around the world, from Denmark to New Zealand, from Australia to the United Kingdom, from Ireland to Chile… We are not a group of fans but a Family. The HighChaparral has stretched its arms through time and space to embrace and nurture the hearts of people all around the world…”
–excerpt from a letter written by a High Chaparral Reunion participant.
Come join your extended family at The High Chaparral Reunion in Tucson in March 2014. Register today!
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