March 3rd, 2015
In the Santa Clarita Valley, the movie stars aren’t just those with two legs.
Jack Lilley, who owns and operates Movin on Livestock in Canyon Country, has dozens of hoofed celebrities residing on his property. Many of his horses star in hundreds of movies, TV shows and commercials.
Lilley, whose name was added to Santa Clarita’s Western Walk of Stars in 2008, was born into the movie business; most of the men in his family have been stuntmen. Lilley was 13 when he landed his first gig as a stuntman, and he fell in love with the business.
“I knew what I was going to do from then on,” Lilley said.
Lilley joined the Screen Actors Guild in 1955. He eventually retired from stunt work and became a stunt coordinator.
He’s now on his third focus in the movie industry with Movin on Livestock and doesn’t plan to retire any time soon, even though he’ll be 79 in August.
“I’ve retired as an actor. I’ve retired as a stunt coordinator,” Lilley said. “There’s no reason to retire.”
Lilley trains all types of livestock but mainly houses horses and mules at his Canyon Country property. He avoids training exotic animals, although he has trained camels in the past.
Since Lilley began supplying animals, wagons, harnesses, saddles and other authentic tack for movies, he’s worked on a number of notable films — including “Young Guns,” both “City Slickers,” “Zorro” and “Planet of the Apes.”
“Last year we did ‘Cowboys and Aliens,” he said.
As Lilley walked through his stables, he names a few of his horses: Ghost, Venus, Dollar, Blanco.
Blanco, a rare pure-white horse with pink skin and dark eyes, is a special horse for Lilley. He considers the horse, now in his 30s, as part of his family. Blanco has starred in close to 1,000 films and now has cancer, but Lilley doesn’t want to euthanize him until he’s in too much pain and stops eating.
Blanco has starred as a unicorn in a Wendy’s commercial, along with starring in “Larry the Cable Guy,” “Delta Farce,” “City Slickers,” “Shogun Assassin” and many others, Lilley said.
He almost shipped Blanco to Japan once for a movie but decided not to after discovering that shipping costs would be about $60,000. He used a white horse in Japan instead.
“I could call him to me and rear him and everything,” Lilley said. He has a photo of Blanco rearing up for him in the horse’s younger years, along with photos of Lilley with Billy Crystal and other famous actors.
Blanco is retired now, but he still gets star treatment in Lilley’s stable.
After the hundreds of movies that Lilley has done throughout his lifetime, the names of the motion pictures often escape him, although he can name actors starring in the film and describe their plots.
Lilley trains the horses for different specialties, including “falling” horses that are pretending to be shot, rearing horses, horses that follow people, horses that pull wagons and horses that pull carriages. He often looks at 30 to 40 horses before he finds one that will work as a movie horse.
“To make a movie horse, he’s got to be very gentle and have an even temperament,” Lilley said. “They have to have that disposition.”
As for actors who claim they’re riding wild broncs? Lilley said the horses are extremely gentle and are far from wild.
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March 3rd, 2015
by Ginny Shook
The deep, dark secrets of Penny McQueen and The High Chaparral Reunion.
Did that title get your attention? Of course it did. Usually a story that reveals deep, dark secrets is just the oil on the fire of gossip. We all like to hear a little gossip, some insider news, the “truth” behind the story. Even the best of us, who try to focus on substantiated truth, can’t help it. We’ve learned there are more than two sides to every story. We can pick and choose what we want to believe.
This is my truth.
Penny McQueen wears many hats. She is a High Chaparral fan, like you and me. Not the biggest fan, or the most important fan, just a lover of the TV show, its values and the people that created it. She started watching the show when it first began. She joined the HCDG (High Chaparral Discussion Group – the precursor to Faceook) in about 2003, about the time that I did. We “sat” on the sidelines and let the more-experienced fans do all theposting until we got brave enough to pipe in now and again. For a long time, the older members thought I was another member in disguise. Then they thought Penny and I were the same person in disguise. Talk about gossip and rumors! Maybe we did seem like two people with the exact same thoughts and feelings. Sisters separated at birth! Regardless of the gossip, it was fun to be online with other High Chaparral fans and indulging in discussions about the episodes. And Penny and I became great friends.
With the help of an HCDG member, I took over Don Collier’s website. It was luck. It was fate. It’s a long story and this isn’t about me. I created a website for Bob Hoy. Don introduced me to him. I attended a festival with them and offered to take over their bookings and start a photo selling business. Bobby brought Linda, Henry, Rudy and Ted along for the ride.
It was only natural for Penny to help out. One thing led to another. When the first producer of the High Chaparral Reunion (the 2003, 2005, and 2007 events) decided to step down, it was a natural fit – though a scary step – for Penny to step in and take over.
She did this as a fan who loves The High Chaparral, and who, having experienced first hand what it was like to get to know the cast and crew, wanted to extend that experience to all the other High Chaparral fans.
The amount of work was tremendous. Her life revolved around it. The fear that the event would end up in the red and she would end up paying out of her own pocket was a very real possibility. It continues to be – it is not a money-maker but was not
created to be. Still, think of the love for the fans that she must have to dedicate all her free time and a lot of money upfront for the reunion to continue.
There were many fans back then, and still are today, that take a look at the well-run event and think it must be easy and effortless. Its not. In the beginning, Penny did most of the work herself. Over the years she has gotten better about delegating to other fans who get that this is a business. Just ask them how much work it is!
Yes, The High Chaparral Reunion is a business. It’s incorporated. There are contracts to be signed, and money needed to back up the promises those contracts make. Penny would love to make special considerations for all the fans that need it. It kills her to say no. But business is business, and without the rules that have had to be put in place thereunion would not be successful.
There is no one who has a bigger heart or more loving nature than Penny McQueen. She is the best person I know. Ask Don Collier, Rudy Ramos, Henry Darrow, the McCrays – they will tell you the same. No one is perfect of course. But the only fault that I can think of is that she tries to do too much for others to the detriment of herself. Not a bad fault to have, right?
How does she manage? By being open, and fair, and always telling the truth, and treating everyone the same – with loving kindness. And that’s regardless of how she is treated in return.
If anyone tells you anything different they are wrong.
Thank goodness we have Penny to put on The High Chaparral Reunion and make it an outstanding event year after year. Thank goodness she is my friend.
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March 3rd, 2015
by Pamela Jacoby
In 2013 I discovered the Inspiration Network’s Saddle Up Saturday. I was so pleased that they were airing The Virginian and The High Chaparral. It was like a walk down memory lane, a good memory lane. I started watching them both realizing that The High Chaparral was a superior show. I became an instant fan and couldn’t get enough. I was nine years old when it came out originally, and remember watching it with my Dad. However, I remembered the characters but not the story lines. I remembered Blue being dreamy and Manolito full of mischief but other than that, not too much.
After watching a few episodes, it made be curious to see what actors were still with us. Through some IMDb searching and Googling, I found my answers and The High Chaparral Official Web Page. I read through a lot of it and then came upon the reunion information. When I looked through the information, I felt a tug and an inner voice saying, “You have to go to this”. I tried to ignore that tug and voice for a long time but it wouldn’t go away.
I had recently come through breast cancer, surgery and chemo along with complications and additional surgeries. I, also, have fibromyalgia and because of the cancer, I was no longer able to work. I had some money in my rainy day account and decided if I could do the trip for X amount, I would go. However, somewhere I got it in my head that the reunion was in August. Here comes that voice again, rechecked the website in January 2014 and realized it was in March. Wow! I’ve traveled some but have never planned a trip on my own. I always went with a friend that would plan everything and I just had to show up. So, I did my due diligence and researched prices for airfare and shuttle services and realized I could make this work, all on my own. The information given regarding the reunion hotel accommodations and the Arizona Stage Coach shuttle on the Reunion site made that part easy. When I told my family, some of them thought I was nuts, asking, “why?”. I liked it because it sounded fun, everything was organized for you and it was in a warm clime.
I arrived while the Director’s Cut Pilot was airing and the Bunkhouse Girls were gone for lunch break. After the pilot got done, there was Don Collier. So, bold as I am, I walked up, introduced myself, told him I was a ‘Pilgrim’, he hugged and kissed me and told me he would get me fixed up, and he did.
I made a couple friends right off and my paths kept crossing with another woman attendee. We started hanging out together and one day, over a meal, we both talked about how we felt this reunion was bigger than us. We couldn’t really put our finger on it but felt it was very spiritual. I knew now that it was God tugging on me, all those months before. The warm weather did my body and soul good and the reunion lifted me out of that terrible road my life was on. (That friend and I are bunking in together this year.)
After I checked out on Monday and before the shuttle picked me up, I ran into Don and Penny in front of Starbucks in the hotel. I sat down and introduced myself because I hadn’t met Penny during the reunion. I thanked her for the wonderful experience and we talked of the spiritual side of the reunion. We both felt the whole experience was bigger than us and God played a big part in it. She gave me her email address. I first sent her an email explaining all the things I would do differently and she, very diplomatically responded, and gave me reasons on all my points. I did apologize and the emails between kept us continued and eventually led to me handling some of the silent auction for the reunion and a very special friendship. Penny is so great at what she does but she looks to the Lord for guidance and has a beautiful soul.
My leap of faith took me out of my comfort zone, out of a depressive state of mind and led me through the gates of the ranch. I can’t wait to come home to The High Chaparral, again.
Faith is not a leap in to the dark. God knows the final outcome.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(NRSV, Isaiah 55:8-9)
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March 3rd, 2015
By Sue Thurman, www.examiner.com
It is always a sincere pleasure to talk with Don Collier. He not only has the classic look of a cowboy, but also an incredible voice that is rich and deep. Don has been kicking back and relaxing in Florida enjoying the white sandy beach of the Gulf Coast. However, he will return to Tucson in time for this year’s High Chaparral Reunion scheduled for March 19th – 22nd, which is the perfect time to visit Arizona, where it already feels like springtime.
How were you cast in The High Chaparral?
“I worked on the Outlaws for two years and on Bonanza episodes during 1960-65, knew everybody. Kent McCray was working on Bonanza and on High Chaparral. He asked me to join the cast.”
Which of the cast did you meet first?
“I knew Bobby Hoy from a 1956 Dramatic workshop in Hollywood and Jerry Summers on the Outlaws. There was a group meeting at Paramount, with everyone then they sent us to get our costumes.”
What was the most challenging episode?
“The lead in for Follow Your Heart. I felt good with it and things flowed nicely.”
Has Old Tucson Studio changed much over the years?
“Well, it burned down 20 years ago. Everything except the High Chaparral ranch house. They rebuilt with lots of improvements. Now they also have an Indian Village with a guided tour. The tour guide speaks Apache”
When did you first attend the reunion?
“The first one I attended was in 2007, at the Sportmen’s Lodge in Studio City, California, organized by Bobby Hoy. Penny McQueen got involved in 2007. It moved to Tucson in 2009 when Penny started running the event.”
What are you working on now?
“I have a little part in The Scars of Sins, scheduled to shoot in Tucson in September. Haven’t seen the script yet. Eric Estrada and a great local Tucson actor, Jeff McCarrol are in the cast..
If you were in a Western with today’s talent, who would you cast?
“Sam Elliott, Tom Selleck, William Devane, Jeff McCarrol, and Freddy Lopez from Santa Fe.”
“Have you worked with Sam Elliott before?
“Yes, in Tombstone and The Sacketts. In 1971, I did a Head and Shoulders Shampoo commercial with Sam. We were both in a bathroom. One of us was shaving and one was in the bathtub. When we were on the Tombstone set I asked Sam if he remembered who was in the bathtub and we both think it was Sam.”
What is the most exotic location where you’ve worked?
“Monument Valley. I did a Rayovac Battery commercial there.”
Thank you, Don, for your time. You are a charming cowboy and I look forward to talking with you again soon.
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March 3rd, 2015
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March 3rd, 2015
Vintage article 1969
Cameron Mitchell, who plays hard-bitten Buck Cannon in Western hit High Chaparral, yearns to own an island where he can get away from the pressures of the TV world.
An old-style Hollywood individualist, he longs for the freedom he gave up to make the long-running television series.
“Honestly, I’m so serious about an island that I would literally do it right now if I could swing it,” Cameron told Peter McDonald, TV WEEK’s man in Hollywood.
“The most important thing in life is to live it. All these years I’ve been alive, I’ve never lived. Now I want to enjoy it. I’ve got a thing about flying at the moment.”
“I’ve flown maybe two milling miles in my life, but I’m not going to any more. Jesus walked the earth and, why then, right or wrong, do we have to skim over it at 600 to 700 mph in a jet? To enjoy life you have to taste it, and how can you do that today?”
Despite his vehemence it would be wrong to say that Cameron Mitchell finds nothing palatable about his life.
Hoe, his wife Lissa and their three children (he has four by a previous marriage) is one haven.
The other escape is golf, which to him is more than simply a game. He has more clubs scattered around his home than he can count.
“For me it is the last frontier,“ he said. “It’s probably one of the few places left on this earth where you can stand alone against the elements.
“My wife may beef at times, but she doesn’t stop me. That’s a big mistake women make. Every man goes through a ‘destructive’ age, 35-45, gambling, sex and so on. I think golf is a better alternative.”
Today, at 50, Cameron Mitchell has mellowed, but not altogether. Buck Cannon, otherwise, would not have been the grubby, two-fisted, whiskey-swigging man’s man he is today.
“I had had to fight hard for Uncle Buck, right down to his bad grammar,” he recalled. “They wanted him educated, strong and silent. The cliché type. I don’t’ know if it was intuitive or what, but we did the pilot (episode) in primitive country, and it wasn’t Buck, he just didn’t equate.”
Cameron Mitchell pushed. Uncle Bucks’ scattered hat on to the back of his head and wiped his mouth on his sleeve to weigh it all up and to suddenly recall a Zen Buddhist monk he had once met in Japan.
“Wede-Sen had gold teeth and he was only about 4ft. 10ins,” he said. “We’d describe him as ugly, but he was beautiful. He helped me and I remember one thing he taught: ‘A full cup absorbs nothing, only an empty cup may be filled.” I believe that the greatest prayer is: ‘O Lord, fill me with emptiness.”
“Sometimes I think I’m on the track but sometimes I get turned aside.”
May 10, 1969, TV Week
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