June 23rd, 2015
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June 23rd, 2015
By Jane Rodgers
The historical accuracy of “The High Chaparral” was a source of pride for creator David Dortort, who demanded it…unless a little tweaking of history might produce a fine story. Hence, Maximillian is still alive in “The Terrorist,” even though he was executed by Juarez in 1867. And Doc Holliday heads to Tombstone sooner rather than later in “The Doctor from Dodge.” Eh, what’s a decade, give or take, especially if Jack Kelly is available to play such a charming drifter?
Especially noteworthy is the show’s accurate handling of Apache history. Geronimo we know, both from history and Rudy Ramos’s outstanding portrayal of the Bedonkohe warrior in the one man show, “Geronimo: Life on the Reservation.” As a character in THC, Geronimo appears in “Ten Little Indians,” and the real Geronimo, described by eyewitnesses as shorter and stockier than Cochise, likely resembled the uncredited actor who plays him in that episode. Geronimo had surely slimmed down to Ramos’s size by old age.
As for Cochise, his real life grandson Nino Cochise famously plays the Chiricahua chief in both the pilot and “Best Man for the Job.” The real Cochise, described as tall— even 6 feet—probably looked more like actor Michael Keep, who portrays him in season two’s “The Last Hundred Miles,” than he did his grandson or renowned character actor Paul Fix. Fix takes over as Cochise in season one when the part demands speaking, as in “A Hanging Offense.” The real-life Cochise, with whose TV counterpart John Cannon seems to meet frequently and with impunity, became close friends with at least one white man, the Indian agent Tom Jeffords.
Among the more frequent recurring Apache roles on THC is that of the Indian mystic warrior Nock-Ay-Del, played by X Brands. The Cannons get a lot of mileage out of Nock-Ay-Del once Victoria saves his life in the pilot. He appears as Cochise’s representative to bargain for peace in “The Assassins” and is mentioned in “Ride the Savage Land” and “Survival,” both times earning the principals favor amongst Apaches who’d prefer to kill them. Even perennial Apache bad guy Soldado understands Nock-Ay-Del’s significance.
The real Nock-Ay-Del was an Apache medicine man called Nochedelklinne, described in historical accounts as light-colored and slight. Nicknamed the Dreamer, Nochedelklinne launched the “ghost dance” movement among the Apache, a practice similar to that arising among the Paiutes in 1870 and spreading to the Sioux. The essence of Nochedelklinne’s prophetic dance was that the White Eyes would vanish from Apacheria, and the great chiefs Mangas Coloradas, Cochise, and Victorio would rise from the grave. These Apache revival meetings spread widely, and, like the tragic ghost dance at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, in 1890, were misunderstood by whites.
On Cibecue Creek, 46 miles north of the infamous San Carlos reservation, Nochedelklinne held a series of dances in summer 1881. On August 30, a force of over 100 soldiers, officers, and Apache scouts marched into the medicine man’s camp to arrest him. Nochedelklinne demurred, asking permission to eat a meal first. He must have eaten slowly. Tensions rose but finally the detail’s commander, Colonel Carr, escorted the gentle Nochedelklinne out of the camp. Nochedelklinne’s Apache supporters trailed the military escort and even crowded into the camp the soldiers set up en route to Fort Apache.
Then all hell broke loose.
An officer ordered the Apaches to disperse. They refused. A shot rang out. Colonel Carr allegedly ordered the soldier guarding Nochedelklinne to kill the medicine man. The soldier shot Nochedelklinne in the thighs; another placed his pistol in the shaman’s mouth and fired; a third soldier finally dispatched Nochedelklinne with an axe to the forehead. A pitched battle ensued, involving the Apache chief Juh, Geronimo, and Geronimo’s warrior sister, Lozen. Casualities? Six U.S. soldiers, one officer, 55 horses and mules, 18 Apache dead.
Apache raiding parties hit army patrols in ensuing days. On September 1, a sizeable Apache force attacked Fort Apache from two sides, an unusual action from a people who much preferred guerilla tactics.
A court of inquiry eventually censured Colonel Carr, but the unjustified murder of Nochedelklinne would reverberate for generations among the Apache and stands today as another sad chapter of betrayal and mistrust.
Speaking of trust issues, in the episode “Apache Trust,” Morales, played by Chief Dan George, holds Blue captive until the High Chaparral men can exonerate Morales’s tribe of an attack on an army detail. Morales informs Blue, “Anyone can kill an enemy. It takes strength to kill a friend.”
These are nearly the same words that Eskiminzin, an Aravapai Apache chief, used to justify the killing of a rancher who was also his friend in the wake of a massacre of nearly 150 Aravapai by Tucson vigilantes in 1871. Stopping by the home of the rancher along the San Pedro, as was his wont, Eskiminzin ate dinner, pulled out a gun, and shot him.
“I did it,” Ezkiminzin explained years later to an army scout, “to teach my people that there must be no friendship between them and the white men. Anyone can kill an enemy, but it takes a strong man to kill a friend (Roberts 75).
It is in the wake of this tragedy and others that the Cannons arrive in Arizona, where John Cannon would strive to make peace with the Apache. And we are glad he did.
The author wishes to credit David Roberts’s Once They Moved Like the Wind: Cochise, Geronimo, and the Apache Wars (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994) and Edwin R. Sweeney’s Cochise (Norman: U of OK Press, 1991) for much of the Apache history in this article.
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June 23rd, 2015
By Jane Rodgers and Penny McQueen
Tucson—More than 200 fans from as far away as New Zealand and Australia came “home” to Tucson, Arizona,March 19-22, to celebrate the iconic TV western “The High Chaparral,” and to meet cast members, show runners, guest stars, stunt people and others associated with the groundbreaking series.
“The High Chaparral,” which ran from 1967-71, was filmed partly on location in Tucson. The show was the brainchild of “Bonanza” creator David Dortort who insisted on a gritty realism previously unseen in network television. Apaches played Apaches; Latinos were cast as Latinos as Dortort strove to accurately depict the story of the Southwest.
The series, currently being rerun in the UK and Europe and airing Mondays-Thursdays and Saturdays in the United States on basic cable’s INSP channel, claims a substantial fan base and continues to attract new viewers.
While THC reunions have been held since 2003, this year’s was the largest to date, and the first western fan festival to be webcast as author Charlie LeSueur moderated a live feed to subscribers around the world.
Reunion events were held at Tucson’s Casino Del Sol, White Stallion Ranch and Old Tucson Studios.
Three of the show’s original stars attended the 2015 reunion. Henry Darrow, the ALMA and Emmy award winning actor who hit it big as Manolito Montoya in the series and later played hundreds of stage, film and TV roles, including Zorro, came. So did Don Collier, veteran film and television actor who portrayed ranch foreman Sam Butler. Also in attendance was film and stage actor Rudy Ramos who played Wind, the half-breed teenager who became a regular on the series in its final season.
Darrow, Collier and Ramos kicked off the weekend’s festivities with an appearance on KGUN9’s “Tucson Morning Blend” TV show.
Ramos later performed his one man show “Geronimo: Life on the Reservation” for a packed house at Casino Del Sol on Saturday evening, while Collier offered a humorous and revealing look at Hollywood through his “Confessions of an Acting Cowboy,” the reunion’s Sundaynight closing event.
Kent McCray, production manager of “The High Chaparral,” who worked in similar capacities on “Bonanza” and the Michael Landon ventures “Little House on the Prairie,” “Highway to Heaven,” and “Father Murphy,” shared his wealth of Hollywood knowledge with fans. McCray was accompanied by his wife, Susan, who moved from casting “The High Chaparral” to become casting director for Michael Landon. Mrs. McCray is currently an FM radio host, author and entrepreneur. Her father, the late Harry Sukman, composed the series’ award winning musical score.
Among other guests interacting with fans were legendary Hollywood stuntmen Neil Summers, Steve DeFrance and Stan Ivar. Summers and DeFrance worked closely on the series with famed stunt director, the late Henry Wills. Jackie Fuller, stunt double for series star Linda Cristal, visited with fans as well.
Also on hand were stuntmen and actors Denis LeHane, Buck Montgomery, Jeff McCarroll and Tino Luciano. “High
Chaparral” crew member Ray DeWaay, extra Nancy Bohman, and “Geronimo” playwright Janelle Meraz Hooper were among many other guests. Marc Mitzell, nephew of the late star Cameron Mitchell—Uncle Buck Cannon—flew in from Pennsylvania to represent the Mitchell family.
Western Clippings magazine publisher Boyd Magers moderated panel discussions while reunion producer Penny McQueen emceed events.
Thursday’s reunion schedule included a welcome reception, screening of episodes and dinner with entertainment by Bill Ganz at the White Stallion Ranch, one of the locations where the series was filmed.
The KTHC Live! webcast began on Friday as fans enjoyed meeting actors, crew, stunt and production people. Magers hosted a fan trivia contest and moderated a celebrity panel. After lunch, the McCrays offered insights on series post production. Reunion sponsors mingled with stars and guests that evening at a special dinner highlighted by the auctioning of a kiss from Henry Darrow and entertainment by the Tucson Boys Chorus.
The reunion moved to Old Tucson Studios on Saturday where fans made a pilgrimage to the original exterior set of the series. Lunch at the Cannon ranch house highlighted a day of trail rides, autograph sessions and exploring. Guests helped Old Tucson founder Bob Shelton celebrate his 94th birthday as he posed for pictures and regaled listeners with stories.
Sunday’s morning and afternoon events included Cowboy Church, brunch, a photo and autograph session and the conclusion of the silent auction. Following a stunt demonstration by Buck Montgomery and Jeff McCarroll, guests enjoyed a rousing “High Chaparral” spoof by Montgomery’s Ricochet Radio Ranglers, a final Q & A panel discussion moderated by Magers, and a special screening of director William Claxton’s original cut of the series pilot.
“The High Chaparral Reunion continues to grow and although 2015 was our biggest and best yet, with the support we have from the Chaparral family I think the next one will be even better,” Penny McQueen said.
Reunion sponsors included INSP, Arbuckles’ coffee, Pot of Gold Estate Liquidations and AZFirearms.com.
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June 23rd, 2015
Vintage Reprint, Tucson Daily Citizen 6/10/70
The “High Chaparral” brass waded into the room ready for the showdown. Except for Henry Wills.
He tippy-toed into the room, sneakily skirted its center and folded quietly and wisely onto an out-of-the-way corner chair – far from the action. Which seemed like a chicken thin for Henry to do because he is action director of the NBC-TV series and usually is in the thick of things. But Henry’s action means gunfights and falling from horses and tumbling off cliffs and barroom brawls of the knock-down, drag-out variety.
That forenoon last week, though, the action was of a different sort. The room – a Hilton Inn banquet room – was knee-deep in babies and that action needed more of his direction. Somebody had written a baby into a Chaparral script to be filmed at Old Tucson, beginning this week. (ed. note “A Matter of Survival”) That meant identical twins must be hired for the role so the tykes could spell one another before the camera.
Frank Kennedy, who operates a casting service here in Tucson, rounded up five sets of twins ranging from nine months to a year old.An assortment of mothers and fathers, grandmothers, aunties, friends, brothers and sisters was seated around the room, juggling diaper bags, nursing bottles and toys and tattles that jingled when you shook them.
And clustered on the carpeting in the center of the room were the babies – 10, count ‘em, 10 – anad that’s where the action was. “Now, watch where you step,” said Jim Schmerer, producer of the series, as he led the group into the room.
So production manager Kent McCray, director Bill Wiard and assistant director Ray DeCamp watched where they stepped. That’s when Henry Wills tippy-toed off to his quiet place in the corner. McCray dropped to his knees and crawled into the throng.
Jennifer – or maybe it was Janette – offered him a rattle.
Wiard, who will direct the baby segment, folded his fingers into a frame and squinted at babies through its knuckly aperture. Kimberly (or Kelly?) took off at a fast crawl for the open doorway and DeCamp outdistanced her and pulled it shut. There were squawls and screeches and shrieks of delight.
A mother wiped at a candidates drool with Kleenix and explained simply, “Teething.” James and Joseph faced each other down and Lea Ann – or Lisa Ann – tried to scale the heights of Kent McCray.
The Chaparral brass stepped back, away from the babies and parents, and held a whispery conference. Larkelyn followed them but Lynnelyn stayed behind with the other twins.
Somebody flung a nursing bottle and somebody else cried. One baby yanked a rattle from another baby’s mouth and started gumming it herself. A mother made a quick grab – wiped the rattle – and handed it back to its owner. Usually she’s not this fussy,” another mother explained. “But it’s almost nap time.”
The director nodded knowingly. They returned to the floor-full of matched sets. Schmerer hunkered and eyed a fat-cheeked baby and the baby crawled over and put out her arms to be picked up. The producer lifted her and tickled her under the chin.
Wiard picked up one baby and placed her beside her twin and studied them together as somebody else’s twin crawled between the director’s legs.
A little miss in a polka-dotted sun-suit pulled herself up, walked an unsteady couple of steps and flopped to the floor. She cried. McCray was back on his hands and knees again, crawling, looking from little face to little face, doing funny noises to make the babies laugh.
There was another hush-hush conference and then the Chaparral men said their thank-yous and told the parents they’d be in touch with them. And the producer and director and production manager and assistant director left the room.
Action director Henry Wills left his quiet corner and followed them. There was a look of relief on his face as he tippy-toed out.
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June 23rd, 2015
By Susie McMullen Reicheneker
Some of you may recognize Geoffrey Lewis as he appeared in hundreds of shows and films over the course of 1963 to recently when he passed away in April at the age of 79. This talented and highly capable character had a rustic (sometimes sour-faced) look and grew up in Rhode Island but was moved out to California at the age of ten. He appeared in The High Chaparral, Little House, Bonanza, and Highway to Heaven, but his most prominent may have been with the movies that he appeared in with Clint Eastwood over the decades.
Do you know who didn’t start acting until he was 60 years old? Chief Dan George, born in 1899 as Geswanouth Slahoot, was a chief of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, a Coast Salish band whose Indian reserve is located on Burrard Inlet in the southeast area of the District of North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He was also an author, poet, and an Academy Award-nominated actor. His best-known written work was “My Heart Soars”. He appeared in the High Chaparral as Apache Chief Morales.He died in Vancouver in 1981 at the age of 82.
Henry Wills was born on September 14, 1921 in Florence, Arizona and he went on to become an actor and stuntman in numerous films and television shows for almost 50 years of his life. He was the Stunt Coordinator and an actor in The High Chaparral, appearing in no less than seven speaking roles alone. Is his career, he doubled for Dean Martin, Alan Ladd, Audie Murphy, Marlon Brando, Tony Curtis, Roy Rogers, Richard Widmark, Cameron Mitchell, and Robert Taylor. Henry Wills passed away in September of 1994, but left behind a treasure of work on the High Chaparral.
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June 23rd, 2015
Vintage reprint, San Aniono Express 9/24/1967
There are so many rattles on the Arizona location of “High Chaparral” that they have hired a man just to kill snakes. He’s know as “Mile-Away Jones’ because every time they want him, he’s a mile away. He averages 5 to 18 kills a day.
Star Leif Erickson also has a kill to his credit – he got a rattler with a shovel just as the rattler was about to get him.
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June 23rd, 2015
This is the most exciting opportunity we’ve ever offered – a chance for you to attend The High Chaparral Reunion FOR FREE!
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REFER 35 friends who have never attended a High Chaparral Reunion and get your registration, 3 nights hotel stay and a round-trip continental U.S. flight FREE! (one registration, 3 hotel nights and round-trip US flight free for 35 registered)
Check out the details here.
WHAT A BARGAN!
This big HC-Pak has Reunion note cards, a surprise pack of cast photos, Geronimo mugs, a DVD of Don Collier’s ‘Confessions of an Acting Cowboy’ and the premier of Rudy Ramos in ‘Geronimo, Life on the Reservation’. Keep all the fun for yourself or have a special High Chaparral party with friends.
$40 for the whole box, order HERE.
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June 23rd, 2015
: As ranch foreman Sam Butler, Don Collier was John Cannon’s right hand of the Chaparral, and kept herd on the bunkhouse boys. Don worked with Hollywood greats including John Wayne, and still has an active career. You’ll recognize his unmistakable deep voice on commercials (remember the Pace Picante sauce ads), but there’s nothing like hearing him in person.
Robert Fuller: In his five decades of television, Fuller became best known for co-starring roles as Jess Harper and Cooper Smith on the popular 1960s western seriesLaramie and Wagon Train, and for his work as Dr. Kelly Brackett in the 1970s medical drama Emergency!.
Stan Ivar: Known for Little House on the Prairie, General Hospital and many other appearances, ask Stan about the real little house which is on his ranch, dismantled, and waiting to be erected again.
Rudy Ramos: As the half-Pawnee Wind, Rudy Ramos stirred up arguments on The High Chaparral and heartbeats among fans. Rudy is a stirring actor with a long list of impressive performances on his resume including his current one man show “Geronimo, Life on the Reservation.”
Roberta Shore: Featured prominently as a series regular on The Virginian as Besty Garth, Roberta Shore is also fondly remembered for her Disney roles opposite Annette Funicello and the Mouseketeers, and for her success as a singer.
Kent McCray: Producer Kent McCray was there BEFORE High Chaparral began, and his work on Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, Highway to Heaven, the Bob Hope USO tours, and many other show business ledgends make Kent a fascinating story teller.
Susan McCray: The daughter of an academy award winning composer (Harry Sukman, who wrote the music for High Chaparral), she worked in casting for Bonanza and was tapped for High Chaparral, then went on to become the head of casing for Michael Landon Productions, casing Little House on the Prairie, Highway to Heaven and other productions. The list of other classics Susan cast goes on for pages (Happy Days, Mannix, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, Kung Fu, Hawaii 5-0, Father Murphy and many more).
Neil Summers: Neil Summers has been a premier Hollywood stuntman for most of his life, and despite the pain and anonymity, he wouldn’t have had it any other way. Matt Dillion killed him more times than he can recall, and Josey Wales shot him off a horse, as did Tom Horn, Nevada Smith, The Duke (in five movies), the Cartwrights, and the entire Cannon family from The High Chaparral.
Boyd Magers: Knowledgeable about all phases of western films, noted western film and TV series author / researcher / publisher Boyd Magers is a respected panel moderator.
Charlie LeSueur: Since 1991 Charlie has conducted over 200 panel discussions with members of the western genre and is Arizona’s Official Western Film Historian.
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