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post Henry Darrow Says Why He Likes Playing the Jester

July 31st, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 11:08 am

Henry Darrow Says Why He Likes Playing the Jester 

Vintage German article, translated

“The jester lives happier than the king,” says Henry Darrow. “I am playing the jester. That brought me luck.”

The actor laughs his famous Manolito laugh from “High Chaparral”. But his eyes remain sad. They do not laugh with him.
It is “High Noon” in the desert of Arizona, lunchtime. The sun shines down so hot on cacti, sand and the set of the High Chaparral ranch that the director rings in lunchtime early. Time to talk to Henry Darrow.

Talking to him, Henry does not strike me as vulnerable* as Manolito. And now, after five strenuous hours of filming, he looks all of his 36 years. He says: “Jester may not be the right word. I am more a lebenskünstler, a happy-go-lucky kind of person. I laugh so that others can laugh. It’s a trick that enables me to avoid all difficulties. In the role as Manolito as well as in private life, it suits me to a T. It works every time.”

The cowboy from Puerto Rico, who plays a Mexican [in “High Chaparral”], laughs again. This time, it is not as outright as on screen, but more thoughtful. Then he tells me: “My parents were Puerto Rican immigrants. They lived in New York. I was born there and grew up in the Spanish quarter of the Big Apple. I talked Spanish, ate Spanish and thought Spanish. Just like my parents. No wonder we did not stand a chance in this English-speaking country. We went back to Puerto Rico. There, on this isle in the Caribbean, our situation improved. So much so that my parents could even finance my studies: political science and theatre. I graduated and went back to the United States. But first I married – actress colleague Lucy de Puy, who had studied with me.”

Henry searches his pockets and shows me a photo: “By now we have two children – Denise, she is eleven, and Thomas, he is almost seven.”

“I never forgot my parents’ return to Puerto Rico. To me, it felt too much like defeat, and I wanted to go back. But the second try started just as lousy. I managed to get minor roles from time to time – for theatre, cinema and TV. Barely enough to make a living, too much to give up again. They always gave me the same role: either a Mexican bandido or a Mexican idiot. I got fed up with this. Then I changed my name. Henry Delgado became Henry Darrow, and that brought me luck.” He roars with laughter – the irony is palpable now.

“No, I know it was not that. I was lucky in that I changed my philosophy of life. I became a lebenskünstler who plays the jester. A little like the Pagliacci in Leoncavallo’s opera.** And I succeeded with that.”

Henry Darrow the jester got more roles on TV and finally a main role in a TV show: Manolito in “High Chaparral”. He loves this role.

“You have to understand. Manolito – that’s me. The jester of the Cannon family, but the guy who always lucks out. Why should I be concerned or afraid? Fate will come anyway. Fate will take care of things. In real life I think similarly. Of course I do not pull stunts like Manolito, but lo que de ser, sera – what will be will be. And another thing I like about my role as Manolito: our show does not center around just one main character. That means not so much work for all of us. And because I am the last one in the Cannon family, it means the least work for me.”

Then he smiles again. “I’ll tell you something. Our audience likes Manolito so much that my part got bigger. I have to work more.”

He gestures to the hot desert. “That’s the curse of success.”

* The author of the German text did not really know how to describe Manolito and used a word that is usually reserved for a woman. The best translation I can come up with is “vulnerable”. If you would like to see for yourself, go to http://dict.leo.org and key in “zierlich” and have a look at the translations there. Actually, I think this is a pretty huge compliment for Henry. It means his character of Manolito is too complex to be described in a single word. And it makes this interview twice as interesting, telling me that what I see in Manolito is not just my imagination, but others see it as well.

** At least I think this is what Henry means. Wikipedia tells me that “Lache Bajazzo” is a German proverb, but I never heard it.

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