August 25th, 2009
By Debbie Carlson
Editor’s Note: Fan Debbie Carlson knew the Cameron Mitchell family during The High Chaparral years, and graciously shared her memories with us in an article in the January 2009 Newsletter. In this follow-up, Debbie shares further memories of Mr. Mitchell and The High Chaparral.
I am so glad people are enjoying the article in your newsletter. It was good to read that his line continues with the birth of the new baby. I forwarded the newsletter to my sisters and best friend who all met Mr. Mitchell and knew how important he was in my life. My sisters were older and into their own lives at that time so they didn’t really get the opportunity to know him but I know they will enjoy reading it. Ironically my best friend was the babysitter for the Mark Leonard children. He played Sarek, the father of Spock in Star Trek
Speaking of Star Trek, if only I knew then that it would be such a phenomenon, maybe we would have tried to get on the set! One of the times I was on the High Chaparral set, Mr. Mitchell’s son Jake (Buck) and I were nosing around in the back of the studio, walking through an area where big tall boards were stored. It was rather remote, dark and empty…we thought. All of a sudden, we came around a corner and ran across a reptilian creature which scared the heck out of us. It turned out this person was in costume and working on Star Trek. He must have known Mark Slade because they were talking. We didn’t go back into that area again!
Mr. Mitchell was shooting a scene on the interior High Chaparral set at Paramount. I remember another actor who was portraying an indian being tied to a chair. I was watching the scene when I found myself in Mr. Mitchell’s line of sight. It was a very serious scene. I then realized that he was staring straight at me. I was riveted to the spot, unable to move or even look away. I remember thinking that I should move because I probably was in his way but I couldn’t budge. There was a very long close to the scene, I’m guessing maybe they were moving in on his face for a close up although I don’t remember the camera moving. He was perfectly still with the same facial expression for what seemed like an eternity. Never in my life before or since have I been fixed to a spot like that by anyone, not able to move or even turn my eyes away. I mention that experience because to me it’s a perfect example of what a powerful actor he was.
I haven’t seen any of the High Chaparral episodes in many years but my sister bought a complete set for me for Christmas, although I gather they’re from China or somewhere and not the best quality. I remember that episode and it was a really good one. One of these days I need to figure out which one it was and watch it again. (Ed. note: the episode was most likely The Assassins)
I think you were right about The Andersonville Trial. Boy, I didn’t realize there were so many big names in that show but I do remember how anxious (in a good way) he was about working with George C. Scott, which I found odd considering his stature and all the big names he worked with over the years. Maybe it was because of the Patton movie and what an incredible presence Mr. Scott was in that role.
Thanks again for sharing the newsletter with me. It was a lot of fun to read. I loved all of it.