August 25th, 2009
From the Editor:
Nothing about High Chaparral creates more controversy than the unexpected absence of Blue Cannon in the 4th season. For whatever reason the writers and creative directors chose not to deal with The Case of the Missing Blue.
I’m in a unique position to comment on this, as I have what is likely to be the most extensive set of ephemera about High Chaparral in existence today. I also know quite a number of the cast and crew. After studying all of that, talking with many, many cast and crew members, the best I can say is – there is at this time no definitive answer, only a great number of rumors. Tabloid/newspaper articles of the time conflict wildly – “Mark asked for time off to complete a movie he was working on. Mark was fired, Mark wasn’t fired. David Dortort (creator of HC) says he felt Mark grew a bit old and needs to move on. Mark didn’t move on. Mark wanted more money. Mark didn’t want more money.’
Kent McCray (producer) and Rudy Ramos (Wind) both told me there were scripts with both Wind and Blue, and that David Dortort planned to bring Mark/Blue back for the 5th season. The McCrays insist Mark was not ‘off the show’.
I think you can’t believe all the newspaper/tabloid reports. Actually I KNOW you can’t believe what you read as practically everything I have in printed form conflicts in some way. This includes published books. The true answer is probably lost in time. I also think if someone tells you they know ‘what really happened’ you should back away sloooowly and keep your hand on your wallet, they probably have a lovely bridge in Brooklyn they’ll sell you cheap.
What happened to Blue in the 4th season? I’ve heard if there had been a 5th season they were bringing him back – is that true?
Because the character of Blue disappeared in the 4th season with no real explanation, fans continue to speculate on his fate. The June 10, 1970 edition of the Tucson Daily Citizen published an interview with David Dortort. In it, Dortort is quoted explaining why Blue was no longer regularly featured and indicating he would return.
Big news about the series, which finished its third season in the top 20 Nielsen-rated television shows nationally, is that Mark Slade, in the character of Blue Cannon, “simply grew out of the part” and will no longer appear regularly in the series after the last show of the reruns in early September, Dortort said.
“Mark Slade is a fine young man, a good actor, cooperative and hard working,” Dortort said. “But he’s 30 and it was getting increasingly difficult to write convincing scripts that had him playing a teenager.” Dortort said Slade’s character, Blue, would be kept alive “because of the affection we have for Mark”, and that he may return to the series at a later date as a mature character. The script has Blue leaving the Cannon ranch to pursue art studies in the East.
Read the entire Tucson Daily Citizen article contained in this edition of the newsletter.
High Chaparral wasn’t the only Dortort show changing in 1970, and Dortort was quoted again in the Arizona Sun on July 24 in an article titled ‘New TV Faces Start To Appear’ – David Canary departs the cast of “Bonanza” and will be replaced by 15-year-old Mitch Vogel, who was in “The Reivers.” On “High Chaparral,” Mark Slade leaves the nest and the new young male interest is Rudy Ramos. Both were victims of “aging.”
“There were so many stories we couldn’t tell because we didn’t have young people,” said David Dortort, who is executive producer for both shows.