November 12th, 2009
By Penny McQueen
At Old Tucson on Saturday afternoon, our stars participated in a panel discussion at the Grand Palace Saloon at Old Tucson. Moderator Kent McCray took questions from the audience and kept Henry Darrow, Don Collier, Ted Markland and Rudy Ramos in hand – as much as possible. The cast mates were often like The High Chaparral Comedy Tour, joking and drawing huge laughs from the audience.
Kicking off the questions, Kent McCray talked about typical weather on set, saying, “Today is one of the cooler days we had in Tucson. Many days were well over 100 degrees and we were out there working our tails off and it was HOT. I always respected Linda Cristal who played Victoria. She was in those heavy outfits, tied up around her neck. That was very tough for her, but she did it. Never complained.”
photo by Patty Schantz..
Don Collier recalled visiting Leif Erickson, hospitalized for a collapsed lung, and his unperturbed response to an enthusiastic fan with an incurable skin disease. “He didn’t pull back, just shook her hand. But after wards, geeze, he had a fit!” Henry Darrow laughed about the same hospital visit, saying, “Try to imagine all of us in the hospital. Bobby Hoy was the lead man. We came in and an old guy said, ‘How long you guys gonna be here? We’ve got our bingo game!’ I went into a ladies room to say hello, and I spoke to her in Spanish – she was Mexicana – and when I spoke to her she started to have a slight seizure. She had just come out of a slight heart operation. I made the mistake of walking into the wrong room. Obviously.”
Kent told about Joanna Moore (Lady Fair) losing her dental work at lunch. Kent sent workers to recover it from the dump….whereupon Ms. Moore brushed the dentures off, popped them in her mouth, and shot the scene. “That’s called a real trooper!” according to Kent.
Rudy Ramos laughs at a story. Photo by Patty Schantz.
Not everything goes as planned on a TV shoot, and Kent recalled making arrangements with a local to appear to burn his family homestead with special effects while Indians attacked. Unfortunately the wind shifted and the cabin actually burned to the ground. Kent gave him good news and bad news – the shoot was finished but the homestead was burned. Fortunately the gentleman was generous and said, “Don’t worry about it.”
When asked to remember his earliest days on the show, Henry said, “I looked out this morning at the set, trying to imagine the cavalry riding in, riding out. The first scene I did on Chaparral was all the Indians in the world coming in to the ranch – we were moving wagons and stuff and the producers and network saw that section. I had a few lines of dialog. They turned to David Dortort and said, ‘This is the young man that’s going to play this part??’ He said yes, you’ll see, you’ll see. And then the next day was the sequence when I killed an Indian that was waiting for Leif Erickson. I killed the Indian, fell off the cliff, Leif just goes ‘shew, thanks.’ At that point I re-load my gun and had a line that said, ‘Buenos Dias Senor. Keep your hands up, I’m stealing your horse.’”
Don Collier gained fame in TV commercials as the Hubba Bubba Cowboy, and he happily revealed a little known secret. “I couldn’t blow the bubble gum. I had a stunt blower,” Don said. “I had him thoroughly checked out before. He’d blow the bubble and I’d step in with the bubble already blown and let it pop. “ Laughing, Don stressed a common credo of hardworking actors, “The money was good, I’d have done anything, I’d have killed him!”
Bob Hoy at the 2005 Reunion
Although Bob Hoy was unable to attend, he sent his greetings in a recorded message made by Susan McCray, Sending “cordiality and good cheer” to all the fans and his friends in the cast and crew and wishing all “Godspeed and God bless’”, Bob’s message made everyone’s day and earned a standing ovation.
Gratitude and appreciation for their loyal fan base was a common theme among the cast and crew. Henry Darrow said, “On occasion I’m lucky enough to be part of a group like this, and get to meet the fans, and the people that made it possible to last the 4 years. But more importantly 42 years worth this show has been around in people’s memories, thoughts and feelings. “
Rudy Ramos summed up the feelings of most when he said, “I just want to thank all of the people. I am really blown away by the distance that people traveled. Amy from Australia, New Zealand, Sergio and Juan from Mexico, my friends from Northern Mexico, England, Guatemala, all over this country, Chile, in honor of – not us – but the show, The High Chaparral. For me coming into the show in it’s 4th season I was a very, very small part of the wonderful thing that’s called The High Chaparral. These are the guys that made it, given the wonderful words that David Dortort created and Susan’s dad put the music to. It was the beginning of my career, the very beginning. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a career beyond that.” Rudy led the cast in applause for their fans, saying, “I am so lucky to be a part of this 40 years later and to see the fans honor this show, that it’s truly humbling, and I thank all of you for your support, and for showing it. Thank you, thank you, thank you, from all of us, thank you. “
For the complete panel discussion and coverage of the entire day at Old Tucson, get your copy of The High Chaparral Reunion 2009 DVD.
High Chaparral stars (and fan Penny) at the Sunday morning autograph and photo shoot. photo by Crystal Hudson.
An event the size of the reunion takes a LOT of people working hard to make happen. The 2009 Posse – those who worked hard to keep all the events running smoothly – poses with the stars. Front row: Rudy Ramos, Henry Darrow, Penny Mcqueen, Don Collier. Second Row: Ginny Shook, Crystal Hudson, Andy Klyde, Vickie Harvey. Back Row: Rusty LaGrange, Jan Pippins. Not shown: Mike Pippins.
Thanks also to the staff at La Posada and Old Tucson.