April 25th, 2010
Henry Darrow reacts to a story during a fan discussion at
The High Chaparral 2009 Reunion
Those of you who were lucky enough to attend the 2009 High Chaparral Reunion have probably bought the Reunion DVD. For the rest of us, the DVD gives a taste of what it was like. We owe thanks to Susan McCray, Penny McQueen, and everyone else involved in the making of it. They have captured rare and special memories for us all.
We must also thank the cast and crew who made the journey, some from great distances, to be there for fans. I’d like to see some of today’s ‘stars’ – and I use the term loosely! – go that extra mile for their fans. Only yesterday I read an astonishing list of outrageous demands some celebrities make before they will bother making an appearance. These include things like a constant supply of fresh rose petals in their hotel toilet water, the installation of gold faucets, and toilet paper that matches one’s complexion (that one calls for a really sarcastic remark but I’ll let it go). Others insist on dozens of all white kittens, or puppies to play with for a few hours. What happens to the animals afterwards is of no consequence to these people. The DVD reminds us that true stars, while hard to come by, do still exist.
Unlike many of today’s celebrities, Henry Darrow, Don Collier, Rudy Ramos, Ted Markland, the McCrays and the rest have not forgotten that they are where they are because of their fans. This brings me to the first thing that stood out on the reunion DVD. The unassuming nature of these people. They’re legends for goodness sake, yet they laugh and joke and at all times, recognise the value of their fans. There was no trace of snobbery, just genuine camaraderie. It’s all over their faces that they are as happy to be attending the reunion as the fans were. Henry’s perpetual smile showed well his pleasure at being there. Don’s too – and his cheekiness. When presented with a surprise birthday cake, he asks if the lovely ladies carrying it come with the cake! Rudy Ramos is truly humble as he says, “Thank you, thank you thank you,” to the fans for their support and love.
Producer Kent McCray describes behind the scenes action at The High Chaparral ranch set during the 2009 reunion.
As an author, I tend to encounter more authors than the average person does and barring a few, who I am fortunate enough to call my friends, one thing that can be a bit annoying is their constant push to promote themselves and their titles. When Henry was asked what he had been doing of late, I thought, ‘Oh, here’s a good chance to publicise your upcoming autobiography.’ But did he? No. I was quite surprised by this as it’s a natural thing for an author to do, especially when the book is soon to be published, as Henry’s is. He talked about films and plays he had done, even admitting one was B-grade (more modesty) though I’ve heard good things about this movie and let’s face it, some B-grade movies are thoroughly enjoyable! Did he take the opportunity to push sales? No. I admired him for this. So I will take a moment now to remind you to keep an eye open for it. (editor’s note: www.henrydarrowbook.com for the latest news.)
We learn some of the history of Old Tucson. I didn’t know that it is the only existing western homestead surviving from the days when these classics were made. Those behind the scenes, including producer Kent McCray, reveal interesting information about the logistics of the show. I was also surprised to discover that it was the 42nd reunion and had no idea that the wonderful music featured in HC episodes came from the mind and pen of Susan McCray’s father, Harry Sukman.
I was delighted to see that the entire question and answer session was recorded. That the stars stayed until every fan’s question was answered speaks volumes for their dedication to us all. Funny memories are shared about Leif Erickson and Cameron Mitchell. We laugh with Don Collier as he tells an amusing story about the ‘bubble double’ he needed for his Hubba Bubba gum commercial. Henry’s anecdote about walking into the wrong hospital room and causing a woman to have a turn when she sees a famous face, gives us another unforgettable flashback. Kent McCray as Master of Ceremonies keeps everyone in order and tells many ‘behind the scenes’ stories of his own.
Rudy Ramos, Henry Darrow and Don Collier at the 2009 reunion.
More giggles follow when the stars are asked about their first times on horseback, including good natured ribbing of Rudy Ramos. It brought back a long forgotten memory of my own experience years ago. Before I was ready, the horse bolted, causing me to lose the reins. This left me madly clutching its mane which did not impress it one bit. Then, just as suddenly, the animal stopped in its tracks to graze… and I shot right over its head, landing flat on my back in the grass. I opened my eyes to see blue sky and a close up of black, velvety nostrils. The horse wore a rather surprised expression as if to say, ‘Where did you come from?’ Being reminded of my own funny story, made me feel part of the reunion.
Finally, there is a poignant break in the live discussion when Bob Hoy’s telephone message is played for the fans. As we know, Bob recently lost his battle with cancer and was unable to attend. Knowing that this was his last ‘public’ appearance, I felt a lump in my throat as he promises to try to make the next reunion. When he closes wishing God’s blessing on us all, you can’t help stopping for a quiet moment.
One of the things I’ve always loved about film is how we can capture a moment in time. The other night I watched some old WWI footage and thought gosh, that group of men sharing a cigarette really did that at one time in the war. They’re gone now but will live forever on the celluloid. Filming the reunion was more than a souvenir keepsake. It captured moments in time where we see our favourite HC stars coming together for us. I’m so glad to have a copy. In my view, the footage on this rare DVD is a must for any fan of High Chaparral.
Experience The High Chaparral Reunion 2009 for yourself, with over two hours of the day at Old Tucson on this special Reunion DVD including:
- Welcome the cast and crew back to the set at Old Tucson
- Stories by Kent McCray at the Cannon Ranch House
- Panel Discussion at the Grand Palace
- Private lunch at El Vaquero
This is a limited edition DVD – once they’re gone, they’re gone. Don’t delay, place your order now. $25 plus shipping/handling. Payments are processed securely via Paypal. Order here.