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post Meeting Leif and Henry

December 12th, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 7:31 pm

Leif Ericksonby Penny McQueen

In the world of performing arts some call television ‘small screen’, but High Chaparral fan Mary Evans wouldn’t apply ‘small’ to one of its vintage stars.  After High Chaparral was cancelled she met Leif Erickson in Austin, Texas, and while the name of the play he was appearing in has long slipped her mind, the impression he left is still vivid.  “Let me tell you, when they called that man ‘Big John’, they meant it!  I stand 5’7″ and standing next to him I was looking up,” she said.   Although the character of John Cannon was sometimes tough, the actor who brought him to life was charming.  “What a neat and very cordial man,” Mary recalls.

The play “The Rainman”, brought another chance for a High Chaparral close encounter.  While working as a horse instructor at a Girl Scout camp in Alpine Texas, Mary learned Henry Darrow would appear in Odessa.  The dedicated fan made  the five hour round trip to watch and get Manolito’s autograph.  Back at camp she entertained friends with the story, relating, “What a neat guy!  Lots of energy!”  Two weeks later it was another five hours on the road as they returned, to find Henry Darrow remembered Mary.  “I was lucky enough to speak a bit longer with him. Upon saying our goodbyes I had my picture taken with him and he gave me a short kiss. Yes, ladies…he is a good kisser!”

ManolitoAfter meeting Big John Cannon and Manolito Montoya in person, the actual ranch house was high on Mary’s list and in 1975 she paid a visit to Old Tucson Studios.  “I fulfilled a dream to ride through the gate of High Chaparral in 1975 and park the horse at the hitching rail in front of the house at Old Tucson,” Mary said.  “It felt great! A part of Chaparral, by proxy.”

With The High Chaparral 2011 Reunion on the horizon, Mary hopes to attend, saying, “I had always wanted to meet the entire cast, especially Cameron Mitchell, but did not accomplish it.  Don Collier is my next hope, and I want to say ‘hi’ to Henry, and see if he remembers that Texas production.  I lost the picture of myself and Mr. Darrow (along with a big number of autographs) in a house fire, so maybe I will be able to make the reunion and retake that picture with many others to start a new collection.”

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