November 13th, 2013
by Marianne Rittner-Holmes
Did You Know: That High Chaparral production manager Kent McCray, affectionately known on-set as “Big Daddy,” was associate producer of Bob Hope Christmas specials overseas for three years in the late 1950s? Kent was working as a unit manager in live TV when he met the famous comedian. Their association led to Hope asking Kent to join him on the project in 1956.
Kent would travel to each military base to lay out the shows in advance for the home-sick soldiers, seamen, airmen and Marines. When Hope arrived at Base 1, Kent produced 21 shows over 14 days, including travel, accommodations, ground transportation and logistics for a troupe of 70 people! The military bestowed the honorary rank of First Star General on Kent and also recognized him for his patriotic service to entertain the troops.
After his work on Outlaws (yes, Kent worked with Don Collier in 1960), THC and Bonanza, Kent and Michael Landon teamed up to bring the much-acclaimed Little House on the Prairie, Father Murphy and Highway to Heaven series to the TV screen. They produced some award-winning TV movies, as well.
Kent, shown below with a pipe in his mouth, and wife Susan, who was casting director for many productions, will be on hand at the March 2014 Reunion. (THC creator David Dortort is wearing glasses and looking at the script in the photo.)
They offer spell-binding stories from behind-the-scenes, like how the neighbor’s ranch house accidentally caught fire during the first episode! Ask him about it yourself. Come join General Big Daddy at the resort and ranch house in Tucson in March!