post High Chaparral Stuntmen Seek Renown and Security 

January 13th, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 3:29 pm
Vintage article reprint from 1968

The motion picture adage that stuntmen’s obscurity is their security may be true. Two stuntmen are taking their chances that exposure on “The High Chaparral” will bring both recognition and security for them — as actors.

After years of falling on their faces to make a living. Jerry Summers and Robert Hoy are lifting their faces toward NBC cameras and unlike stunt men, speaking lines. “I do my own stunt work in the series,”  Summers said. “It makes for better shots and it saves a lot of production time.” An all-around stunt man, Summers does falls, leaps, rolls and fights — everything except surfing. For the feature “Surf Party,” he had a double. On the western adventure series, he is portraying Ira, whom he describes as “a happy go lucky son-of-a-gun who can be a gentleman when he has to be; fight, drink, and shave if he feels like it, but always respects his fellow man.”

It was Richard Boone who convinced Summers he should quit the rodeo circuit and try acting. Two years of studying with Boone and two more at New York’s Neighborhood Playhouse found Summers prepared but few producers ready to hire him as an actor. He turned to stunting, getting his first big chance as Tony Curtis’ double in “Spartacus” in 1959. Summers, who says he once made $3,000 for a day’s stunt work, is 36. He has a wife, Melodie, and two children, Shawn, 6, and Stagg, 2. It is for them as much as for himself that he is scrambling for a new career — one that could last long after his best falls are all behind him.

Hoy, like Summers, was born in New York City. Summers moved to Los Angeles as a youngster and Hoy stuck with the Big City until his senior year in high school when he joined the Marines in World War II. Upon discharge in 1946, he completed highschool, enrolled in UCLA’s theater arts department, studied two years with Estelle Harmon and toiled in local theater groups and acting workshops. It was in Gallup, N. M., in 1948 that he got a chance to act as well as stunt in the Robert Taylor flick, “Ambush.” In the following 10 years, he worked as a stunt man-actor on “Bonanza,” Hoy was hired for “The High Chaparral” on his acting ability alone.

“I play Joe, Sam Butler’s brother. He’s a man who. Is lucky; he’s involved in adventure,” Hoy said. “There are few challenges left today for men. It’s underneath the water’s surface and in interplanetary space travel that that quality of adventure lies that is answered by a comparable pioneer spirit — one like John F. Kennedy had. “These men are more at ease with adventure, where courage is required, than other men,” Hoy added.

The father of a son, Christopher Martin, age 2, Hoy agrees with Summers that he could make more money as a stunt man — now. However, he is not concerned only for his own financial security. He has an almost idealistic philosophy about his character, the show and their combined effect on the television audience. “We are trying to relive the early settlers’ experiences, not make them look like play acting. I like to think we are broadening the minds of viewers. “David Dortort (series producer- creator) is a serious student of history and has seen to it that this series has a bigger scope and more authenticity that other series don’t have.”

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