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post Clothes Make the Man

February 3rd, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 6:49 pm

Vintage article from May 11, 1969

HOLLYWOOD – - Mark Slade got carried away with the title of his record album, “Mark Slade’s New Hat,” and decided to use the hat in “The High Chaparral” next season. Then he designed a new wardrobe and took the sketches to producer David Dortort who liked them enough to agree they helped establish the new adult character Mark, as Billy Blue, will have next season.

post ‘Chaparral’ Is Here To Stay, Dortort Assures Old Pueblo

August 25th, 2009

Filed under: Vintage Reprint Articles — admin @ 4:21 pm

David DortortVintage Reprint from Wednesday, June 10, 1970, Tucson Daily Citizen

“The High Chaparral,” NBC’s dramatic western adventure series which makes its location home at Old Tucson, is staying in Arizona, no ifs, ands or buts about it.

That is the word from the shows’s executive producer and originator, David Dortort, who scouted locations yesterday and addressed a noon meeting of Rotary International at the Pioneer International Hotel today.

“We have gone to considerable trouble and expense to move the interior sets for the show to Old Tucson,” Dortort said in an interview. “They are being used now and will be used more and more in the future.”

Excutive Producer David Dortort, left, and Producer Kent McCray, right, on location at The High Chaparral set in Tucson

Dortort estimates that 65 percent of the series will be shot at Old Tucson and at other southern Arizona sites. The setting up of the interiors on Old Tucson’s sound stage makes “cover” shots possible there, whereas in the past the cast and crew has had to shoot interiors only in Hollywood. (The remaining 35 per cent of the show will be filmed in California).

Seeking to lay to rest once and for all the rumor that the show, which pumps an estimated $2 million a year directly into the local economy and has been credited by Chamber of Commerce officials with attracting five million tourist dollars annually, might move to New Mexico, Dortort said, “Some people in the industry thought I was crazy a few years ago when I predicted that Arizona would be the new Hollywood. Now more and more people are realizing this is coming true. I’m going to push with all my strength to make Arizona the new Hollywood.”

Mark Slade

According to David Dortort, Mark Slade was a good actor, but at 30 years old it was, “difficult to write convincing scripts that had him playing a teenager.” Dortort planned to keep the character alive because of the affection they had for Mark.

To support his argument, Dortort ticked off the names of five major film productions that have done location shooting in and around Tucson in recent months and pointed out that the old Hollywood has been sold off in huge chunks and does not really exist anymore.

It was Dortort’s assurance to Old Tucson’s management that “The High Chaparral” could give a sound stage enough business that prompted construction of the present facility. Although not a stockholder in Old Tucson Development Co., Dortort serves as a consultant on its advisory board, which is made up of celebrities including Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and John Wayne.

Big news about the series, which finished its third season in the top 20 Nielsen-rated television shows nationally, is that Mark Slade, in the character of Blue Cannon, “simply grew out of the part” and will no longer appear regularly in the series after the last show of the reruns in early September, Dortort said.

“Mark Slade is a fine young man, a good actor, cooperative and hard working,” Dortort said. “But he’s 30 and it was getting increasingly difficult to write convincing scripts that had him playing a teenager.” Dortort said.

Dortort said Slade’s character, Blue, would be kept alive “because of the affection we have for Mark”, and that he may return to the series at a later date as a mature character. The script has Blue leaving the Cannon ranch to pursue art studies in the East.

A new character, Wind played by newcomer Rudy Ramos, 19, is being added to the series, and Dortort cautiously described his introduction.

“We’re going to try something novel: instead of the artificial stock characters on television, perhaps including some on our own show, we want to go back to the facts of history.

Rudy Ramos as Wind

Rudy Ramos as Wind was added to The High Chaparral cast to appeal to the teenage audience.

“After the Civil War, veterans of both sides of the conflict – men with their homes burned, their pasts destroyed – made their way west to the open land. They encountered Indian tribes where it was often a sign of hospitality to offer visitors a squaw.

“This shocked many of the men from the Eastern seaboard still locked in the Puritan ethic, which was no place as rigid as in its relationship between men and women. Half breeds were often the result of these casual relationships. “These children,” Dortort continued, “were brought up by the tribes as Indians, trained to hunt, fight, ride, be self-sufficient. Wind is one of these. He is obsessed with one terrible question: Who is his father?”

In the first show of the series fourth season, Wind finds out – it’s Buck Cannon, played by Cameron Mitchell. (This story is Mitchell’s first notice of his television fatherhood, Dortort said). Ramos, whose father is a Mexican and mother a Cherokee Indian from Oklahoma, will thrash through his character’s anguish of hatred for his father for having left his mother, his need for paternal love, and other generation gap problems. Dortort thinks today’s youth will identify with the character’s problems, “hang ups that have lasted long enough.”

The only other major shift in the story line will be a more important role for Don Collier, who plays Sam, the ranch foreman.

Dortort, whose “Bonanza” finished No. 1 among television shows in its 11th year, said “Violence has been exaggerated out of all proportions” and has scuttled many good scripts – and a major new series, “Chinook,” about American Indians, that he has had to abandon.


post What happened to Blue?

August 25th, 2009

Filed under: Interviews & Articles,Question & Answer — admin @ 4:20 pm

From the Editor:

Nothing about High Chaparral creates more controversy than the unexpected absence of Blue Cannon in the 4th season. For whatever reason the writers and creative directors chose not to deal with The Case of the Missing Blue.

I’m in a unique position to comment on this, as I have what is likely to be the most extensive set of ephemera about High Chaparral in existence today. I also know quite a number of the cast and crew. After studying all of that, talking with many, many cast and crew members, the best I can say is – there is at this time no definitive answer, only a great number of rumors. Tabloid/newspaper articles of the time conflict wildly – “Mark asked for time off to complete a movie he was working on. Mark was fired, Mark wasn’t fired. David Dortort (creator of HC) says he felt Mark grew a bit old and needs to move on. Mark didn’t move on. Mark wanted more money. Mark didn’t want more money.’

Kent McCray (producer) and Rudy Ramos (Wind) both told me there were scripts with both Wind and Blue, and that David Dortort planned to bring Mark/Blue back for the 5th season. The McCrays insist Mark was not ‘off the show’.

I think you can’t believe all the newspaper/tabloid reports. Actually I KNOW you can’t believe what you read as practically everything I have in printed form conflicts in some way.  This includes published books. The true answer is probably lost in time. I also think if someone tells you they know ‘what really happened’ you should back away sloooowly and keep your hand on your wallet, they probably have a lovely bridge in Brooklyn they’ll sell you cheap.

Q&A

Question:
What happened to Blue in the 4th season? I’ve heard if there had been a 5th season they were bringing him back – is that true?

Answer:

Mark SladeBecause the character of Blue disappeared in the 4th season with no real explanation, fans continue to speculate on his fate. The June 10, 1970 edition of the Tucson Daily Citizen published an interview with David Dortort. In it, Dortort is quoted explaining why Blue was no longer regularly featured and indicating he would return.

Big news about the series, which finished its third season in the top 20 Nielsen-rated television shows nationally, is that Mark Slade, in the character of Blue Cannon, “simply grew out of the part” and will no longer appear regularly in the series after the last show of the reruns in early September, Dortort said.

“Mark Slade is a fine young man, a good actor, cooperative and hard working,” Dortort said. “But he’s 30 and it was getting increasingly difficult to write convincing scripts that had him playing a teenager.” Dortort said Slade’s character, Blue, would be kept alive “because of the affection we have for Mark”, and that he may return to the series at a later date as a mature character. The script has Blue leaving the Cannon ranch to pursue art studies in the East.

Read the entire Tucson Daily Citizen article contained in this edition of the newsletter.

High Chaparral wasn’t the only Dortort show changing in 1970, and Dortort was quoted again in the Arizona Sun on July 24 in an article titled ‘New TV Faces Start To Appear’ – David Canary departs the cast of “Bonanza” and will be replaced by 15-year-old Mitch Vogel, who was in “The Reivers.” On “High Chaparral,” Mark Slade leaves the nest and the new young male interest is Rudy Ramos. Both were victims of “aging.”

“There were so many stories we couldn’t tell because we didn’t have young people,” said David Dortort, who is executive producer for both shows.

post Memories of Cameron Mitchell

August 25th, 2009

Filed under: Interviews & Articles — admin @ 4:16 pm
By Debbie Carlson

Cameron Mitchell as Buck CannonEditor’s Note: Fan Debbie Carlson knew the Cameron Mitchell family during The High Chaparral years, and graciously shared her memories with us in an article in the January 2009 Newsletter. In this follow-up, Debbie shares further memories of Mr. Mitchell and The High Chaparral.

I am so glad people are enjoying the article in your newsletter.  It was good to read that his line continues with the birth of the new baby.  I forwarded the newsletter to my sisters and best friend who all met Mr. Mitchell and knew how important he was in my life.  My sisters were older and into their own lives at that time so they didn’t really get the opportunity to know him but I know they will enjoy reading it.   Ironically my best friend was the babysitter for the Mark Leonard children.  He played Sarek, the father of Spock in Star Trek

Speaking of Star Trek, if only I knew then that it would be such a phenomenon, maybe we would have tried to get on the set!  One of the times I was on the High Chaparral set, Mr. Mitchell’s son Jake (Buck) and I were nosing around in the back of the studio, walking through an area where big tall boards were stored.  It was rather remote, dark and empty…we thought.  All of a sudden, we came around a corner and ran across a reptilian creature which scared the heck out of us.  It turned out this person was in costume and working on Star Trek.  He must have known Mark Slade because they were talking.  We didn’t go back into that area again!

Mr. Mitchell was shooting a scene on the interior High Chaparral set at Paramount.  I remember another actor who was portraying an indian being tied to a chair.  I was watching the scene when I found myself in Mr. Mitchell’s line of sight.  It was a very serious scene.  I then realized that he was staring straight at me.  I was riveted to the spot, unable to  move or even look away.  I remember thinking that I should move because I probably was in his way but I couldn’t budge.  There was a very long close to the scene, I’m guessing maybe they were moving in on his face for a close up although I don’t remember the camera moving.  He was perfectly still with the same facial expression for what seemed like an eternity.  Never in my life before or since have I been fixed to a spot like that by anyone, not able to move or even turn my eyes away.  I mention that experience because to me it’s a perfect example of what a powerful actor he was.

I haven’t seen any of the High Chaparral episodes in many years but my sister bought a complete set for me for Christmas, although I gather they’re from China or somewhere and not the best quality.  I remember that episode and it was a really good one.  One of these days I need to figure out which one it was and watch it again. (Ed. note: the episode was most likely The Assassins)

I think you were right about The Andersonville Trial.  Boy, I didn’t realize there were so many big names in that show but I do remember how anxious (in a good way) he was about working with George C. Scott, which I found odd considering his stature and all the big names he worked with over the years.  Maybe it was because of the Patton movie and what an incredible presence Mr. Scott was in that role.

Thanks again for sharing the newsletter with me.  It was a lot of fun to read.  I loved all of it.

post Hey HCers!

June 29th, 2009

Filed under: High Chaparral Reunion 2009 — admin @ 7:01 pm

By Rusty LaGrange

Mark Slade, Cameron Mitchell, Henry Darrow in The High ChaparralHey there HCers,
I’ve been a bit quiet lately but I just had to remind you all ONE MORE TIME, that now is the time to quit straddling the fence. If you plan to see the best of High Chaparral, see the stars that make us melt, watch the high quality DVD episodes without commercial interruption, and be at the original sites of filming locations of the best TV Western, then now is the time to get your registrations in for the utmost Tucson-live event ever. Time’s a-wasting.

Three days..THREE DAYS!!! of terrific fans, fun, food, photos, fantastic landscape, shopping (if you can make the time, that is) and the most memories that you can stuff in a camera!!

I can’t emphasize how cool this event is. Okay, so, I’m on the Posse to help organize your transportation on busses to the events, and I’m working hard on your name tags. That’s a whole other thing. I could tell you what they look like but why spoil the surprise…

You just have to show up to see them <grin>

So we gave you a glimpse of the auction items, and you can download photos of La Posada and look around Tucson and all that right on your computer. What you are really gonna miss is the pure enchantment of being able to talk with, dine with, pal around with and stand goofy-footed and all smiley at your Western heroes.

I’ve been on the HCDG (ed. note: High Chaparral Discussion Group) list for 10 years and I even get all blushy and gushy for celebs I haven’t met yet. But, hey, we all get that way. That’s no excuse to be shy and miss the entertainment and graciousness of all the people who helps bring HC to your TV.

And now is the time to get the lowest price before the costs jump.

Do it now. For those of you who made sponsor donations to the event…Thank you very much! Oh, and congratulations to all the fans who have already registered… there’s a lot of good times ahead and overwhelming memories you’ll be taking home and reliving in your heart over and over again. Believe me. I know.

Best to You,

Rusty

post About Our Authors

June 7th, 2009

Filed under: Interviews & Articles — admin @ 6:07 pm
About Our Writers

Penny McQueen headshotarrow Penny McQueen is the editor, publisher, webmaster and main contributor to The High Chaparral Newsletter and website. She is an experienced Information Technology executive working at a major medical manufacturing firm. With a background in technology, department, vendor and project management, large systems purchases, budgeting, analysis, marketing, and an ability to work across all levels of an organization, her writing includes design and technical documentation as well as executive and client presentations.

Penny is the webmaster for Susan McCray, provides web editing for Don Grady, and is the web designer for Share-A-Vision Productions. She serves as the business and project manager for The High Chaparral Reunion 2009.

When not gathering Chaparral related news or working on the next High Chaparral Reunion, she occasionally writes fiction, scuba dives, travels, and fights off Apache in her back yard.

Jan Pippins, authorarrowIf Jan Pippins didn’t write, she’d have spare time.

If she didn’t have horses, she’d have more money.

In spite of being short on time and horse-poor, she’s a pretty happy person.

Jan is currently working with Henry Darrow on his biography, Lightning in a Bottle.

Rusty LaGrangearrowRusty LaGrange is a freelance writer specializing in concept and sales writing for small businesses.

She’s a member of the R Bar Regulators, an award winning Western reenactment group.  In her character as Rusty Rose of the Rusty Bucket Ranch, new school marm and museum curator, she shoots everything from black powder single shot rifles (just like the one Manolito shot in the first HC episode) to ladies’ derringers, Colt 45s, Marlin rifles, Winchester double actions, shot guns of many calibers, and the fast draw. She’s been known to hit every one of her targets.  She writes western novels as a hobby and is one of the original Yahoo High Chaparral Discussion Group members.

arrowTanja Konstantaki is our Foreign Correspondent – she makes her home in Crete, and is a steadfast fan of Blue Cannon and Mark Slade.  She enjoys the visual arts, playing with photography and computer videos for her friends, and occasionally writing.

arrowWendy St. Germain is an experienced writer and co-author of many titles.  A Science graduate from Sydney’s prestigious Macquarie University, she specializes in Zoology & Genetics with a particular interest in the rehabilitation of large, captive carnivores. She has written nearly three dozen non-fiction books, most of which are science texts, independently or co-authoring with highly respected biochemist, Peter Gribben.

Her works are popular and are gaining an international audience due to her unique ability to explain complicated science topics in ways that are clearly understandable. The relaxed approach she brings to her writing explains much of Wendy’s appeal. Published science works include several titles written in conjunction with the notable Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, numerous other educational resources including CDs, teaching programs, practical activities and testing materials. Wendy has also written several children’s books.

When not writing or co-authoring her own material, Wendy works as a free-lance Science Consultant, Project Manager, Reviewer, ghost writer and tutor to her home schooled children.  She is also studying screen writing with a view to expanding her writing skills. An author with a vivid imagination, who has also studied the art of writing for children and teens, Wendy continues to write, promising to keep her readers happy for many years to come.

post 2009 Reunion Reservation Deadline

June 7th, 2009

Filed under: High Chaparral Reunion 2009 — admin @ 5:59 pm

June is the last month you can make your High Chaparral Reunion reservation at the early discounted price of $225 per person, so don’t miss out. Get your reservation together right now and join us in Tucson. A variety of payment options – Credit Card, Paypal, or check, are available.

$225 for the 3 day package until June 30th- Increases on July 1 to $300
BOOK YOUR RESERVATION NOW

Register today for The High Chaparral Reunion, October 16-18, Tucson, AZ.

Mark Slade as Blue Cannon in the Pilot for The High Chaparral

Visit The High Chaparral ranch set at Old Tucson in person – join us in
Tucson at The High Chaparral Reunion, October 16-18.

Questions? Email info@highchaparralnewsletter.com.

post Cacti: The Silent Stars of the West

April 16th, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 6:28 pm

by W. St. Germain

The West wouldn’t be ‘The West’ without them. There are nearly 2,000 species of cactus the world over and all are believed to have originated in the Americas. Very few people haven’t seen a cactus at least once in their lives. OK, we’ll give the more isolated Eskimos and Rainforest people a break since neither of those environments is cactus territory. Other than that, pretty much everyone has seen one.

Blue and Buck Cannon

Mark Slade as Blue Cannon and Cameron Mitchell as Buck Cannon are dwarfed by a giant Saguaro in front of The High Chaparral ranch house.

The cactus species you most probably associate with the west are the saguaro and the barrel. Some fans won’t need to be told that the Cannon ranch was originally going to be named Saguaro after this plant. The fact that many people at the studio where High Chaparral was filmed weren’t even sure how to pronounce the word was one reason it was abandoned – and with it, the humble cactus’ shot at stardom. Well, maybe not stardom since, as I understand it, none have ever successfully learned to act but at least some degree of recognition. And so, they continue their lifelong roles as silent, but prickly, sentries dotting the magnificent desert landscapes of our favourite westerns.

This piece aims to give the cactus family its five minutes of fame. Let’s start by clearing the air about how John Cannon and the rest of the cast would have pronounced the illusive word Saguaro to begin with. My research suggests that most English speaking people would say sa-gwa-ro. Say each of the three syllables separately. Don’t say sag-wa though or sag-you-war-oh! John would not have said that. It’s sa (rhymes with ma), then gwa then ro (this last bit pronounced like row). If English isn’t your first language you might say sa-wa-ro. I confess, I’m torn between the two names; High Chaparral versus Saguaro. I can well imagine John Cannon, with his wonderful baritone voice saying, ‘Welcome to Saguaro!’ Not that I have any issues with HC, but I digress…

The saguaro cactus is also called The Giant Cactus and for good reason. Every outdoor scene on HC has them.  It is an ‘arborescent’ cactus. Arborescent means resembling a tree or treelike. A champion specimen in Arizona reached a height of nearly 14 metres (45 feet) with a girth of over 3 m (10 ft) so it’s easy to see how it gets both its giant and treelike names. Wouldn’t that one have looked wonderful outside the Cannon ranch! Saguaro is a long lived species, some of which have exceeded 150 years old.

I developed a whole new respect for them when I learned that a side arm can take up to 75 years to grow. They will grow a bit faster with more rain but even in ideal conditions they’re still very slow to gain those arms. It’s not impossible that there exist today among those we see, true pensioners that were only tiny during the late 1800’s (though we’re probably pushing it but it’s not impossible). The major pollinator for the saguaro is the bat so you won’t be surprised to learn that its flowers open at night, when bats are most active.

Barrell Cactus in Tucson
A barrel cactus in bloom.

Another cactus that features in High Chaparral is the barrel cactus. It’s a much smaller cactus, averaging about a metre high (3 ft). It’s recognizable by its barrel shape and pronounced accordion-like ‘ribs’. It has a lifespan of 50-100 years. The Seri Indians (from the Mexican state of Sonori) recognize three species of barrel cactus; saguaro barrel, big barrel and true barrel. The true barrel is also commonly called ‘The Killer Barrel’ as a warning against ingesting any part of it. It is sometimes called the Compass Cactus because it points toward the south to reduce the effects of sunburn.

Have you seen the Survival episode of High Chaparral? If so, you will recall that John and Blue ate the pulp from a barrel cactus and later Blue complained of ‘sour stomach’ as a result, but thought their Apache captive could survive on it for days without suffering ill effects. For me, this mystery needed some investigation! How could one man be fine while another suffered?

My first question was, is there something poisonous about the barrel cactus or was it just a coincidence that Blue felt sick? The Seri name of Killer Barrel was a giveaway. Sure enough, red is often a warning colour in nature and this red flowering cactus is no exception. Indeed, people are warned against eating any red flowered cactus (and you would need to check with experts before tasting the others).

The pulp of the barrel cactus contains crystals of oxalic acid. Consequently, the liquid also contains it. Oxalic acid is an alkaline substance used as a bleach. Not surprisingly, it’s poisonous if taken in excess. While many fruits and vegetables contain trace amounts of oxalic acid, the barrel cactus contains more than is good for anyone.

It appears that taken in very small amounts and with food in the stomach, the effects of the toxin can be reduced. This leaves us with the possibility that the Apaches, wise in the ways of the desert, knew that one must have something in their stomach and take only the smallest possible amount to quench the thirst. Meanwhile, John and Blue weren’t aware of this. Blue might have ingested too much and on an empty stomach. That would certainly explain what we see in the episode.

Nonetheless, most learned people will agree that it’s a bad idea to ingest any barrel pulp or liquid at all. This is something the Seri, and no doubt other Indians have known for a long time. Symptoms of eating this species of cactus include nausea, diarrhoea, body aches, difficulty or complete inability to move or walk, nosebleeds and red, burning eyes among other things. With this in mind, I’d say John and Blue got off easy!

For those with a botanical interest, the scientific names for the Saguaro species discussed in this article are:
The Giant Cactus – Carnegiea gigantea
Saguaro barrel cactus: Ferocactus acanthodes
Big Barrel cactus: F. Covillei
True Barrel Cactus: F wislizenii

Welcome to Wendy St. Germain, the author of this article. Wendy St. Germain is an experienced writer and co-author of many titles. A Science graduate from Sydney’s prestigious Macquarie University, she specializes in Zoology & Genetics with a particular interest in the rehabilitation of large, captive carnivores. She has written nearly three dozen non-fiction books, most of which are science texts, independently or co-authoring with highly respected biochemist, Peter Gribben. read more…

post New Fable: The Sheep’s Gift

April 16th, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 6:25 pm

Mark Slade, artst actor and writer

Artist, actor and writer Mark Slade

The Mark Slade Studio has added a new chapter to The Fables Project, conceived and written by Melinda Riccilli Slade with illustrations & photography by Mark Slade.

The studio’s RedactedRedux section recently announced Morgan Riccilli Slade’s new album THE WESTERN ADDITION, which can be downloaded at www.blastmymusic.com (search for the western addition). Sample the music on Myspace.

post Past Issues of Newsletter

January 14th, 2009

Filed under: Interviews & Articles — admin @ 8:17 pm

Past issues of the newsletter are available
on The High Chaparral Newsletter Website.

High Chaparral, Cameron Mitchell as Buck Cannon, Mark Slade as Blue Cannon, Leif Erickson as Big John Cannon

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