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post HC on DVD – Dream or Reality?

August 7th, 2008

Filed under: Interviews & Articles — admin @ 7:15 pm

HC on DVD – Dream or Reality?

by Penny McQueen

When John Cannon brought his family over a thousand miles to Arizona, he had no idea their travels were just beginning.

The road to a DVD release for The High Chaparral is rocky, complicated by decades of corporate mergers, acquisitions, neglect, and legal red tape. Andy Klyde, attorney for Bonanza Ventures, continues to work for a release and said recently, “There’s no exciting news to announce at the moment, but there’s reason to be optimistic about the future.”

The story begins with a landmark Federal Communications Commission decision that shaped the course of popular entertainment, and ends with the Cannons and Montoyas infiltrating each of the three major networks. Keep your scorecard handy, this tale has more twists than a two-part episode.

In the early 1970’s the FCC, concerned the Big Three Networks (CBS, NBC, and ABC) presented a growing monopoly, imposed a set of rules to prevent them from owning their own programming. This effectively stopped them from syndicating their own shows, including classics like The High Chaparral, Bonanza, Car 54 Where Are You?, Get Smart, and many others.

NBC sold their library of television shows to National Telefilm Associates (or NTA). NTA specialized in re-issuing film libraries including Twentieth Century Fox, some of Paramount Studios cartoons and comedies, early United Artists works, Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, and the original Republic Pictures library.

Mark Slade, Henry Darrow, and Cameron Mitchell in close-up from The High ChaparralFrom 1973 to today, ownership bounced from one entity to another as companies were sold, merged, or changed names and divisions. NTA acquired Republic Pictures, created a home video division, and later changed names to Republic Pictures. Spelling Entertainment Group/WorldVision Enterprises purchased Republic, merged with Viacom, which merged with Paramount Communications, which merged with CBS. Along the way Republic Pictures licensed their home video rights to Lions Gate Home Entertainment.

At each step legal distribution rights to The High Chaparral on DVD became clouded. But progress is being made, and although it is undeniably slow for anxious fans, as Blue Cannon said, ‘Pa always says, the champion potato peeler of the world peels one potato at a time’. Andy Klyde reports, “I spoke recently with a high-ranking executive at NBC Universal and emphasized again how anxious the legions of fans of The High Chaparral are to see the series uncut and re-mastered on DVD. She promised to push the legal department harder to conclude its research on ownership and distribution issues, and we agreed to keep in touch. I’ll be sure to check in with her from time to time.”

In the meantime fans of the show keep it’s memory alive by watching old copies, honoring the cast and crew, attending reunions and other events, and still loving their favorite western.

How is The High Chaparral is associated with all of The Big Three Networks?

  1. HC originally ran on NBC.
  2. Spelling Entertainment Group included WorldVision Enterprises, a part of ABC Films. It existed primarily to syndicate ABC owned shows.
  3. CBS/Parmount International is responsible for distribution outside the U.S., and CBS is a division of Paramount Communications.

References:

http://www.solarnavigator.net/films_movies_actors/paramount.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Telefilm_Associates

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fin-syn

http://republicpictures.net/default.aspx


Cast Appearances & Events

post Linda Cristal: Fan Gift Became Favorite For Star

August 7th, 2008

Filed under: Interviews & Articles — admin @ 7:10 pm

May 10, 2008


Fan Gift Became Favorite For Star
by Penny McQueen
HC Discussion Group moderator Tina Sweet, like many fans, has collected photos of her favorite stars over the years, and she sent her favorites to share with the newsletter. “The TV Guide portrait of John and Victoria (Leif Erickson and Linda Cristal) is my absolute favorite. I have one of the 11 X 20 print, only one of one hundred that were printed,” Tina said.

The second is a beautiful family portrait of Mark Slade, Linda Cristal and Leif Erickson, obviously shot on the streets of Old Tucson. As with many special finds, this one was located and purchased on Ebay.

The portrait of Linda Cristal holding a parasol has a special story to go with it. “That photograph of Linda is one that she says is her favorite,” Tina explained. “Several years ago, one of our HCDG members did a pencil portrait of Roberto Contreras for his family after his passing.” HCDG members gave the portrait, created by artist Linda Hornsberger, to the Contreras family.

That year as December approached, Tina looked through her collection of Chaparral photos and sent one to the artist. “I sent her a scan of the photo, and she did an 11 X 20 pencil drawing of the photo, which Linda says is her favorite. The artist lived in Wisconsin, and a snow storm almost made it impossible for her to get the portrait out to me in time to get it framed and to Linda Cristal in time for Christmas. But she braved the snowy roads – we HC fans will go through rain, sleet, snow, etc for our beloved HC folks. My framer turned out to be an HC fan and he was beside himself to realize his work would be hanging in Linda’s home in Beverly Hills, so he gave me an especially nice frame.” Like the Contreras gift, this was a group effort. “Several folks sent money to cover the cost of the portrait and the framing along with Christmas cards. Linda loved it. It meant so much to her because it was a portrait made from her favorite photograph, and because it was a gift from her fans too!”

Thank you to Tina for sharing these cast photos from her private collection.

post Mark Slade: Mystery Actor Answer

August 7th, 2008

Filed under: Interviews & Articles — admin @ 7:09 pm


Mark Slade: Mystery Actor Answer

Our Mystery High Chaparral Actor is….Mark Slade! The screen capture is from an episode of The Fugitive.

Congratulations to Donna Bush, the first one to send in a correct vote at 9:07 pm on March 9. Donna really knows her HC actors.

The voting counts were:
Mark Slade: 3
Leif Erickson: 2
Jerry Summers: 1
Don Collier: 1

You can read the guesses in the Letters to the Editor section. Thanks to all who participated!

post Mark Slade Studio

August 7th, 2008

Filed under: Cast & Crew News — admin @ 7:08 pm

May 10, 2008


Mark Slade Studio

The official website for Mark Slade (High Chaparral’s Blue Cannon) continues to have regular updates, including new cartoon postings by Mark under RedactedRedux. Check back often as there are frequent changes. There are also three samples of The Fables Project, conceived and written by Melinda Riccili Slade and illustrated by Mark SladeIntroduction to the Fables, Fable 1 – Silent Wisdom, and Fable 2 – Sign of the Times. Each of the Fables so far has a story and a concluding Moral.

post Mystery Ranch Hand

August 7th, 2008

Filed under: Interviews & Articles — admin @ 6:52 pm

Photo from Bravo, Sept. 29, 1969
courtesy of Jan Lucas

Our mystery High Chaparral Actor is Henry Darrow.
The winning guess was made by Mary Osburn – congratulations, Mary!

The final vote count was:

Manolito Montoya/Henry Darrow – 1
John Cannon/Leif Erickson – 3
Buck Cannon/Cameron Mitchell – 4
Blue Cannon/Mark Slade – 1
Joe Butler/Bob Hoy -2
Sam Butler/Don Collier – 3
Reno/Ted Markland – 1
Ira Bean/Jerry Summers – 2

The Mystery Ranch Hand contest generated a lot of guesses and fun – thanks to all who participated!

Several of you thought the actor must be Cameron Mitchell because of the fancy footwear, while others were sure it was Leif Erickson – not a bad guess, as at one time he was called an ‘Adonis’ for his physique. I’ve put all your guesses in the Letters to the Editor section, so you can see how the voting went. Hope you have as much fun reading them as I did.


post Mark Slade Studio Website Changes

August 7th, 2008

Filed under: Cast & Crew News — admin @ 6:49 pm

January 7, 2007

Mark Slade Studio

Website Changes

The official website for Mark Slade (High Chaparral’s Blue Cannon) has undergone a facelift and sports several new features. With a current photo of the artist, links to new projects, and expanded galleries, the updated site is well worth a visit.

RedactedRedux, a sub-section of the studio website, has been featuring regularly updated cartoon postings by Mark Slade, and also has a notice of The Fables Project, written by Melinda Riccilli Slade and illustrated by Mark Slade, coming in 2008.

post Billy Blue Walks Out

August 7th, 2008

Filed under: Vintage Reprint Articles — admin @ 6:48 pm

December 2, 2007

Billy Blue Walks Out

This article is reprinted in it’s entirety
from Australian TV Week
May 9, 1970. The subject matter, quotes, and opinions are those of the original writers and editors.

Mark Slade stormed his way into High Chaparral. “James Dean is alive,” he roared at the producer who had kept him waiting. Today, two years later, he has left the series no less dramatically. “I may be doing a Pernell Roberts,” he said quietly. “I could have sacrificed my whole career…but I felt it was much more important to follow this through. I feel I’m still young enough to gamble.”

In a major upheaval that recalls Pernell Roberts’ stormy divorce from Bonanza, Mark has ridden out of its sister Western in a clash of wills over his movie-making ambitions. There may also be further repercussions for High Chaparral. One German network is reportedly about to drop the Western in protest and at least two other members of the cast are deeply upset by the producers’ tough stand.

Mark’s dramatic walk-out came after creator and executive producer David Dortort denied him a three week leave from High Chaparral to film Better Times Are Coming, a “now” Western he has created with writer William Lansford, later this year.

“It all happened in 10 days,” Mark recalled. “The first indication I had was when someone on Dortort’s office staff asked, “Would you go as far as giving up Billy Blue for your movie? Then a few days later I was accepting the Bambi Award and not a word was said. Dortort was beside me all smiles and he shook my hand. Next day the whole thing blew apart. Dortort didn’t even have the guts to come to me and tell me personally. He had an underling do that…Bitter? I’m only bitter about the way it was done. I guess I’m rather naïve. I think the best of everyone. Now I look back at the show and… well, I’m just going to put all my energies into the movie.”

Mark’s mood was more one of quiet disillusionment than anger. Despite obvious disappointment at the cast’s general reaction to his exit, he talked of it without rancor and carefully avoided any mention of Leif Erickson although, according to a reliable source, there is a wide rift between the two men. It is understood to have stemmed from the collapse of plans for Leif to play a sheriff in the movie, although the source said Mark had deliberately removed himself from any negotiations because of their High Chaparral relationship.

“Nothing that happened really surprised me.” Mark mused over the events that led to his shock departure. “The surprising thing is how cold it becomes. You really find out who your friends are. Cam (Mitchell) and Linda (Cristal), and she’s very upset, are the only ones I heard from. Oh, Hank (Darrow) called and cleared his conscience. A couple of others, not those in the lead roles, called, but that wasn’t until a couple of weeks later. Cam and I have had our blow-ups with each other, it has been an uncle-nephew relationship with us. But Cam tried for two days to reach me – my wife, Melinda and I just got out of the house when it happened. Finally he rang me at midnight to be sure of catching me. Cam talked to me on the phone till three in the morning.”

The High Chaparral role, however, is not the only sacrifice Mark is making for Better Times are Coming, in which he and Gary Lockwood star as two losers, unable to win in any society, who team up in Texas at the turn of the century. Not only is he risking his career, but as a married man with a pre-school child, his financial security, and he frankly admits the decision to quit was as much his as his wife’s. “I don’t know if I would have done it myself,” he said. “My wife felt I was getting tied, typed, into Billy Blue. By the time the series ended people would take me at face value as an actor. In a series you get pretty used to security. I was thinking of delaying the movie at one stage, but planning was too far advanced, and the question was answered for me… I think my wife saw something like this coming up. Melinda and I have saved our money – we’ve always kept our horns in…What if they asked me to return? I would probably go back, but not until we’ve finished the movie. I am now completely committed to it.”

Better Times Are Coming, which begins shooting late this month in Mexico, already represents a triumph over great odds for both Mark and Bill Landsford. “When my partner and I get together we say it’s our own project, and we aren’t going to give it away to anyone,” Mark said. Bill is making just as many sacrifices as I am, believe me. He has turned down about $25,000 in potential earnings to work on the movie and it’s been harder for him than me. He has a wife and two kids. I’ve lent him some money to help him through this period. Financially, he’s starting to get into shape”

The pair, who have formed Friends and Partners Productions to produce the film, first tried to interest a major studio in their original screenplay, and Mark is frankly disgusted at their indifference. Despite their Hollywood setbacks, they refused to give up the project, eventually winning the backing of a group of Mexican film makers.

Mark makes no secret that it is a shoe-string production, eventually expected to cost $500,000, less than the cost of two High Chaparral episodes. But their conviction that “we have a good product” is shared by everyone involved, including Gary Lockwood, Slim Pickens, and Joanna Moore who are all appearing on an “act now, pay later basis.”

“We don’t have any fancy offices, ours is the nearest telephone booth,” Mark said. “We don’t have any business managers, we use our own attorneys. Now comes the big test. We’ve had indications that if this goes right we will have financing for our next one.”

Later a visitor asked if the title, Better Times Are Coming, had a personal significance. “It didn’t,” Mark Slade grinned slowly. “But it sure does now.”

post Rudy Ramos, Second Wind

August 7th, 2008

Filed under: Interviews & Articles — admin @ 6:47 pm

December 2, 2007

Rudy Ramos: Second Wind
by Penny McQueen

In 1967, television performances aired once, a second time during reruns, and then disappeared, unless a show was lucky enough to enter the hallowed ground of syndication. Fast forward forty years to the world of streaming media, digital recording, TiVo, internet webcasts, exclusive online episodes, and the phenomenon of viral marketing. The wonder boys who launched YouTube thought they’d invented a way for people to share vacation videos and home movies; instead they created a social revolution that continues to rock the globe and change how we view entertainment.

As long as the revolution brings us samples of work like those found at rudyramos.net, I won’t complain. If you remember Rudy only as Wind from High Chaparral, do yourself a favor and check out the Reel section of his website. Prepare to be surprised; this is no One Note Johnny. In rapid fire sequence, he morphs from one character to the next, barely recognizable, displaying a range of characterization and comedic talent that’s dizzying to watch. Try not to laugh at his bebop sleezeball Carlos from NYPD Blue, talking a good game in the interrogation room. “Only time my hands touch her naked body would be if I’m falling out the window and there ain’t nothing else to hold on to.” Nice man, he remembers his manners. “But I didn’t say that to her.”

Flashback to 1971, when news of High Chaparral’s cancellation arrived. Rudy hung up his leather costume, contacted his agent, and parlayed his stint as a co-star into a five decade career as a hardworking actor. Roles in Hawaii Five-0, Helter-Skelter, The Rockford Files and other projects came regularly. Then in 1980 he shot an episode of Paris, a standard-issue California cop show starring James Earl Jones. Aside from the role, always welcome for an actor, the part brought an unexpected bonus. “Mark Slade and I played police officers and best friends in the show. We never discussed The High Chaparral until we were saying goodbye on the final day of shooting. He gave me a hug and said, ‘it was nice working with you – Wind!’ I didn’t know he knew until that moment.” The idea of Chaparral’s two favorite young rebels together is intriguing for fans, and also for Rudy. “Mark is a very nice person and we spent about 10 days together. I’m sure we would have had a very good relationship on The High Chaparral had that happened.”

Years passed. Always musical, Rudy continued to be passionate about this aspect of his art. Horses and Parelli Natural Horsemanship training filled his spare time, acting roles kept him busy at work. If he barely thought of a half-Pawnee youngster, then why would anyone else? Then a friend gave him some interesting news. “Two years ago a musician friend of mine happened to be browsing The High Chaparral website and told me there was a section on me. I looked, was blown away, and contacted the webmaster to congratulate her and to introduce myself. Charlotte got back to me and that was the beginning of being in touch with all of the wonderful people associated with the site and the discussion group.”

Forward thinking and busy, in the years since his last Chaparral scene was shot, he’d had few reminders of his big break. “I really had no contact with anyone from the show for 35 years except running into Henry Darrow from time to time.” The 2005 reunion was an occasion for Rudy to meet many of his fans and see some of the colleagues from the beginning of his career. “When I came to check in, Ginny Shook was greeting people and I said my name is Rudy Ramos and I am a guest. Her reaction was subtle but she made we feel welcome and special. Seeing people I had worked with 35 years ago and hearing the stories they told brought back great memories.”

A special highlight was being seated next to Rose and David Dortort, the producer of High Chaparral. When Rudy asked if Mr. Dortort remembered him as Wind, he received a touching response. “He studied me for about 15 seconds and then this huge smile came to his face. He touched my face very gently with the back of his hand and said, “Of course I remember you Rudy, you were wonderful!” Just about brought tears. The love and admiration I have for the man I could never put into words.”

On March 13, 1994 an accident with a kicking horse sidelined him, shattering his eye socket. Requiring six surgeries to fix the orbital, face puffy and bruised, he was out of circulation, unable to work. It was a long stretch for an actor, as he explains, “I figured possibly because of the five year absence that my career was over except for an occasional job.”

But a second wind can jumpstart a career from the most unlikely place. Four years ago in a restaurant, George Lopez introduced himself to Rudy, saying he was a big fan of his movie work. And Rudy is a big fan of George. “He has been very encouraging and supportive about me getting back to acting full time. His belief in me has made me believe in me again.” The friendship between the two men resulted in a role on The George Lopez Show for Rudy. Watch a clip from this appearance on his website, his straight man delivery deadpan perfect as he sets George up for the punchline of the scene. “George is a very nice person and he does a lot of things for people all the time. That’s why I did that funny scene with him on his show, because he wanted me to play that part opposite him. I am very humbled to have his friendship.”

The second wind is blowing strong for the ruggedly handsome actor. “I’ve had THE best parts of my life since I started working again, they just don’t come as often as they used to.” His most recent project is as Juan Carlos in Mr. Sadman, a comedy/satire feature-film currently in post-production. Cast photos and the movie trailer can be seen at www.mrsadman.com/. “The film is a unique script written and directed by a very young film maker. The part of Juan Carlos is probably the best film role I have ever had and I am not the bad guy this time,” Rudy said. Set in 1990, the storyline follows a Saddam Hussein body-double who loses his job, then moves to Los Angeles in search of a new start. “Juan Carlos is a ‘been there, done that’, seen it all kind of guy who has made his mistakes in life but has learned from it all,” Rudy explained. “He minds his own business, doesn’t bother anyone, and definitely doesn’t let anyone bother him. He’s a tough guy, but not a bad guy. I think both men and women will like this guy. He is very, very cool. It is a real joy for me to be playing the kind of part that has never been offered to me.”

And a joy for fans. Let’s hope there will be more clips added to the website soon.

post Mark Slade, Vintage Bravo article and photo

August 7th, 2008

Filed under: Vintage Reprint Articles — admin @ 6:46 pm

Vintage photo from BRAVO, the German fan magazine, reads:

BRAVO- Germany’s largest magazine
for young people
Mark Slade
Cowboy Billy Blue from the High Chaparral-Ranch dressed up as Santa Clause for his Bravo friends and warmly wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
(Thanks to Tanja Konstantaki for the vintage Bravo cover and translation)

post SOMETIMES THE MAGIC WORKS

August 2nd, 2008

Filed under: Interviews & Articles — admin @ 6:47 pm

October 19, 2007
By Jan Lucas


Saturday of the High Chaparral reunion, spellbound fans packed the hospitality room as Kent McCray described behind-the-scenes and on-camera action. McCray was emphasizing Mark Slade’s
scheduled fifth season return when a trim, silver-haired gentleman opened the back door and stepped inside. Flashing a dimpled grin, the newcomer declared, “When Mark left, that meant more lines for me!” Henry Darrow’s surprise entrance won enthusiastic applause.

“It was fantastic! The whole thing just sparked me up,” he said. “I was thinking my God! This is what it was about years and years ago.” A born performer, Darrow thrives on interaction with live audiences.

He was a bold, confident stage-actor in his twenties. “I wasn’t intimidated by anything,” he stated. That included Bill Whitney, who directed Darrow in the theater years before they met again on The High Chaparral. “He said I was moving my head too much,” the actor recalled. But arm around an actress and prop gun in his hand, he ignored Whitney. Playing the scene his way, he was thrilled when Whitney said, “Well, it looks like we have a Spanish Barrymore.”

“I went home that evening and wrote my mother. ‘He said I was a Spanish Barrymore.’ She wrote back, ‘Sweetheart, John Barrymore was known for being a hambone, an over-actor.’” Laughing, he added, “At that time, young actors from the Pasadena Playhouse were considered to be over-actors and indeed we were. In fact, I screen tested several times and proved it over and over.”

But irrepressible Henry Darrow also proved talent, versatility, good looks, drive and practicality gets parts. He recalled, “I’d take anything. Paul Regina, the kid who played my son in Zorro and Son, didn’t want Zorro to be a big thing, because he didn’t want to be typecast. And it’s like oh, God! Paul, what you want to do is work! You want to establish yourself.”

While some consider close association with a character detrimental, Darrow views it as triumph. “You have succeeded in embedding your character into the heart of your audience.” Delighted to be entrenched in the hearts of long-time fans, he was recently amazed when girls in their twenties recognized him as Manolito Montoya. “And I thought, my God, they saw High Chaparral reruns in Guatemala or Honduras! There I am in the middle of the hallway, signing autographs, posing for pictures. I’m kneeling on the ground and they’re saying, okay, goodbye, thank you and I’m saying no, no, no. My knees are bad. You have to help me get up!” he said. Confirming that bad knees aren’t all bad if coupled with a certain loveable charm, he added with a smile in his voice, “That worked out nice.” It would have been an unlikely interlude had Darrow been successful in his own youthful attempt to avoid typecasting.

Born in Manhattan, teenaged Enrique Tomás Delgado spoke only fluent “New Yorkican” when his family returned to Puerto Rico. The transition was difficult, but he fell in love with the island and stayed until an acting scholarship took him to California’s Pasadena Playhouse. There, he deftly tackled drama, romance and comedy. Easily mimicking voices and accents, he portrayed diverse characters with dead-on accuracy. He also danced and sang well. After graduation, with skills honed at the Playhouse and Las Palmas Theater plus can-do attitude, he pursued film and television roles. The future looked golden. “Back then,” he explained, “you got your little degree in movie and television acting, got married and went to live in the Hollywood Hills. I thought, hey, man I’m ready!”

But in Hollywood during the late 1950s and early 1960s, Sicilian-American Guy Williams was television’s Zorro and Hungarian-Jewish funnyman Bill Dana rose to stardom as a bumbling Mexican bellhop. Except for a few plum roles, real Hispanic actors had bit-parts as Indians, servants, border guards, gigolos or other riff-raff. His agent kept him working, but said Darrow, “I played Martinez, Lopez, José, Pepé and Carlos for a number of years.” And whereas theater casting usually hinged on an actor’s skill instead of ethnicity, film and television judged differently. A gifted baritone of Russian descent played Daniel Boone’s Indian friend Mingo, but “Delgado would not be up for the part of Corporal Leutz from Germany.”

During ten years of tiny parts, voice-overs, dubbing movies and eventually a few solid secondary guest-roles, pragmatic Enrique Delgado became Henry Delgado then finally, Henry Darrow. “Hector Elizando knew I had changed my name and he said hey, you do what you can to work, that’s the whole idea,” he said, stressing one of life’s twists. “Now that was the irony of it, because after changing my name to Darrow and working a season at the Pasadena Playhouse, I got a part in a series playing a wonderful Mexican character.”

Inspired only by Shakespeare, Darrow let creativity fly and made Manolito Montoya shine. Upon seeing the pilot, TV Guide critic Cleveland Amory wrote he hoped Darrow would at some point stop laughing, but viewers fell in love with Manolito. Reflecting on favorite scenes in “Destination Tucson” and “The Arrangement”, Darrow said, “Denne Bart Petticlerc was a wonderful writer. That scene where I saved Leif’s life had everything in it — the serious, threatening kind of demeanor and the humor of the character.” Cleveland Amory kept watching and declared Darrow’s captivating performance worthy of an Emmy. “I brought a kind of freshness to the role because I had no approach. I wasn’t that aware of the camera, anything like that. I had no tricks.” But the older actors had plenty and he was a zealous student.

“It was like I was taking a four-year college course in a year,” he recalled, noting Cameron Mitchell taught Upstaging 101 brilliantly. “When we did the pilot, Mark Slade and I were talking. ‘That scene with the three of us, wow! That’s great, working with Cam Mitchell!’ Then we went to the dailies to see it, and any time you’d see our faces, he’d hug us and turn us around so our backs were to the camera. When he grabbed you, you were going to be a prop of some kind.” A quick study and a diplomat, Darrow learned to fall down or dip off-camera. “They’d yell ‘Cut! Hey Cam, don’t hug Henry so tight, he looses his balance.’”

With temperatures over one hundred, dressed in leather and wool, Darrow remained enthusiastic. “I wanted to be in on everything!” If anyone had dialogue they didn’t like, he asked for it. After a while, he was told to stick with his own lines. “The producer said, ‘Henry, you gotta shut up. It’s somebody else’s turn.’”

He was quieter but restless when Leif Erickson advised him to take it easy. “You’re always up and about… standing… It’s better if you sit down instead of standing all the time and it’s even better to lie down instead of sitting.”

Darrow may have slowed down on the set, but he and The High Chaparral raced to break new ground. The series was the first to feature a Latino family and offer solid roles to minority actors; it cast Apaches as Apaches, employed approximately 150 Hispanics during its run and catapulted Darrow to international fame. One of the few Hispanic stars in Hollywood, he joined Ricardo Montalbán and others to improve the image and opportunities of Latinos in the entertainment industry. Together, they formed Nosotros (www.nosotros.org). Montalbán was the first president, Darrow was vice-president and name recognition opened doors. “Ricardo and I would visit the networks and make our pitch about there should be more Hispanic actors, and they’d say, ‘Yeah, but look at the percentage that so-and-so has of Latins.’ And it was like ‘So? They all work in the kitchen!’ They’d say there’s nobody qualified. And we’d say, ‘Well, what are you going to do to help people qualify?’ We wanted people behind the cameras, but first we wanted people in front.” Darrow said progress initially came with better Latino roles, but “gradually that has broken away and you have Andy Garcia [ Ocean's Eleven] in a story about stealing some diamonds from the hotel. It has nothing to do with being Hispanic. Then you know what you were starting or trying to start is succeeding.”

Recently passed over for a part on the Jimmy Smits series Cane , Darrow said, “On the other hand, now there’s this new series with Jimmy Smits, Rita Moreno, Hector Elizando. I auditioned and they told me I was second choice. I wondered, who was first? And it was Hector.”

Philosophical about disappointment, energetic Darrow focuses on upcoming projects. While awaiting word on another audition, he is busy crafting a one-man play. His movie Primo opens later this year and another film is in post-production. He has seldom been without work, except after The High Chaparral ended. “They felt I was too associated with Manolito still, that people would say, ‘Oh, look! There’s Manolito on Mission: Impossible.’” Determined as usual, he kept plugging and parts came, the memorable as well as the mundane.

Years before winning a Daytime Emmy for Santa Barbara’s Rafael Castillo, portraying Harry O’s acclaimed Manny Quinlan, becoming the beloved first Hispanic Zorro, blasting into outer space or delighting theater audiences as Cervantes, he went after a Native American role in Cancel My Reservation . Auditioning for Bob Hope in Hope’s Toluca Lake home would have intimidated some, but not Darrow. “I wanted Hope to see I had a sense of humor,” he said. When Hope asked what kind of Indian he was, Darrow responded, “Porrican.” Puzzled, Hope asked where he was from. “New York,” he deadpanned.

“Hope said, ‘New York?! Are you Puerto Rican?’ And I said, ‘Yeah!’ And he asks, ‘And Puerto Rican is Indian?’ I just lied and said, ‘Yeah!’ He laughed in my face and said, ‘The kid’s in!’” Describing to Hope a scene in Little Big Man, Darrow quoted Chief Dan George: ‘Well, sometimes the magic works, sometimes it does not.’
And when Henry Darrow’s magic works, the kid’s always in.

photos courtesy of Kat Garcia and www.henrydarrow.com

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