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.


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?


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,


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

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

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 (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

post Cowboy Hats

January 14th, 2009

Filed under: Interviews & Articles — admin @ 8:16 pm

Leif Erickson as John Cannon

Big John’s hat with decorative conchos on the hatband

Cowboy Hats

By Rusty

Penny has asked me to share a bit about my passion for “cowboy” hats. I’ve owned at least 15 of them over the years. The one point I have been asked several times is “how to choose a hat that fits”. Believe me, there is a trick to it.

First, choose a color you like. If you’re blonde and fair skinned, like me, a sand color is not the best choice. Most folks like a chocolate, gray or “silverbelly,” or black hat. I tend to like chocolate, and medium brown colors. Most hats come in felt or canvas with a wire brim. Although wire brims are not traditional, they are less expensive, and easier to shape to your face. I don’t recommend running out and buying a Stetson. Buy something mid-range. Staying under $100 is best. I’m not even going to mention straw hats. They’re useless to me, and I have no passion for them at all.

Cameron Mitchell

Buck has a beaded band, string of beads, and (according to the episode Bad Day for a Thirst) a rattlesnake tail on his hat

Next, the brim of the hat is crucial to having a balanced look on your head, and a width that looks appropriate with your head and shoulders. If the brim is too wide, you’ll look short and squat. If the brim is too narrow then it will give you a comical look. Old West re-enactors often prefer the “Derby” or bowler style hat. That’s not for me. The worst hat I’ve seen on a great actor is the small brimmed sandy colored hat that Randolph Scott wore in many of his Westerns. It was his favorite. Fine. But still a bad choice. Depending on whether you wear your hat for ranch chores, like me, or just for dress up, place the hat on your head then look straight up. If the hat tends to hit your shoulders and pop off your head, then the brim is too wide for your head to shoulder height. It’s a simple test but it works. Brims come in 2.5, 3.0, 3.5 inches and 4.0 inches normally. I prefer a 4.0 inch brim because I’m tall and have a longer nape of my neck.

Curling the brim is a personal choice. Some hat wearers insist on curling the brim so high and tight that it looks overdone. A slight upturn in the edge of the brim allows water to channel, and a slight dip in the front and back allows water to run off. I like flatter styling with a little down turn in the front. The flatter brim style gives you more shade in the summer. In the Mojave Desert, I need shade. Even my dog’s name was Shade but that’s a different story.

Mark Slade as Blue Cannon

Blue’s tan hat appears with a hole halfway through the second season

Now for the crown, or top of your hat. There’s a gazillion crown shapes to choose from but I’ll stick with traditional styles. Most cowboy hats were sold “open crown”, meaning no shaping. It was a cowboy’s preference to dent and pinch his crown for his own style or need. Hats were dutiful, comfortable, and stiff brimmed. Some men wore Mexican sombreros in woven straw or felt. Some liked the short brimmed bowlers with high-mounded crowns. In all, the pinch was a Gus crease down the middle front, the Montana Peak with four equal dents on a high 6-inch crown, a telescope-styled based on making a circular crease so the top of the head fit tightly into the crown, and a hand worn pinch with a forward crease and two side dents. Mostly that style was just something that happened with wear, and not necessarily a style at all. Most hats were filthy, well worn and damaged from being used so much. Individual style was shown in the hatband: ribbon, high or narrow, a horsehair braid, a leather twist with knots or braid, or a simple narrow leather band. I prefer a braid with a matching chinstrap.

One last note about selection. The size of the hat is measured by the head circumference about a finger width above the ear and continuing across the brow line. If the tag in the hat says “small, medium or large”, find another hat. You should know the size of your head to get a good fit, and then purchase hats with true sizes of 20 inches up to 26 inches. Increments of one-eighth of an inch helps get a calibrated size.

Henry Darrow as Manolito

Manolito’s hat has a flat brim

Cowboy hats, legendary hats since 1865 –
In 1865, as the cattle business began to boom, Stetson became convinced that the cowmen of the West would recognize his hat as a useful addition to his wardrobe. He began to produce the first incarnation of his ‘big hats’, originally called the Boss of the Plains, and immediately dispatched samples to potential dealers throughout the West. As they say, ‘to make a long story short, Stetson was soon inundated with orders for his unique headgear. He even attracted the attention of the Texas Rangers, who quickly became the first law-enforcement group to wear cowboy hats as part of their official uniforms.

Before long, Stetson was famous for his newfangled headwear, the cowboy hat. In those early years, whether he wore cowman’s gear or not, the cowboy hat had the unique quality of identifying its wearer as someone associated with the West, and the cattle industry. Merely by placing his new cowboy hat on his head, he became part of a growing fraternity of cowmen who carried with them an image and aura intrinsically linked to the Wild West.

Linda Cristal

Victoria wears several different hats, including her riding hat.

When shopping for a new hat, take a friend along who will tell you if you look silly, short, too tall, fat, or just right.

My personal choice is an Aussie outback oiled canvas hat with a tri-pinched front crown and a 4-inch brim. My hat is not considered traditional but there is a movement afoot to include the Sou’wester because Aussie rangemen came to America sporting their oiled hat versions prior to the popularity of cowboy hats that came in the late 1860s through the 1870s.

For more details about keeping your hat in good shape and best hat practices, go to:

post Memories of Cameron Mitchell By Debbie Carlson

January 14th, 2009

Filed under: Interviews & Articles — admin @ 8:12 pm

Cameron Mitchell
Cameron Mitchell as Buck Cannon

Editor’s Note: Fan Debbie Carlson knew the Cameron Mitchell family during The High Chaparral years, and graciously agreed to share her memories with all of us.

My time with the Mitchell family took place when I was a young teen. I met Cameron Mitchell and his second wife and their two boys when they moved in to the house next to ours in Pacific Palisades. I believe that was in 1967 which would have made me around 12 years old. “High Chaparral” was in production but had not yet aired. The Mitchells were all very friendly and welcoming to all of us curious kids. We were curious about the “actor” moving in but I think more curious about the new family and kids on the block. I quickly became friends with the kids and was accepted into their house.

Mr. Mitchell was a very kind and generous man. He seemed to genuinely love kids. He would play ball with us, spray us with the hose as we rode our bikes past his house, tease and joke with us etc. He always made us feel good, telling us how well we threw or kicked the ball, how smart we were etc. We just drank it in. I remember how excited he was when their third child was on the way (a girl). He was over the moon about her. But, it wasn’t just all fun. I also remember him insisting we watch certain educational shows like shows about the perils of drugs. After all, it was the 60′s. He was very much a father figure to all of us neighborhood kids, not just to his own. I remember things like watching the moon landing at their house and on weekends, he always had a golf game on. He was an avid golfer.

Cameron Mitchell

The family often included me in outings to dinner with them which were always fun. Mr. Mitchell would sometimes take over a restaurant, going back into the kitchen to meet the chef and being very gregarious and friendly with everyone. He was always kind to his fans. I marveled at how the family handled it considering they were often interrupted during their meals by well wishers. Even at that age, it made me very aware of the sacrifice actors make with respect to their privacy. It was always an adventure.

My mother was very aware of Mr. Mitchell’s movies and career but she was careful to respect their privacy. But, one time I remember Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell coming over to the house. I can’t remember who provided the movie magazines, which as many probably recall were the gossip rags of the day. He read through some of them aloud which had articles about him and his family and it was such a hoot hearing him totally tear the articles apart…total fabrication in most cases. My parents took them to the Hollywood Bowl and they reciprocated by taking my parents to the premiere of “Patton”. I think my parents had the time of their lives and I’m sure it was a special memory for them.

I was fortunate enough to have been invited to Paramount Studios a few times to watch the taping of High Chaparral. I was fascinated by everything and everyone, including the process. I also was invited to fly to Tucson with his sons to watch them shoot on the Old Tucson set. Everyone was so welcoming. I remember Leif Erickson being very nice even though I was somewhat intimidated by his size and voice. Linda Crystal seemed like a spitfire. I don’t remember exactly what I said but it was something of the nature that she seemed so petite and delicate. I quickly learned from her that she could stand up to the boys and take care of herself, and the men there at the time concurred. She was very pretty on TV but even prettier in person. Of course I had a huge crush on Mark Slade, didn’t everyone? Henry Darrow seemed just like he was on TV…very happy, always smiling with a bit of the devil in him. He seemed like someone you’d always want to be around because he was just so full of life. Of course, I don’t know these people, this was just my impression of all of them and what a great experience that trip was.

Cameron Mitchell
Cameron Mitchell in The Andersonville Trial.

I know that my memories are that of a young teenager and in one aspect I regret that. I never thought to ask him about his career, what it was like to work with the likes of Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Spencer Tracy, Doris Day and all the big names of his era. I never heard him say anything bad about another actor. I remember how nervous but excited he was about appearing in a made for TV movie with George C. Scott (this was after “Patton”). (ed. note: that movie would likely be The Andersonville Trial, directed by George C. Scott, starting William Shatner, Cameron Mitchell, Jack Cassidy, Richard Basehart, and a host of others). I really would have loved to hear the stories. Unfortunately the Mitchells moved out of the house next door several years later. I maintained contact with them for a while but they eventually divorced and I had my own life, moving to San Diego to attend college. I wish I knew what their children have done in their lives.

Even though this all started some 42 years ago, that friendship with Mr. Mitchell and his family had a huge impact on my life and I cherish the time I was allowed to be a part of it. It was educational on so many fronts. He often made me feel good about myself, I loved the play and fun we had and being allowed to see into the world of acting for a brief time. I suspect he had a great impact on many peoples’ lives. From my point of view, he was everything good people say about him. He knew his craft, he was very nice and friendly, he would give you the shirt off his back, generous to a fault, loved kids and was a genuinely good and kind man.

« Previous PageNext Page »