post Cameron’s His Own Roughest Critic

August 17th, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 6:37 pm

Vintage reprint

When Cameron Mitchell comes out flatly and says he thinks NBC-TV’s new cowboy-and-Indian series The High Chaparral will be a good one you’d better listen. The free-swinging, outspoken Cameron can tick off on one hand’s fingers the roles he’s done that he likes.

” ‘Carousel’. ‘Carousel’ was just dreadful,” he told me while practicing chip shots in his Regency hotel suite. ” ‘Death of a Salesman?’ I thought it was a flop on film; such a shame, because it was so good on Broadway. And listen, I made a lot of movies in Europe that were among the worst ever produced anywhere.”

The stocky, athletic actor still has an unsigned contract from baseball’s Detroit Tigers. Mitchell, thus, has extremely high standards for himself. He thought a while and came up with two performances he didn’t mind: “Parts of ‘Monkey on My Back.’ The Barney Rosa picture, were good. And I just finished a low-budget western, ‘Ride in the Whirlwind’ that I think ought to be up for some awards. It’ll be out in the late fall or winter and it’s a good one.”

Anthropologists tell us man is supposed to be complex, not just a simple animal, and Cameron fits into their image. His whole world isn’t acting. “I spent some time in a Zen monastery in Japan,” he said, “and who knows – if I hadn’t become an actor, I might have been a holy man. I come from a long line of Pennsylvania ministers.”

“But I’m like all humans, I guess – victimized by my own bad habits, like smoking too much. I got used to a good, easy material life and with a family to support, I don’t see how I can change. But holy men do inspire me. Gosh, can you imagine a modern, average man spending 40 days and nights in the wilderness?”

Candor is Cameron’s middle name and has been, most of his life. When he came to New York before World War II from Dallastown, Pa., working as an usher, mail clerk, dishwasher and Radio City sightseeing guide (with another unknown, Gregory Peck), he went to see the Lunts act one night and promptly wrote them a letter criticizing their work.

“Their secretary told me to come see her,” he smiles, “and boy did she bawl me out. But she let me audition for her and I did a serious scene and reduced her to tears. The next night I auditioned for the Lunts themselves and won a part in their ‘The Taming of the Shrew,’ which was my big break. Would I write a letter like that now? I doubt it. I’m aware now that it was a damned audacious thing to do.”

Mitchell is blunt about almost everything. He mentioned some movie directors he thought were simply awful – big-name directors – and he said there were no two ways about it, movies cost too much to make these days. “I feel sorry for most producers, whose hands are tied in so many ways,” he said. “They can’t do this or that, for fear of offending different blocs and groups.”

In High Chaparral, he plays Buck – “a lovely, amiable, active bum” – and he says that Mark Slade, who plays his nephew in the series, can’t miss stardom. An old Indian aficionado, Mitchell’s happy that Chaparral makes Indians out more heroes than villains. “What about that new series on ABC about General Custer?” he demanded, gloweringly. “How can they set that guy up on a pedestal? He was one of the most miserable men of our times, who used to kill women and children – and you know, that was how he lost out, finally, when the Indians baited a trap for him with women and kids.”

Mr Mitchell swings from the heels. If he says his new show is good, you pay a little attention. He might belt you if you don’t.



post Authenticity will Keynote High Chaparral

July 3rd, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 1:06 pm

Reprinted vintage news article from June, 1967

The High Chaparral, the NBC television network’s September Western entry is going all-out for authenticity near Tucson, Arizona – all Apaches will be real Indians.

A talent search even turned up Nino Cochise, said to be a descendent of the great Indian leader Cochise.

Permanent sets have been constructed 20 miles west of Tucson adjacent to Old Tucson, location of more than 50 movies. The color series has taken advantage of the rugged mountains surrounding the area, the ‘forest’ of cactus at Saguaro National Monument and local working ranches.

Spanish and Indian language in the series will be ‘for real’, and over 300 authentic words in Apache sign language will be used.

The High Chaparral cast and crew returns to Paramount Studios in Hollywood every two weeks to film interiors.
Starring inn the hour-long action-adventure drama, which will immediately follow ‘Bonanza” on NBC-TV Sunday nights in the 1967-68 season, are Leif Erickson as John Cannon and Cameron Mitchell as brother Buck Cannon. Co-stars are Mark Slade as John’s son Billy Blue; Linda Cristal, as John’s second wife, Victoria and Henry Darrow as Victoria’s brother, Manolito Montoya.

The Western depicts the trials and adventures of the Cannon family in trying to establish a cattle ranch west of Tucson in the 1870s against militant opposition of Indians.

The High Chaparral is produced by Xanadu Productions in association with NBC-TV, David Dortort, creator of Bonanza and The High Chaparral is executive producer and Buck Houghton is producer.

Rudy Ramos as Wind

Rudy Ramos as Wind in season
four of The High Chaparral

Indian Joins Show

Vintage reprint from August 15, 1970

Rudy Ramos is the new boy on The High Chaparral. Rudy Is a 19-year-old Mexican-Indian from Oklahoma.
The show’s casting director was looking for that type, but couldn’t find him. Then Rudy wandered in and, after he read, he was quickly told that he had the part. At first, he didn’t believe it — it was all too sudden — but when he was convinced that it all had really happened, he had a reaction they still talk about in the program’s office.

He went over to the casting director’s pretty secretary and said, “Do you mind if I put my arms around you? I just had something incredibly wonderful happen to me, and I have to bold on to someone,”

Rudy is a good-looking boy, so Suzie said, “Be my guest,” and he stood there, with his arms around her and his head on her shoulder for a full minute.

Another Series

Vintage reprint from August 15, 1970

David Dortort, of Bonanza and High Chaparral, is planning to produce another series. It’s called Jinglebob which was the nickname of John Chisholm, the man who gave his name to the Chisholm trail. Descendants of
Jinglebob are still living in West Texas and New Mexico and are still in the cattle business,

Dortort, who plans to make a two-hour movie for NBC, hoping the series will spin off (as High Chaparral
did), will make this a modern Western, based around Chisholm’s descendants. “I will show what it is like to
be a cowboy today, the difference between now and 90 years back. In many respects the same kind of man is required now as was then, even though they use helicopter and four-wheel drive instead of horses.”

post Chaparral Adventures

May 28th, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:47 pm

Bob Hoy, fan Michele and Don Collier

Bob Hoy and Don Collier with Michele in 1990.
Michele says, “Bob kept standing up and down on his toes saying,
“Is Don looking shorter? Am I getting taller?” while Don chuckled.

by Michele Simmons

Editor’s note: When HC fan Michele registered for the 2011 Reunion, she wrote expressing her enthusiasm at finding the event online. “I am so sorry I didn’t know about the earlier reunions. I had the great pleasure to meet most of the cast between 1990-1992. All the guys I had the greatest pleasure to meet were warm, wonderful, charitable people. I recently learned of the tragic loss of Bob Hoy. How greatly he will be missed, not just at this reunion, but forever by all who admired his work and enjoyed his unique sense of humor. What an amazing man with amazing talents. Thank you for all the hard work and long hours you are certainly putting into this event. I look forward very much to meeting you in Old Tucson, in October.” As we chatted via email Michele kindly shared her adventures meeting many of The High Chaparral cast and crew. As you’ll see, October will be a *real* reunion for her!

I first met Don Collier and Bob Hoy in June 1990 when they took part, with other western stars, in a 3 day covered wagon train event to raise money to find a cure for arthritis. The wagon train wove through our valley starting in a place called Vasquez Rocks. This is the location of many High Chaparral episodes. To see these actors, for the first time, on horseback in this very familiar setting was really fun. They both wore cowboy hats and Bob even wore his High Chaparral chaps. On day 3, at the end of the trail, there was a big “Jamboree” where Bob, Don, Peter Brown, Lee Aakers, and other western actors on horseback pulled into a local park with the covered wagons and were available all day to visit with the people who attended the fundraiser.

My boys were so little at that time. They were in awe of meeting their cowboy heroes. I was able to talk to Bob about a proposed High Chaparral reunion show, written by Mark Slade. Unfortunately, David Dortort eventually chose not to develop this project. On that day though, we were all very hopeful. This was when I first got to know Bob’s sense of humor. He was such a good guy, such a character and so wonderful to all the children who came up to him to ask for autographs and pictures with him. This covered wagon trek must have been pretty grueling on many levels for these participants. In spite of all that, they patiently met their fans with big smiles, hugs and handshakes.

Mark Slade

Meeting Mark Slade in 1990

One month later, while having lunch in West Hollywood, I was fortunate to run into Mark Slade. I was with a friend who was a big fan of Mark’s and was visiting from Missouri. She wanted us to approach him so she could say hello. I felt very uncomfortable but finally she talked me into it. He was with his youngest son, Mitchell, who was 16 at the time, and a third person, a business associate.

Mark was very kind, shook our hands and said he’d meet us outside the restaurant when everyone was finished eating so we could take pictures. His party left a few minutes before my friend and I were finished. We didn’t know if he would hang around outside for long. We asked the waiter for our check and he said, “it’s been taken care of.” We didn’t understand what he meant. He repeated, “Mr. Slade has paid your bill.”

We were blown away by his kindness and generosity. We left a tip and headed out the door. Outside we thanked Mark for the lunch. We talked for a while and took some pictures.

He told us about the script he had written for a High Chaparral reunion show. We then walked with him down Sunset Blvd. for a while. He asked us where we were headed. We told him to see some of the Hollywood sights. He paused and said, with a note of concern in his voice, “You two be careful. Some of those places aren’t very safe for two women alone.” My friend just about melted at his chivalry. With hugs we parted and he went on his way while we went on ours.

That Christmas I found a company that baked and sent “Cowboy Cookies” in tins. I sent some to Mark Slade, Bob Hoy & Don Collier to thank them for their extraordinary kindness to me and my family earlier that year. I got the surprise of my life when our phone rang, early one Sunday morning, just before Christmas. It was Bob Hoy, thanking me for the gift of the cookies! How he ever got my phone number I have no idea. He was down in Tucson filming something but wanted to call and thank me and wish me and my family a Merry Christmas. These guys truly went above and beyond kindness to their fans.

Mark Slade

With Cameron Mitchell and Henry Darrow at the Bob Shelton Tribute in 1992

In 1991 I became the “go-for” and photographer for the annual arthritis wagon train fundraiser. It was then I met Henry Darrow. We had monthly meetings which Henry faithfully attended as he was to participate in that year’s Wagon Train event. Unfortunately, through unforeseen circumstances, that event was canceled before it ever got well organized. But Henry and I remained in contact for the next several years. It was due to this contact he let myself and 2 of theladies who organized the wagon trains, Jeanette and Peggy, know about the High Chaparral gang going to Old Tucson in November 1992, to honor Bob Shelton. Ron and Kola Janoff graciously welcomed us to this wonderful event.

Friday of that weekend we attended a private High Chaparral cocktail party at the Mountain Oyster Club in Tucson. Henry was in San Diego, filming an episode of the TV show Silk Stockings, so he missed the Friday night gathering. I was fortunate to be there, meet Kiva Lawrence, Holly Hire and Kent & Susie McCray and see Don and Bob again. I also met Roberto Contreras for the first time. He was so charming. When we were introduced, I put out my hand to shake his. He took my hand and bending over he gallantly kissed it instead! What a dear man.

That night we gathered in the lobby of a local hotel and were to all drive to the Mountain Oyster Club. I was not that familiar with Tucson, and definitely not at night. Don said to me, in his big deep voice, “well, you just follow me then.” Which I did! He had an enormous blue and white van at the time, which I never let out of my sight for fear of getting lost. We had a wonderful time. At that party I had the great pleasure to meet and talk at length with William Claxton. He was such a lovely man and so passionate about the High Chaparral. I was also introduced to David Dortort that evening. How we ever found our way back to our hotel that night is a mystery to me!

Mark Slade

Don Collier filming ‘Hollywood in the Desert’ in Old Tucson.
1992, before the fire that destroyed much of the property.

The next day, Saturday, my friends and I went to Old Tucson to watch Don film a new version of Hollywood In The Desert. At one point his lines were to mention several projects filmed there, and some of the stars who had worked at Old Tucson. He was trying to say The Three Amigo’s with Steve Martin, Martin Short and Chevy Chase but when he would say, “Chevy Chase” he would pronounce it like the car, “Chevy”, using a “sh” sound. The director had him retake it several times. Finally Don said, “The Young Riders is filmed here starring Don Collier”! Everyone doubled over with laughter.

That night was the big event at the original Old Tucson sound stage. What a time that was. At the table, where I was lucky enough to be seated, were Cameron Mitchell, Mr. & Mrs. William Claxton, Don and Holly, Bob and Kiva and myself with Jeanette and Peggy.

That was the only time I ever met Cameron Mitchell. What a delight, what a character, and completely “Uncle Buck” in every sense! His conversation was rowdy, his drinking was well enjoyed and his humor… what a twinkle he had in his eye, flirting with every lady there! He gave a most moving tribute later in the evening. It was easy to see how much the family of High Chaparral and the integrity of the work meant to him. Sadly I learned he passed away only a few years later.

That evening, Henry was asked to get up and sing the words to the Manolito theme song! That was wonderful. Many behind the scene stories were told with great laughter. Bob Shelton’s story about being in the pilot was really funny. He kept flubbing his one and only line. I turned to Bob Hoy, sitting next to me, and asked, “do you remember that?”

Bob said, “Oh yeah, we laughed like hell! It took us 6 takes to do this cameo shot because we were all laughing so hard we couldn’t get through the scene!”

At that time, the only High Chaparral club I knew of was run by Kathy Lewis who had a Mark Slade Fan Club. She gladly accepted any contributions of photos and stories of all the High Chaparral actors.

Mark Slade

Bill Claxton, Roberto Contreras and David Dortort at the
Bob Shelton Tribute in 1992

When visiting Old Tucson in the early 1990’s, several of us discovered there was only one photo of the cast and a plaque that had the names of the principal actors. The only problem was they omitted Mark Slade’s name. That began a huge letter writing campaign,(from Kathy’s Mark Slade Fan Club members) to get them to set the record straight. Fans were not happy about his missing name. I remember going down to a very sleazy part of Hollywood, to memorabilia shops to buy 8×10″ studio publicity photos of High Chaparral cast members on the Old Tucson ranch set. We sent Old Tucson dozens of these pictures urging them to expand the photo display and add Mark’s name to the commemorative plaque. They finally built a large frame, displaying most of the photos. And they did add Mark’s name to the plaque. Unfortunately they incorrectly spelled his last name, “Slate”! Again more letters poured in. It was eventually corrected.

I’m not sure if these photos are still on display. I doubt they would last these many years without fading or becoming weather damaged. (Editor’s note: There are many cast photos displayed on the interior walls of The High Chaparral ranch house. Many of these are very rare shots. It is possible they are the same photos described here.)

Things happened that changed the direction and focus of my life for years. Then in January, I was watching a PBS special about the history of Westerns on TV. Henry was interviewed on this program and I suddenly became very nostalgic to contact him. I went on the Internet to see if there was a High Chaparral fan club, or a Henry Darrow fan club of some sort. That’s when I found out about the reunions and was shocked and saddened to find that Bob Hoy had passed away.

I know from the web site you have many, many wonderful memories of your own, of more recent times spent with these great guys. I’ve enjoyed your contributions and the photos that are posted of you with the actors from previous reunions and other events.

Thanks again for all you are doing to help put this event together. I very much look forward to meeting you in October.

post Past Issues Available

February 15th, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 7:14 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 Shared Photos

October 26th, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 6:33 pm

Shared Photos

Dwayne Sharp contacted us to generously share some of his family photos collected from his grandfather, Bob Sharp. Bob worked on the Tucson set.

High Chaparral was the last show he worked on before passing away with cancer, and Dwayne shared a family story. “Grandpa Sharp was always about work, and all the sets he worked on. On a shoot on High Chaparral, the Boom Truck, or some type of Rig, lost its brakes, and my Grandfather, Bob Sharp was at the wheel, and drove it down a hill, backwards, with out BRAKES to safety. I hope this helps out on who my Grandpa was on the HC. set. We, the Sharp family are very happy to remember HC , the actors, and the crew will remember my grandpa.”

Look closely at the signed photo by Mark Slade, and you’ll see a reference to this story about driving a truck backwards, down a hill with no brakes.

Thank you to the Sharp family for generously sharing their grandfather’s photos.

Cm Mitchell

Leif Erickson

Linda Cristal

Mark Slade

Bob Hoy

Bob Sharp

Devoted HC fan Woody Irvine writes:

Don sebastian and victoria“I hope you are well and that everything is going good for you. Thank you for the recent HC newsletter. I always look forward to receiving it!!!!!

I just wanted to send you a vintage photo that I have in my TV western album from famous TV westerns. What is so special about this photo is that it is the one that local TV stations across the country received for their advertising of their respective affiliate stations (ABC, NBC, and CBS.) Wow, this is way before ALL the TV stations and channels we have today!!! I believe that it could have been used in TV Guide also, as well as the other local TV magazines that were produced all across the country.

One of my favorite happens to be from “The High Chaparral!” It is of both Frank Silvera and Linda Cristal as their respective characters, Don Sebastian and Victoria.

I love this photo and it is my favorite of Frank and Linda. There is so much affection between them and it makes me miss Mr. Silvera even more to this day! ”

Thank you Woody, for generoulsy sharing from your private collection with everyone!

post In Memory of

August 30th, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 6:10 pm

High Chaparral stuntman Walt LaRue passed away on June 12th at the incredible age of 91. Walt was a very good friend of Bob Hoy’s. A lifetime member of the Stuntmen’s Association, Walt did stunts in classic Westerns like El Dorado, Fort Apache, Paint Your Wagon, The Cowboys, Blazing Saddles, Pale Rider and Young Guns just to name a few.  He gets credit for an acting part in the HC episode “Assassins” as a bandit. Walt was also an accomplished artist. Do a google search on him and check out his outstanding paintings of cowboys and the West.

Jerry Wills

High Chaparral Stuntman Jerry Wills

High Chaparral stuntman Jerry Wills, son of legendary stuntman, actor and HC stunt coordinator Henry Wills, has passed July 12. Jerry followed his father into the business at a young age; according to Don Collier he first worked with Jerry when he was only 12.

Jerry doubled Mark Slade and Rudy Ramos, and appeared with thebunkhouse boys or in small parts (watch for him in Too Late the Epitaph or Sangre). His resume included Little House on the Prairie, Father Murphy, Highway to Heaven, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Blazing Saddles, Wild Wild West, and many others.

He worked with Bob Hoy in the Little House episode No Beast so Fierce, and worked amemorable fight sequence in the first episode of Highway to Heaven.

post Victoria: Linda Cristal – The Lady Loves to Sing

August 30th, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 6:07 pm

by Tina Sweet

Linda Cristal CDLinda Cristal is a lady of many talents including a lovely singing voice. I caught up with Linda to chat about her CD and her love for music.

Linda keeps her musical talent all in the family. Her father, she says, could have been a concert pianist. Her mother had an absolutely beautiful singing voice. Linda sings and plays the piano. Both her sons also play the piano. When asked if she played other instruments she replied, “Oh no no, only my IPod. But I love listening to music!”

I knew from previous conversations with Linda that she had her own band for years singing on the weekends even when she was due on the set of the High Chaparral on Monday morning. When asked how she started her band, she replied, “I always loved singing, just loved it!” She would sing at gatherings, parties, etc. People kept telling her how great she could sing and eventually she got the group together and they performed all over the country. They did both western and Spanish numbers. She and Mark Slade also performed together in many areas. Unfortunately, they never recorded any of their concerts or rehearsals.

Linda Cristal

Linda Cristal photo provided courtesy of Ginny Shook of Out West Entertainment

I asked her how she kept up the pace – singing on the weekend, traveling, and then reporting early on the set at High Chaparral on Monday. She had to get up at 4:00 a.m. to be on the set. Her answer didn’t surprise me at all. She said, “I am the ‘Bionic Woman,’ I love to stay busy!”

After singing with her group for a while the idea of the CD came up, and she went into the recording studio. She said the odd thing was that the guy who made the arrangements for the songs was tone deaf. Linda chose all ten selections, all romantic songs, because as she says, “I am a romantic.” Her favorite selections are Me Muero (my favorite) and Lalo. A clip from Te Dije Adios is included at Out West Entertanment to give you a small sampling of Linda’s lovely voice. A mixture of both soothing romantic selections as well as a few lively numbers, Linda puts her heart and soul into every song – her love for music clearly demonstrated in each selection.

High Chaparral CDs, Personalized Autographed Photos Available

Did you know that several of the High Chaparral cast members have CDs available? Check out information on each of them in this and future newsletters.

You can get your own personal Linda Cristal photo, signed by Linda with a note to you! CDs and photos can be ordered from

CDs and photos from your favorite Chaparral stars – Linda Cristal, Henry Darrow, Don Collier, Rudy Ramos and Ted Markland, are available at Out West Entertainment.

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.


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.

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