Sunday, November 30, 2014



In order to raise cash and save his Florida home from foreclosure (according to The Hollywood Reporter), Burt Reynolds is selling over 600 lots of his personal property in Las Vegas December 11th and 12th.  The 78 year old star whose impressive career took off when he was cast as blacksmith Quint on GUNSMOKE, and has included numerous Westerns, DELIVERANCE, the SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT movies, and an Oscar nomination for BOOGEY NIGHTS, has had numerous health problems in recent years.  The sale, to be held at the Palms Casino Resort, will be run by Julien’s Auctions, and a look at the on-line catalog reveals that many items already have bids, some already passing the estimate’s high-end.

How'd you like the numbers 
on Burt's Rolodex?

There is a great deal of art for sale, and many items related to sports, both Burt Reynolds’ own career, and those of professionals in several sports.  There are many books personalized to Burt by authors such as Louis L’Amour, Ray Bradbury, Budd Schulberg, Ossie Davis, Robert Stack, Rudy Vallee, Roddy McDowell, and Carol Burnett.

Sculpture by George Montgomery

Among the art items of particular interest are those by other performers.  There’s a brass sculpture by Western star George Montgomery, a lithograph by Burt’s GUNSMOKE co-star Buck Taylor, a sketch by Fellini, paintings by Doug McClure, Henry Fonda, James Cagney, a poster by Red Ryder-creator Fred Harman, several by Burt’s long-time love Dinah Shore, and a striking horse-head sculpture by Reynolds himself.

This sculpture is Burt Reynolds' own work

Sketch by James Cagney

Among other collectibles are a slew of badges, real and prop guns, boots and belt buckles.  You can guess who one of Burt’s personal heroes is: included in separate lots are a leather chair, desk, and name-plate that were property of director John Ford.  There’s also a framed check signed by Zane Grey.  There are also souvenirs given to him by Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, and signed photos and letters from many stars, including Clayton Moore, Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, John Wayne, Frank Sinatra, Liz Taylor, Ronald Reagan, Barbara Stanwyck, and Katherine Hepburn. 

Clayton Moore signed this pic for Burt

Zoom in to read this great letter to Burt
from Katherine Hepburn

Among the dazzling array of awards for sale, including many Peoples’ Choice and box-office trophies are a pair of Wrangler awards, his Emmy for EVENING SHADE, and his Golden Globes for EVENING SHADE and BOOGIE NIGHTS.  While few items relate directly to specific Western movies, his hat from THE MAN WHO LOVED CAT DANCING, and his sombrero from 100 RIFLES are up for bids.  To see the entire catalog on-line, and to bid, go HERE.  

Several items belonged to John Ford

You can buy the sombrero Burt is
wearing from 100 RIFLES


It’s shameless self-promotion time!  The good folks at INSP invited me to write an article for their blog, and the result was ‘When Times Changed, So Did TV Westerns,’ examining how outside events effected long-running Western series.  To read it, go HERE . If you’d like to read ‘Henry C. Parke in the Spotlight’, INSP’s Q&A with me, go HERE . 


Audioanimatronic Duke in
The Great Movie Ride

A very promising teaming has been announced between the two great entertainment concerns, and it bodes well for Western movie and TV lovers.  At Walt Disney World in Florida, TCM will help the mouse revamp one of Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ most popular attractions, The Great Movie Ride, currently an 18-minute ride that is said to immerse you in classic Hollywood, and utilizes over fifty audioanimatronic figures.  Although details about changes are not yet available, TCM host Robert Osborne will be filming a new introduction, and “inject TCM brand authority” into the ride. 

In exchange, Disney will open ‘the vault’ so TCM can run great stuff the Disney Channel hasn’t shown in decades.  To be presented as a ‘block’ of programming four or five times a year, the first scheduled block will be just in time for Christmas.  On December 21st, nine items from the Disney archives will air, including the 1932 cartoon SANTA’S WORKSHOP, the 1954 documentary THE DISNEYLAND STORY, the feature film version of DAVY CROCKETT, KING OF THE WILD FRONTIER, and the classic nature documentary THE VANISHING PRAIRIE. This is not the first TCM/DISNEY teaming of late: the last two TCM Classic Cruises have been aboard The Disney Magic. 


If you’re a fan of Western TV, David R. Greenland’s BONANZA – A VIEWER’S GUIDE TO THE TV LEGEND will be an indispensible volume on your reference book-shelf.  I’ve previously reviewed his excellent book on RAWHIDE ( HERE’s the link ), and will soon review his book on GUNSMOKE.  And I understand he’s got a new one on Michael Landon, all from Bearmanor Media

It ran for fourteen seasons, more than any other drama series except GUNSMOKE.  It was the first hour-long drama to be shot in color.  It would be difficult to overestimate the importance of BONANZA in the world of popular entertainment: it was the prototype for all family TV dramas, and its echoes are heard not only in Westerns like THE BIG VALLEY and HIGH CHAPARRAL and LANCER, rurals like DR. QUINN and LITTLE HOUSE, but Depression-era series like THE WALTONS – any show where family is important. 

Usually, by the time a series is judged worthy of this sort of study, the principals are long gone, but Greenland convinced BONANZA-creator David Dortort to take part on the project, and his input elevates the telling of the history of the series from theory to indisputable fact – and a lot of those facts are quite surprising.  You’ll learn that Dortort’s original motivation to do a show about a family was to make sure he never again got stuck doing a series with one principal character – producing RESTLESS GUN with John Payne was a royal pain.  Also, he took his inspiration for the Ponderosa from Camelot, seeing the Cartwrights as knights in denim armor. 

Although they were largely unknown actors, he’d worked with Michael Landon and Dan Blocker before, and wrote the roles of Little Joe and Hoss for them – and had an awful time convincing NBC to go with actors who weren’t names.  Dortort found his ‘Pa’ when he visited the WAGON TRAIN set, and saw no-name actor Lorne Greene refuse to take abuse from series star Ward Bond.  The last to be cast was Pernell Roberts as Adam, and little did Dortort know how prescient his description of the character as ‘the spoilsport of the Ponderosa’ would be.  Roberts’ lack of professionalism when he’d tired of his role is even more appalling than I thought when it was happening back in the ‘60s.  Greenland’s research is remarkably in-depth.  I knew that Victor Sen Young, who played the Cartwrights’ cook, Hop Sing, had played Tommy Chan in the CHARLIE CHAN movie series many times, but I had no idea he was Captain in Air Force Intelligence during World War II.

Greenland examines all of the Cartwrights’ careers at length, before and after BONANZA, then analyzes the series season by season, marking high and low points, discussing guest stars, writers and directors, and their contributions.  I was particularly interested to learn how early on Michael Landon began writing and then directing episodes.  Daringly, Greenland suggests that BONANZA started off weak, story-wise, and improved with each season.  He notes where episodes were shot, and to what effect locations were used.  There are chapters on the show’s legacy, the collectibles, and then a season by season, episode by episode guide, with cast and crew, plot summary and often interesting details of the production. 

The book was first published in 1996, and this is a reprint – not an update.  Hence, its narrative is frozen in the1990s, so it makes no mention of the deaths of David Dortort or star Pernell Roberts.  You’re encouraged to visit Incline Village, home of the Ponderosa location which, regrettably, closed in 2005.  Much is said about the now defunct Family Channel, which was airing the series, but not all of the episodes, back then.  Nothing is said about INSP, ME-TV or TV-LAND, which air the series today.  The shows then available on VHS tapes are listed, but not current DVDs – I’ve been looking on Amazon, and can’t figure if the whole series is available, or not.  The book lacks an index, so you cannot look up guest stars or directors or writers, or titles.  To find an episode, you’ll need to know its year, and search through the titles.  Also, this reprint was made by photographing each page of the earlier edition.  As a result, the photographs have the grey, grainy quality of a photocopy. 

BONANZA – A VIEWER’S GUIDE TO THE TV LEGEND is a carefully researched, entertainingly written book with a wealth of information for the legions of BONANZA fans.  It’s available for $24.95 from Bearmanor Media HERE.


‘BUFFALO RISING’ is the story of a father and young son, Tom and Jack, moving their herd to market, hoping to raise a big enough stake to move to California, and what happens when they cross paths with bison and bad men.  With a French cast and crew, but dialogue recorded in English, much was lensed at a Randall Bisons, a huge ranch in the middle of France, on the hills of Cevennes.  It’s written by Laurent Bertin and Pierre Yves-Hampartzoumian, and directed by Pierre.  Filmed this past June, the fourteen-minute film will play on December 10th at the Almeria Western Film Festival, and then it’s on to other festivals, even as pre-production for the feature-length version has begun. 

Here is a teaser trailer.  I’ll have more to tell you about this one soon. 


As I write, it’s been pouring rain all day – which in L.A. is a blessing!  Next week I plan to have an in-depth article on the filming of BOONVILLE REDEMPTION, which I understand is near completion!  Have a great week!

Happy Trails,


All Original Contents Copyright November 2014 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved

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