Sunday, September 30, 2012



Roberta Shore, Clu Gulager, Doug McClure,
Randy Boone, James Drury, Lee J. Cobb (seated)

If you read last week’s Round-up (and if you didn’t, the link is HERE ) you know that last Saturday, the 50th Anniversary of the classic Western series THE VIRGINIAN was marked by an all-day star-studded celebration at The Autry, and a marathon of VIRGINIAN episodes on INSP, which is adding the show to it’s Saddle-Up Saturday line-up.  In fact, this coming Saturday they’ll be running five episodes in a row! 

Last week I featured my interviews with about half of the cast members who attended.  Herewith, the second half.   

Randy Boone portrayed Randy Benton in 70 episodes, from 1964 through1966.  In addition to acting, he’s a talented singer, as he proved at the dinner later that night.


HENRY:  You’re the only actor I know of who starred in two 90 minutes western series, THE VIRGINIAN, and then CIMARRON STRIP.  What was it like doing that length of production?

RANDY BOONE:  Uh, it was great.  I didn’t believe it: I didn’t think the movies would be so demanding on you physically.  I remember getting up in the morning, some mornings which people think are cold in Southern California, looking at that shower, and then deciding if I was going to make it, or talk the make-up man into shaving me.  It was long, long arduous days, and a lot to learn – I didn’t know how to ride a horse.  I had to learn a lot of things.  I had to find out about getting a good manager.  At first I thought, oh good, I’ve got a manager.  I got robbed at first. 

When Roberta Shore got married and left THE VIRGINIAN, a niece of Judge Garth was written in, and lovely Diane Roter was brought onboard for the 1965-1966 season.  She’s been busy since then, traveling the world to study and to act, and along the way became a writer as well. 

Clu Gulager and Diane Roter

DIANE ROTER:  I’ve done this myself; I’m a journalist.  I was a theatre critic for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, book reviewer for the L.A. Times, and film reviewer; did a regular column for the San Jose Mercury Times. 

HENRY: I loved the Herald Examiner.

DIANE: I’m so glad to hear you say that.  I loved it.  We had so many good writers there.  I was their theatre critic until my son was born.  I was hired by (legendary editor) Jim Bellows, and it was really a golden era, when he was there.  It was the only union paper in the city at that time, because they’d been a ‘scab’ paper for years, and then Jim Bellows came in, from the Washington Star, and everyone was union. 

HENRY:  How did you get cast as Jennifer Sommers?

DIANE:  I was doing a play in Santa Monica.  I was playing the title role in GIGI, and I got really pretty great reviews in the L. A. Times, so talent scouts came out, and I was offered contracts for two different movie studios at the same time, Warner Brothers and Universal.  And I did a screen test for Universal.  Warner Brothers wanted to put me in movies right away, which probably would have been interesting.  But Universal just happened to have a role in THE VIRGINIAN because Roberta had just left.  So that’s where I went.  I signed with Universal, a seven-year contract, so I was one of the last of the golden era (of long-term studio contracts).  I did a bunch of TV shows there, then I did two movies after, then I went to Paris, and I studied mime with Marcel Marceau -- he was one of my great mentors.  Then I came back; I did one show at the Mark Taper Forum, I directed theatre, I did some more TV, and then I started having kids.  I had my first daughter, and I started writing, and getting published. 

HENRY:  On THE VIRGINIAN, did you have any favorite guest stars that you worked with?

DIANE:  I was so lucky.  Norman MacDonnell was my producer on the year I was on.  He started GUNSMOKE; he was a brilliant, talented man.  And he just had the best actors.  I worked with the great ones – and I’m not just talking about Lee J. Cobb, who played my uncle, but as far as guest stars, Ed Begley was wonderful to work with; Jim Whitmore, I enjoyed working with him; Sheree North was one of my favorites.

HENRY:  I was madly in love with her.

DIANE: Were you really?

HENRY:  Absolutely.  I think she was one of the most beautiful creatures to ever be on film.  And so funny.

DIANE:  She was a great actress.  She really was – I watched her every minute.  She was a model for me.  You know, originally she had been hired to be competition for Marilyn Monroe.  Very much like Shelly Winters, when she was young.  She had a very demanding role on that show.  Really good actors on the show; I enjoyed working with Virginia Grey, Harry Guardino, and I did one with Charles Bronson – he was great to work with.  He’s probably the most shy, silent man I’ve ever known.  After THE VIRGINIAN I did a movie, I did all kinds of characters.  I did an Indian, I played a French courtesan on THE RAT PATROL, and I was on FAMILY AFFAIR, on all different types of shows, playing all kinds of characters.  And when you work with people, you realize how different they are from their persona.  Particularly Dirk Bogarde – I worked with him in one of George Cukor’s last films, JUSTINE, which was a film of THE ALEXANDRIA QUARTET, and he was fabulous.  And Anouk Aimee, and Michael York – it was an all-star cast. I’ve been very lucky to work with great people, like Henry Fonda on-stage.  We did readings when he was on tour doing THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE.  And actually Jane Alexander had the part, I was the understudy, but reading with him was such a thrill.  Also, before THE VIRGINIAN I worked with Charles Laughton.


HENRY: When was that?

DIANE:  That was on GENERAL ELECTRIC THEATRE, which was hosted by Ronald Reagan; my first television role.  That was an introduction; also worked with Elsa Lanchester. 

HENRY:  You must have been very young.

DIANE:  I was fortunate that I was not a child actor.  The one thing that I did as a child, with Charles Laughton, I was about eleven.  Then with Curt Jurgens I was fourteen.  Then when I did THE VIRGINIAN I was sixteen.  But I was never a kid actor, and I never let my kids act when they were young. 

HENRY:  My wife and I did a series of interviews with child stars of the 1930s and 1940s, and none of them would ever let their children act.  They know better.

DIANE:  Exactly.  Paul Peterson was a friend of mine; he started an organization that works on behalf of child actors (A Minor Consideration).  I worked on FAMILY AFFAIR, with Brian Keith.  There were a couple of kids on that, who played twins: Johnny Whittaker, who did very well; and there was a little Anissa Jones.  She was a wonderful little actress, but I felt that there was trouble ahead.  And she committed suicide. 


Except for a shock of white hair, Clu Gulager looks just as handsome as he did when he joined THE VIRGINIAN cast starting in season two, in 1963.  Looking debonair in a black suit and shirt, he has the same mischievous grin he wore as Sheriff Ryker, that let you know that there was much more going on behind his eyes than he was revealing. 


The fact that my first name is Henry was enough to set him off on a riff about Henrys, especially one Henry Starr.

CLU GULAGER: Henry Starr was a bad dude, although he did become a movie actor.  I’ve seen posters here at the Autry Museum, of Henry as a movie star, pointing a gun.  But after that, he went back to robbing banks, which he had done before he became a movie star.  He killed several people, a lot of people.   And his brother Sam married a little girl from Missouri; her name became Belle Starr.  She was an outlaw and a killer.  They used to broker cattle, to rustle cattle, in the Indian Territory.  And they were selling to Chicago, Kansas City, different places that had a market for white-faced cattle.  They were bad people.  And they were related to me.

HENRY:  Speaking of bad people, before you did THE VIRGINIAN you starred in THE TALL MAN, with Barry Sullivan.  You were playing another bad guy, Billy the Kid, opposite his Pat Garrett.

CLU:  I was in my 30s when I played Billy the Kid, but I had a baby face.  So it was okay.  You can fool people sometimes; you tell them you’re a kid, and they believe you, if you have a baby-face. 

HENRY:  What was it like going from the smaller, 30 minute show to the more elaborate western?

CLU: Same thing; same stuff.  You only shoot so much every day.  Same camera; same horses; same saddles.  Same horse-shit.  No different. 

HENRY:  Around the time you joined THE VIRGINIAN, you did THE KILLERS.

CLU: I did THE KILLERS with an actor I liked a lot called Lee Marvin.  And Ronald Reagan and John Cassavettes and Angie Dickinson.  We killed Ronald Reagan and Angie Dickinson and John Cassavettes.  And they deserved it!  Henry, just remember, no matter what happens….  (after a long pause)  Just remember.  (Laughs).  When I said, ‘Just remember, no matter what happens,’ you were supposed to say, ‘What?’ so I could say ‘Just remember.’

HENRY:  Sorry. Next time I won’t be late on my cues.



Gary Clarke played cowpoke Steve Hill in 63 episodes of THE VIRGINIAN, seasons one and two.  He’d done quite a few episodes of other Western series before then, and even played Teenaged Werewolf in HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER.

HENRY: What actors did you enjoy working with on THE VIRGINIAN?


GARY CLARKE:  My favorite people on the show?  Jim and Doug of course.  But working with Lee J. Cobb, that was incredible.  Just amazing to work with.  And he really touched my life; touched me as a human being.  I loved working with Robert Redford, Lee Marvin – Lee Marvin was a hoot. 

HENRY:  I was just watching your episode with Lee Marvin, IT TOLLS FOR THEE, directed by Sam Fuller.  What was he like?

GARY: He was tough.  He knew what he wanted; he had no qualms about telling us, and we worked great with him.  He’d tell us, “This is what I want,” so we gave him that, and oftentimes more. 

HENRY:  Do you have any particular feelings about other directors on the show?

GARY:  Most all of them were really terrific.  But there was one, I can’t say the name, who was a real butt-munch, I think the term would be.  The kind of guy who would say, ‘Action,’ walk away, come back and say, ‘Oh, okay, cut.  Did they say all their words?’  ‘Yuh.’  ‘Okay, next scene.’ 

HENRY:  After THE VIRGINIAN you did HONDO: THE SERIES, and after that you didn’t do a lot of westerns until you came back with TOMBSTONE.  How did you like getting back to the west with TOMBSTONE?

GARY:  I loved it!  The way that it came about is I was living in Phoenix, I auditioned in Tucson, and Kevin Jarre, who wrote it, was also directing it.  The casting lady, Holly Hire was there, and took me in to meet him.  And he was late from lunch.  We got in there, and there were all kinds of people waiting to see him.  So she pulled me to the front of the line; I don’t know why.  Went in, talked to him.  We read a short scene.  He had my résumé  in front of him.  The phone rang, and he’s talking; I’m talking to Holly, and I think it went well.  And he said, “Wow!”  And he hung up the phone.  And he said, “You played the part of Captain Richards on HONDO!  I loved the way you played that part!”  Then he picked up the phone again, and started talking.  Holly leans over and says, “I think you got the part.”  And I did.

HENRY:  Andy Fenady, who produced and wrote HONDO, is a good friend.  Wonderful series.

GARY:    It was, and it was fun working with Andy.  But he almost ruined my writing career.  Because I gave him an outline for a show, that I think would have been terrific.  I handed it to him.  And he took it, and handed it back, and said, “Gary, you’re an actor.  Act.  Let the writers write.”  So years later, when I decided that I did want to write something, I wrote a script for GET SMART.  When I submitted it, I used my real name, Clark L’Amoreaux.  And the agent I had really had to push it, because they weren’t taking unsolicited scripts.  But he got it to them.  They read it, they liked it, and they wanted to see me.  And I thought, Oh Lord, they’re going to know I’m Gary Clarke, and I’m an actor, and shouldn’t write!  Show’s you how naive I was.  So I went in; I was wearing glasses, which I didn’t wear at the time, and I looked kind of dorky.  (nasally) ‘Hi, I’m Clark L’Amoreaux, and I wrote the script.’  I did three shows, and I finally decided I’ve got to fess up.  I went in and talked to Buck Henry, Mel (Brooks) was in the office, and I said, ‘Look, I’ve got something to tell you guys.  I’m Clark L’Amoreaux, but I’m also Gary Clarke, the actor.’  ‘Yeah, we know.’  ‘What?!  Why didn’t you tell me?’  ‘We wanted to see how long you’d carry it out.’  I never saw Andy after that, to tell him, so if you see Andy, tell him for me.

HENRY:  I will.  (Incidentally, Gary wrote six episodes of GET SMART)
James Drury, Clu Gulager, Doug Butts

Next week I’ll have Part 3 of my VIRGINIAN 50TH Anniversary coverage, featuring highlight from the panel discussion, and my interview with INSP’s Senior Vice President of Programming, Doug Butts. 



On Saturday September 29th I trusted my GPS to lead me out of Los Angeles, through wilderness and desert to Piru, the home of Rancho Camulos, also known as The Home of Ramona.   The home of the del Valle family since they were recipients of a huge land- grant (48,612 acres!) from the government of Mexico in 1839, it has rested in the hands of only two families; the del Valles  and, since 1924, the Rubels, a Swiss family which owns the land to this day. 


Dependent upon weather as much as any farming or ranching concern, it has had its financial ups and downs.  At various times its main business has been cattle, oranges, grapes, wine and brandy.  Currently some of its acres are planted with jalapeños.   In many ways, Rancho Camulos seems frozen in time; it looks today very much as it did a century and a half ago.


Although the stories of the del Valles and the Rubels are compelling enough to earn it an important place in Californio history (which you can read about HERE ), there is another connection which lifts the Rancho to the level of national, and even international fame:  it is the spot where one of the most beloved romances of American fiction, RAMONA, was conceived and set. 


Author Helen Hunt Jackson had previously written A CENTURY OF DISHONOUR, an exposé of Indian mistreatment by a United States government which did not honor its treaties.  Frustrated at the book’s lack of impact (despite its snappy title), Jackson determined to try again, this time writing a novel that would illustrate the same notions but in a more entertaining package.  Seeking a locale, she was encouraged by her friends the Coronels to place the story at Rancho Camulos, one of the very last of the colonial land-grant ranches.  On January 23rd, 1882, she took a train in, visited at the Rancho for a couple of hours, and took the train back.   It was a short visit, but it was enough: the tale of Ramona, the young Mexican woman who falls in love with the Indian Alessandro, even as the Americans are moving in and taking the land, would be set at Camulos.


Although it was not the Indian’s UNCLE TOM’S CABIN as she had hoped, it was a tremendous bestseller in its day, has never been out of print, and was for years required reading for all California school children.   People found the story so compelling that, unable to accept that it was fiction, they came searching for Ramona and Alessandro, and the Ramona cottage industry was born. 


So on Saturday, RAMONA DAYS was held at Rancho Camulos.  It was a remarkable event, and very well-attended.  I don’t know the numbers, but there were certainly several hundred people there at any one time for the all-day celebration.  After parking our cars just beyond the jalapeños fields, visitors hopped into an open wagon, got settled on hay bales, and a tractor pulled us to the entrance of the park and museum. 

a cork tree

All of the adobe structures, from the small kitchen to the large main house, were open for visiting, with knowledgeable docents everywhere.  Beautiful ancient cork trees were here and there, their rough pocked bark showing that they had provided the corks when Camulos was a winery and a brandy-maker.  The huge adobe winery is, in fact, the only building that cannot currently be visited, as it was seriously damaged during the 1994 earthquake.    
the south veranda


As the audience settled in chairs under the shading cork trees, they listened to a violinist, then watched a troop of Flamenco dancers, then listened to ‘The Ramona Song.’  The Ramona Pageant has been presented at The Ramona Bowl,  a huge open amphitheater in Hemet, since the 1920s, and it will have its 90th season this coming summer.  Next came the highlight of the program: the lead cast from the pageant performed scenes from the show.  Dennis Anderson, who directs the pageant, introduced Cesaria Hernandez as Ramona, Duane Minard as Alessando, and Kathi Anderson as the villain of the piece, the Senora.   The performances were moving, the story poignant, particularly so in knowing that it was being performed before the unchanged veranda where Helen Hunt Jackson sat and created the story 128 years ago.  Moreover, some of those scenes were filmed on that very veranda, 102 years ago, with D. W. Griffith directing, and Mary Pickford and Henry B. Walthall starring.   The program continued with traditional Spanish and Mexican dances. 

Kathi Anderson, Cesaria Hernandez and Duane Minard with director Dennis Anderson



In the one-room school-house that now functions as a gift-shop and theatre, documentarian Hugh Munro Neely, of the Mary Pickford Institute, was showing the 17 minute Griffith version of RAMONA, which he’d overseen the remastering of for TCM.  As the film played, he pointed out, shot-by-shot, where it was filmed.  He pointed out a scene where Ramona, locked in her room, reaches out through the barred windows. “The interior was shot on an outdoor stage in downtown Los Angeles.  The exterior shot, is on the south veranda.” After, I asked him about the research he’d done.  “Actually I wasn’t the first person to do research.  I work for the Mary Pickford Institute, and some years ago the museum requested a copy of the film, which we had in our collection.  We sent it to them, and they did a lot of the first research.  About two years ago I did the research on the countryside, that’s in the later parts of the film.  And we were able to get permission to go up in the hills, on the private land, behind Piru, and we found that the mountain scenes look almost exactly as they did 102 years ago.  Just like the scenes here at Camulos look exactly as they did 102 years ago – it’s really amazing.” 

Mary Pickford, locked in her room, reaches through the bars
window on the far right is the one Mary Pickford was reaching through

Outside of the schoolhouse I caught up with Cesaria Hernandez and Duane Minard, Ramona and Alessandro.  I asked them what it was like to be playing their roles in the spot where they were originally imagined. 


CESARIA:  Doing it here, and knowing that Helen Hunt Jackson was actually here, wrote it – it’s incredible.  Because there’s so much history associated with this place, and I think we kind of feed off of that – that kind of spirit, that maybe she left behind here, a little bit.   

DUANE:  We always like to walk the grounds.  The first time we came out here, it was just like, so this is part of a true history.  This part of what we’re playing was actually written right here.  And that is just like going to sacred ground for me.  And as a Native American, coming back to the original place, and then being part of bringing this history to life; it’s something that’s really been a high point for us. 

HENRY: How many seasons have you both been involved with the RAMONA pageant?

CESARIA: This will be my thirteenth season of being involved; I have played Ramona six times during that time. 

DUANE:  And this will be my twelfth, and I’ve played Alessandro  four times.

HENRY:  When did you first read the book?

CESARIA:  I read the book originally from cover-to-cover back in 1998, and I fell in love with it, I went up there and saw the production director Dennis Anderson put on, and the very next year I decided that I was going to audition for it.  And that was my first year of being Ramona, in 1999.

DUANE:  I read it in 1990.  I had heard about it so many times, (being told) you’ve got to read the story, it’s all about Native American history in California.  And I’m a California Native American, maybe I should.  So by the time 1990 came around I actually read it.  And I read it.  And I read it again, and I really enjoyed the story.  And lo and behold, there was the pageant right there in Hemet. 

CESARIA:  And we go back to it, between seasons; we’ll go back and read different sections, to try to bring different nuances to the scenes.  You can gain a lot from the book, so sometimes we go back and do a refresher course, especially on certain scenes. 

HENRY:  Have you seen any of the film versions?  And what do you think of them?

CESARIA:  I think we’ve seen just about all of the film versions over the years, and it’s great because you get to see these stars – Mary Pickford being the first – and it’s just so great to see people that you know doing these roles.

In addition to the pageant, Duane can currently be seen as Golden Eagle in the current DVD release COWBOYS & INDIANS, and will soon be seen in THE LONE RANGER.  Cesaria co-hosts the cable show THE VALLEY CONNECTION, which you can find at

I strolled the grounds some more, watching demonstrations of blacksmithing and Indian weaving, admired the rose gardens and drank in the history.  A docent showed me a century-old photograph of forty members of the del Valle family, then pointed out that I was standing at the top of the steps where they had been posed. 
del Valle family a century ago...
...and where they posed

It was about one, and getting very hot.  I had a burrito and a soda, and was about to leave when I saw director Dennis Anderson passing by.  He’d already directed RAMONA so many times,  but I asked how it felt to do it where the story had been originally imagined.  “On a historical and spiritual level, it feels really good.  Because we’re at the heart of where Helen Hunt Jackson created her novel.  On a production side, though, it’s very different, because we do this in this huge outdoor amphitheatre, the Ramona Bowl, where the audience is like three or four thousand people spread out across the hillside.  So it’s different in a production sense, but it feels equally as good, and when I see the wind blowing, and Ramona there with her rose, it’s like I can almost see Helen Hunt Jackson’s imagination; it’s pretty cool.”

While RAMONA DAYS is actually just one day, and comes just once a year, Rancho Camulos is open every Sunday.  Go to their link for details.



A western parade, a burro run, gunfighters, barbecue, a miner's triathalon, 1880s-era contests and live music at Calico Ghost Town.  760-684-0849


PRCA Rodeo, parade, craft and food fair, music, entertainment.  San Dimas Civic Center Park and Rodeo Grounds.  909-592-3818, 909-394-7633


11 acre corn-maze, hy rides, pony rides, pig races, pumpkin bowling, etc.  Big Horse Feed and Marcantile.  951-389-4621


Guided walking tour of sites where historical ghosts tell stories of Chumash, pioneers, and eccentrics who once lived in the Valley.  Friday-Sunday nights, Strathearn Historical Park. 805-526-66453

And that’s the Round-up for this week.  I had a couple of little up-dates, but they’ll have to wait until next week.  After all, I’m already three episodes behind on HELL ON WHEELS, and I want to catch up before anyone tells me who is getting killed!


Happy Trails,




All original contents copyright September 2012 by Henry C. Parke  --   All Rights Reserved


Monday, September 24, 2012


James Drury and Clu Gulager
On Saturday, September 22nd, eight series regulars, a handful of guest stars, and hundreds of fans from all over the country converged at the Autry Center in Griffith Park to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of one of the finest Western series of all time, THE VIRGINIAN.  It was a time not only to wax sentimental about the 249 episodes that ran from 1962 to 1971, but to celebrate their rebirth to a new audience!  Coinciding with the celebration, INSP Television was holding a VIRGINIAN marathon to mark both the anniversary, and the series’ return to the airwaves, as it will now be part of their SADDLEUP SATURDAY line-up, along with BONANZA, BIG VALLEY and starting just last week THE HIGH CHAPARRAL (I don’t know how my wife’s going to get me out of the house on Saturdays!).

THE VIRGINIAN was ground-breaking in many ways.  It was the first Western series to run 90 minutes, and in color.  It was, in effect, a new Western feature film every week, thirty or so per year, for nine years.  But it was also ground-breaking in less obvious ways.  While great actors had guest-starred on series like WAGON TRAIN, no western series ever before had, as a regular, an actor of the stature of Lee J. Cobb.  He’d created the role of Willy Loman in DEATH OF A SALESMAN; he’d been nominated for Oscars for ON THE WATERFRONT and THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV.   The other actors in the series were not only a much more than a cut above average, James Drury, Doug McClure and (in later seasons) Clu Gulager were real honest-to-gosh cowboys.   And the first producer of the series, Charles Marquis Warren, was the man behind the first seasons of GUNSMOKE and RAWHIDE; for quality, no other producer’s Western credits could match his.      

The day was divided into screenings, very up-close-and-personal autograph sessions, a wonderful panel discussion, and a chuck-wagon banquet.  I had the opportunity to sit and talk with a number of stars from the show.

Roberta Shore
First I spoke to Roberta Shore who, aside from shorter hair, looks very much as she did when she was Judge Garth’s daughter Betsy.  “I was on the first three seasons.”  Prior to that, she’d appeared on THE MICKEY MOUSE CLUB, as Annette Funicello’s nemesis on the ‘Annette’ series-within-a-series, and as a French girl, opposite Tim Considine, in THE SHAGGY DOG.  I asked her what the transition from Disney to Universal Studios was like.

ROBERTA: Well, with Disney, it was with all the kids, the Mouseketeers, and it was a fun lot.  It was a different atmosphere, but they were both equally as fun. 

HENRY: Were you intimidated at all, working with Lee J. Cobb?

ROBERTA:  No, not at all.  Lee J. just put you right at ease – he was a real gem.  Very funny; dry wit.  I loved him.  He was great for me.

HENRY:  Did you have any particular guest stars you enjoyed working with?

ROBERTA: Vera Miles.  She was my favorite; my absolute favorite. 

HENRY:  What were your favorite episodes?  

ROBERTA:  Probably my favorite one was with Robert Redford.  That was a fun show.

Roberta, Jim Drury and Lee J. Cobb
HENRY: You did a lot of great television comedy – OZZIE AND HARRIET, FATHER KNOWS BEST, DONNA REED.  How was the tone of production different, going from a sitcom to a 90 minute color drama.

ROBERTA: Well, it was more tense.  I mean, you were on a pretty tight schedule.  Sometimes we’d be doing two shows at a time, so we’d go from stage to stage.

HENRY: How many days did you have to shoot a show?

ROBERTA: Normally a week.  And sometimes it would go into six days. 

HENRY:  Who were your favorite regulars?

ROBERTA:  I liked them all; Lee J. was my favorite, my absolute favorite, but we all got along.

Roberta Shore got married, in real life, and left the show in 1965.  Lee J. Cobb, playing Judge Garth, her father in the series, left the following year, and Shiloh was taken over by the Grainger family, led by Charles Bickford, with his grandson and granddaughter, played by Don Quine and Sara Lane.  I was fortunate to speak with both siblings.

Charles Bickford, Sara Lane, Don Quine
HENRY:  Prior to THE VIRGINIAN you were doing a lot of TV dramas like THE FUGITIVE, 12 O’CLOCK HIGH and PEYTON PLACE.  The only Western that I know you did prior was an episode of RAWHIDE.


DON QUINE: That is correct.


HENRY:  After all that modern-day drama, how did you feel about going into Westerns?


DON QUINE:  I had trepidations, quite honestly.  I had thought, ‘Well, it’s another western.’  And there were so many of them, and I didn’t know what was going to happen.  But the scripts were good, and the family dynamics worked really nice, Charles Bickford playing the grandfather, Sara over here was my sister.  So it worked out quite well.  It went on to be the most successful season they had in the show.  Their ratings had dropped down in the 4th season; then they brought the new family in.  Sent us out on a national tour, and we shot up to number eleven, and everyone was very pleased. 


HENRY:  Now Charles Bickford was one of my favorite actors, and a stern and scary guy onscreen.  What was he like offscreen?


DON QUINE:   (Laughs)  He was a pretty scary guy.  He was a very pragmatic man, incredible business man, suffered no fools.  What you saw was basically Charley Bickford. 


HENRY:  What about the other actors on the show?


DON QUINE:  Well, I probably spent the most time with Doug (McClure) than anybody else.

Me and Don Quine

HENRY: Was it difficult joining the show several seasons in, when everybody else had worked together for a long time?


DON QUINE:  Well no, because they got rid of everybody in the show but Jim and Doug. 


HENRY:  Did you have any particular favorite guest stars you worked with?


DON QUINE:  Yes I did; Aldo Ray, who was in a show called, I think, JACOB WAS A PLAIN MAN as a deaf mute.  He was wonderful; an outstanding performance.  Jo Van Fleet in a thing called LEGACY OF HATE.  Actually that was the first show that we did, and it set up the relationship with the family.  A lot of good shows. 


HENRY:  You never did another Western after THE VIRGINIAN.  Do you like Westerns?  Do you watch them on your own time?


DON QUINE:  I do; in fact, one of my favorite films of all time is UNFORGIVEN. 


HENRY:  The John Huston one or the Clint Eastwood one?


DON QUINE:  The Clint Eastwood one.  The Huston one was really good too, but I think the Clint Eastwood one is one of the great, great westerns.  Pretty gritty.


HENRY:  All through high school I had a poster of you over my bed.  You’re on the phone, saying, “I SAW WHAT YOU DID, AND I KNOW WHO YOU ARE!”  What was it like, doing that film for William Castle?


SARA LANE:  You know, it was wonderful.  This was the old days of Universal, and there was the Big Black Tower, where Wasserman was, and there were all these little bungalows in the back, and that’s where he was.  He was just a wonderful, wonderful person.  And funny, and so much personality.  I liked him very much.  Joan Crawford was in that, and John Ireland – it was quite a cast.  It was the first time that I’d really worked, and I was scared.  It was the first William Castle that didn’t have smoke-o-vision or whoopee cushions and all those things that he did.  And working with Joan Crawford was a kick; she was very generous to the young girls on the show.  We actually got to do a tour in New York, of the theatres, as a publicity thing when the movie came out.  And there were hundreds of people, and they would have it cordoned off, police with us.  And we would go up on the stage and introduce the show, before it started, then go back again.  And at one point, we had been running around, barefoot, on the bus.  And Joan said, “Get me some paper towels.”  And she made us sit down, and she washed our feet!  So that we could put our shoes back on, to go in the theatre.  Joan Crawford – pretty remarkable. 


HENRY:  When you joined the cast of THE VIRGINIAN you were about fifteen.


SARA:  Actually I was about seventeen, and I was playing sixteen or seventeen, because when you’re fifteen, they don’t let you have crushes on the outlaws. 


HENRY:  What was it like coming into a show that was that established?  Was it hard to become part of the family?


SARA:  You know, we had the best of both worlds, because it was established, so it knew what it was doing.  But we came in as a whole new family.  So it wasn’t one person coming in.  Although two beloved persons did leave, because Roberta and Danny were adored, by the people on the set, and by the fans.  But we came in as a little show within an already established show.  So we had the best. 


HENRY:  I always admired your wardrobe.  Who did your clothes on the show?


SARA: (scoffs) Who did my clothes!  Be serious!  We wore hand-me-downs, but luckily they were beautiful hand-me-downs.  (holding up a picture)  I was so proud of this; I thought this was the one outfit that they had made for me special, and Roberta said no, they had made it for her special.  I wore the clothes of anyone whose size was nearly mine.  I wore Doris Day’s clothes.  In the movies they would make whole new wardrobes.  For the TV shows we got to wear all those wonderful clothes.  So I’m not sure that I had anything made for me.  But I wore beautiful hand-me-downs.


HENRY:  What was Charles Bickford like off-camera? 


SARA:  You know he was gruff, very plain-spoken.  He wrote a book called BULLS, BALLS, BICYCLES AND ACTORS.  Very old-school conservative, and with a heart as big as the sky.  And so generous and gracious.  And he did not feel well; he was not well even in that last year, and I don’t know how old he was, but he was not a young man.  And he was just very kind to us, to both Don and me. 


HENRY:  Did you have any favorite guest stars?


SARA:  Oh, I loved working with Peter Duel; he was my favorite.  And Charles Bronson – that was so exciting to work with him.  I was such a fan of his.  Those were really fun experiences. 


HENRY:  And you were a rider prior to the show.


SARA:  Yes, I grew up with horses.  Mostly backyard horses in the beginning, then I actually got to show horses, which was really fun.  Then I worked in a summer camp, as a wrangler, and there’s nothing like that.  Gary (Clarke) was telling stories about herding horses, and horses are not easy to herd.  Because they move a lot faster than cows do, and they spook a lot faster. So we used to get up at five in the morning, go up to the camp, go into a huge pasture, bring all the horses in, saddle ‘em up, get them ready,  and take rides out all day long.  And we’d always get the dangerous ones, because you couldn’t put the campers on them.  So I learned most of what I knew about horses that summer. 

Sara Lane
HENRY:  What have you been doing since you left THE VIRGINIAN?


SARA:  (My husband and I) had a winery in Napa for twenty-three years, called Haven’s Wine Cellars, and it was a good winery, but we sold it about seven years ago.  The work that I’m proudest of after THE VIRGINIAN is that I used to work in mental health, with an alternative agency, with schizophrenic street-women, the ones they call shopping-cart ladies.  Opened a day center and a shelter on Santa Monica Pier.  It’s funny how everything you do in your life contributes to the next thing you’re going to do.  The discipline you learn in a TV series – if you’re late on the set it’s like a couple thousand; maybe a hundred thousand dollars it’s going to cost someone. 

In next week’s Round-up, I’ll continue with more VIRGINIAN interviews, highlights of the panel discussion, and my conversation with INSP’s Senior Vice President of Programming SVP Doug Butts.  Special thanks to INSP's Melissa Prince, who provided nearly all of the pictures from Saturday's event.


Although his identity has not been revealed, Disney confirmed that on Friday, a member of the LONE RANGER crew died.  The Disney Company issued the following statement: “We regretfully confirm that a Lone Ranger crew member has passed away after being taken to a local hospital. Our hearts and thoughts are with his family, friends, and colleagues at this time, and our full support is behind the investigation into the circumstances of this terrible event.”

There are still few details, but it is known that the death occurred not during filming but in preparation for filming an underwater scene.  Working on a ranch in Palmdale, a crew member wearing scuba gear was working to clean a deep pool.  According to the New York Daily News, a fellow crew member noticed that bubbles were no longer rising from the water, the man was hauled up, but it was too late to save him.



Pastor Mike heridan, 3rd from left

Pastor Mike Sheridan will be holding his last Cowboy Church of the summer at 6:30 pm on Friday, September 28th.  It takes place at the Sheridan Ranch, which is located in a beautiful valley just behind the iconic Western location, the Vasquez Rocks.  The services are next to the riding arena and adjacent to the barn and the horse stalls on each side of the arena.  Lise Meyers, who has attended frequently, tells me, “There are more than enough chairs, a nice stage with lights for the evening and plentiful stars in the sky, unobstructed by the city lights. I could sit there for hours and look at the night sky.

“The format of the cowboy church is potluck dinner, some cowboy music (and sometimes poetry), a short message (usually 5-10 min), more music and/or poetry). It usually last about 1 1/2 hours or so.  The best one ever was when there were thunderstorms in the distance and Pastor Mike was making a great point, accentuated by loud peals of thunder and a couple of good lightning bolts.”


 Directions from points south of Agua Dulce; take the 5 or the 405 to the 5 to the 14 Freeway (Antelope Valley Freeway) and exit at Escondido Canyon Rd (next exit past Agua Dulce Canyon Rd.). Turn left at the top of the offramp, and turn on Old Stage Road, which will be the first left with a street sign (you will drive through one cut hill, and Old Stage Rd. is just after that on the left). Turn left and follow the road until you see a large Mediterranean-style house with white ranch fencing behind it. The road will curve around the back of this house, which shares a driveway with the Sheridan's. Enter the driveway and follow the signs. Address is 9424 Old Stage Rd., Agua Dulce, CA

Call 661 268-8863 for further information.





In 1884 novelist Helen Hunt Jackson, eager to draw attention to the plight of California Indians in the same way that Harriet Beecher Stowe exposed the evils of slavery with UNCLE TOM’S CABIN, wrote RAMONA.  It was a publishing phenomenon, and although it may not have had as large a political effect as the author had hoped, the romance of Ramona and Allesandro continues to find new fans to this day. Though a work of fiction, Jackson set her story at the very real Rancho Camulos, which was established in 1853 by Ygnacio de Valle.  Its 1,800 acres were carved from the enormous 48,612 acre Rancho San Francisco, granted to de Valle’s father Antonio, administrator and foreman of Mission San Fernando. 


Located in Piru, Rancho Camulos, named for the Kamulos Indians, is world famous as The Home of Ramona, and has been a pilgrimage site for fans of the novel for more than a century.  And this Saturday, September 29th, the myth and history of RAMONA will come to life as Rancho Camulos Museum hosts the 5th Annual Ramona Days.  The event runs from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., and highlights include three performances of scenes from the RAMONA PAGEANT, which has been presented every summer in Hemet since 1923, with the core cast from the current production.  The performances are at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. 


RAMONA has been filmed at least four times, memorably in 1936, with Henry King directing Loretta Young and Don Ameche in the leads, and Technicolor at its most glorious.  But the first film version was made in 1910, on the actual locations at Rancho Camulos, directed by the great D.W. Griffith and starring Mary Pickford and Henry Walthall, and with a supporting cast that includes future king of comedy Mack Sennett.  Though a scant 17 minutes in length, it’s a beautiful and moving film that tells the heart of the story of RAMONA -- and you can watch it where it was actually shot!

Henry Walthall and Mary Pickford

You can also view unique memorabilia and historic displays, experience living history and attend presentations by Ramona experts such as ‘Ramona Memories’ author Dydia DeLyser, Phil Brigandi, and film maker Hugh Munro Neely.

Linda "La Matadora" Andrade and her performers will demonstrate the art of Flamenco. There will be food, music, art and craft sales and demonstrations, original artwork by local artists, used book sales, wagon rides, museum and garden tours, free children’s activities and more. Visitors are encouraged to come in costume and character for a fun experience.


Tickets are $5 in advance, $10 at the gate, and you can learn more about the event, and even read the entire text of the novel, by visiting the Museum’s website HERE.




At a time when many communities are cutting back library hours or shuttering branches entirely, Old Town Newhall, neighbor to William S. Hart Park and Melody Ranch, is celebrating the grand opening of their beautiful, huge facility on! Festivities begin at 10 a.m. with a literacy-themed street faire, and then Ribbon Cutting Ceremonies begin at 10:30 a.m.! 

There will be book-signings from 10 to 3. Western history and fiction writers taking part include Julie Ann Ream; DEADWOOD regular Geri Jewell; THE WESTERNERS author C. Courtney Joyner; and GUNSMOKE: AN AMERICAN INSTITUTION author Ben Costello – both excellent reads.

24500 Main Street, Santa Clarita, CA 91321.  661-259-0750.



Did you know the part of Sister Sara was originally written for Elizabeth Taylor, but by the time they had it set, there were schedule conflicts?  This is a delightful picture, a solid Western and romance and comedy.  Directed by Don Siegal from Budd Boeticcher’ s screenplay, and with a wonderfully funny score by Ennio Morricone.  It stars Clint Eastwood and Shirley McLaine, starts at 7:30, costs $11, but with a special $5 geezer-rate.   

Well, that's it for this week's Round-up!  Next week, more on the VIRGINIAN 50th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION!
Happy Trails,
All Original Contents Copyright September 2012 by Henry C. Parke -- All Rights Reserved