Monday, January 28, 2013


Back in December I was relieved to report that HELL ON WHEELS, whose 3rd season was put on hold until a qualified show-runner could be found, was now merrily chugging down the track under the able hands of exec producer and show-runner John Wirth, who has previously performed similar duties on PICKET FENCES, FALLEN SKIES, TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES, and several other series. Most heartening of all, back in 1993 he was a writer and producer on THE ADVENTURES OF BRISCO COUNTY JR.  It was one of the few memorable Western efforts of the 1990s, which featured a wonderful line-up of genre-beloved guest stars, in addition to Bruce Campbell in the title role.   

This week I reported on the Round-up Facebook page that according to Deadline: Hollywood, NBC had ordered a Western pilot entitled ‘6TH GUN’.  Based on the Oni Press graphic novel, it’s another supernatural Western, this one about six mythical, mystical guns.  It’s scripted by Ryan Condal, whose HERCULES: THE THRACIAN WARS, to star Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, is in pre-production.  Producer is Carlton Cuse, who has two others shows coming up: BATES MOTEL for A&E and the FX pilot The Strain, in collaboration with Guillermo Del Toro.  I was contacted by Round-up reader Col. Kurtz, who informed me that Cuse had produced LOST, and was also one of the creators of THE ADVENTURES OF BRISCO COUNTY JR.  In fact, Cuse created the show with Jeffrey Boam, wrote fourteen episodes and exec produced all 27 episodes.   Nice to have two shows to look forward to!  I hope we see Bruce Campbell turn up in both!


Tonight’s Screen Actors Guild Awards recognized some of the very fine work done this year by actors in Western or Western-ish stories.  Kevin Costner won Best Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries for his portrayal of Devil Anse Hatfield in HATFIELDS & MCCOYS.  Daniel Day Lewis won Best Actor in a Motion Picture for his portrayal of the sixteenth President in LINCOLN.   Tommy Lee Jones won for Best Supporting Actor in a motion picture for his portrayal of Thaddeus Stevens in LINCOLN.


There are few icons of the Old West more controversial that William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody.  The Pony Express rider, Indian fighter, buffalo hunter, scout and showman has been worshiped and reviled since he first gained fame.  Playwright and historian Eric Sorg has crafted a historically accurate single-character play that reveals many aspects of Cody’s life, some of them eye-opening and amusing, but not all of them attractive, and some quite tragic. 

The real Buffalo Bill Cody

If there is one role Peter Sherayko was born to play, it’s Buffalo Bill Cody, and Peter covers the range of Cody’s moods, from the cheerfully cocky, to arrogant, wistful, and heartbroken.  The details of how buffalo were hunted, the encounters with unfriendly Indians, the story of how Cody came to be the subject of dime novels, are revealing and entertaining.  The details of his personal life are humanizing.  The downward personal and financial spiral of Cody’s life was, to me, unexpected and moving.  This is not a whitewashing of Cody, nor is it a hatchet job.  He talks easily of the best way to kill Indians, and later, his friendship with them.   And he talks much about his relationships with other legends of the west, notably Bill Hickock, as well Ned Buntline, Sitting Bull and Yellow hand.  Amusingly, he talks about one of Cody’s stage co-stars in his first theatrical appearance, Texas Jack Vermillion, whom Sherayko portrayed in the movie TOMBSTONE.

Peter Sherayko in TOMBSTONE

Sherayko has performed the play in Nebraska; Ohio; Pennsylvania; New York; Texas; in Sheridan and Cody, Wyoming; at the Autry; and at the Karl May Festival in Germany.  This filmed performance was done on a stage splendidly decorated with historical artifacts, without an audience.  Shot largely in a medium shot, there are a very few cutaways to a high-angle shot, and hardly any editing; it’s nearly a one-take, unbroken performance.  Faded in from time to time is historical footage of Cody himself performing in his Wild West Show.  The original stage production was directed by Ted Lange.  This filmed version is directed by Josh Seat, with music by Jon Butcher.  It’s available for $20 dollars from Peter’s company, CARAVAN WEST, HERE


If the Round-up seems a bit briefer than usual today, I’ve got a good excuse.  Fellow screenwriter and western historian C. Courtney Joyner and I spent the day doing audio commentary for the Blu-Ray release of THE GRAND DUEL, the Lee Van Cleef spaghetti western from 1972, which BLUE UNDERGROUND is releasing.  It was a lot of fun, but it takes a lot of preparation.  They’ve done a beautiful restoration on it – I’ll have more information as the release date nears.

Until then, Happy Trails!


All Original Contents Copyright January 2013 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved


Monday, January 21, 2013

GOODNIGHT FOR JUSTICE - Third Time’s a Charmer, with Luke Perry & Ricky Schroder


Just about a year ago I first interviewed Luke Perry on the eve of the release of his second outing as Wyoming circuit Judge John Goodnight in GOODNIGHT FOR JUSTICE: THE MEASURE OF A MAN.  Perry is not just the star of the films; he created the character, and writes the movies with Tippi and Neal Dobrofsky, and is one of the executive producers.  (If you’d like to read that interview, where we discuss not just the GOODNIGHT films, but Luke’s entire Western career, please go HERE)

On Saturday, January 26th, GOODNIGHT FOR JUSTICE: QUEEN OF HEARTS will have its world premiere on the Hallmark Movie Channel.  Last week we spoke about the new film, the future of the film series, and other projects he’s been pursuing over the past year.

HENRY:  Well first off, you know I enjoyed your first two GOODNIGHT films, but I think the QUEEN OF HEARTS is the best yet. 

LUKE:  Well, I think it all came together on this one.  We had a lot of practice on the other two and on this one it all came together in a way that I sort of agree with you.  It’s the most fully-realized version of the character yet. 

H: That must feel awfully good.

L:  It does.  I was able to get a director, friend of mine, Martin Wood, who I’d worked with a number of times, on a show I used to do called JERIMIAH, and Martin always had such great visual sensibilities.  He’d sort of been tagged as this guy who just directed sci-fi shows.  But I knew that he wanted to make a Western; if he ever had a shot I thought he would do well, and I’m very happy with his efforts.   He was able photographically to put more on the table than other people; because he was willing to do it, and he had the technical knowhow -- he can always be a third camera.  And when I jumped off the cliff, into the water, I almost landed on him – he was right down there, in the water, with his flippers on. 

H:  So you guys actually did jump into water – that wasn’t CGI’d in.

L:  No, no; I did that jump.  That was the best part of the movie, for me, was getting to do the jump up there at Pitt Lake.  I’d say it was about 35 feet. 

H:  I loved the business with the bear early in the story – how was that to do? 

L:  (Laughs) Oh shit!  That was my first bear, but I always wanted to do it.  First of all, there were two bears, and we switched them on and off.  And I got really close; I could smell their breath.  They give them treats to make them perform, and a few times it’ll be bags of cookies, and sometimes they’ll throw some chicken.  And depending on which bear, I could smell it on their breath.  Pretty close, and one of the boys touched me on the chin during one of the scenes.  He’d sort of been looking right past me the whole time, and then after he touched me on the chin he looked me right in the eye, like he knew I was there all of a sudden.

H:  It was very impressive.  You’re back with your same team again, except for director and DP; you’ve got Neal and Tippi Dobrofsky again.

L:  Yuh, same guys, and I really like that.  Because then it doesn’t take long to get everybody up to speed; and we made these two (MEASURE OF A MAN and QUEEN OF HEARTS) back-to-back.  Just took off a couple of days in between, and it worked out really well that way.  I think this one’s got a lot of neat elements, with the boat, and the cliff and the bear and the stagecoach, and that’s hard to do on a small movie like this, but they were really great about pulling it all off for me. 

H:  You’ve got a lot of solid action in this one.  And it seems to me that your portrayal of Goodnight is not so consistently dark as in the previous films.  I thought there was a lot more humor in this one.  I kept thinking of MAVERICK.

L:  You know, I’ve always said that westerns can be a lot of different types of stories. At the Hallmark Movie Channel they were saying to me that Goodnight was consistently on the dark side; could you throw us one that’s a little more ‘run-and-jump’?  Sure, happy to do it.  I like those kinds of movies myself, you know.  I mean they don’t all have to be about death and justice and somebody swinging at the end of a rope.  Though a lot of them do have to be.  I thought, we can run, we can jump, add a pretty girl – you don’t have to twist my arm. 

H:  Speaking of a pretty girl, I’d never seen Katherine Isabelle before; I thought she was just terrific with you.  Real chemistry.

L:  Yeah, I like Katherine.  She stayed on her horse; she never fell off.  That’s what I need this time, I needed someone who could ride this time, and she’s awful pretty. 

H:  Yes she is, and she’s very expressive.  You can read every thought her character is going through on her face. 

L:  And again that comes back to Mark, because he’ll let the actors do that kind of work.  That’s the kind of stuff I like.  Just because a movie is made for a low budget and for the Hallmark Movie Channel doesn’t mean there can’t be subtlety in the performance, and nuance to the kind of work that the lady can do.  That’s a credit to Mark.

H:  Now Ricky Schroder is an unusual choice, but very effective, as the sinister and conniving Col. Cyril Knox.  How did he come to be cast? 

L:  My producing partner Ira Pincus had worked with him before, on a project.  So that was Ira’s contribution to the film, to bring Ricky along. 

H:  Of course you and Ricky have something in common, in that you both made your names on TV series when you were quite young.  And it’s interesting that you both gravitate towards Westerns now.  How did you two get along? 

L:  It all went pretty well.  Like you said, he’s been doing it a long time, and knows what he’s up to.  It all went pretty smoothly. 

H:  Now I’m not going to give it away, but there’s a great moment, a great stunt that you do on the paddle-wheel boat. 

L:  Well, this whole movie was based on me wanting to do that gag.  I’ve been wanting to do that gag since I was a six-year-old kid, probably.  And when I started pitching ‘em stories about what I wanted to do, I said, “There’s this one on a paddle-wheel boat,” and I worked backward from there.  I reverse-engineered that story to get me on that boat. 

H:  Was this a more physically demanding film than the last two?

L:  Well, that was the trade I made with them.  If I don’t get to do the darker, heavier story, and you want it to be more run-and-jump, well you really better let me run and really better let me jump, because I like to do that.  So let’s really give them something they haven’t seen.   Traditionally the Westerns on this channel just don’t have all the elements in one picture that we were able to deliver in this one.  You’ve seen a lot of the other Hallmark Westerns, and I’ve made a few of them, and I know, basically there’re always horses and covered wagons.  But there’s a whole lot more going on in the period,  and I really love to open up the story, where you get to see things like a river-boat and other modes of transit, why people took them, and the role that women played back then.  We sort of see them as wives and daughters, and saloon girls.  But they were complicated women that had a lot on their minds, and with this character, I thought in particular, this is a great time that we can show that; bring a little diversity to the woman. 

H:  Now David Pelletier was your cinematographer, and I thought the picture just looked beautiful.  Great exteriors; great interior compositions.  Had you worked with him before?

L:  Well, I’ll tell you, Dave’s my man for these movies from here on out.  I wish I’d had him on the first one.  I really do.  He had such a great eye for it.  The crew loved him.  He knew exactly – when I was explaining to Dave how I wanted it to look, and what I wanted to have happen, he was so accommodating.  You don’t tell Dave how to do his job.  You tell him what you want, and he really helps to enrich the process for me.  And at the end, he’s just a dude I can hang out with.  Great guy.

H:  What’s next for Judge Goodnight?

L:  Well, it’s funny; we’re waiting to see if he gets a reprieve.  I think these guys have been a little timid in pulling the trigger on any more of them, I know not why.  But (the films) seem to be working pretty good to me.  I’m hoping, when I see them in a couple of days, they’ll tell me they liked it and they’ll get some more.  But my guess is they’ll wait and see how it does when it airs.  That’s why with this one I’m just throwing in everything but the kitchen sink, because you never know when it’s going to be the last one that you get to do with a character.  But I’ve got other ideas for this guy, so I’m hoping they can figure their way out to do some more. 

H:  I certainly want to see more.

L:  Sweet!  Make sure you let them know.

H:  Don’t worry, that goes in the review.  Now since we last spoke you’ve been doing a tremendous amount of work.  You guested on BODY OF EVIDENCE, a two-parter, you’ve got four movies in post-production, DRAGON WARRIORS, K-9 ADVENTURE – A CHRISTMAS TALE, RED WING, FLAT CHESTED.  Wow!  How do you fit ‘em all in?

L:  Well, when a movie like FLAT-CHESTED comes along, you make time.  This is a movie that I am so proud of the process.  I’ll tell you, I haven’t seen the film yet, but just the process of making it, going to Chicago and working with those kids, and having Kristyn Benedyk tell her story like this, it was great.  It was one of those things that really made me glad to be an actor.  It’s been the longest time since something made me feel like that movie did.

H:  I don’t know too much about it, except that it’s about a woman whose going to have a double-mastectomy. 

L:  Yes!  And the script is only twenty pages long, and in those twenty pages I laughed out loud, and I cried.  And that’s what you look for as an actor.  You just look for that one that takes you all over the place.  This woman, Kristyn, is so talented and so able to really get to the heart of that situation with so much humanity and humor and grace.  And I was fortunate to work with the lovely and talented Alicia Witt, who really gives just a tour de force, I think.  But I can’t wait till it’s done and it comes out.  That’s the one I’m most excited about.  Some movies are fun, jump, pretend, playing the judge, and other movies have something to say, and it’s said so eloquently, and photographed so beautifully.  You think, God, that’s what movies can do. 

H:  Anything else in particular we should be looking for?

L:  Got to see how the judge does.  Going to hang back until the end of January, see how the judge does, see how many cards we have on the table.  I’ve never been a big prognosticator, and I try not to line up two in a row any more; I learned that.  It just gets your life weird.  I’m fortunate to be in a position where I can hang out for a minute and see what I want to do next. 



For many Western fans like myself, the name of actor Ricky Schroder immediately conjures up the image of him, at 18, as Newt, the unacknowledged son of Woodrow Call (Tommy Lee Jones) in the unforgettable LONESOME DOVE.  Ricky has grown up, and acted in a wide variety of movie and TV roles, notably on NYPD BLUE and 24, and has become a writer and director as well.  While he’s worked in every genre imaginable, he keeps coming back to Westerns.  On Saturday, January 26th, in a major switch on his image, he’ll be the villain to Luke Perry’s hero in GOODNIGHT FOR JUSTICE: QUEEN OF HEARTS, and he turns in a seriously chilling performance as Col. Cyril Knox.

In March he will also be seen on the Hallmark Movie Channel in the premiere movie WILD HEARTS, a modern-day Western.  The movie co-stars Ricky and his daughter Cambrie Schroder, and it’s a Schroder family collaboration.  “My wife and I got to write it, I got to direct it, we produced it.  My sons were in it; my other little daughter was in it.  The first All-Schroder Production.  And it comes out March 9th.”  In the next month or so, I’ll have another interview with Ricky and Cambrie, when we’ll talk more about WILD HEARTS, as well LONESOME DOVE and Ricky’s other Western films.

Last week we spoke about Ricky’s work in GOODNIGHT FOR JUSTICE: QUEEN OF HEARTS, and his twenty goats, who disappeared from his Topanga Canyon ranch while he was off in Vancouver making the movie. 

RICKY: The firemen every year come through the Santa Monica Mountains and put up notices on peoples’ homes that you’d better clear your brush, and you’ve got a deadline, before April 15th.  So, I’ve tried various methods of brush clearing over the years I’ve lived in Topanga.  And I even had a herd of twenty goats. 

HENRY:  Why did you get rid of them?

R:  I didn’t get rid of them; my wife did.  Because they kept getting out and eating all of her flowers.  And then the straw that broke the camel’s back was, they got out and they used a friend of mine’s car as a rock.  They climbed on top, and all over it, and totaled it.  And once that happened, my wife got rid of the goats.  I was off working on GOODNIGHT FOR JUSTICE.  I came home and they were gone: she’d given them to a petting zoo.  So I lost my goats.  My new strategy was to get three miniature donkeys.  And I deploy them to various areas of the property.  I stake one to about a forty foot rope, and the other two will stay by, with the mother, the Jenny, and graze away.  And they’re really good on the grassy areas on the property; but the brush, the goats were great on.  Donkeys are more of a grazer, and they just want to eat grass.  That’s the joys of living in a fire zone.

H:  This isn’t exactly what you came from.  Aren’t you a Brooklyn boy like myself? 

R:  I was born in Brooklyn, in Bay Ridge Hospital.  I was several days old when they drove me over the recently completed Verrazano Bridge, and raised me and reared me in Staten Island.  Which was when, believe it or not, there were still dairy farms on the Island.   My poor clan, back in Staten Island, with (Hurricane) Sandy, was just devastated.  Anyway, I’m a long way from Brooklyn and Long Island.  LONESOME DOVE seems kind of what set me on this life choice, of moving to Colorado and buying a ranch.  I was 20 and getting into horses and the outdoors, and writing movies about it, and stuff.  That’s how I ended up loving the West.  I grew up watching John Wayne movies.  I watched his war movies, I watched his westerns – I watched everything.  It wasn’t until I did LONESOME DOVE that I knew I wanted to live that kind of lifestyle.

H:  Backing up a little – actually I’ll back up a lot and start at the beginning.  I know you did THE CHAMP and THE LAST FLIGHT OF NOAH’S ARK first, but the first movie I remember seeing you in was THE EARTHLING, with the great William Holden.  Now you were only about ten years old then.  Do you remember much about the movie, or Bill Holden?

R:  I remember some things, yuh.  I named my first son Holden, after Bill.  And he left an impression on me as a young boy, about what a classy man he was.  He was the kind of actor that, at the end of the day, would hang up his wardrobe.  A lot of actors today just drop their wardrobe all over their trailer.  It’s a mess, and they expect people to do that for them.  Well Bill was the kind of actor that taught me that you hang up your own wardrobe.  We were shooting in Australia, and he gave up his home so my mother and I could live in a ranch house with my sister.  And he lived in our crummy little trailer for three months.  We were in the middle of nowhere; there were no hotels.  You know, that’s a big movie star doing that kind of thing.  So yes, I remember a few things about Bill.  I remember he loved maps.  He’d sit and look at maps for hours and hours on the set.  Maps of Africa specifically; he loved Africa.

H:  Starting at age twelve you became – forgive me – a teen heart-throb on the hugely popular SILVER SPOONS.  After six seasons, and 116 episodes, did you have trouble getting considered seriously for very different roles?

R:  Well, fortunately, after SILVER SPOONS ended, I was seventeen.  And I turned eighteen making LONESOME DOVE.  LONESOME DOVE was a career-changing role.  It helped me grow from a teenaged whatever-you-want-to-call-me – heartthrob was your word –

H:  Sorry!

R:   (laughs) – into part of a Western iconic piece of history, LONESOME DOVE.  So thank you to those producers for giving me that opportunity.  It helped me immensely, and other times in my career, the same things have happened.  With NYPD BLUE, Steven Bochco gave me an opportunity to make another leap forward in my career. 

H:  How did you get the part of Newt?

R:   Well, the President of CBS, Jeff Sagansky called me up, said, “I think you’d be great in this project we’re doing,” and I said to him, “You know, I don’t know horses very well, and I’m allergic to them as well.  I don’t think I’m the right guy.”  And I actually turned it down.  And he called me back and he said, “Are you crazy?  You know how famous this book is, right?  You know this is the amazing Robert Duvall, and the cast.”

I said, “I’m just afraid I’m going to get sick.”

He said, “We’ll clean the horse every day for you.  It’ll be allergy-proof.”

So I reconsidered it, and I got the proper medicine so I didn’t have to deal with any allergies, and I did.  Thank goodness!

H:  Do you still have allergy problems with horses?

R:  It’s weird; it only happens in summer, when it’s hot and dusty.  It’s climate-related.  So if it’s a spring or a fall or a winter day, cold and damp, I’m great.  But when there’s a great dust storm, and it’s hot, and the horses are sweaty – the dust is probably worse than the horses.  But they’ve got such good medications now that I can pretty-well function at any time.  I just have to make sure I take the right stuff. 

H:  Obviously you’re aware of the high esteem that LONESOME DOVE is held in.  I personally consider it one of the very best Westerns done in any medium.  Did you have a sense of how big it would be while you were doing it? 

R:  None of us did.  .  We all knew that it was great production value, we all new that it was great actors, we all knew it was a great script.  We all knew it had all these possibilities to become something.  But none of us knew it would become what it became.  It is in my opinion one of the best five westerns ever made. 

H:  In GOODNIGHT FOR JUSTICE: QUEEN OF HEARTS, you play a western villain for a change.  How did you like not being nice?

R:  Oh man, I loved every day, showing up, being the villain, and wearing the scars I wore; the psychotic demeanor, that I could play and relish with every day on set.  He really is a colorful character, this Cyril Knox.  A lot of that stuff we created for him was on the spot and kind of spontaneous.  It was very organic – it wasn’t necessarily scripted as such.  When you have the trust of the people around you; Luke and the producers and they trusted me and the director to really go all out as Cyril Knox, to not play safe.  Whenever anyone was afraid that I was going too big or broad, I said listen guys, the bigger the badder the villain, the bigger the better the hero.  So I’m really glad they let me push the envelope a little. 

H:  I particularly like that poker scene you have with Luke; there’s no violence in it, but lots of menace. 

R:  I wish I had more scenes with Luke in the movie.  I liked that character so much, I asked the producers if they could bring Cyril Knox back.  But I loved playing the villain.  It was so much fun playing that guy, getting fancied up into that Southern gentleman attire I wore and slapping on those Colt six-shooters.  It was a lot of fun.

H:  What did you think of your femme fatale, Katherine Isabelle?  I had not seen her before.

R:  Nor had I.  She did fine; she looked the part, like she fit in the era; she did a good job.  I did it for Luke, though.  I just wanted to work with Luke.  It’s funny, Luke wanted me for that role; and I didn’t know why.  And when I finally got to Vancouver to work, he said, “You know, Ricky, the first job I ever got in Hollywood was a job you passed on.  It’s my way of saying thank you.”

H:  Really?  What was that?           

R:  I don’t remember what movie it was!  I forgot, but you can ask him. 

H:  How did you like filming in Canada?  Have you shot there before?

R:  Oh yeah, I’ve shot in Vancouver tons.  Great place to work when it’s not drizzling and grey, which is about nine months out of the year. 

H:  I wrote a film noir that was shot there, and it was perfect for the United States ten years earlier. 

R:  I love Canada.  I married a Canadian.  My wife’s from Alberta, the next province over.  So I’ve spent quite a bit of time there, and my wife’s family’s all there.  So I’m a big fan of Canada.  I also like to see American stories shot here.  So I’m hoping that we’ll get more domestic business too.

H:  In QUEEN OF HEARTS there’s a lot of brawling involved, especially on that riverboat.  And it looked like you were doing your own fighting. 

R:  Oh yuh, I was.  It’s just more authentic.  I didn’t have any real dangerous, dangerous stunts to do.  You know, as long as actors keep control of their punches and their elbows and things, you’re fine.  But I’ve got to give props to Luke; Luke did (the big) stunt himself, and if he had fallen, he could have got really hurt. I realized, wow, this guy’s a helluvan athlete.  You know he rode a couple of those bulls in EIGHT SECONDS.    Doing westerns and stunts, it’s all a lot of fun. 

H:  You’ve now directed two movies.  Does that change your perspective as an actor? 

R:  Oh yuh.  I’ve directed three movies and a bunch of music videos – I did one for Brad Paisley and Allison Krause called Whiskey Lullaby.  The three movies I did were BLACK CLOUD, WILD HEARTS, and a film I did in Romania called HELL HOUNDS, and yes, it does change your perspective.  Because you understand that time is your most valuable commodity.  And actors delay, dragging their feet, getting out of make-up and hair and wardrobe.  They’re slow to get to set, meanwhile the crew is waiting.  Time is just so valuable – you’re constantly fighting time as a producer/director.  And so because I’m aware of that, because I’ve been behind the camera, I just make sure I show up on time, I know my lines, I’m prepared.  I don’t dilly-dally.  I get my work done.  It’s important.  A lot of actors want to be in the boots that I’m in, and I never forget that. 

H:  You write, you act and direct.  Do you see yourself doing all three twenty years from now, or do you lean towards one over the others?

R:   Oh no, all three, all three to the end.  I’m writing something now, I’ve written a couple of things I’m trying to put financing together for, to direct.  I’m constantly looking for good acting roles, which are pretty hard to come by.  Reality TV has taken so much of the time and the content on TV.  And a lot of actors who wouldn’t have considered TV ten years ago, now they work in TV, and so it’s become a much more competitive place, the acting field.

H:  If you were asked to do LONESOME DOVE 3, would you be interested?

R:  I died!

H:  That would be a problem, wouldn’t it.

R:  I died in STREETS OF LAREDO.  Newt was killed off camera.  I was killed by the Hellbitch in a horse accident off-camera.  So it’d be a little hard.

H:  Of course, it’s television.  We could always say there was a misunderstanding.  Like DALLAS.

R:  (Laughs) You’re right.  We did a good job on QUEEN OF HEARTS.  I’m awful proud of all the work we did, based on the realities of the marketplace, and the time and the money they give you to make the film.  I think we did a wonderful job, and the producers got great production value, I’m proud of everybody’s work on it. 


While the first two movies were enjoyable, Luke Perry’s third stanza as Judge John Goodnight in GOODNIGHT FOR JUSTICE: QUEEN OF HEARTS, is the best yet, and may be Hallmark’s best western to date.  It premieres on Saturday night, January 26th on the Hallmark Movie Channel.

Luke Perry, who created the character, and writes the movies with Neal and Tippi Dobrofsky, plays a circuit judge in frontier Wyoming, whose endless travels and tremendous caseload brings him into contact with the good, the bad, and sometimes the beautiful, and from those contacts arise the stories. 

Goodnight did not go into this career-path willingly.  As a child, he was riding in a stagecoach with his parents, and a judge and his wife, when the stage was attacked by outlaws. His parents, and the judge, were killed. John and the judge’s widow survived, and she raised John as her own. He grew to be lawyer with no love of the law or of lawyers, and little ambition beyond drinking and carousing. His adoptive mother, a woman with political connections, in an unorthodox but effect use of ‘tough love,’ arranged to have him appointed a circuit judge in frontier Wyoming. 

At this point in his story, he has had his revenge, but it hasn’t brought him the comfort he had hoped for.  He’s still a loner, with very mixed feelings about passing judgment on many of the people he comes into contact with in his duties. 

He’s traveling his circuit, between towns, when he sees a stagecoach chased by bandits, and rides to the rescue, shooting a pair of the bad men in the process.  The only survivor of the attack is a lady passenger, Lucy Truffaut, played by the lovely Katharine Isabelle, the daughter of a wealthy mine owner in the East Coast.  The fun of this is that the audience knows a great deal more about who Lucy really is than Goodnight does, and while I do not wish to give away too much, it lends the often quite serious proceedings a ‘MAVERICK’ sort of tone.

The damsel in question is being pursued by Col. Cyril Knox, in the person of Ricky Schroder, who in a role diametrically opposed to his ‘Newt’ character from LONESOME DOVE, plays a conceited, vain, ruthless, deadly and despicable villain – and plays him with chilling precision.   

The movie is an elegant mixture of action, adventure, menace, humor and romance.  As far as the romance goes, the chemistry between Luke Perry and Katharine Isabelle is so good you can’t help hoping for a rematch.  Not only is Ms. Isabelle easy on the orbs, she also has a wonderfully expressive face which reveals ever thought and emotion as it occurs – a perfect contrast to Perry, whose poker face reveals only what he wants you to know. 

There is considerable action, between hard-riding, running gun-battles, runaway stagecoaches, the occasional bear, and brawl on a riverboat that has a wonderful payoff. Cinematographer David Pelletier takes full advantage of his Canadian exterior locations, and his interior compositions are often unusual and interesting.  Director Martin Wood, whose usual bailiwick is sci-fi, does a fine job of keeping the right balance of tone throughout.

I’ll make just two criticisms, because the purists would never forgive me otherwise: facial scars have a lot to do with one character’s motivations, but those scars can hardly be seen.  Also, much is made of one character’s skill with a longrifle.  But the weapon shown is (a) not a longrifle, and (b) used in such a manner – on horseback – that would made accuracy impossible.

That said, GOODNIGHT FOR JUSTICE: QUEEN OF HEARTS is a pleasure.  Enjoy!


Patrick Gottsch is sort of a hero of mine.  Not only does he run RFD-TV, Rural America’s Most Important Network, as well as Rural-TV and FamilyNet, he is also the man who bought Trigger and Bullet when they were being auctioned off, and has put them on tour around the country!  Last year they rode the RFD-TV float at the Tournament of Roses, and won a prize, and this year’s tractor-themed float won a prize again!

As I do every Sunday morning at 9:30, I was watching the Roy Rogers Show this morning when Patrick Gottsch came on during an ad break, and announced that, without any warning, Cox was threatening to drop all of the RFD-TV networks from their cable system on February 1st!  The reason?  Huge conglomerate networks want their spots on the dial!  If you are a Cox customer, and want to keep seeing the RFD networks, Patrick is asking you to write an e-mail of complaint to Cox, but to send it directly to Patrick at, so he can present them all to Cox Communications.  He further asks you to call your local Cox Cable System and voice your concerns.  Don’t feel you can’t make a difference: we helped pressure Dish Network to pick up AMC, the home of HELL ON WHEELS, after they’d been dropped, and we can do the same here!


Crow rifle case

On Saturday, January 26th, High Noon Auctions will hold their 23rd Annual Western Americana Auction in Mesa, Arizona.  Always a fascinating and eclectic mix of history, show-biz and art, the over three-hundred lots feature items that are sure to delight anyone with a Western frame of mind, no matter their specific interest.

Frank Tenney painting

Among the most interesting pieces is a Pancho Villa recruitment poster looking for American enlistees.  The text reads:  Atencion Gringo.  For gold and glory, come South of the border and ride with Pancho Villa, El Liberator of Mexico!  Weekly payments in gold to: dynamiters, machine gunners, railroaders.  Enlistments taken in Juarez, Mexico January 1915.  VIVA VILLA!  VIVA Revolucion! 

101 Ranch guestbook

Also up for bids, a saddle owned by Simon Bolivar, The George Washington of South America.  Born to a wealthy Venezuelan family in 1783, he vowed to liberate South America from Spain, and succeeded.  He would be instrumental in the liberation of Columbia, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, and the country they named after him, Bolivia. 

There is also a photo of William S. Hart, inscribed to Nancy Russell, wife of painter Charlie Russell.  There are Cattle Brand books, Tim McCoy and Tom Tyler posters, Wells Fargo items, a Duncan Renaldo ‘Cisco Kid’ sombrero, and a James Coburn Stetson with a Nudie’s Rodeo Tailor sweatband.  To learn more, order a catalog or, more importantly, to bid, go HERE .

Prison wagon


From March 22nd through March 24th, fans of the venerable and excellent HIGH CHAPARRAL will be gathering in Tucson, Arizona, or more correctly at Old Tucson Studios, home of the series, to celebrate, swap memories, and to meet the people who made the show happen.  Among the attendees will be Henry Darrow, ‘Manolito Montoya’, whose interview was in last week’s Round-up (if you missed it, the link is HERE. )  Also Don Collier, who played ranch foreman Sam Butler; Rudy Ramos, who played Wind, Producer Kent McCray, and casting director Susan McCray.  Penny McQueen, the trail boss of this event, tells me the full three-day weekend package is $350, and includes transfer, entrance and lunch at Old Tucson, Sunday brunch, Friday venue events, Director's Cut of the pilot episode showing, photo & autograph session, episode viewing, courtesy transport to Old Tucson, Q&A sessions and more.  You can learn more at the official website HERE , and email your inquiries here:

On Saturday at a collector show I picked up the two Swedish candy cards below, which are actually about 1 by 2 inches.  The first shows Mark Slade and Henry Darrow from the show.  The other, from the movie COMANCHE (1956) features HIGH CHAPARRAL star Linda Cristal and Dana Andrews clowning around.


And speaking of TCM (okay, nobody was), have I mentioned that the segment I was interviewed for is now viewable here?


Built by cowboy actor, singer, baseball and TV entrepreneur Gene Autry, and designed by the Disney Imagineering team, the Autry is a world-class museum housing a fascinating collection of items related to the fact, fiction, film, history and art of the American West. In addition to their permanent galleries (to which new items are frequently added), they have temporary shows. The Autry has many special programs every week -- sometimes several in a day. To check their daily calendar, CLICK HERE. And they always have gold panning for kids every weekend. For directions, hours, admission prices, and all other information, CLICK HERE.


Across the street from the Hollywood Bowl, this building, once the headquarters of Lasky-Famous Players (later Paramount Pictures) was the original DeMille Barn, where Cecil B. DeMille made the first Hollywoodwestern, The Squaw Man. They have a permanent display of movie props, documents and other items related to early, especially silent, film production. They also have occasional special programs. 2100 Highland Ave., L.A. CA 323-874-2276. Thursday – Sunday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. $5 for adults, $3 for senior, $1 for children.


This small but entertaining museum gives a detailed history of Wells Fargo when the name suggested stage-coaches rather than ATMS. There’s a historically accurate reproduction of an agent’s office, an original Concord Coach, and other historical displays. Open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. Admission is free. 213-253-7166. 333 S. Grand Street, L.A. CA.




RFD-TV, the channel whose president bought Trigger and Bullet at auction, have a special love for Roy Rogers. They show an episode of The Roy Rogers Show on Sunday mornings, a Roy Rogers movie on Tuesday mornings, and repeat them during the week.

WHT-TV has a weekday afternoon line-up that’s perfect for kids, featuring LASSIE, THE ROY ROGERS SHOW and THE LONE RANGER.

TV-LAND angered viewers by dropping GUNSMOKE, but now it’s back every weekday, along with BONANZA.

That’s all for now!  Enjoy the Inauguration, and have a great Martin Luther King Day!  And sleep late!

Happy trails,


All Original Contents Copyright January 2013 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved

Sunday, January 13, 2013


An Interview with HENRY DARROW

To those of us who grew up in the sixties watching THE HIGH CHAPARRAL, the actor Henry Darrow and the character of Manolito Montoya are inseparable.  Manolito, with the infectious laugh, was everything a teenaged boy in the audience wanted to be: handsome, suave, confidant, smart, competent with fists or firearms, a devil with ladies – and remarkably lazy!  He was the successful ‘slacker’ long before the term was popularized.  Growing up in Puerto Rico and New York, coming to California to act, his big break came when David Dortort, the creator of BONANZA, decided to do another Western series, also centered on family.  Feeling the Cartwrights were almost too ideal a family, Dortort decided to create a series about a dysfunctional family – again, a term which hadn’t yet been coined.  And unlike the comparative safety of The Ponderosa, The High Chaparral was located on the border with Mexico, and on what had been Apache land, land the Apache would not give up without a fight.  The constant sense of danger gave the show a considerable edge.

With INSP airing episodes on weekdays, weeknights, and Saturdays, old fans are becoming reacquainted with the show, and a younger audience raised on Spaghetti Westerns is discovering both its edginess and its story-telling quality.  I recently had the pleasure and privilege of talking with Henry Darrow about Manolito and his other roles, including his three different portrayals of Zorro!   Every bit as charming and witty as Manolito, he had me laughing from ‘Hello.’

 PARKE:  When you were a teenager growing up in Puerto Rico, you wrote a fan letter to Jose Ferrer.  Why was he so important to you?

DARROW:  Jose Ferrer was the first Puerto Rican to win an Oscar, for CYRANO DEBERGERAC.  When I first competed at University in Puerto Rico, for an acting scholarship, I did some of his speeches and I copied his voice.  And then I did a little bit of DEATH OF A SALESMAN, playing the older character.  Then I did Mercutio from ROMEO AND JULIET, and I had fun doing it – it was a good time.   And I got to meet Ferrer, and we worked together in a film, that was in Puerto Rico.  It was called ISABEL LE NEGRA (A LIFE OF SIN), and Isabel, she was a lady who ran a ‘house,’ (brothel) and she donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Catholic Church.  And they didn’t bury her on property that belonged to the church. 

PARKE: At what age did you decide to be an actor?

DARROW: I always wanted to be an actor, even as a kid.  I remember being in shows, and one of my first shows, I was a tree-cutter, and another boy played Santa Claus.  That was in front of the whole school.

PARKE: You’ve gained your greatest fame playing characters in western stories – Manolito in HIGH CHAPARRAL, and Zorro and Zorro’s father in several different productions.  Prior to starring in them, were westerns of particular interest to you?

DARROW:  There was a theatre called ‘Delicious’ -- this was in Puerto Rico, and they would charge twenty-five cents.  I would take my brother. The theatre was packed and we’d wind up having to sit in the front row to see three westerns, and I got to like and understand Tom Mix, Charlie Starrett – The Durango Kid, Johnny Mack Brown, etcetera.  And The Cisco Kid – Gilbert Roland.

PARKE:  Oh, he was the best.

Darrow with Gilbert Roland

DARROW:  Yeah, I really liked him, and he….I don’t know what it was about him.  He bought all his films, so you’ll see films about Cisco Kid with Duncan Renaldo, Cesar Romero, but you won’t see any of Gilbert Roland.  When I played Manolito I copied one of his bits, which was he was taking a shot of tequila, and he was with a girl, and he gave her a taste, and then he turned the glass, and took a taste from where she had been drinking.  And so I thought, ‘I could do that.’  So I tried it, but unfortunately I had a beer mug, and it just didn’t work.  The director said, “What the Hell are you doing?”  I said, “I saw Gilbert Roland do this, and he did it with a shot glass.”  He said, “Henry, you look like you’re drunk.”  So that came to a quick ending. 

PARKE: When you came to California, you joined the Pasadena Playhouse, where so many great actors got their start. 

DARROW: I picked California; I found out that the Pasadena Playhouse was about sixteen to seventeen miles from (Los Angeles), actually.  I got to work in lots of plays, and do lots of scenes, and there were many classes, and I really got a chance to expand – ten or fifteen scenes a year, a couple of plays.  I’d work with the second year students and do plays with them, and it was an important experience for me.  Eventually that became the criteria for the Pasadena Playhouse, that we hit our marks; we overacted a little bit (laughs), so we had to be careful,

PARKE: Your first feature Western was the very eerie CURSE OF THE UNDEAD (1959) with Eric Fleming, later of RAWHIDE, and Michael Pate.  Any memories of either man?

DARROW:  Eric Fleming and I, we played chess.  And he was a very good player.   Michael Pate played a Dracula character, and I played his brother.  And that was my first (screen) kiss.  I kiss the girl, and (laughs) by coincidence, my first death scene, because that was Michael Pate’s girlfriend, and he came and killed me.  I don’t remember Michael Pate too well, other than he was Australian, with the accent. 

PARKE: Before your breakthrough with HIGH CHAPARRAL you did several other classic Western series: WAGON TRAIN, GUNSMOKE and BONANZA.  Any particular memories of those shows, and the characters you played? 

DARROW: In WAGON TRAIN I had two lines. Ward Bond took my one of my lines!  It was like, “Giddyap,” getting the wagon going.  And I said, “Hey, that’s my line!”  And the whole set got quiet.  It was like ‘What?’  And he turned and looked at me, and I said, “Well, yeah, you took my line, and I only have two.”  I didn’t know.  So the next day the production manager comes up to me and says, “You have an extra line with the wagon.”  I guess he was shocked too, that I called him on it.  But I did get my extra line.  And in GUNSMOKE I did about three separate episodes.  One was a killer, one was a hangman – I played a Hispanic in that.  And I couldn’t bring myself to hang the guy, but he tried to get out, people tried to free him, and he got killed in the process.  I worked on the show CIMARRON CITY with Dan Blocker.  I was supposed to fight him.  And he said, no, no, so they brought in another guy who was six foot two to fight him.  He picks the both of us up arm-by-arm and throws us on the ground!  Kicks the Hell out of us! 

PARKE:  How tall are you?

DARROW: (laughs) I used to be six feet, but now I’m five-ten.  You lose height and flexibility.

PARKE: When and why did you change your name from Enrique Delgado to Henry Darrow?

DARROW: ‘Delgado’ did Latins.  I had an agent named Carlos Alvarado and he only got scripts that had Latin parts.  During the sixties and seventies there were lots of Latin parts floating around, and that’s all I ever did.  I played a non-Latin once, in a TV show with Victor Jory, and the character’s name was Blackie; that was it.

PARKE:  Let me ask you about Victor Jory, one of my absolute favorite villains.

DARROW:  Oh God, he was wonderful to work with.  But I was a smug little son-of-a-bitch.  He gave a speech at the Playhouse, and I thought, “Oh God, what’s he talking about?”  But he talked about everything that ever happened, later, for me; to do character work, to continue to work, and never turn down a job – work everything, do everything.  He was one of the guest stars on HIGH CHAPARRAL, one of the first episodes, with Barbara Hershey. 

PARKE: How did you come to David Dortort’s attention?  How did you win the role of Manolito Montoya?

Darrow, Leif Erickson, Linda Cristal, Cameron Mitchell

DARROW: Dortort had already created the successful BONANZA, and then came HIGH CHAPARRAL.  And CHAPARRAL had to do with two families.  Back in the sixties, the casting people used to see plays, and producers would see plays, so it was a good start for me.  David Dortort saw me in a play, THE WONDERFUL ICE CREAM SUIT, by Ray Bradbury, in a theatre called The Coronet, in West Hollywood, on La Cienega.  I then left and did a year of repertory at the Pasadena Playhouse.  I was no longer a student.  I had been around town for a while, and I’d given myself five years.  And then I gave myself another set of five years, and I was currently working on my third set of five years, to stick it out.  It was then that I changed me name from Delgado to Darrow.  I looked through the phone book, and there weren’t that many Darrows, and so my agent at the time, Les Miller and I we came up with Henry Darrow. 

PARKE:  I understand that, looking for you under the wrong name, it took Dortort months to find you.  What did you think when he finally tracked you down?

DARROW: Dortort asked me, what do you think about Manolito?   They sent me the script, and all of a sudden I’m doing another Latin!  I just changed my name!

PARKE:  How was David Dortort’s vision for CHAPARRAL different from the many Western series that came before?

DARROW:  He came up with this concept.  The Civil War had just ended. We had the Mexican family of high esteem south of the border, and then we had the Tucson family, the (socially lower) Cannons.  And the man who played my father, Frank Silvera, negotiated a romance between his daughter, Linda Cristal and the old man, John Cannon.  Dortort had such an affinity for Latin actors, and he used us.  On BONANZA he hired many.  He hired almost every Latin that I had ever known of.  He hired them as Federales and bad guys, one after another, and they all played on CHAPARRAL, about a hundred-odd people a year.  And he had Ricardo Montalban on twice, and Alejandro Rey came on, and there was Fernando Lamas and there was Barbara Luna – there were a number of other people that he brought into the show. 
He made the character of Manolito a sort of a wastrel, and Linda Cristal as my sister, oh, she was just incredible.  She was wonderful to work with; she was the only other one who spoke Spanish, so if we were short in a scene, ten or fifteen seconds, they would say, “You guys get into an argument.”  Go “Ayyy, Manolito!”  “Ahh, Victoria!”  And so we’d work it that way.  Frank Silvera was a delight to work with, and the relationship Frank and I had as father and son was most well-liked in Europe

PARKE:  Were you an experienced horseman before the show?

DARROW:  My experience as a horseman – I think I was about eleven, and I got on a horse in Central Park, and it ran away with me (laughs).  (For HIGH CHAPARRAL)  they taught me how to ride a horse in the sand, in the Valley, someplace. 

PARKE:  I was 13 when HIGH CHAPARRAL started, and I loved it.  Your Manolito and Cameron Mitchell’s Uncle Buck, ‘The Loose Cannon’, were my favorite characters by far. 

DARROW:  Cameron Mitchell was like what you call him, ‘The Loose Cannon,’ that’s certainly like him.  He loved gambling, and he loved his pitchers of Margarita, and we’d drive down to the dogs, at Tubac, near Tucson.  I was on a film directed by Cam where one of the stars that had guest-starred on our show, Rocky Tarkington, played a Christ-like figure, and I think it was finished, but it was held up in the courts.  Luckily I got my money up front. (laughs)  And working with Cameron Mitchell – we wound up doing an episode called FRIENDS AND PARTNERS, where we bought a little ranch that had some silver on it.   We thought we were conning the owner about getting the silver out of the ground.  He said, “Well, if you did that, if you do this, if you do whatever, it’s gonna cost you guys a lot of time and work to get that silver out of the ground.”  That’s when we looked at each other and, ‘What?  He knows about the silver mine?’ 

PARKE:  What memories do you have of the other cast members?  Was Leif Erickson as stern as he seemed?

DARROW:  Leif Erickson was pretty good.  He was a straight-shooter.  He helped me invest some moneys in Hawaii.  I remember, with Leif Erickson I was always up and around, and here we are, working on location in 105, 110 degree heat.  I had gotten woolen pants, I had a suede jacket, a heavy black hat, and Leif Ericson would say, “You’re just up too much.  It’s not good for you, not good for your health.  You should sit down.”  So I started to sit down a little more, and he said, “You know what?  I think you should lie down.  Go into your air-conditioned dressing room and lie down.”  So I learned fast, going into the second year, to sit down, lie down, and it worked out okay.  And I got a chance to work with a lot of actors, TV actors who had been around, like Jack Lord, Bob Lansing, Steve Forrest, Victor Jory like I mentioned, Barbara Hershey – it was good.  I had a good time. 

Mark Slade, Blue, he eventually was written out.  He asked to be let go because of a film he wanted to do; he was going to do a film with Willie Nelson, and then it fell through.  The ranch hands, the buddies, were Don Collier, and Bobby Hoy, who recently died.  And there was Roberto Contreras, died, Ken Markland died, Jerry Summers died, Roberto Acosta died.  We used to have get-togethers and go to the western shows.  Don Collier would say to me (deeply), “Well Henry, you’ll be doing what I’m doing, and blah-blah-blah-blah.  You’ll do rodeos and…”  And I said, “No, I’m a serious actor; I don’t do that crap.”  (laughs)  And he taught me how to do some shooting, and then there’s a drum-beat, and somebody with a pin – Pop! -- the balloon pops.  (laughs) I did everything he said that I would do. 

PARKE:  Speaking of actors who you’ve worked with, what was Barbara Luna like? 

DARROW:  Oh, she’s a funny lady, a funny lady.  She has so much energy – I worked with her in soaps, too.  She once came up to me in a restaurant – she was with Michael Douglas – and she said, “Michael’s with some people from Sweden, and they know you.  And he wants to know why.”  Well, they saw HIGH CHAPARRAL.

PARKE: What were your favorite episodes?

DARROW: One with Donna Baccala; she played a love interest.  It was a good show, and she unfortunately died in my arms.  Favorite directors?  Billy Claxton.  He was the best – he did more episodes than anyone else.

PARKE:  In the late 1960s, there was great pressure to tone down the violence on television.  Did that have a good or bad effect on the show? 

DARROW:  There was great pressure to tone down violence, and we did.  And in some instances it brought out different patterns of my character.  We didn’t shoot; you couldn’t point a gun.  That became a little weary, because if you pulled your gun out of the holster you had to aim it at somebody.  So you just took the gun out and held it across your lap, and c’mon, that’s not right! 

PARKE:  It goes against everything western, the idea that you don’t pull your gun unless you intend to use it. 

DARROW:  We had one producer, his name was Jimmy Schmerer, and we had a great fight scene.  All the Indians in the world were down in the valley, they were shooting, and people were getting shot, and then he panned around, and there wasn’t one body – not one body!  The network said, ‘What the Hell is going on?’  And he said, ‘You told us we were not allowed to shoot anybody and kill them.’  And what you saw was six or eight shots of people getting shot in the shoulder, going down, getting up, somebody got shot in the leg; somebody helps him get on a horse. 

PARKE: After four seasons and 97 episodes, HIGH CHAPARRAL was cancelled.  Did you know it was coming?

DARROW:  I read it in Variety – that’s how I found out.  That really hurt, oh man did that hurt.  We used to win the first half-hour, opposite THE BRADY BUNCH, when we were on Fridays.  And then (ABC) added another show, THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY.  And once they added that show, we were done.  Even though we had Gilbert Roland coming on next season as a regular.  I had a good run; I had a beautiful run.  (But after) CHAPARRAL, people sort of stayed away from me because I was so tagged as Manolito, that character, that they didn’t hire me right away.  But then all of a sudden, someone on MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE hired me, nine months, ten months into the year, and that changed the whole outlook.  I then got a lot of guest shots, I did HARRY O, and then I did a number of other series. 

PARKE:  Would it be indelicate to ask about the residual situation on CHAPARRAL?

DARROW:  Well, we came in right when they changed the ruling, that you could show the episode ten times, and you’d get paid ten times.  And then all of a sudden you wouldn’t get paid anything.  And they’re showing it hundreds of hours around the world, and I just think of the people who did THE LONE RANGER, and they don’t get piss.   They got nothing.  I thought, well, at least did it, and they had a buyout of some kind, say two hundred bucks, three hundred bucks an episode, and it was worth it; it was worth the anxiety. 

PARKE:  I understand you went to Sweden after HIGH CHAPARRAL ended.

DARROW:  I had talked with Michael Landon because he had done a show in Sweden, and made a lot of money.  And I thought, what the Hell, I can do that.  And he did a couple of fight scenes for the people.  So I wound up singing some songs, and using whips.  I did about twelve shows in Sweden.  I sang in Swedish.  I first started in my regular Manolito wardrobe, and then the second half of the show was ‘Henry Darrow Sings,’ in modern clothing, and the people were talking while I was performing!  As the producer said, “You’ve gotta put on the outfit!  They don’t know Henry Darrow, they know Manolito.  So if you don’t wear your outfit, they won’t know who the Hell you are.”  And I started to find out.  I’d call the kitchen and say, “This is Henry Darrow; we’ve got no service.”  He said, “No, tell them you’re Manolito,” and then they were there – bam! 

I was the second most famous man in Sweden.  The King was first and I was next. I was in this helicopter, and they put me down near the water, and there was a band starting to form together, and I asked, “When do they start playing my theme?”  And they said, “They’re not; they’re waiting for the King.”  (laughs)  They asked me to leave, and that was the end of that.  There was one Mexican restaurant in Sweden, in Stockholm, and we went to it, and they had elk tacos!  It was fun, and that lasted for a while. I lost about eight or ten pounds.

PARKE:  You’ve gone on to do many movies, plays, TV series like HARRY O and THE NEW DICK VAN DYKE SHOW, but apart from Manolito, the character you’re most identified with is Zorro!  Culturally, what is the significance of your playing Zorro?

DARROW: I was the first Latino to play Zorro. And I think that I am the only actor who has been in three productions of Zorro.  I was in the animated series, and then I was in ZORRO AND SON, where I played the over-the-hill Zorro, and then I played Zorro’s father in Spain in several different productions, and I replaced Efrem Zimbalist Jr. 
PARKE:  Didn’t you actually audition for the Disney ZORRO series back in the 1950s?  What role were you up for?

DARROW:  I had read for the part of a heavy in ZORRO back in the fifties, with Guy Williams.  And I actually wore Guy Williams’ wardrobe in ZORRO AND SON in 1983, except they had to take it up three inches, because he was three inches taller than I was. 

PARKE: You first played Zorro in the Filmation cartoon series in 1981.  What was it like doing cartoon voices?

DARROW:  It was different, because you don’t work with anybody.  You just work by yourself.  They lock you in; you do your stuff.  And I remember Lou Scheimer said, “CBS says you’re a little suggestive.”  I said, “Like what?”  “Like senoriiitah.  Buenos noches.”  “I have to give it a little something.”  He said, “No, no.  It’s got to be straight.”  So it became (monotone) ‘senorita, buenos noches.’  With no inflection; that’s exactly what they want.  So now I listen to the animated series, that’s why it sounds so flat, monotone and one-note.  I replaced Fernando Lamas.  I don’t think he did any; I filled in for him before he even started.  I was going to be not-cast, when I started with the inflection. 

PARKE:  Did you work with Don Diamond, who played Sergeant Garcia?

DARROW:  No, I never did.  He may have played on CHAPARRAL, but I don’t remember.  He was a funny man, did voices –

PARKE:  Played Crazy Cat on F-TROOP. 

DARROW:  That was good.

PARKE:  It’s funny because he was one of those guys, who were so identified as a certain kind of Hispanic character, and of course he wasn’t, but he did nothing but that for decades. 

DARROW:  I know, and that was the funny part of it.  And of course it was the same with Bill Dana; Jose Jimenez. 

PARKE: With whom you did ZORRO AND SON.

Zorro and Son

DARROW:  Yes, in 1983.  We had a short-lived series, ZORRO AND SON.  It was unfortunate that the pilot was one of the first episodes, and one of the best episodes was the last one.  Where Greg Sierra puts on an outfit like Zorro, and takes over my house, and chops up my furniture with a sword.  And I chopped up my furniture, because it annoyed me that he was cutting my furniture the wrong way.  I said, “No -- yah!”  And I slammed down and cut a chair in half.  Anyway the episode ended, we were both in the cantina, I say, “I’ll pay for this.”  And he says, “No, I will.”  And I said, “No, no, no senor, por favor.”  And he said, “No you won’t.”  And the episode ended with both of us arm-wrestling to see who would pay for the drink.  And it was fun working with him, and it was fun working with Bill Dana (as Bernardo); it was delicious.  It was a good five episodes that we did, and unfortunately the last one was the best.  And I showed the pilot to a wonderful producer, Garry Marshall.  And he said, “Henry, if they concentrate on you and your son and play that relationship, that’ll work.  But if they’re going to make fun of Zorro, I don’t think it’s going to last long.”  And that is exactly what happened.  The writers didn’t know what to do with it, if it was a half-hour cartoon show for the kids, for Saturday morning.  We did have a little heavy-build scene here and there.  But they never decided what kind of a comedy it was.  (At the end of an episode) there was a beautiful girl, and he kissed the girl, and I got to hug the priest.  Then both of us were on our horses, and I turn to him and say, “Next time I kiss the girl and you hug the Padre.”  (laughs)  Some of it was comedic, and it worked, but other stuff didn’t.  It’s like you’d say, “The walls have ears,” and – BAM! – they’d cut to plastic ears on a wall.  Oh man!  It was just too corny.  But Bill Dana was a delight to work with.  And he wrote a lot of his own dialogue – he came up with lines.

PARKE:  He wrote for Steve Allen.  If you can write for Steve Allen you can do anything. 

DARROW:  That’s right! 

PARKE: In 1990 you went to Spain to star as Zorro’s father in the New World ZORRO series for four seasons, and over sixty episodes.  How did you enjoy the experience?

In the New World ZORRO

DARROW:  That was a delight.  Duncan Regeher was just delightful.  He was the most thorough actor I ever worked with.  He got up at four o’clock and worked for an hour with his weights, with his stretching, with his yoga.  He was incredible.  And Michael Tylo, his Alcalde was like Iago.  He was threatened.  And then the guy that replaced him was John Hertzler, and he made him a little more of a braggart.

PARKE:  I just watched the TV movie cut from the episodes where you don’t know that you have a second son – great fun, great stuff!

DARROW: Oh my gosh!  That was a good show.   And that guy (James Horan, who played the second son) voted for me – part of my Emmy win for SANTA BARBARA was from doing the soaps with him.  He had seen some other shows that I had done, and he said, “That’s it!  That’s it!” 

PARKE:  In 2001 you starred on stage in THAT CERTAIN CERVANTES.   How did this project come about? 
DARROW:  Harry Cason was a waiter when I lived in Pasadena, California, at a very exclusive restaurant.  He provided some free desserts over a couple of months, so we got to talking, and sure as nothing, he’s an ex-actor, and an excellent waiter, and all of a sudden he became a writer, and he produced the show (a production of THE DRESSER), and I wound up working on it.  I said hey, can you write a character for me?  He came up with a hard-nosed young guy, and I said no, no, no; he’s got to be my age, in his sixties.  And came up with Cervantes, and he did three or four drafts.  It was a one-man show, and I played about six characters:  I played the horse, I played my wife Catalina, I played an official from the court, and I had just a great time, and it got fantastic reviews. 

PARKE:  We’ve got a friend in common.  Morgan Woodward was the lead villain in SPEEDTRAP, the first movie I ever wrote.

DARROW:  Morgan was a delight, just a delight.  And he did the most GUNSMOKES in the world.  He got us together, my wife and I.  His ex-wife had a theatre in Midlands, Texas, a dinner theater.  And I played THE RAINMAKER, and I had a ball.  We had a good, good cast; we played it for a month, and it was great, I mean working in Texas was really something.  One of the lines that I liked, that they said about themselves was, “Hank, if you lose your dog, you can see your dog get lost for three days.” (laughs) Then we went to a party, and Holy Cow, we drove for hours, and it was just land – land and the wind and dust and tumbleweeds rolling around.  I got a chance to do a lot of things because of CHAPARRAL, thank goodness. 

PARKE:  Why did you and your wife, Lauren, relocate to South Carolina?

DARROW:  Because my hair had gotten white.  I was looking older, and all of a sudden, there I was competing for one and two and three lines.  When I’d go to a reading, there were guys who had done series like I had.  We all looked at each other and said, ‘What the Hell are we doing here?”  Here we are for three lines; for two lines.  We’ve got all the credits in the world, and the guys that are hiring us are in their late 20s, their early 30s, and it was like, ‘What have you done?’    Oh man, to have to start all over again.  I just couldn’t, I couldn’t hack it.  So we had a friend who was doing a series on the Kentucky Derby, and she talked to us about Screen Gems being here, and a lot of theatre being done at the University, etcetera, so we chose here, came and bought an old two-story Carolina house, with a little bit of land – nothing great, just a large backyard.  We got into cats, and the all of a sudden we got into the real estate game.  But we got into the real estate game just before the bottom dropped out, so we’re stuck with about eight houses. 

PARKE:  Do you ever get back to Los Angeles?

DARROW:  I went to the Gene Autry Museum, sold my biography, and had a great time – some guys showed up that I hadn’t seen in decades.  They made a nice event of the thing.  Then I won the ALMA Award, for Latins.  I won (The Lifetime Achievement Award), I guess, for still being alive.   I’ll be eighty years old this next year. 

PARKE:  I recently got over to Old Tucson Studios, and it’s nice to see that there is still so much standing from HIGH CHAPARRAL. 

DARROW:  Yes; I’m supposed to go there in March, for the 41st reunion.  And this will be my last visit, because it’s just too strenuous for me.  Well, that’s the way it is.

PARKE:  Do you know who else is attending?

DARROW:  The only two are alive are Rudy Ramos, who plays Wind, and Don Collier.

PARKE: Would you do another Western if you were offered the right script?

DARROW: I’m doing a series on Daniel Boone, a five-parter on PBS.  I told the producer I can’t memorize anymore.  She said, “Can you read cue-cards?”  I said yes, she said, “You’re hired.”  They hired me as the Cuban tavern owner.  So I’ve got a job coming up some time next year.  And it’s nice to get back into it.  And on occasion I’ve done some movies for film students at the University.  8, 9, 10-minute films.  Because I go down there and I coach and I teach, and I go to talks.  So I still keep my hand in it as best I can.

BOOK REVIEW --  HENRY DARROW – LIGHTNING IN THE BOTTLE by Jan Pippins and Henry Darrow, is the delightful biography of the actor we all discovered as Manolito Montoya on THE HIGH CHAPARRAL.  Of course, his life is so much more than that, and his childhood in Puerto Rico and New York, his chess mastery, his relationship with a doting mother and the rest of his family, would be entertaining all by itself, without his being cast in the ground-breaking Western series.   

For fans of CHAPARRAL, Jan Pippins’ meticulously detailed telling of the history of the show, from concept to casting, from the rise to the demise, is a compelling book within a book.  But there is another dimension to this story as well.  As a white guy watching Westerns in the sixties, I hadn’t a clue of the great significance, to a sizable minority of our population, of having Latin characters who were not banditos or servants or Federales, but people of equal or higher wealth and social standing than the whites.  Throughout the book the testimonials to Darrow’s importance to the careers of so many Latino actors, sometimes by example, sometimes by personal involvement, is as moving as it is unexpected. 

Darrow’s career did not end with CHAPARRAL, and the stories about his TV, film and stage work are enlightening, amusing, and sometimes are cautionary tales, as are some elements of his personal life.   HENRY DARROW – LIGHTNING IN THE BOTTLE is a book that will be heartily enjoyed by fans of the man, of the show, and documents through him a unique and significant time in the history of American entertainment.  I highly recommend it.


Even as weepy-whiners call for a ban on DJANGO UNCHAINED action figures, fearing small children will be encouraged to play ‘slave and master’ games, Tarantino’s Western continues to entertain.  His own theatre, the New Beverly Cinema revival house, offers an exclusive design t-shirt, $20 for short sleeves, $25 for baseball sleeves.  And at Amoeba Records in Hollywood, the purchase of the soundtrack includes an exclusive poster (I haven’t been able to find out what it looks like yet).  

That's about all for tonight!  Sunday night's Golden Globes were good for Westerns -- Best Actor for Kevin Costner in HATFIELDS & MCCOYS, Best Screenplay for Quentin Tarantino for DJANGO UNCHAINED, Best Supporting Actor for Christoph Waltz for DJANGO, and Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis in LINCOLN.  

Next week, in time for Hallmark Movie Channel's GOODNIGHT FOR JUSTICE 3: QUEEN OF HEARTS, the best film yet in the series, I'll have a review, plus interviews with Luke Perry and Ricky Schroder.  Have a great week!

Happy Trails,


All Original Contents Copyright January 2013 by Henry C. Parke -- All Rights Reserved