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 


  1. What a great interview with Henry Darrow. Brings back a lot of memories... Would've loved to have seen him at The Autry.

  2. I really appreciate this interview with such a great actor! I love Henry Darrow as Manolito in High Chaparral! His life achievements as an actor are outstanding! Thanks for the interview!

  3. This is a great interview of Henry Darrow! He is absolutely
    a wonderful actor and well deserving of the ALMA award for Latins! Love him in High Chaparral! God Bless you Henry!

  4. Great interview! Can I also say what a fantastic good read is Henry's book, Lightning in the Bottle! I will be shortly re-reading it again after watching all the High Chaparral episodes on CBS Action in the UK. The info about the Partridge Family was interesting - not my kind of show then or now...more than ever. All the best.

  5. Assisti quando adolescente e estou assistindo hoje, o tempo passou rápido e mesmo assim parece que nada mudou, Manolito da série chaparral é simplesmente inesquecível, jamais esqueci deste personagem, sempre muito alegre. valeu pela bela entrevista, seria muito bom que o mesmo pudesse ler as mensagens, saberia que sempre foi marcante e amado.

    1. Thank you Romero! I'm so glad you enjoyed the interview. I hope to be speaking to Henry Darrow, in person this time, September 14-16 at the High Chaparral 50th Anniversary reunion in Burbank. You can read about it in the Round-up!

    2. Hi again, Romero. When I see Henry, I'll give him your message.

  6. This show was on TV before I was even born and I just recently discovered it in reruns. The first episode I saw was "Only the Bad Come to Sonora" and Mr. Darrow's incredible screen presence and magnetism drew me in immediately. His performance as Manolito made me a fan within minutes. I seldom watch TV, being more of a books person, and am even more rarely impressed by an actor's performance to the point that I look him up online to learn more about him. Mr. Darrow was riveting and I could never predict how he would deliver a line or what his expression would say to the audience. Quite impressive work. Also, as a Latino, seeing an actual Latino play the parts on TV is rare and appreciated. Please, if you are still in contact with Mr. Darrow, let him know he is acquiring new fans even now.

    1. Thanks Matt! I actually talked with Henry Darrow in September, at the 50th anniversary celebration of High Chaparral. The February 2018 issue of True West Magazine, which just came out, features my article about Henry, and the rest of the cast and crew who attended.

    2. Thanks! I will pick that up!

      I just saw the first episode of The High Chaparral for the first time and Henry Darrow absolutely makes the first scene explode.