Friday, September 5, 2008

Cowboys - Part I

Over the last month, I have been pondering how I develop the heroes in my books. Obviously, reading has been a big source of inspiration, but I noted a subconscious thread in my thought process that seemed to dictate what kind of attributes I choose for my men and I took the opportunity to explore that idea. What did I discover? Thank you for asking. The subconscious thread came from television shows I'd watched as a kid. Strong, male leads in television series that ran week after week after week. So I'm starting an ongoing series about the men found in these programs. There will be cop shows, spies, sci-fi hotties. I hope these provoke a good trip down memory lane for you! This month is an eight part series on Cowboys. Enjoy!

Can you name this show from the picture?



Or maybe you need this:



Yes, it's High Chapparal.

Original Run: September 10, 1967 to March 12, 1971.
4 Seasons; 98 episodes

High Chaparral was the name given to the ranch owned and operated by the Cannon family in the Arizona Territory during the 1870's. Stubborn, proud Big John Cannon (Leif Erickson) is unceasing in his determination to carve a life in the untamed land. Frequently at odds with Big John is his firebrand of a younger brother Buck (Cameron Mitchell) and John's sensitive son, Billy Blue (Mark Slade). After his first wife's death, Big John marries Victoria (Linda Cristal), daughter of wealthy Mexican Land-owner, Don Sebastian Montoya (Frank Silvera) as a political alliance. Her roguish brother Manolito (Henry Darrow) accompanies her to the Cannon ranch and becomes a permanent member of the household. Sam Butler (Don Collier) is hired as the ranch foreman, while his brother Joe (Bob Hoy) along with Reno (Ted Markland), Pedro (Roberto Contreras), Ira (Jerry Summers), and Vaquero (Rudolfo Acosta) are the hard-working, fun-loving ranch hands.

Trivia:

In the final season of The High Chaparral, Frank Silvera died. They explained the disappearance of his character by having Don Sebastian also die on the show.

Victoria Cannon was John's second wife. His first wife was killed by an Indian arrow in the first episode. Victoria was a Mexican cattle heiress.

The High Chaparral replaced the "Andy Williams show". This change made for a pretty spectacular night on NBC for western lovers as the show aired immediately after the hit western series, "Bonanza", which had already flourished for eight years on NBC!

This series was shot almost entirely on location in 100+ heat at Tucson, Arizona, which gave it a realistic atmosphere. The viewer could almost feel the heat and the dust after an hour with the Cannons. The scripts were way above average, and each episode had enough action to hold viewer’s interest. Nearly all the action sequences were coordinated by famed stuntman Henry Wills, and nearly every episode showcased a guest star of some repute. It was consistently in the top 20 of the national ratings, despite being lambasted for its excessive violence. In Europe, it was the top-rated show being imported at that time.

The series was also unique in another way. David Dortort, who was also the creative genius behind Bonanza, insisted on realism all the way. He built the house to specifications of 1870 Arizona using real adobe and materials native to the area. He hired real Mexicans to play Mexicans and real Apaches to play Apaches. One of the greatest coup in film history was the hiring of Nino Cochise, grandson of the fabled Cochise, to play the part of his famous grandfather.

(Thanks to http://www.thehighchaparral.com/tvhighchaparral.htm for all the info.)

So which male do you think I enjoyed the most in this program? Leave your guesses in the comments and I'll tell you on Tuesday when we'll visit with another old western.

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