The High Chaparral Newsletter, High Chaparral Reunion, Henry Darrow, Mark Slade, Cameron Mitchell, Linda Cristal, Leif Erickson, Bob Hoy, Don Collier, Ted Markland, Kent McCray, Susan McCray, Alex Sharp,

The High Chaparral Reunion 2007 & 40th Anniversary Celebration

Dear High Chaparral Fans:

It's hard to believe that April is almost over. Only four more months until August, and your chance to meet your favorite cast members, guest stars, and folks who worked behind the scenes to make The High Chaparral the great show it was. What better way to spend your income tax refund!

This is our biggest issue yet. In it you'll learn some tips about finding cheap airfares and how to save money on your trip. It's not too early to be booking your flight to the reunion. We have our first contest - win a personally autographed photo. Instead of a fan reminiscing over past reunion experiences, we have a memory from a cast member. And read all about the man who created the breathtaking music for The High Chaparral, Harry Sukman.



The High Chaparral
  2007 Reunion
August 17-19, 2007
 Sportsmen's Lodge Hotel
 Studio City, California

High Chaparral News

Kent McCray will receive an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts on May 20th from his alma mater, University of Hartford. Congratulations, Kent!

Don Collier will take part in the John Wayne
Centennial Celebration at the Old Tucson Studios on Saturday May 26, 2007. Stop by and say hello to Sam Butler. Maybe he'll give you a tour of The High Chaparral ranch house.

Now Hear This
Susan McCray, host of Getting to Know You with Susan McCray on KSAV radio, has just recorded a special promo for The High Chaparral Reunion. Click on Susan's photo to listen.

In memory of Jack Williams
High Chaparral Stuntman
April 15, 1921-April 10, 2007



R eservations are $45, and your remaining balance will be $135. After July 1, fees will be $145.00 Registration closes  August 1.

Payments must be made in U.S. dollars and can be made by: personal check, money order, or Paypal to

(Note that full payment is due by July 31, 2007. Your registration is non-refundable. Cancellations made before July 1 will be refunded in full, and a 50% refund will be given to cancellations made after July 1. Unfortunately, no refunds after August 1.)

This issue continues with reminisces  from past Reunions. We asked Henry Darrow (Manolito Montoya): What was your favorite Reunion moment?

From Henry: It was great to see David Dortort. At first when I saw him he was having breakfast with his wife, Rose. He looked very tired. Kent McCray talked about the show and then introduced David, I believe, and David got up. And from that sort of low key energy level he stared to tell about Chaparral, remembering when he hired me and Linda and the rest of the cast, and the concept of the show. He just came to life. It was really thrilling. It was wonderful to see the energy just surge, and suddenly he was David Dortort, the Producer of Chaparral. There he was. And it was great. That I remember very clearly, almost as if it was yesterday. 

Ted Markland, Henry Darrow and Bob Hoy at the 2003 High Chaparral Reunion

Have you booked your room for the 2007 High Chaparral Reunion? Go to to learn more about the historic hotel where the event is held. To book your room, call the Sportsmen's Lodge Hotel at 1-800-821-8511 and ask for The High Chaparral rate, available until August 1.

High Chaparral on the Web

  The Official High Chaparral website

The High Chaparral Reunion website

Don Collier

Bob Hoy

Ted Markland

Susan McCray

Rudy Ramos

Out West Entertainment


Fly Me to the Moon - or The High Chaparral Reunion
by Penny McQueen

         With The High Chaparral 40th Anniversary Reunion approaching, it's time to book flights.  But how do you wade through the deep waters of finding the cheapest flight?  Even seasoned travel agents are challenged by the options – budget airlines, travel websites, direct flights, alternate cities. How do you get the best value for your money?

Here are answers to frequently asked questions that will help you search for the cheapest airfares. Find your flight and make your reunion reservation!

 Where is the best place to find cheap airfares?

 Ask ten people and you'll get ten different answers.  Everyone who flies has a personal favorite.  Expedia, Travelocity, Cheap Tickets, Priceline, Hotwire, Orbitz.  None can guarantee the lowest price all the time, and no one carries every airline. Since prices on the same flight can vary by supplier, your best option is to shop around. 

Purchasing direct from an airline website may yield a lower cost than from a wholesaler like Travelocity. If you find an attractive flight, check it direct from the airline before booking.

Many low-cost, budget airlines such as JetBlue, Airtran, or Spirit Air won't show up in travel sites; search the airline website for fares. Wikipedia has a list of budget airlines at .

Travel meta-search engines that search hundreds of other websites can cut your research time. consolidates airlines with many other travel websites, and includes some low cost, budget airlines.  Nothing is comprehensive, however, so if you're not finding a low price you'll want to check directly on airline websites, especially if your departure airline has budget airlines available. 

Many sites will alert you when airfares to a specific destination change or drop below a certain price.  Take advantage of this customized fare watcher feature so you'll know when the lowest price hits the market.

Remember – shop around for the lowest discounts.

 When is the cheapest time to fly?

 Just like Buck's solid imitation gold pocket watch, it's all in the timing. The person in the aisle seat next to you might've paid $500 more for their ticket – or $500 less.

Airlines sell a few seats at a discounted fare, when those sell out, they up the ante. Usually, the best way to get a low price is to book far in advance so you grab the lowest rate.  If you've got a gambling soul, the internet is full of last-minute bargains, but there's no guarantee you'll get the itinerary you want. 

 General tips for maximizing your flight dollars are:

         Be flexible with dates, times, and airports. By considering alternatives, you may save enough to pay for an extra hotel night, or for the drive to a different city for your departure.

         Buy at least 60 days in advance and stay over a Saturday night.

         Mid-day (Mon. Tue. Wed.) flights are often cheaper.

         Connecting flights may be less expensive than non-stops. Travel search engines don't always put together the cheapest connections – try putting together your own.  But remember, with today's flight delays, allow enough time for transfers, or stick with the same airline.

         Round trips are usually cheaper than one-way fares. Use the same airline for both directions.

         Check off-hours.  Red-eye flights are likely to be less.

         Try flying at the last minute on a weekend.

         Check for package deals.

         If you're traveling long haul, need a complicated itinerary, or can't manage the details of your trip, then you need a professional travel agent.

What about Travel Insurance?

As a certified scuba instructor who's run group dive trips for the past 15 years, I recommend it.  Many airlines include it as an option when booking flights, often at a low cost.  For approximately $15-$25, you're covered in case of a family emergency or health crisis.

 I'm still on a budget – how else can I save money?

 The hidden costs of travel add up for all of us.  When you're living on a budget but still want to enjoy the benefits of travel, you can do more to save money than just find a cheap flight. 

1.       Count the real cost.  Departing at 6 a.m.?  Maybe you'll pay for an airport hotel the night before, so your flight savings go out the window.  Landing in the wee hours of the morning so you're taking a taxi home?  Maybe it's worth paying for a direct flight when you compare the time and hassle of changing planes. 

2.       Terminal dollars = terminally expensive. Airport shops know travelers impulse buy candy, gifts, pain pills, breath minds. Any kind of impulse item you can imagine, and the markup on all of them is sky high – at least double what you'd pay outside the airport.  Once you're trapped, you can't leave, so what are your options?  Either buy the $4.00 designer aspirin, or let your head hurt.  So pack basics in your carry-on bag.

3.       Bring a book. Few places are more boring than an airport, but don't buy books, magazines, or newspapers.  They're over-inflated.  Plan ahead, pack books or magazines from home.

4.       Eat.  Go ahead, EAT. But do it before you get to the food court, because you'll pay a hefty price for wilted lettuce, chilly sandwiches, and cardboard pizza. Do you really want to spend $10.00 on a McSomething Meal? It's the same food in the outside world.

5.       Snacks, snacks, beautiful snacks. Unless you're flying first-class (and if you are, why are you reading this article?) you won't be getting meal service on your flight.  Airlines are charging you for – that's right – airline food.  Pack your own meal bar, crackers, or a big bag of nuts.  The drinks are still free.

6.       Valet, where's my car? A good, offsite parking service may be cheaper than long-term airport parking.  Check the rates before you go.  Many have on-line discounts, or frequent parker clubs.  If you've got an accommodating friend or relative, perhaps they'll act as shuttle driver, eliminating the need to pay for parking.

Guess Who?
This cute cowboy grew up to be a handsome resident of The High Chaparral. The first person to correctly identify him wins a personally autographed photo.
Send your guesses to or just click here


All Music is Sound
But Not All Sound Is Music
(Harry Sukman)

by Penny McQueen

What happened to music scores? On The Office or Boston Legal, the hand-held camera giggles and zooms for close-ups of coffee mugs and cigars, if we're lucky an ironic blast of music before the actors raise an eyebrow and we're off to the next scene.

Some time in the 90's we overdosed on Very Special Episodes that ended with a once-upon-a-time hit single.  If I had to listen to Green Day's Time of Your Life yet again while the camera lingered on tear-stained faces, I planned to feed my remote to the dog. But these days I hear chair scrapes, keyboard clicks, and rustling paper on my surround-sound system, the same background noise I work in 10-plus hours a day.

The pendulum has swung, folks.  Gritty realism is in. 

But here's the problem.  Music – good music – has the ability to transcend reality. With the right score, our emotions are engaged at a level we don't intellectually parse. Enter the genius of Harry Sukman. In The High Chaparral, his music combined with rattling windmills, boot heels scuffling through sand, and redeye whiskey sloshing in bottles to add a layer of emotional richness that tied us to the hearts of every character in a way that flat realism could not.

It's a composer's job to know when to help a scene. You can make a suggestion, you can strengthen a character with a strong theme, you can soften a character with a beautiful melody. The real question is: Is it valid? If it intrudes, or if it's obtrusive, even as a composer, I'd rather that the music not be there at all. Sometimes I disagree with a producer or director about where music should go. To prove my point I say, But silence is music too – it really is.

--Harry Sukman

Oscar night
Left to right - Sandra Dee, Harry Sukman, Bobby Darin & Ernest Gold

"My father gave each character his or her own theme, thereby identifying them," Susan Sukman McCray said, discussing Harry Sukman's famous score for The High Chaparral . "All the actors loved having their own theme. Even the guest stars had one. Greg Walcott (No Bugles, No Drums, and Auld Lang Syne) had a special theme and he recalls a story about my father coming to him about it. You should ask Greg about it at the reunion." 

One of the most recognizable western themes of all time, David Rose's energetic All For You introduced each week's show, while Sukman's interpretive themes scored the episodes. "My father's old, dear friend Joe Lubin wrote the lyrics for the title theme, Johnny Rondo, as well as any other music where lyrics were added. He also was responsible for having the only LP album recorded with music from the show. It was done in London and Joe went there to oversee, and Joe was responsible for the songbook that was published."

To know when to help a scene is the composer's job, but to know why is the step beyond because then music is created to become an integral part of the character.

--Harry Sukman

Harry Sukman, with his Oscar

Until The High Chaparral is released on DVD, we can't hear these themes in all their restored glory. But even on worn out tapes, the craftsmanship of each piece is clear. If you're lucky enough to have a many-times watched tape, close your eyes and listen to Victoria's Theme. Could this music be for anyone except a heartbreakingly beautiful woman? The rollicking Latino rhythms of Manlito's Theme so perfectly capture an exuberant caballero, it sounds like a traditional Mexican folk song.  Sukman's work in Chaparral's

The Champion of the Western World garnered an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Musical Composition; find out why by turning off the video and concentrating on the audio.  The evocative music brings the action to life without pictures.

Although we know him best for his work on the story of our favorite Arizona ranch, Harry Sukman's remarkable life reached far beyond Chaparral. A child music prodigy, he debuted as a concert pianist at the age of 12. While still a pre-teen he attended the Metropolitan College of Music.  Do yourself a favor and rent a copy of Song Without End: The Story of Franz Liszt (Columbia, 1960), the Academy Award winner for best musical score. While you're at it, pick up copies of Fanny (Warner Bros., 1961) and The Singing Nun (MGM, 1966); both received Oscar nominations for Sukman's musical score.

I have found no contradiction whatsoever between my background as a classical concert pianist and my writing music. In composing music for many westerns, I believe the folklore of America and its music are our precious heritage and are no less important than anything we have inherited from European culture. The American people sense this, and that is why they so avidly patronize historic western entertainment, even in fictional form.

--Harry Sukman

One CD of his work is readily available. Harry's Piano (, the book about his early childhood written by daughter Susan McCray, includes a CD with two of his compositions performed by him. Be sure to bring your copy to the reunion, as Susan offered, "If anyone has or will be purchasing Harry's Piano, I'll be delighted to autograph the book while at the reunion."

Sukman albums are still available, and will soon be joined by another. "I am producing with Vincent Falcone (Sinatra's musical director and my father's dear friend) a CD of Harry Sukman music for piano and trio. I plan on having some of The High Chaparral themes performed," Susan said, adding she promises to alert HC fans when the CD is released. Fans can also hear her father's music on her weekly radio show, Getting to Know You With Susan McCray. "My theme on KSAV is the theme from the MGM series The Eleventh Hour played by Vinnie and trio at the dedication of The Harry Sukman Foyer at the University of Hartford." Listen to the cool, jazzy introduction every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. Pacific time and 9:30 p.m. Eastern with a repeat performance on Thursdays at 3:30 p.m. Pacific and 6:30 p.m. Eastern on Previously aired shows (including interviews with Henry Darrow, Manolito Montoya, and Don Collier, Sam Butler, from The High Chaparral) can be heard in the show's archives on the site.

Although successful in a tough business, Sukman remained gracious, often sharing screen credit.  "He was, indeed, kind & generous and my mother was exceptionally beautiful & talented as well," Susan said. In addition to The High Chaparral, you'll hear his Golden Globe and Emmy nominated work in over two hundred episodes of classic television series such as Bonanza, Dr. Kildare, The Eleventh Hour, Laramie, Wagon Train, The Cowboys, The Virginian, Tales of Wells Fargo, Owen Marshall, Gentle Ben and many more.  Of special interest is his Emmy nominated work in the original Stephen King's Salem's Lot. For a generation, Sukman's music provided a common cultural backdrop.

When David Dortort asked Harry Sukman to help craft the world of Cannons and Montoyas, he was bringing not only the best talent, but also a man he respected as a dear friend.  Susan McCray recalled, "David and Rose Dortort are family to me - they were best friends with my parents Harry and Francesca. When I speak with either David or Rose, I feel like my mom and dad are with me. The love between David and Harry was not only for their mutual admiration of talent, it was for their feelings for each other as special people. When visiting our house for a gathering or a social visit, my father would sit down at his Steinway Grand Piano and the first thing David would say was, 'Harry you know what I want to hear,' and my father would play his beautiful Montoya Theme from High Chaparral. David would tear up and come over to give my dad a hug and he'd say, "Harry, that's beautiful'."  

The music had to become part of the actor's face, the writer's words, the director's staging, the cameraman's lighting, the character's wardrobe, the dressing of the set, the sound man's magic fingers.

--Harry Sukman


Harry Sukman, during a recording session for The High Chaparral

Victoria's Theme contains an interesting bit of trivia.  The original music in the pilot was replaced by the melodious one we typically associate with Victoria Montoya de Cannon.  As he continued to compose for each episode, Harry Sukman built much of the emotional depth of the characters we love.  Susan recalled, "He was very proud of that show and David Dortort loved his music, as did the entire cast and crew. One of my fondest memories was during a party at our home. Of course there was always music playing.  My mother on the organ or piano, my father on the piano. This one particular New Year's party, Leif Erickson got up to sing, my father accompanied him. It was the greatest rendition of  Old Man River I've ever heard. Very moving and quite dramatic. Wish I had a recording of it." 

So do we all.


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