November 2007                                                                              Editor: Penny McQueen
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The High Chaparral Newsletter

Vincent Falcone Trio

A tribute to my friend
Harry Sukman
Produced by Susan McCray
Available online at

The CD is selling very well and you may see a 'CD coming back in stock soon' on the CDBaby order page. Susan assures additional ones are on the way, so please leave your email and address where noted to be alerted when they arrive. She wanted to let everyone know that your info will not be given or sold to anyone, and will not be used for any other reason than to tell you when the CD arrives. If you're holiday shopping and want this for a gift, ORDER EARLY, as the sales orders are enthusiastic, especially for a new release.

Hear Blue's Theme
From Warm Heart...Cool Hands!

(click to listen)

New Blog
The latest entry on The High Chaparral scene is at the highchaparralblog. Maintained by Ginny Shook, it's the source for up to the minute information on films, appearances, cast and crew news, and all the lastest HC news. Sign up to receive email updates and post comments. Thanks and kudos go out to Ginny for providing this great news service for all the HC fans.


Hear Blue's Theme
in the Background of the
KSAV Radio Holiday Promotion

Merry Christmas

From The

High Chaparral

The Kent McCray Interviews
On December 11 & 18, tune in to for two special evenings with Kent McCray, producer of High Chaparral, Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, Highway or Heaven, and may other legendary shows. Kent is a natural storyteller and has fascinating insights into the background of our favorite shows. You'll soon see why all the cast and crew still have so much respect for him.
Getting to Know You
Kent McCray
December 11 & 18
6:30 pm Pacific/9:30 pm Eastern
KSAV Radio
Click to hear the promo

Getting to Know You
Broadcast in Hartford, CT

Chaparral's favorite radio show will soon be branching out 'back east' in Hartford, CT! If you're in the area, you can tune in to WWUH to pick up the show.
Click to hear the promo

Guess Who? - Name the High Chaparral Actor

All HC fans can identify the actors in costume whether they're front and center or in the background. But take a guess who's working out poolside in this vintage photo! Send your guess to - everyone who guesses correctly will be listed in the next newsletter.

(Hint - it's not Victoria or Violetta.)

Christmas At
The High Chaparral
By Tanja Konstantaki

Don't worry Blue, I'll make sure Santa gets your letter....

I've told you once, I've told you twice, I've told you a thousand times. If you don't go to sleep on Christmas Eve, Santa won't bring you any presents!

Hope you won't mind that I didn't have time to wrap her up - Merry Christmas, Blue!

Letters to the Editor

Comments, questions, suggestions or complaints - send a message on the next Butterfield-Overland stage,

Past Editions

Read past editions
of the newsletter at

High Chaparral on the Web

The Official High Chaparral website
The High Chaparral Blog
The High Chaparral Reunion website
The High Chaparral Newsletter
Don Collier
Henry Darrow
Bob Hoy
Ted Markland
Susan McCray
Rudy Ramos
Mark Slade
Out West Entertainment

To subscribe to The High Chaparral newsletter, send an email to

Welcome again to another list of new High Chaparral articles:

  • Rudy Ramos (Wind) is featured in this month's lead article, in an interview by Penny McQueen
  • Warm Heart, Cool Hands, a new CD featuring the music of Harry Sukman.
  • Listen to Blue's Theme from The High Chaparral - you'll be among the first in the world to hear this brand new arrangement!
  • Announcing the new High Chaparral Blog
  • Holiday photos from the ranch.
  • A reprint article on Mark Slade from Australia, TV Week, May 9, 1970.


Vintage photo from BRAVO, the German fan magazine, reads:
BRAVO- Germany's largest magazine
for young people
Mark Slade
Cowboy Billy Blue from the High Chaparral-Ranch dressed up as Santa Clause for his Bravo friends and warmly wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
(Thanks to Tanja Konstantaki for the vintage Bravo cover and translation)

California Fires
Kent and Susan McCray were recently evacuated from their home in Malibu for the second time in six weeks due to the fires ravaging the California area.   The McCrays remarked, "After living in our home for twenty-three years and loving it,this last fire really did us in." Word has it they are looking at property outside Malibu. 

Fans were also touched by the emergency, as Vickie Harvey was evacuated, Vickie2's home was threatened, and many list members had friends and family near or involved in the danger. 

As the Santa Ana winds continue and the fire danger remains, our thoughts and support are with all of those in the HC family who's homes and lives are are risk.

Rudy Ramos: Second Wind
by Penny McQueen

In 1967, television performances aired once, a second time during reruns, and then disappeared, unless a show was lucky enough to enter the hallowed ground of syndication. Fast forward forty years to the world of streaming media, digital recording, TiVo, internet webcasts, exclusive online episodes, and the phenomenon of viral marketing. The wonder boys who launched YouTube thought they’d invented a way for people to share vacation videos and home movies; instead they created a social revolution that continues to rock the globe and change how we view entertainment.

As long as the revolution brings us samples of work like those found at, I won’t complain. If you remember Rudy only as Wind from High Chaparral, do yourself a favor and check out the Reel section of his website. Prepare to be surprised; this is no One Note Johnny. In rapid fire sequence, he morphs from one character to the next, barely recognizable, displaying a range of characterization and comedic talent that’s dizzying to watch. Try not to laugh at his bebop sleezeball Carlos from NYPD Blue, talking a good game in the interrogation room. “Only time my hands touch her naked body would be if I’m falling out the window and there ain’t nothing else to hold on to.” Nice man, he remembers his manners. “But I didn’t say that to her.”


Flashback to 1971, when news of High Chaparral’s cancellation arrived. Rudy hung up his leather costume, contacted his agent, and parlayed his stint as a co-star into a five decade career as a hardworking actor. Roles in Hawaii Five-0, Helter-Skelter, The Rockford Files and other projects came regularly. Then in 1980 he shot an episode of Paris, a standard-issue California cop show starring James Earl Jones. Aside from the role, always welcome for an actor, the part brought an unexpected bonus. “Mark Slade and I played police officers and best friends in the show. We never discussed The High Chaparral until we were saying goodbye on the final day of shooting. He gave me a hug and said, ‘it was nice working with you – Wind!’ I didn't know he knew until that moment.” The idea of Chaparral’s two favorite young rebels together is intriguing for fans, and also for Rudy. “Mark is a very nice person and we spent about 10 days together. I'm sure we would have had a very good relationship on The High Chaparral had that happened.”

Years passed. Always musical, Rudy continued to be passionate about this aspect of his art. Horses and Parelli Natural Horsemanship training filled his spare time, acting roles kept him busy at work. If he barely thought of a half-Pawnee youngster, then why would anyone else? Then a friend gave him some interesting news. “Two years ago a musician friend of mine happened to be browsing The High Chaparral website and told me there was a section on me. I looked, was blown away, and contacted the webmaster to congratulate her and to introduce myself.
Charlotte got back to me and that was the beginning of being in touch with all of the wonderful people associated with the site and the discussion group.”

Forward thinking and busy, in the years since his last Chaparral scene was shot, he’d had few reminders of his big break. “I really had no contact with anyone from the show for 35 years except running into Henry Darrow from time to time.” The 2005 reunion was an occasion for Rudy to meet many of his fans and see some of the colleagues from the beginning of his career. “When I came to check in, Ginny Shook was greeting people and I said my name is Rudy Ramos and I am a guest. Her reaction was subtle but she made we feel welcome and special. Seeing people I had worked with 35 years ago and hearing the stories they told brought back great memories.”

A special highlight was being seated next to Rose and David Dortort, the producer of High Chaparral. When Rudy asked if Mr. Dortort remembered him as Wind, he received a touching response. “He studied me for about 15 seconds and then this huge smile came to his face. He touched my face very gently with the back of his hand and said, "Of course I remember you Rudy, you were wonderful!" Just about brought tears. The love and admiration I have for the man I could never put into words.”

On March 13, 1994 an accident with a kicking horse sidelined him, shattering his eye socket. Requiring six surgeries to fix the orbital, face puffy and bruised, he was out of circulation, unable to work. It was a long stretch for an actor, as he explains, “I figured possibly because of the five year absence that my career was over except for an occasional job.”

But a second wind can jumpstart a career from the most unlikely place. Four years ago in a restaurant, George Lopez introduced himself to Rudy, saying he was a big fan of his movie work. And Rudy is a big fan of George. “He has been very encouraging and supportive about me getting back to acting full time. His belief in me has made me believe in me again.” The friendship between the two men resulted in a role on The George Lopez Show for Rudy. Watch a clip from this appearance on his website, his straight man delivery deadpan perfect as he sets George up for the punchline of the scene. “George is a very nice person and he does a lot of things for people all the time. That's why I did that funny scene with him on his show, because he wanted me to play that part opposite him. I am very humbled to have his friendship.”

The second wind is blowing strong for the ruggedly handsome actor. “I've had THE best parts of my life since I started working again, they just don't come as often as they used to.” His most recent project is as Juan Carlos in Mr. Sadman, a comedy/satire feature-film currently in post-production. Cast photos and the movie trailer can be seen at “The film is a unique script written and directed by a very young film maker. The part of Juan Carlos is probably the best film role I have ever had and I am not the bad guy this time,” Rudy said. Set in 1990, the storyline follows a Saddam Hussein body-double who loses his job, then moves to Los Angeles in search of a new start. “Juan Carlos is a ‘been there, done that’, seen it all kind of guy who has made his mistakes in life but has learned from it all,” Rudy explained. “He minds his own business, doesn't bother anyone, and definitely doesn't let anyone bother him. He's a tough guy, but not a bad guy. I think both men and women will like this guy. He is very, very cool. It is a real joy for me to be playing the kind of part that has never been offered to me.”

And a joy for fans. Let's hope there will be more clips added to the website soon.

by Penny McQueen

Susan McCray’s latest project is producing a new CD titled Warm Heart…Cool Hands. It is a tribute to her father, composer Harry Sukman, by his friend, pianist/musical director Vincent Falcone. Each piece was carefully selected by Susan. The arrangements are by Falcone in the easy listening/jazz genre and performed by the Vincent Falcone Trio. "My father would have been very proud and humbled to receive such a loving tribute from his friend”, Susan commented: "This is a true labor of love for both Vinnie and myself. When listening to the piano artistry of Vincent Falcone, Dad once asked, ‘Where the heck does Vinnie find those great chords?’”

Sukman’s work graced every scene in High Chaparral, as he composed themes for each character, including the guest stars. This new CD includes one favorite from the show, a new interpretation of Blue’s Theme. Susan used the upbeat, jazzy single in the background of her holiday promotion for KSAV radio, and generously provided a copy of the recording for The High Chaparral Newsletter readers. Listen to the sample and you’ll get an idea of the creativity and talent that went into the creation of this CD.

Showcasing the talents of Vincent Falcone, pianist and conductor for Frank Sinatra, Warm Heart…Cool Hands is a must-have for any Sukman afficianado. For Chaparral fans, hearing the new Blue’s Theme – which is surprisingly appropriate for the holidays - alongside other legendary work such as Nightfall and Gold Wedding Ring, is well worth the price of admission. The Eleventh Hour is another TV theme (from the show of the same name) and is used as the introduction for the radio show, Getting to Know You, with Susan McCray. Love On a Merry Go Round is another familiar tune, as it’s used for KSAV radio’s signature song, along with Susan’s added lyrics.

An interesting personal footnote concerns the seventh track, Susan. Sukman wrote this specifically for his daughter. It's a lovely melody, one that is especially touching when considered in the context of a father capturing his love and pride in an only child. It was played on a very special occasion, the marriage of Susan Sukman to Kent McCray. On the CD, Falcone arranged and played the melody as a samba, which is his favorite, but Susan adds, "I really didn't samba down the aisle on my wedding day, but that’s not to say I didn't want to - I was so happy."

Vincent Falcone is legendary in the music business, not only for his work with Sinatra but for his own career as well as tours with such artists as Tony Bennett, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Jack Jones, and Andy Williams. When Susan asked her father's longtime friend to arrange and play the music for this CD, Falcone responded, “It would be my honor.” His aim was to ensure the integrity of Sukman’s original compositions, and he’s accomplished that, honoring the man and his music with this beautiful tribute.

The official CD website is at, and it is available at

Billy Blue Walks Out

This article is reprinted in it's entirety
from Australian TV Week
May 9, 1970. The subject matter, quotes, and opinions are those of the original writers and editors.

Mark Slade stormed his way into High Chaparral. “James Dean is alive,” he roared at the producer who had kept him waiting. Today, two years later, he has left the series no less dramatically. “I may be doing a Pernell Roberts,” he said quietly. “I could have sacrificed my whole career…but I felt it was much more important to follow this through. I feel I’m still young enough to gamble.”

In a major upheaval that recalls Pernell Roberts’ stormy divorce from Bonanza, Mark has ridden out of its sister Western in a clash of wills over his movie-making ambitions. There may also be further repercussions for High Chaparral. One German network is reportedly about to drop the Western in protest and at least two other members of the cast are deeply upset by the producers’ tough stand.

Mark’s dramatic walk-out came after creator and executive producer David Dortort denied him a three week leave from High Chaparral to film Better Times Are Coming, a “now” Western he has created with writer William Lansford, later this year.

“It all happened in 10 days,” Mark recalled. “The first indication I had was when someone on Dortort’s office staff asked, “Would you go as far as giving up Billy Blue for your movie? Then a few days later I was accepting the Bambi Award and not a word was said. Dortort was beside me all smiles and he shook my hand. Next day the whole thing blew apart. Dortort didn’t even have the guts to come to me and tell me personally. He had an underling do that…Bitter? I’m only bitter about the way it was done. I guess I’m rather na´ve. I think the best of everyone. Now I look back at the show and… well, I’m just going to put all my energies into the movie.”

Mark’s mood was more one of quiet disillusionment than anger. Despite obvious disappointment at the cast’s general reaction to his exit, he talked of it without rancor and carefully avoided any mention of Leif Erickson although, according to a reliable source, there is a wide rift between the two men. It is understood to have stemmed from the collapse of plans for Leif to play a sheriff in the movie, although the source said Mark had deliberately removed himself from any negotiations because of their High Chaparral relationship.

“Nothing that happened really surprised me.” Mark mused over the events that led to his shock departure. “The surprising thing is how cold it becomes. You really find out who your friends are. Cam (Mitchell) and Linda (Cristal), and she’s very upset, are the only ones I heard from. Oh, Hank (Darrow) called and cleared his conscience. A couple of others, not those in the lead roles, called, but that wasn’t until a couple of weeks later. Cam and I have had our blow-ups with each other, it has been an uncle-nephew relationship with us. But Cam tried for two days to reach me – my wife, Melinda and I just got out of the house when it happened. Finally he rang me at midnight to be sure of catching me. Cam talked to me on the phone till three in the morning.”

The High Chaparral role, however, is not the only sacrifice Mark is making for Better Times are Coming, in which he and Gary Lockwood star as two losers, unable to win in any society, who team up in Texas at the turn of the century. Not only is he risking his career, but as a married man with a pre-school child, his financial security, and he frankly admits the decision to quit was as much his as his wife’s. “I don’t know if I would have done it myself,” he said. “My wife felt I was getting tied, typed, into Billy Blue. By the time the series ended people would take me at face value as an actor. In a series you get pretty used to security. I was thinking of delaying the movie at one stage, but planning was too far advanced, and the question was answered for me… I think my wife saw something like this coming up. Melinda and I have saved our money – we’ve always kept our horns in…What if they asked me to return? I would probably go back, but not until we’ve finished the movie. I am now completely committed to it.”

Better Times Are Coming, which begins shooting late this month in Mexico, already represents a triumph over great odds for both Mark and Bill Landsford. “When my partner and I get together we say it’s our own project, and we aren’t going to give it away to anyone,” Mark said. Bill is making just as many sacrifices as I am, believe me. He has turned down about $25,000 in potential earnings to work on the movie and it’s been harder for him than me. He has a wife and two kids. I’ve lent him some money to help him through this period. Financially, he’s starting to get into shape”

The pair, who have formed Friends and Partners Productions to produce the film, first tried to interest a major studio in their original screenplay, and Mark is frankly disgusted at their indifference. Despite their Hollywood setbacks, they refused to give up the project, eventually winning the backing of a group of Mexican film makers.

Mark makes no secret that it is a shoe-string production, eventually expected to cost $500,000, less than the cost of two High Chaparral episodes. But their conviction that “we have a good product” is shared by everyone involved, including Gary Lockwood, Slim Pickens, and Joanna Moore who are all appearing on an “act now, pay later basis.”

“We don’t have any fancy offices, ours is the nearest telephone booth,” Mark said. “We don’t have any business managers, we use our own attorneys. Now comes the big test. We’ve had indications that if this goes right we will have financing for our next one.”

Later a visitor asked if the title, Better Times Are Coming, had a personal significance. “It didn’t,” Mark Slade grinned slowly. “But it sure does now.”

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High Chaparral Newsletter
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