The High Chaparral
Back row, left to right: Bob Hoy as Joe Butler, Don Collier as Sam Butler, Ted Markland as Reno
Middle row, left to right: Mark Slade as Blue Cannon, Linda Cristal as Victoria Cannon, Leif Erickson as John Cannon, Cameron Mitchell as Buck Cannon, Henry Darrow as Monolito Montoya
Front row left to right: Rudolfo Acosta as Vaquero, Roberto Contreras as Pedro, Jerry Summers as Ira
The High Chaparral was a highly acclaimed Western television show that premiered on September 11, 1967 on NBC. Created by the executive producer of Bonanza, David Dortort, (he also wrote the story for the two-part first episode) this successful series was exciting, original, realistic to the period, always well-written, and brought to life by consummate performers. It was so much more than Westerns that had come before, and has never been matched. During its four-year run, The High Chaparral told stories of "the mystique of the land - violent and cruel and strangely beautiful...of discovery and denial, fortune and failure." (Arizona Highways, 9/67).
Set in the Arizona territory west of Tucson in the 1870's, the ranch owned Big John Cannon (played by Leif Erickson) is given its name in the first episode by John's wife, Annalee, who declares, " I christen thee - The High Chaparral , the greatest cattle ranch in the whole territory - the whole world." Not long after they begin their new life in this beautiful but challenging wilderness with their son, Billy Blue (Mark Slade) and John's younger brother, Buck (Cameron Mitchell), Annalee is killed during an Apache raid, just the beginning of their troubles. John and Buck cross into Mexico to see Don Sebastian Montoya (Frank Silvera), a wealthy and powerful landowner, to set up a defense pact against the Apaches, and to keep the High Chaparral cattle from being rustled by Don Sebastian's men.. Don Sebastian insists the the deal be sealed by the marriage of Big John with his beautiful daughter, Victoria (Linda Cristal). Her brother Monolito (Henry Darrow) comes along as part of the bargain, but also because he prefers the hard life and free existence he will have at the High Chaparral over the finer life of the Rancho Montoya, where he battles with his father as much as Blue does with Big John. Later, Victoria tells her father and her husband that it is not a political marriage to her - she would not have allowed that. She is inspired by the man with the big dreams and wants to be part of them. It takes John longer to adjust to the new situation but he comes to love Victoria as much as she loves him. With the ranch hands that Buck has hired - Foreman Sam Butler (Don Collier), his younger brother Joe (Bob Hoy), Pedro (Roberto Contreras), Ira (Jerry Summer) and Reno (Ted Markland), plus Vaquero (Rudolpho Acosta), the inhabitants of The High Chaparral become a family. As David Dortort says in Arizona Highways (Sept. 1967), "The High Chaparral is not one story - it's many: a chronicle that belongs to all the people who loved the land and fought for their place on it."
The show is currently being broadcast on the Hallmark Channel. To find out absolutely everything about this wonderful program, including a complete synopsis of every episode, go to the site The High Chaparral.com
Theme from "The High Chaparral" by David Rose