The High Chaparral
Mark Slade

Mark Slade was already popular as the result of his role as Hollis, the seasick sailor in The Wackiest Ship in the Army, and his fans were delighted to see him ride The High Chaparral as Billy Blue Cannon.  He won the part as the result of a most impromptu audition with creator/producer David Dortort.  Dortort had used the generation gap experience between himself and his own son to create the part of Blue, and he was looking for just the right actor capable of carrying the demanding aspects such a role would require.  He had tested hundreds of other hopefuls, had tentatively settled on another popular young actor of the times, and a day before rehearsals were to begin, in walked Mark Slade.  Mark's agent had learned what was expected of the role, and he knew Mark was perfect for the part.  Mark decided to "audition" Blue the way he thought an estranged son would behave...well, sort of.  He strode into Dortort's office, announced James Dean was still alive, grabbed the surprised producer by the lapels of his suit and yanked him up out of his swivel chair.  So okay, that's probably not the way it really happened, but it's what we heard.  However it came about, Mark Slade walked out Dortort's office as Billy Blue Cannon, and history was in the making. 

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