The High Chaparral
Stunts

Stunt Coordinator 
 
Henry Wills
1921 - 1994

 If Henry Wills missed an episode of The High Chaparral as Stunt Coordinator, I don't know which one it might have been because his name is credited as such on every show I have seen.  He was a screen writer, Second Unit Director, and appeared in more credited, uncredited, and cameo roles (at least nine) than any other guest actor in the series.  I am sure there are many other cameo shots that we have yet to discover. 

 

     Henry Wills was born on an Arizona cattle ranch in 1921 so he came by his riding and stunt abilities naturally, having started riding at the age of four.  After high school he headed for Hollywood where he worked as an extra, primarily in Westerns, the first being "Born to the West" in 1937 with John Wayne.

     He started doing falls as an extra and picked up stunt work watching the professional stuntmen on the sets.  He performed over 1200 falls in his career, mostly from horses.  He perfected transfers from a horse to a wagon or stagecoach and bulldogging, which involves pulling the rider off during a horse transfer.  He appeared in more than 100 films as a stuntman and even more as an actor although he considered himself too shy to be a very good actor.

     He first took the role of Stunt Coordinator in 1960 for "The Magnificent Seven", which led to his becoming a Second Unit Director for "Major Dundee" in 1965.  Henry worked on many television shows including Bonanza, Here Come the Brides, and Little House on the Prairie.  He was the Stunt Coordinator for The High Chaparral and in 48 episodes was also the Second Unit Director, usually working with his favorite Director, William Claxton. Henry is fondly remembered by the cast and crew of The High Chaparral for his easy going nature and his ability to so carefully plan and execute stunt scenes that they rarely required a re-take.  Henry was also credited with writing the episode, "Stinky Flanagan" in the second season.

 

STUNT WORK

       The stunt men and women on The High Chaparral included many well-known names in the Hollywood stunt world.  Their skills were frequently put to use in such an action oriented show with difficult horse and wagon maneuvers, many involving falls and firearms.  The stunt men included two of the regular cast members, Bob Hoy and Jerry Summers, as well as several other stunt men who appeared in the series as credited guest actors.  Those included Chuck Bail, Richard Farnsworth, Jay Jones, Red Morgan, Jerry Gatlin, Jack Williams, and Jerry Wills.  While he was not credited, we recently discovered that Jaye Durkus played the extra hired hand in "Young Blood".  Two stunt women worked on the HC set, Patti Elder and Jackie Hummer Fuller.  And of course you will find Henry Wills in the list below also, sometimes doing more than coordinating.

The Stunt Men and Women of The High Chaparral

Chuck Bail

 As Ben Burris in "A Fella Named Kilroy"
 
Fred Brookfield
 
Steven Burnett
 
Chuck Courtney
1930-2000
 
Jaye Durkus

As Ranch Hand on right in "Young Blood"
 
Patty Elder 
1936-1984

 
Richard Farnsworth
1920-2000

As Lloyd in "The Long Shadow"
 
Jerry Gatlin

As Jonas in "No Bugles, No Drums"
 
Bill Hart
 
Orwin C. Harvey
 
Chuck Hayward
 
Buzz Henry
1931-1971
 
Bob Herron
 
Loren Janes
 
LeRoy Johnson
1922-1995
 
Jay Jones

  As Lt. Cooper in "Alliance"
 
Walt La Rue
 
Jack Lilley
 
Boyd 'Red' Morgan
1915-1988

As Buckskin Frank Leslie in
"Shadows of the Wind"
 
Carl Pitti
1917-2003
 
Walter Scott
 

Bob Hoy

As Joe Butler in
"To Stand for Something More"
 

Bear Hudkins
1918-1997
 
Jackie Hummer Fuller

Doubling for Linda Cristal, probably
from "Champion of the Western World"



With Henry, as a saloon girl (From "The Covey")


Doubling for Marie Gomez in the famous hat scene; with Assistant Director, Ray DeCamp  (From "Champion of the Western World")

From Jackie:
In 1957, I walked on to my first set.  The movie was "The Bad Landers" with Alan Ladd, and I was part of the background.  There were a lot of actors and stuntmen on the show and one of them was Henry Wills.  A true gentleman and awesome stuntman, he took the time to tell a dumb kid what to listen for and who to listen to, A.D.'s and so forth, so I wasn't a complete dummy on my first job.  That started my "occupation" in Show Biz.  In the late 1960's I got a call about a TV pilot called "The High Chaparral".  Henry Wills was the stunt co-ordinator.  I was privileged to become a member of that family standing in and doubling Linda Cristal and any guest actress as needed for the duration of the series.

Going back in history, the first "Beverly Hills Cop" in 1984 was my last show.  We spent over a month in Detroit wrecking cars and having a great time.  One of my other favorite movies to work on was "Cannon Ball Run 2" with Burt Reynolds and most of Hollywood starring.  My association with the people in the entertainment industry has been a thing dreams are made of.  Some advice?  Try to live your dreams if you are able, share what memories you dare and be thankful that you can.

Best wishes for a long and happy life,

Jackie Hummer Fuller

Neil Summers

An HC Set photo between takes
 
Bob Terhune
 
Buddy Van Horn
 
Jack Williams

As the Driver (left), "Too Late the Epitaph"
 
Henry Wills
1921-1994

As Murph in "Jelks"
 
Jerry Wills

As McAdam in "Sangre"
 
Rodd Wolff
Gerry Searle

Biography:
Gerry Searle was born in Wisconsin in 1921. After being discharged from the Army he married and moved to Montana. In the early 60's he came to Tucson and joined his brother in a training and boarding stable on Sabino Canyon Road. About this time a scout from Old Tucson Movie Studios came by looking for some cowboy extras for a movie. Gerry signed on, and from then on worked at the studios for about 10 years, first as a wrangler, and then as a horse stuntman. He did not want to do any other stunts apart from horse stunts.

As well as being in most episodes of High Chaparral, either riding or as an extra, he was in many other movies, including the original version of "Monty Walsh" with Lee Marvin, whom he resembled quite a bit. Like most stunt people of the day, his work was rarely credited. 

After his movie days, Gerry managed a cattle ranch in the Rincon Mountains near Tucson, and then moved to Pearce, where he had a guest ranch, the Grapevine Canyon Ranch, and also an adjacent cattle ranch, the Cobre Loma.  He died at age 85, at home on the ranch.

Jerry Summers
1931-2006

As Ira Bean in "Destination Tucson"
 
Stunt Trivia
  • Jack Lilley doubled Leif Erickson. 

  • Carl Pitti doubled Henry Darrow. 

  • Jerry Wills doubled Mark Slade. 

  • Jackie Hummer doubled Linda Cristal
    (Not sure yet about Cameron Mitchell.) 

  • Carl Pitti did Don's horse jump scene to rescue the wounded soldier in
         "Best Man for the Job". 

  • Carl Pitti was also the master archer on the set, the one who fired the arrow
          that landed next to Don's head in the overturned wagon in "Shadows on the Land".

  • Bob Hoy did the high fall off the roof of the ranch hand in "The Arrangement".

 

Link to
Internet Movie Data Base for Full
Production Crew Information

           
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