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Interview with Henry Delgado Darrow, October 27, 2004 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Title:
Interview with Henry Delgado Darrow, October 27, 2004
Date:
October 27, 2004
Description:
In this transcript of a recorded interview, actor Henry Darrow (Delgado)discusses his childhood and adolescence(including the time he and his family lived in New York's Bedford Inn), the influences and opportunities that led him along his career path, and the state of the dramatic arts in Wilmington.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Darrow, Henry (Delgado) Interviewer: Parnell, Jerry / Mims, LuAnn Date of Interview: 10/27/2004 Series: Southeast North Carolina (SENC) Length 60 minutes

Parnell: Today is October 27, 2004. I'm Jerry Parnell from UNCW Randall Library Oral History Program.

Darrow: And I'm Henry Darrow Delgado.

Parnell: And with that said, LuAnn Mims from the library and we're going to talk to Henry Darrow today about his life and career. Henry, if you would, just start tell us when were you born? And tell us about your family.

Darrow: I was born on September 15th, 1933 and I was born in New York City, coincidentally in the same Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan where my present father-in-law was born and he is ninety-three and it would be nice to live that long, 'cause he's still in good shape. And we lived in New York City continuously...in Manhattan...we kept going from 167th Street up to 168th Street, up to 170th, up to 171st Street, 177th, and then we took a long move and then we wound up in places called Thayer Street, 181st Street...there was a theater on the corner called the Roxy and they brought in entertainment...live entertainment on the weekends.

And I would get a chance to see the Ink Spots and I started to do a little imitations at that time as a kid in school. But I do remember in one of the schools having done some...I don't know...I think I was a wood chopper of some kind or another in one of the kindergarten plays at the time and the years went on in the schools there in Manhattan. And I continually got up and read poems...was not afraid or embarrassed to get up and perform and I have some footage of film taken of me when I was young and I learned early how to play...actually right into the camera, and that happened when I realized the attention that our...the babies were getting in my family and all of a sudden...you'd look up...you'd see me all of a sudden...there I was, I was holding a baby again, and again, and again in all of the family footage. It was a constant.

And then when we'd go on vacation, I was like the family clown and jokester and then I found out that my mother had been similar with her three other sisters. There were four sisters and she was the clown and wanted to be, as she called it, a toe dancer...a ballerina dancer and there are some photos that we have, family photos, she with her mother and standing on pointe...I think she was about ten and, of course, back then...I guess that must have been around the twenties or so, in Puerto Rico that was well, looked upon down for anyone to be interested in the performing arts, dance, singing, acting, etcetera.

But I continued performing in schools and it was there that I...I remember her name...Mrs. Levine. She called my mother in and said, "Your son doesn't seem to be afraid of getting up and just performing and reading, so why don't you just remember that this is a...seems like it's a talent that he has." And sure enough I then wound up taking tap dance classes and unfortunately in wound up with some pneumonia and I think I only went to the school for nine years.

At one time when I was singing chorus line, a few years ago, back in California, a road company...I was not familiar with the piece at the time and there is the sequence when the...one of the dancers goes up the stairs and she starts to say about she remembers going to the dance hall...the dance studio...and I just burst out in tears...I didn't know why...and it was later that I recalled that that was so similar to what had happened to me. The many times that I would go up those stairs to the dance classes.

And then, the fact that I was only there for nine months didn't matter to my mother because when she heard that they were doing the life story of Fred Astaire, she thought I should submit myself and my name, etcetera. I said, "Mom, I'm in my fifties, that's not going to work one way or another!" She said, "No, no, no, but you can look thin." And I said, "I don't think so, I've put on weight and it's gonna stay there." Anyway, she has been my most incredible fan throughout my whole life and very, very supportive of me.

Mims: Can you give us her whole name please?

Darrow: Her whole name is Gloria Jimenez Delgado. Jimenez was her family name and she was born in a town called Juncos. And my grandfather, at the time who we called Papa Abuelo, Paco was his nickname...he was a very short man, under five feet, and mother and her three other sisters were all under five feet. Paco was...father was six four, so there's an incredible range in difference of height.

And my brother is 6'4" and so when he and I are with mother back home in Puerto Rico, she still...my dad died in the '70s, I think '69 he died, and we cause a little stir, 'cause some people will remember me even though it's been many, many years ago that I did High Chaparral. But, they'll always ask mom the same question...how did you have these big sons...of course she always replies the same answer..."Oh they weren't this size when they were born!"

Mom is also...she's a writer...she likes to write poetry. She enjoys painting. She paints by the numbers...but...and she also likes to take something that is small and then make it larger...and she squares it all out...has little squares, etcetera, etcetera, when she draws. And she's...she's quite good. She's saving a painting of mine that I did many, many years ago...chalk pastels. And when I took my daughter down to Puerto Rico some years back, mom took this picture out that I had done, and she said, "Look what your father did at the age of twelve, what do you think?" Dee-Dee, my daughter said, "Grandma, it looks like a twelve year old did it." So mom, still has it, she's gonna leave it for me when she dies, she says, so I can have a remembrance of my...of my work.

But I enjoyed...I enjoyed drawing too, I remember in school. Dad...my father was Enrique Delgado and then I was called Henry Delgado, Jr. Enrique ran in his family, there were several other Enriques. His dad died of an illness, that now is so curable, but I cannot remember exactly what it was. I don't know whether it was...appendix or something like that...this day in time is nothing. And he wound up moving to New York. Mom was in Juncos as I said.

Granddad had coffee farms...some of the kind of fruit farms of some kind...I don't know if there was also tobacco or if there was coffee and maybe bananas or something, I can't recall. But I know the United Fruit Company got involved somehow and they became partners for a while. And there was a house in town, right around the plaza. And then there was also a house that was in the country, and each of my aunts and my mother had their own servants, so they were fairly well off.

My mother would tell me of the piropo...a piropo is a compliment in Spanish. And in the plaza you would have a rodeo...and the girls would go one way dressed in their Sunday fineries and the boys would go the other way and then they would make...they would make remarks to the girls and nothing was suggestive, it was just all polite badger, but if someone caught your eye, etcetera, then you...then it could possibly meant you'd wind up going to the girl's house and you visit the parents and you say, "May I take your daughter out, etcetera?" And when I was a student at the University of Puerto Rico I took serenades.

That was something that we did at the university...boys...we serenaded the girls in their dormitory. Back then, the dormitories were three stories high...you could sit under the garden with your guitar and if you were lucky, somebody would bring in one of those open little vans and there could be a small piano there, so you'd have guitars and morocco's, then I would always be brought along to sing in English...the one song that I used to sing which was Blue Moon.

And then dad...my father was an inventor of sorts. Dad could fix his own car back then, I recall it was a thirty-six Dodge. At the time we were living in upstate New York, at that time...it was World War I...World War II, excuse me, the war was almost ending and he wanted to get out of the city, so we wound up in a place called Bedford Village, which is in Westchester County and he took over an Inn called the Bedford Inn. He had about eighty acres and an incredible hill. And I found skis up in the attic and I didn't know how to ski, so I just sort of put the skis together, sat on them, and then just came down the hill.

We also had a pond that had no fish and then my uncle who lived with us for a while stocked it with a few things, unfortunately it was carp and they are rather messy fish, from what I hear or can remember. And one time at that...we had a couple of dogs back then. There were deer, there were fox. I don't know whether there was bear or not. I know that...it had like ten to twelve rooms, the Bedford Inn...and I remember meeting Tallulah Bankhead there. My grandmother was the cook. It was a whole family affair. Mother was one of the waitresses. My Aunt DeeDee Grace was there.

My step-grandfather, Charlie, also...dad worked the bar, and Humphrey Bogart came in once to the little bar there from New York...from Manhattan. I always called it upstate New York but those that are from there say, "That's not upstate New York, that's right up past Tarrytown." It's forty minutes or so from there...no big deal. And then I was in school at the...in New York City...dad went back...our three years at the Bedford Inn were up and we just had to get out.

It wasn't in bankruptcy but his partner wound up stealing money from dad and in the meantime dad had invented self service bowling machine where you set the pins and you bring the...you set the pins here, you bring it down...and it goes down and releases the pins and then it comes back up. So you played with the two balls that are there and two sets of pins. You then set in the pins that are left standing, put it down, and down it goes. And he...he was put on a retainer by one of the companies at the time, I don't know who, because at that time they had self-setting machines, but I don't know if you can recall...they were large items in the back and they required an engineer, and electrical engineer to be there because they would always get messed up one way or another.

And I played with that little machine for a year and a half and then some lawyer came along and they kept dad on retainer and then they came with exactly what dad had conceived of, except instead of moving it down, it happened down right where the pins were. That same piece came down and released the pins. And as happens, when pins move down there, they are...they come back the way they were originally placed. So dad's machine had the same thing...ah, they paid him and then once that new equipment came out, that was it. His invention was no longer valid.

During the war the milk would be delivered. It was the glass milk bottles that would have the cream on top. They were long necked. And the milkman would come and leave three bottles. And dad created the, like, latches you put the neck of the bottle there and then you closed it. And so that was all of a sudden going well, and within three to four months of him having invented that he started to sell it. The bottle and milk companies came out with the bottle that opened...that went up this way...and had a little head on the top, so...

He was one of the people...he never went to school to become an engineer and get a degree in it, but he had the talent and the ability had he chosen that career. And he wound up as a foreman in one of the...I think it was called BG...the company. And they produced one item, as did many plants around the country, for the atom bomb. I have no idea what it was. It could have been a little screw, it could have been anything. But dad also invented, or designed, some new equipment for the company and that's something that nowadays, of course, would be...you would be able to get some kind of returns for. But at that time, if you worked for the company, that was it.

He also designed...they had some, oh, Spanish American, South American, Central American tournaments down in Puerto Rico at the university there and dad invented something that had to do with fencing, where when you hit, a buzzer would go off. The problem with his was that he had this long cord, which is what they had, until now, of course, there's no such thing...now it's all much more up to date, it's all self contained, I'm sure with computer chips of one kind or another. But the fellow that had been there, in charge of the fencing, was a Frenchman, and years later, we read that this Frenchman had designed a way to be able to record the hits with a bell and that's what dad had done before but never had a chance to continue with it. Once the fellow left, that was the end of it.

But my brother was telling me, "You know, dad had..." I mean, he said, "it worked, but it was just cumbersome." It really was not...was not in good shape to sell or promote. You'd have to stop doing what you're doing, which was be around the faculty club at the university, that's where I learned how to shoot good pool for a while...upstairs...I was allowed to go and participate and got to meet all of the professors. I was the guinea pig student. They'd find out if the tests were too hard and they'd call me in. Of course, I found every test difficult at the time.

Parnell: Was your brother older or younger?

Darrow: Ah, Dennis is nine years younger than I am. So when I left Puerto Rico at the age of twenty, he was going on twelve, so we really never communicated much and I never had much to do with him as all as I can recall. And then, all of a sudden, I'm here in the United States...for many years in California, married, children. And then he...he decides to get married and ask me to be his best man. So we got together and it just opened up...we became equals just like that.

A year or two, he had his own children and now he's back...he's back in the business. He thought he was going to retire. He owns a boutique. He was vice president in charge of loans at one of the Puerto Rican banks. I think its...I can't recall the name and he was in charge of loans, etcetera. But very familiar in the business world. And then he opened up a boutique and now they had to move. And they were going to leave the boutique and retire within the next few years. He's gonna collect his pension, which is good from the bank...social security.

But then the lady said, "I'm doubling your rent, I want you out of where you are" and so they had to get out in a month. So that changed all his plans because he was going to leave the business to his youngest daughter who needs the business to exist. Her husband has a job but there you need two jobs. Because it's expensive...everything has to be shipped in to Puerto Rico by ship, so that's an added expense. Anyway...

Mims: Let me ask you before we go further...

Darrow: Yes.

Mims: What years were you at Bedford Inn?

Darrow: Bedford Inn was right...we left during the big snow storm nineteen forty-eight, so it must have been right toward the end of World War II. And I lived...I just remember the streets in New York with snow and the fights...the snow fights. One side of the street against the kids on the other side. If you hit one of the big boys in the face with a snowball you'd laugh and then you'd see them coming for you and you'd go, "Oh no, what have I done? I smacked 'em right in the face." We'd all laugh, and here I'd come, and my face gets handed to me while it get a shower of snow on the face. New York was not bad. It was a constant...was the constant moving that I can recall...one neighborhood to another and then changing schools all the time.

Mims: Do you remember why you had to do that?

Darrow: We just kept moving uptown. We kept moving uptown.

Mims: To better your situation?

Darrow: Situation. Yes, exactly. And at times the joke was... "They are moving into the neighborhood." And "they" was us. "The Puerto Ricans, oh the, Puerto Ricans are moving into the neighborhood." It's like, "Really? What are we?" And I remember one time the super's kid...I called him a spic in a fight of some kind and I wound up calling...we were similar in age, maybe nine or ten, and I called him a spic. And he said, "What?" And he started to laugh and I said, "You're a spic." He said, "So are you, you're a spic." And I said, "No I'm not a spic, I'm Puerto Rican." And he said, "What the heck to you think Puerto Rican is here in New York?" You go home and say, "Oh I see."

Then you find all of the names that you call your friends in the neighborhood, they're all derogatory and it's like, "Oh I get it now." And when we moved to, of course, moved to the Bedford Village, the Bedford Inn, my father introduced chicken and rice and beans and the little clay pot...couple of Puerto Rican dishes that were prepared...he prepared olive oil and garlic and pepper and onions for salad dressing. People liked it so much that he then...he ah...somebody said, "Hey, here's a few thousand dollars, why don't you make a business out of it and we'll be partner's fifty-fifty, you make it and I'll bottle it." And then it turned out that we bottled it, because I remember putting on labels and stuff like that.

One time a strange man came to the building...came to the Bedford Inn and he was...my father was in New York doing some shopping, so it was my mother and my grandfather and this strange man shows up in a robe and it seemed like he had pajamas underneath and so he wanted a room. So, mom set him up in a room, my grandfather went and got his machete, just in case, he didn't like the look of the fellow. The fellow had a strange kind of quality.

Sure enough he had been a former resident at one of the places down the way for...a mental asylum. And had somehow just walked his way out. He found the Bedford Inn and so he stayed with us for a while. I think about a day and half was it. They came looking for him, and granddad, I remember well- he was in a chair and that was his room and he was just outside. If anything was going to happen, the guy was pretty lucky he never decided to move out or about.

The Bedford Inn had a dog called Jackie. I would drive...I would ride my bicycle. That was the first time I got a bicycle and I don't know how many miles it was to the school. And in the school you had two large rooms like this, and there'd be three different classes. And because I was the kid who lived in a restaurant, the kids would trade sandwiches. I'd never had anything but pepper and onion sandwiches, so I traded for some roast beef or whatever the heck it might be, so they'd line up to trade sandwiches with me and it...there you could put up the top of your desk and it looked like maybe you were doing something, but you heard the paper bag rustling and being cast over in trading. I'd trade a bologna sandwich or whatever it might be. And those...those were fun times.

I was the kid from New York. They all dressed, like, in Levi's and I would have a nice shirt and a sweater of some kind or another and I always hung out with the girls. And at first, I would hitch a ride...be independent, and then people that went to the restaurant would remember... "Oh there's Delgado's son," and they'd give me a ride. So I had people who regularly would take me up and drop me off at school and I just had a quarter mile walk into where the school was.

And then when I got my bike, there was a large hill and I'd get to the top and there was a gated house to the right...as I was then gonna go down the hill and take a left to where the school was and mostly, oh I don't know, three times a week at least, I would see a young man at this mansion type house getting into a car. At first I waved one time, and he saw me and he waved back. And then it became like part of the routine for a couple of years that I went to that particular school.

And then many decades later, I'm at a party and I start to talk about the Bedford Inn and a fellow says, "Oh I used to live in that village," and wouldn't you know it, it was that young man. We were astounded. He just stopped. He said, "You were the guy on the blue bike?" I said, "Yea, you were the kid who got into that black car?" He said, "Yea!" I mean, still to this day it's amazing.

Parnell: Well, you said working at the Inn was a family affair. What was your job?

Darrow: I wouldn't do dishes. I'd prepare salads. I'd get the lettuce together and then shake the salad dressing and put it into a little container of some kind, not plastic like they do nowadays, but some kind of little container so that the people could serve themselves. And then I would get wood. I'd go out with Papa Abuelo my grandfather. And in fact, in one of the...in one of the sequences of my play, That Certain Cervantes, that I do with my wife Lauren, he has a recall...Cervantes does and he is sixty-six at the time and he remembers his brother Rodrigo and he fantasizes seeing his brother at a young age, and he himself of course and they were held in Algerian prisons for a couple of years...were being ransomed.

And he asks, or tells Rodrigo, "I'm not going to sell your sword for us to take for the ransom." And in the process he sings a lullaby to Rodrigo who starts to cry. And the lullaby that I sang was the lullaby that I remember Papa Abuelo singing. He'd get a little high with a few glasses of rum and it would go like this: (singing in Spanish) (now singing in English)... "The mother hen...she died...and the chickies...they all are crying."

Well, he would go on with it and just repeat it and then it would get very emotional and so...it's this one sequence where I tell Rodrigo, "Do you remember when Papa Abuelo used to sing that lullaby to us and we'd laugh until we fell asleep?" I'd just do a little one verse of it and do a little bit of humming and then there's a light change and he is back in present...he's not in his late twenties.

And Cervantes is a play that my wife and I are doing now...I think I just mentioned. Well I continued...once I went back to Puerto Rico, one of my moms sisters, Tia Sarah...she let us stay with her for about nine months while dad got himself together working for his brother and the family had...my uncle, Federico Delgado, he had clothing stores. And so dad ran one of the stores and then gradually we all...we all came and...and stayed in Puerto Rico.

We lived...we lived above a funeral parlor, now that I recall. Stop seventeen in the town called Santurce. And they would prepare the bodies downstairs and could look down our little balcony into the back and at times it was scary. I remember... "Go take that garbage down,"... "Ah, let me take it down in the morning!" And you'd go down there with your garbage bags and you'd hear weird sounds and every now and then you'd look over and you would see a body that's being drained...it's like, ah gosh!

And then there was a young...oh there was young fellow, he was...he was mute...disabled mentally. But he was powerful and he did all the lifting and moving of coffins and bodies and things and they would get him drunk with a couple of drinks and then he'd cry...ahahahah...and it'd be this weird affecting sound, very soulful. And again, I used that when I played witch boy in Dark Of The Moon where he becomes an eagle, and I used that cry. And the director said, "Henry, it's too much, it's...you stop the play...it's so eerie sounding...and it's just to affecting." All of a sudden, it's like whoa! And we don't know why...with your eagleness...you're supposed to be flying. It just makes this weird sound; it was direct copy of the kid.

Parnell: How old were you when ya'll moved to Puerto Rico?

Darrow: I must have been fourteen or fifteen. 'Cause then I went to high school there right away and I failed. I had to take a half-year over. And then went to a Catholic school where they taught in English and the books were in English. What happened then was that I had to translate from Spanish, as I was reading, into English, 'cause English was my main language. And then at different times, when we would take exams, I'd have to write it out, translate it, and then translate the answers in English, those that were essay questions and then write it down in Spanish. And my Spanish was not good. So I failed the first half-year and then went to...what was it...the Academy of Perpetu...Lady of Perpetual Help.

And it was there that a number of different friends that I still have when I visit Puerto Rico...one of them has worked with Jose Ferrer, who is the Puerto Rico actor who won an Oscar for Cyrano de Bergerac. And he had worked with him in Man of LaMancha. He produced a lot of plays and musicals in Puerto Rico and he was going to do the...my one man play on Cervantes except it wound up that he was writing a play about Ponce de Leon, so there was a little conflict there.

But whenever I go back I give him a call and find out what he's doing and he's preparing, as I said, a musical on Ponce de Leon. We had a fifteen-minute variety show there. His father was a representative of Keebler crackers and so he paid for air time for us to be on the TV, little nothing program...but I don't...three or four months, once a week.

Parnell: What did ya'll do?

Darrow: We would do stuff in English and Spanish. Little skits...recite a little Shakespeare...do poems...improvise. It was just a very small...I mean, we didn't have an audience or anything 'cause it was pretty lousy. But it was what you would call local TV and it was live. And so there we were. And he was going to get into the production and acting business and he had a brother, the older brother was going to take over with the business except the old brother got into problems with alcohol and drugs and so the father banned the older son and gave the whole business over the Ivan...Ivan Rodriguez. And when he did, then that was the end of his career.

Then decades later after my success on Chaparral, continuing a Hollywood career, one of the times there was a gathering there...back in Puerto Rico, I've forgotten, thirty years, forty years, whatever and we met again. And now he was in a position because of the business that he had helped promote and continued to do what he wanted to do and so he started to direct and act in plays in Puerto Rico. And there is a lovely theater there, equal to the theater here, the Thalian Hall. And it has a marvelous history and I saw many Spanish-speaking companies come in...and it's a whole different style.

There's much more declaiming in the Spanish speaking theater. At the time, I can remember the companies coming in...then sometime the company would come in and it was a leading lady with her company...they would get paid in dollars and then they would pay their company in pesetas...Spanish pesetas and the exchange was pretty drastic back then. And that's one of the theaters, that if I were to go, I'd like to do about three performances a weekend...Friday, Saturday and a Sunday and see what interest we could get because I'm still remembered for High Chaparral and they have reruns and I had worked a movie there with Jose Ferrer and Raul Julia. Raul had gone to the University of Puerto Rico and I was at the University of Puerto Rico also.

My teacher there was a man called Juano Hernandez and Juano was...oh he was a wonderful actor. He was my first coach. He did Othello off Broadway. He did other plays called The Patriot by Sidney Kingsley. Because he was black, he would play, let's say, a slave, in this one sequence, but it was always...he always portrayed it with an incredible amount of dignity and he had worked in the movie with Glenn Ford, something called Intruder In The Dust where...oh, I cannot recall whether he...they had thought about nominating him for an Oscar in that support role. Anyway, there I am as a teenager in high school playing Iago to his Othello and I've never forgot that.

Then he put me into a production, we were part of the English company there at the university in Puerto Rico and of course it was a small...it was a small group. And we used actors who had worked for the Little Theater of Puerto Rico. Those are the folks that put me into plays like the one that...oh, Mr. Roberts. I don't know whether the other one was Good Times...Good News...I played the lead in that, and then the opera company came down and I played little bits, the truck who crosses the stage and then because I was part of the chorus, we were part of the chorus with the opera company and I...I mean, you're on stage with a...that fellow John Pierce, and he was also blind without his glasses, so I helped him as a peasant doing whatever...then I'd let go...he'd take his glasses off and hand them to me and then I would sort of lead him on as we were talking so he could be near me. And the first time...whack! Man, he just smacked himself on a cross-cord...decided to take a shortcut, it was like oooh, and I went and got him.

And had the opportunity to hear Robert McFerrin, Sr. He was a wonderful baritone singer and then decades later I'm in a musical Hollywood production, called Stovepipe Hat, the only musical on Abraham Lincoln and he plays the part of the slave. And there he is singing, "How do I grow a rose? Why grow a rose by yelling the trout and bass and pike are selling for twenty-seven cents a pound." And then...it was like...it was awesome, all the connections that you make early in your life as you're building a career. You bump into folks.

I had told some students in Oshkosh Wisconsin...they hired me to be the only professional in the company, the acting company. I told these kids, "If you go out to Hollywood, don't go out by yourselves, don't go out in two...at least three, one of you has to work to make a living to support the others...get yourselves a larger house so that you don't pay three hundred dollars a month, you each pay a hundred..."anyway, decades pass, I'm being called in by a vice president of Paramount, "My name is so-and-so." "Hi." "Listen I have a project from Mexico. Are you interested?" "Yea." "Do you remember me?" And I said, "I'll be honest, no." He said, "You told me in a classroom..." he said "now I'm in the position to pay it back." And it was like...its just nuts the way things like that occur!

People that you know...people that you've met...students that all of a sudden, their parents don't want them to get into acting, but they get into a play and you get to work with them a little bit and then the parents come backstage and say, "What an honor to see you working with our nephew." And then later there'd be a letter that got to me and it would say, "Thank you for helping me... my parents now understand." I told them they way you worked with us, the students...give us extra time and you help us etcetera, etcetera.

And I think at this point in my life and career, that's what I'd be suited to do best. And so the last three years before I came to Wilmington...there's an organization called the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, very well know in New York City...and then this was a side unit, but then they became well know also. And I taught Acting for the Camera there. And so when I came to Wilmington, just to upgrade, I thought I'd be the only fellow teaching Acting for the Camera. And I saw about half a dozen people...it's like, Holy cow, competition is stronger here than it was back in New York...I mean back in California!

So I laid low for a while and thought about the university and I spoke with people there. And then gradually, once my wife and I acclimated to being here in Wilmington, etcetera, etcetera, I'm now fortunate enough to be involved with the production and also to go in and give some classes, lectures, however they want to call it...whatever it is that they expect from me...but it's something I haven't done in a while. And I was going to create a class or two here, just like in Hollywood...many of the restaurants have young, attractive looking people, and waiters and waitresses and a certain amount are actors. And it's like, yep, nothing has changed! I mean, it's like, it's...

And then of course, we have Screen Gems Studio and I had a delightful opportunity to meet and get to know and be friends with Frank Capra, Jr. and there's a gentleman named Lou Criscoulo who functions with the Opera House, which is a theater group. And that was one of the things that attracted us here. My wife and I, since we're both performers, and she is also a writer. She's written TV scripts and three one-woman plays for herself that she used to tour back in California. There doesn't seem to be a market for that here. Pay scale is quite drastically lower. Plus the state grants and federal grants are being cut back, I guess all over the United States. Unfortunately, those kind of programs just no longer exist. And you can get grants if you have groups that come...outside groups. But for local single talents, it's like, nope, they won't...the don't do that.

Parnell: Go back to your high school for a few minutes. Did you act during...in the Catholic school?

Darrow: Yes. That was continuous. We had a Sister named Sister Olivia and she was excellent. She kept promoting me. And then there was the Mother Superior. And Mother Superior was excellent. She was wonderful and she promoted me too. So I really had a wonderful space and area. And there I worked with Ivan...we had a little radio show once a week from the school and, oh, I did Cyrano, and he did Othello, and musicals and all kinds of different things, continuous. It was a good warm up.

And then I got into the university. I was going to join the Army actually and I graduated and then one of my mother's cousins worked at the university and said, "No, don't, take a test for your entrance exam to the university." So I did and barely passed them and I wound up majoring in Political Science for three years, with a minor in Psychology, but all the time acting at the university...and since the English department acting group with gentleman I mentioned, Juano, who told me, by the way, "You gotta get out of Puerto Rico, your Spanish isn't good enough to work here." I sounded a little bit New Yorican...sloppy...I said, "Yea, I know." Anyway, oh gosh...where was I now?

Parnell: Going to the university, taking the test, and...

Darrow: Oh yes, and so I wound up in Political Science and continued to act at the university...at the faculty club a couple times a year. Dad would set me up, I had...I did imitations at that time...um...Al Jolsen, etcetera...oh gosh, Rod Steiger, Brando...I don't even remember some of these people. I then recall...we were approached by somebody from the Arthur Godfrey. They were vacationing or something and they happened to be at the university faculty club. And they offered to take me to New York, if I'd be willing to go to New York to test to be on the show. Dad didn't want to send me and mom said, "I don't know, maybe he's not ready to go to anything like that."

And then years later, as I continued acting, I was then...I was going to be going into my fourth year and I was working in the ROTC and the plan was to get into the diplomacy field and go to Spain as an officer in the US Air Force and work as an interpreter/translator. I had done some stuff at the university working as an interpreter and I'd get involved with lawyers and I didn't have the smarts enough to understand that some of what was going on was not proper, so I just backed off, it's like that doesn't sound right and I'm not able to put it down correctly in Spanish...what it is that should actually be said. Someone should say, "No, no this is not right, you're being mislead here," and I didn't have that kind of thought process back then so it was just easier for me to say, "Let me just back off from this."

But that's what I would have wound up doing in Spain and at this point my Spanish was obviously getting better. I would have been in Spain, but I bumped into Ivan Rodriguez, my friend, and he said, "Hey are you in the scholarship program? Are you competing?" I said, "What's that?" and he told me. The university had something...the Little Theater of Puerto Rico that we both had been in many productions of theirs, and sure enough I wound up...I won it and I was...there were two scholarships. They...at that time...this was in the fifties...fifty-four...they did not want to give it to girls...women...because they'll get married, have children, and then they'll stop acting and they'll come back to Puerto Rico...or their boyfriends won't let them go, or their family won't let them go. And that was...at that time that was very prevalent in Puerto Rico. It was the fifties.

And so, I wound up having a chance to go to New York but I was not familiar with the Neighborhood Playhouse. Someone had seen my work a couple of times in Puerto Rico and she said, "I can almost you guarantee you getting into the Neighborhood Playhouse." And then someone mentioned the Pasadena Playhouse and when they said that Pasadena was twenty odd miles from Hollywood, I said, "That's it, that's where I want to go!" And so that's where I went, to the Pasadena Playhouse. I remember getting off the plane, talking to the girl next to me in the seat and saying, "I'm going to the Pasadena Playhouse."

We arrived in Los Angeles, and she said, "I live in Pasadena." I said, "Can you give me a ride? I don't know where I'm going!" I was told to go to the Playhouse, make a phone call, and my new roommate would come and pick me up. Well, it was just a couple of blocks away...the dormitories...and that's how it began. There at the Playhouse, you did scenes continuously. You didn't do full productions because they wanted you to get a feel. And so what they did was...they started with the most difficult Greek tragedy or Shakespeare. Then you wound up to do modern...rather than the reverse, you would think.

And of course, everybody's in their twenties, teens, I got into the college program, the degree program and there were other people who had masters. Oh, it was an older group. I was the baby in that particular group at twenty-one. I turned twenty-one in September. And established a relationship with the people of the university. I lived in the dormitory the first year.

Then the second year, the man who ran the school, Gilmore Brown, he let me live...I guess what it would be called would be the costume...the costume...the wardrobe...little house...behind what was known as the Playbox, which was the professional...for professional productions. I guess it seated under a hundred. But anyway, it was small, but it was twenty-five dollars a month. So with my scholarship money, you couldn't go wrong with that. I met and had some good friends there, a man named Pat Tano, who when I got High Chaparral and wound up going to Tuscon...that's...that's our cat, he's working his way in. Did he make it? Yes?

Parnell: Almost.

Darrow: C'mon. C'mon Cairo. (cat meowing) He's a talker. He will talk to be let out also.

Mims: Okay.

Darrow: And after he eats he talks, and before he eats he talks. He announces everything as though everything is important. My wife was on WHQR with...every other week she did a four-minute segment and one of the segments she did was about our cat Cairo, who just entered by the way. And she described how he was a Hollywood cat and didn't know whether he would adapt to the humidity. When people would call... "Hello there kitty." He didn't know whether he could understand clearly what he was up to here.

Anyway, the bottom line at the end of her four minutes was "And so...so far, Cairo, living here, on the porch, in Wilmington, North Carolina, allowing two humans and a fellow cat to live with him." And so, shortly thereafter that people passing by, who knew, where Lauren was living etcetera, and it was fun. It's been nice here. Anyway, take me back to where we were talking.

Parnell: You had just moved into the...

Darrow: Oh yes, the Pasadena Playhouse. And that was one part after another, like the music classes, you put music to it. And in choreography, you choreographed things...obviously musicals, and we staged things. But they were all scenes. And so all of a sudden you're doing scene, after scene, all year long, and then you get to perform them on the main stage. So on the main stage, it seats six fifty or seven hundred people, they draw the curtain and you are acting in front of the curtain on the steps. So you're doing Shakespeare there...you're doing a detective story wherever it might be.

Then, the also had three little theaters. They had the Playbox, the East Balcony, and the West Balcony. And it was there, in the West Balcony I was involved in a production of the Crucible with my first wife at the time...to be... (cat meowing) Okay, we hear you. Wanna be in on this? (cat meowing) That is Cairo.

Mims: Kitty, kitty, kitty.

Darrow: He's a talking cat.

Mims: Was the goal here to receive a degree? Was that part of...?

Darrow: Yes. I was in...(cat meowing)

Mims: I'll let him out.

Darrow: Thank you. I was going to get a degree of theater arts, bachelor of theater arts, thinking that held a lot of tremendous advantage for me. Here I go out to Hollywood and I have this degree in my hot little hand...and of course, little did I know, that theater schools, in some places, were looked down upon because you had the background of stage...theater...you over did. That would have been the case, in my case, anyway. Because I did follow through on the Spanish theater kind of focus...acting is a little bit...it's a bit...it's over the top.

In fact, some years ago in Hollywood, I was in a multiethnic group and we did a very good scene from Arthur Miller's play After The Fall, and I played the father in that. And we had four distinct groups. We had an Asian group, we had a Black group, we had the Hispanic group and then we had a mixed group. Needless to say...the Hispanic group...we were over the top...emotion was just brimming. (Hispanic accented speaking) And then you had the Asian group and clichés must come from somewhere, because when the ladies playing, the mother goes...it's like right, yes.

Some people would say, well, "Don't, don't do that because that's too cliché." No, that's who we are as a culture. The Black group...they were pretty loose. The guy had a cigar...the many who played the father. He was a man who sent a friend, a partner, to jail, and he says, "Yea, how's it going?" And there's a little...the light is going on and off, is that okay?

Parnell: Yea, we have five minutes on this tape.

Darrow: Oh, okay. And then comes the multiethnic group and they were the best because it was a combination and you were...the reins were held back a bit. So the Latino actors in that, the Black actors in that, and the Asian actors did not fall into those traps. And what it was...it was like I remember the director...a young Puerto Rican fellow from New York said, "Let's give them emotion so that they won't forget us." And so sure enough we...in fact we did a Hispanic production...Hispanic because all the actors were Hispanic...Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Dominican ...of Hedda Gabler and one of the reviewers said, "We believe this to be Mr. Ibsen's most passionate presentation of his play"...the cold Hedda Gabler was a well developed and formed Cuban actress.

And it's been an interesting career in that sense that I changed my name from Delgado to Darrow, went to the Pasadena Playhouse to do a season of repertory in nineteen sixty-four where I played Buckingham to Richard the 3rd, I played Witch Boy. We did Love for Love...Congreve's Love for Love. We did Ibsen, Peer Gynt. We did a couple of other plays and I changed my name to Henry Darrow.

And so Delgado became Darrow. And it was at that time that David Dortort, producer of Bonanza, had been looking for an actor named Delgado, me, and in walks Henry Darrow. At that point he...he said, "You know, we've been looking for you for the better part of six months. We couldn't track you down." And there I was in Pasadena acting my brains out there, getting reviews like, "Mr. Darrow played Witch Boy and was totally intimidated by the role. Or Mr. Darrow was noticeable in act one but then again so were the chairs"...it's great when you do humble stories. Those are the best.

I remember being in a dress rehearsal of a...I did a Dick Van Dyke series, thirteen episodes, and after the rehearsal was over, Dick Van Dyke and Hope Lange, and other people started to do humble stories...oh, no, no, no, I have one that's better than that. Humble stories are where you make fun of yourself and it's like basically the stuff that you wouldn't talk about ever...now you do and there it is. Now they become stories to tell when you're on a successful show and you're doing something where someone remembers you and then you can tell the story. Hey that guy...wow...really a solid person.

Parnell: We need to change tapes, and when we come back, I want to ask you about Henry Darrow, the name, okay?

Darrow: Okay.

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