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Interview with Henry Delgado Darrow, November 10, 2004 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Title:
Interview with Henry Delgado Darrow, November 10, 2004
Date:
November 10, 2004
Description:
In this second interview Mr. Delgado, continues discussing his acting career. He talks about the Pasadena Playhouse, his first major role in The Ice Cream Suit, changing his name to Henry Darrow and his role as Manolito Montoyo in the television series The High Chaparral. He also discusses other roles he played in television and film.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Darrow, Henry Delgado Interviewer: Mims, LuAnn / Parnell, Jerry Date of Interview: 11/10/2004 Series: Southeast North Carolina (SENC) Length 60 min

Parnell: The day is November the eleventh, 2004. We are back at the house of Henry Darrow Delgado and he is talking about his acting career and when we left off last time, you were in Pasadena talking about the Playhouse, so let's pick back up there.

Darrow: Pasadena Playhouse. I won a scholarship from The Little Theater of Puerto Rico and the University of Puerto Rico. And at The Little Theater in Puerto Rico I had done plays like Good News and other performances. Pasadena Playhouse, nineteen fifty-four, scholarship from The Little Theater of Puerto Rico and that was the major English acting company there. And then the University of Puerto Rico...I had an instructor there...there was an English department, quite small English drama department...you're in a University with thousands of kids who their main language is Spanish. And my Spanish was just adequate. I really couldn't participate in productions with the Spanish theater company group because basically, unless it was the part of an Anglo that I was playing that was supposed to have...come on through babe...(interruption by other people). Anyway, I had a roommate who was from Puerto Rico. He had been a dancer/actor in Puerto Rico and I knew him back then and then the...it was during the first year, we did a lot of scene work and did plays but they were all of a shortened variety.

So if you had an hour and a half or two hour class in acting and music or whatever it might be, then you would do a shortened version obviously of Cyrano or Richard the III or whatever it might be and then they'd pull the curtain down on the main stage and we'd act in front of it. And I remember that it had some great steps leading up to the main stage section that you could use in a very dramatic way.

There were two theaters upstairs. It was called the East Balcony and the West Balcony. It was sort of outdoors in terms of the theater...had like an awning and then the two theaters were there. Downstairs there was a theater at the patio area called The Patio. And now there is a little store right...right opposite it. There is a store that has, oh, photographs of...and little biographies of folks like myself and Sally Struthers and Raymond Burr and Bill Holden and Victor Mature...people that had been to the Playhouse many, many years ago...Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman. It was quite...quite a group of folks that have gone...

Parnell: How many people were there when you were there...students...how many students?

Darrow: I would say maybe a little under two hundred...under two hundred. And then you would get a chance to play on the main stage in productions for children. And then were a theater that professionals came in to work, called the Playbox. And that, I think, the seating capacity was around a hundred something at that particular time. And that was about two or three blocks away. And in the back of the theater they had a large costume...I'm going to say, like a house, where the costumes were. And then, the head of the school, Gilmore Brown, knew that I was on a scholarship and for my second year, the funding decreased by half, and so he gave me the costume wardrobe room, which had a bathroom, etcetera and a small refrigerator for twenty-five dollars a month. This was back in 1950...'55 and '56. I graduated in '56 with a degree in...bachelor's degree in Theater Arts and I had that degree in my hot little hand and headed out for Hollywood not knowing that, at that time, it didn't...it didn't register with the people who were just starting their TV careers, etcetera.

So, oh my goodness, another stage...another stage actor...student type...which means that you would over-do, etcetera etcetera whereas they should have thought that you would be a little more disciplined at that time because you...you had marks to hit, etcetera etcetera, places to look, and focus...whereas with acting for the stage is line an open V, everything works, that is to say, in terms of your body, for the camera as I am looking into it right now...the V is inverted and your acting should be like here.

Not that you look at the camera, but that you look by the side of it...this side and if I'm supposed to look over to the side and talk to someone...if I look to make eye contact, then I would do this...and then I lose myself. But if I cheat...and there's a lot of cheating...they call it cheat...someone calls me and instead of the profile, I just go, "Yea, what's up?" They're still seeing three quarters of my face.

And if someone is walking behind you, you don't do this... "Excuse me?"...What you do is just follow them up to here and you go, "Yes, can I help you?" And then if they happen to come behind you and walk around in front, then you follow them with your eyes, of course, then you follow them and then maybe they sit down...you watch them sit and then you begin conversation.

And if there are four or five people that are supposedly behind the camera then you have to pick spots and sometimes there's no room for all the actors to be there. So you may be somebody's glove, they'll be something else...another take will be over here...and you're...it becomes very technical but it's also a pleasure and delight to have learned that kind of technique. That was not available when I was at the Playhouse because, not that TV was in its infancy, but it was...it was...part of it was the beginning process for getting shows like I Love Lucy, which I believe began maybe late '40s or early '50s, I'm not sure.

And then shows like Milton Berle in the sixties...those were variety shows and that was a whole different kind of element. Then there was a drama...a drama theater group...and CBS had it. I've forgot what the name of the show was. They did hundreds and those shows were from twelve o'clock to one and you...it was...the shows were performed live. But I never got a chance to play in any of it and so the television that I did there was confined to the school and performing there. And then graduate in '56, you head out to Hollywood and that slow process begins.

You belong to acting groups etcetera and after a series of oh, twenty, thirty plays...acting groups that you belong to, I got into a play called The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit in the...'64, '65...and I was under my own name, Henry Delgado...and I played a young Mexican-American from a short story by Ray Bradbury. And there were six Mexican-Americans who lived in the barrio, which is where Ray Bradbury had lived for a while in East LA and they saw this incredible vanilla ice cream colored suit in the store and they...they approached the owner and each fellow...there was the dancer, there was the guitarist, there was the philosopher, there was the lover (my character so to speak), there was the hustler, he was the one that was gonna rip us off and take all of our ten bucks...because a suit back then was worth sixty dollars...we each would get a chance to wear the suit one day.

And so the philosopher, who nobody paid attention to, and they told him to shut up in the park, when he wore the suit... it was magic time, people were throngs of the dancer and singer and myself, we had like a Romeo sequence...anyway, we finished...F. Murray Abraham of Oscar fame played the sixth guy. There were five of us and then the sixth guy was a guy...grease monkey who worked for this car place and he was always dirty and greasy and so when it was his turn to wear the suit Saturday night, we panicked because it was like, "What was going to happen to our suit?"

Sure enough, he got into a car accident, etcetera, but luckily he wasn't hurt badly and so the play closes and you see the suit and the five of us are just talking about how our buddy, the F. Murray Abraham character was okay...would be alright...and then the light slowly fades out on the white suit. And there was a line that said, "Hey, listen to that silence, that's a great silence, isn't it?" We were just quiet...and a little guitar music...and there's a fade out.

Little did I know that at one point, a producer named David Dortort, who did Bonanza came and saw the show and he had a concept for a series...he already was the producer of Bonanza and that was going quite well. And so, up came The High Chaparral and he introduced a number of...four characters that were of Hispanic...Spanish speaking background. There was a character called Vaquero that was played by Rudolpho Acosta. He won the support Oscar in Mexico for a role that he played. And then there was a guy named Roberto Contreras and he was about six three or four and they called him flaco...flaco means thin..."the thin one."

There was Linda Cristal, Argentinean, Mexican, and Belgium background. She played my sister, Victoria. And then there was myself and I had changed my name to Darrow about a year before when I went to the Pasadena Playhouse again. This time, as an actor who had done a lot of theater...a lot of small, little one day, two day, parts for television and in motion pictures on occasion, if I was lucky. And then I decided to change it from Delgado to Henry Darrow and basically disappeared for about ten months from Hollywood.

Parnell: Where did Darrow come from?

Darrow: Ah, we looked in the old phone book and found out that there weren't that many Darrow...Darrows was not a real common name in Los Angeles evidently and plus the fact that someone might say, "Are you any relationship to Clarence Darrow?" And when in once mentioned that I was from the Darrows of Puerto Rico, I must have said it to the wrong people because they didn't find it amusing at all.

Parnell: Why did you want to change your name? Were you advised to or just...?

Darrow: What happened was, Henry Delgado, Jr., because I had used Enrique Delgado from Puerto Rico, so in the beginning it was to establish myself as a certain type and the type would be Hispanic. I didn't have a mustache like I have now; I couldn't grow one back then. I was just a little earlier twenties and I didn't have an accent. If I had an accent at all, it would have been from New York...more New Yorkese. If I spoke Spanish, it was then Puerto Rican type Spanish. It was Spanish, but all of our local idioms we use and dropping the ends of sentences and words instead of saying "para alla," you just say "palla"...and so all of a sudden p-a-r-a a-l-l-a just goes to p-a-l-l-a... "Palla." And so you eliminate some words, some letters, rather. And basically it was to get them...cause they'd look at me and they'd say, "You're Jewish and you're passing yourself off as Latin?" I said, "No." And then it was like, "You're New...you're Puerto Rican from New York? Are you Mexican?" So...wasn't aware of those kinds of descriptions that were used as the litmus test, so to speak, for your being able to be cast in a role.

And then I also had an agent named Carlos Alvarado. He was a Mexican fellow. He was in...in fact, he's in one of the first sequences in Casablanca...the tall elegant fellow who's like a Maitre' D in a white jacket and a bow tie...his hair was puffy back. And I got Carlos as an agent...I went looking for agents and had several throughout the first few years of attempting to begin a career and then what happened...I went up to his office, I think it was the eighty-eight hundred block of Sunset Boulevard...and this fellow coming down was my size, darker skinned than I was, heavier eyebrows, and a mustache.

And he said, "Are you looking for an agent?" and I said, "Yes," and he said, "Well, talk to my uncle; he's Carlos Alvarado, the agent. He might be looking for an actor because I'm leaving now to join the Army. I'm going to do a couple of years in the Army and he might use you." And sure enough, I walked up the steps, introduced myself, and before I could say anything, Alvarado said, "Are you looking for an agent?" I said, "Yes." He said, "Good, good, cause my nephew just..." I said, "I know, I just met him." He said, "Fine." And so I signed with him.

And Carlos got scripts that had to do with everything that was Hispanic. So I played Martinez, Lopez, Jose, Pepe, Mario, Carlos, for a number of years. And he never really received scripts that were not dealing with Hispanic sounding names. And so somebody had suggested...it became, I said, "Henry Delgado from New York," instead of over pronouncing "Puerto Rico." And then one agent had said, "Hey, you gotta change it to Frank Delgado." It was just like, "What?" And then, all of a sudden...I started doing some more theater there. And in theater, in Hollywood, and in most places, you get cast just based...most of the time on what you do and if it's right for the part.

Your name, for example, my name Delgado along with Martinez and Lopez, those names would not be up for the part of Corporal Leutz from Germany...we wouldn't even be submitted and if your name did appear...it's like "Oh, okay...Delgado...we don't have any Latins in this script Carlos, so we can't use him." Not even getting a chance to meet the people, which was important so the casting people could meet you and at least see you and eventually, maybe call you by your first name...Hank, Henry...whatever from New York.

And then, I used to drive Carlos around, and so at first it was, "Hey there's Henry...Hi, Mr. Delgado"... "Oh, just call me Henry," ...and then eventually it was Hank and you start to get on a first name basis with casting directors and then... "He knows a couple of lines here...Carlos...I think Henry can do them,"...and that's how I began. And so at the end of about twelve years, 1966, this...'65 to '66, I had done The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit at a theater in Hollywood, a well know theater called The Coronet.

And most of Hollywood came out to see that play because of Ray Bradbury. He was the darling of the community and just a wonderful man to be with and very talented and so I got to meet Paul Newman, Jimmy Garner...he said, "Hey, I'll buy you a beer," etcetera...and other actors in town...Ross Martin...and I gained a little bit of a reputation in the smaller theater community and then as a result of being in the play...I had been seen, as I mentioned, by David Dortort, the producer.

I then went to the Pasadena Playhouse again and I had been seen by someone from Utah...a man who had had a theater group there and had taken over the Pasadena Playhouse and his assistant and fellow actor whose name is Claude Woolman...Claude said, "I saw this guy in this play in...at the...at the Coronet Theater." And so they came to see me and then offered me a job for eight to nine months. That was rare and it was the first time I made enough money to be able to support my family.

My wife also had an income, so between her salary and my money we were doing okay. You have to remember that at that time you were paying sixty-five dollars a month rent and cars were much cheaper. Plus, the car that we did have, we bought it from my first wife's father for a dollar...so the price was good. I don't remember what gasoline was back then.

Parnell: It was cheap.

Darrow: Actually it was cheaper than it is now. However I changed the name to Darrow and I played the part of a German and the casting director at one point said, "You know, there's a part of a Spaniard in this, have you ever done a Latin accent?" And I just kept talking and said, "Na, you know, I don't know...what's?" and the part of the German was maybe three lines...something or other, and so that worked. And then I did a western. It was either called Cimarron City or Cimarron Strip and in it was Dan Blocker and there I played a convict, a cockney...again a couple of lines. So Darrow made a difference. Had it been Henry Delgado, I never would have gotten a shot at it...it would have been eliminated immediately...just based on the name. Darrow, they didn't...they didn't know what to make of it.

And then when I left the season of repertory and went back to Hollywood, I did a film for the state...something or other about unions and things and then I got this call from David Dortort. It wasn't just a simple call, when I went there, the head of casting of NBC; the head of Paramount was there. The producer and directors were there and a bunch of people were there and it was an important...very important meeting...and when I walked through the...through the office, waiting there was Linda Cristal and she smiled at me.

I had gotten the script the night before and stayed up till three in the morning preparing and studying it...and sure enough, I went in and they talked about several of the Hispanic roles and they then...they then said, "Well, what do you think?" and so I started to improvise in Spanish and talk about what I thought for the character...and sure enough, that's what I said...that's what they had in mind for me. And at this particular point I thought, "Hey! Okay," and all of a sudden there it was, I was part of a series. And I was a regular in a series. And I got to meet Leif Erickson right away and then Cameron Mitchell and Mark Slade and Linda Cristal, I had already met.

And the process began at being in a series and my first...ah, my first scene was a scene where I saved Leif Erickson's life by shooting an Indian that had prepared an ambush of some kind. (Cat meowing loudly) That, by the way, is our cat, Cairo. He's known as a Bengal and his particular generation has about ten to twelve percent wildness. And if you have been hearing the sounds, it's not me; I'm not a ventriloquist. It was him announcing that he's annoyed that I'm here, that you folks are here, and he doesn't like the tone of this, he would rather be visited by his food bowl, so my wife Lauren just took him into the kitchen.

The Playhouse was excellent because I then went to a few readings immediately after...in town for TV shows...and when someone would say, "Well, okay, that's funny, that's funny, can you play the part of a German?" And I had just played a crazy insane doctor in Peer Gynt, the play by Ibsen and I played a nut, a wonderful lunatic character called Dr. B. Griffenfeldt. And I stole the Peter Sellars movement in that movie...what was the movie in black and white that had to do at the end with the atom bomb exploding in Russia...?

Mims: Um...Dr. Strangelove?

Darrow: Anyway, Peter Sellars played like a...a crazy person who was...I don't know whether he was part of like a united nations...anyway, whenever he would talk, his hand would go up wanting to salute and say "Heil Hitler!" And so, instead of doing that... 'cause then he would go (slap sound) "ahhh" and he would put the hand down. I did it. I had the hand come up and whack me in the back of the neck and it would pitch me forward. Now there were two or three steps on stage so I used that as part...as part of my character. So when someone said, "Hey that's good Spanish, let me...can you do something with a German accent?" I'd just done it. I had played other parts. And so it was easy for me to just jump into one different kind of role, after...after another. I played a character in a Lorca play called Mr. Don Blackbird and so when I did something comedic and I went like this and arched my back and danced and did a Spanish kind of a thing they a...they...they a...th...they a, they thought, "Oh okay, this guy's okay."

And so I was starting to get better roles and support roles instead of just one or two lines. So that worked to my benefit and this was somebody named Henry Darrow...from New York, not from Puerto Rico. But then came that big audition and all of a sudden, there I was, Hank Darrow was...became a western actor...kid from New York that changed his name from Enrique Delgado, to Henry Delgado, to Hank Darrow. And I wound up getting the part of a marvelous Mexican character in a series for four years called Manolito Montoya and Manolito's character has gotten me numerable work...throughout the world.

I...I visited Africa...South Africa as a result...it was one of the most popular shows there. Dallas was first, of course. But we were second in that country. And then throughout the world, in Europe we knocked Bonanza off the number one rating and Chaparral took over, so it was like David Dortort and NBC had created a Frankenstein monster.

Parnell: You said it was only four years?

Darrow: We were on for four years. We did ninety-eight hours worth of shows and through there...through the show came multitalented actors that I had seen when I was younger. So you had people like Fernando Lamos, Ricardo Montalban, Alejandro, Ray, Jack Lord, Robert Lansing, Bonnie Bedelia, Barbara Hershey, Victor Jory...the list just goes on. Kurt Russell, when he was a kid...he was in the show too and you start to pick up...you start to see and know what...exactly what's going on camera wise...you start to pick up and you borrow and steal from people, you know, as to what...what exactly is going on. And then, once that show was over, then I didn't work right away. It took about nine months to a year because I had been established so firmly as the Mexican rogue.

Parnell: What brought about the end of the show?

Darrow: We were opposite...we lost a half hour rating wise. There was a show called...you might remember...called The Brady Bunch. And whenever they were on, I think it was from seven thirty to eight, or from eight to eight thirty, we got wiped out. Then we would get back that second half-hour in the rating system. However, they then...ABC was known for their sitcoms...and they backed The Brady Bunch with another show called The Partridge Family. And once those two shows were back-to-back, that was a full delightful hour for family and so that was just about the end of us. And then the man who played my father, Frank Silvera died of a...oh, he got electrocuted. He forgot to pull the plug...the electrical plug on fixing his disposal and there was water on the ground and he went and...boom. They said...the autopsy said that his heart had been crystallized. And then they found that he just...it was just a matter of time before he was going to have major...a major heart attack.

And Frank had...lots of great times working with him on Chaparral. When Frank used to go blank, that is to say he forgot some of his dialogue...he would go, "Oh, oh, oh, oh, Manolito...you...ohhhh..." and I knew he was up and it was like, "Yes, Frank, now what's up...what's coming out?" And I have since borrowed as I've gotten a little older. In any productions that I'll be around in Wilmington you hear me, "Oh oh oh-ing", I'm trying to...

Mims: I'm curious to figure out how you supported yourself...you're doing plays...are you being paid for these plays before you get to High Chaparral?

Darrow: No, no. My wife had about a three thousand to thirty three hundred dollar income from a trust fund that her father had left her. And then I started getting paid...I think my first year, I made like six hundred dollars acting, delivering papers. And then the next year it was eight hundred and then all of a sudden, eleven hundred. And then the first big job was the season of repertory where I made about six thousand dollars. So that combined, all of a sudden, it's ten thousand bucks, back in the middle sixties and that was sufficient for when...for where...for where we lived. And then we bought a...I think it was a sixteen thousand dollar house and my wife's parents helped us make a down payment. I think the payment at the time...what...one fifty nine a month. And then also I started to find out about an employment and when I was at the Pasadena Playhouse as a second year student, you'd...it was a little restaurant/bar across the street called Nardi's and Nardi's had many of the actors that had graduated. Jamie Farr who had been in M.A.S.H and other people, would show up...because they liked Nardi's, it was like a hang out.

If there was some event that they would go to, they'd show up there and then of course you'd sit around and you'd listen and then one of the signs of success was the fact that you collected fifty five dollars a week unemployment, that meant that you...you were making a certain amount of money because that was the highest you could collect back in the '50s. So, when I started working, I collected twenty-eight dollars a week and it was a sign that "Hey! I'm finally arriving," and then damn, all of a sudden, a couple of years later...since the money is established by quarters, you just happen to work for three months in a number of things, and you make enough to raise your amount up.

By the time I wound up not collecting anymore unemployment and instead collect social security, the amounts had gone up to close to three hundred...two hundred eighty...two hundred ninety...maybe even three hundred dollars in some instances. And I then was turned down. The unemployment wrote a letter and said apparently no one is in need of your services Mr. Delgado, so we have terminated you. And indeed I was terminated. And I also did a lot of...you do theater and you hope that some people come and you get paid something. And so I saved for a while all of the bounced checks of different theater companies that would pay you twenty-five dollars a week or whatever it might be.

And when I worked in the summer of '55 as a deck hand down in Newport Beach, my friend had a second mate's license and I was his deck hand. They paid me ten dollars a day and I didn't have to pay top price for the beer. I paid what the owner of the beer paid. And so, but that was life...that was fun...doing a...trying to gaff a young shark...almost took my arm off. My friend would say, "Yea, be careful Hank when you...no, no, I wouldn't use the handle one, just...you better use the pole." And when I...it...that shark just bent the pole and almost yanked me over.

And...I've had a lot of interesting experiences throughout the decades. And then the nine to ten months that it took to finally get a job was on Mission Impossible. And Mission Impossible...oh I played some nutsy, bad guy. And then there was another role on a show called...oh heck, Bob Loggia was in it. I don't remember the name of it...but my character had himself dressed up as Caesar...as...let's say Zorro, or Superman, I mean large paintings and I should have gotten one of them because they all had a crazy little look about them...my character was a nut. And then they called the character back and I did it. The red light is on, is that...?

Mims: Yea, that's good.

Darrow: Oh, okay. And I...different roles cropped up. Bob Loggia had worked Chaparral and then, these are people that when you're on the set, all of a sudden you seen them again and their your age.

Parnell: Well did...being the character on High Chaparral typecast you again?

Darrow: Yes it did. Absolutely, except the Mission Impossible...my...I think my guys name was Jackson...it could have been anything...there was no problem. But they had...they had had me up for something in the past and then said, "No, no, we'd better wait," because the people are gonna say, "Hey, look, there's Manolito from High Chaparral in Mission Impossible." So by the time it hit the airwaves...a year or so had past and then I replaced an actor in the early seventies...I did a series with David Jansen called Harry O and I replaced an actor named Clue Gulager who played a character called Milt Bosworth and when they put me in as Milt they said, "Henry you're not a Milt Bosworth" and I said, "No, I don't think so." And so they said, "Well, we'll make you...we'll make you Hispanic," and I said since it's the play...the series took place in San Diego, I said, "Why don't we do a la Tony Quinn." And so just a wonderful direct steal...and my name was Manuel Quinlan...Manny Quinlan. So Irish-Mexican like Tony's background was...and that way I didn't have to put on an accent or anything like that. And that was a great time, working that show down there in San Diego. Then they moved the show up to Malibu and they killed my character off.

Parnell: How long were you on...how long were you on Harry O?

Darrow: We did fourteen episodes, half a season. We had...ah...we had...ah...in front of us...we had a show known as The Streets of San Francisco, which is a powerful show. Let's say they had a rating of thirty six...when we got the next hour, we would lose about five points and at that time a thirty...which now would be through the ceiling...at that time it was like "I don't know...the shows losing...we spending too much money...we...we're a...we're hiring busloads of extras...sometimes we fly them in...flying in actors all the time...putting them up in some of the hotels...it's getting to expensive." And so they moved the show to Malibu, which was right there and then they a...they hired an actor named Anthony Zerbe and he wound up replacing my character and we were totally...totally different. And he wound up winning an Emmy for support actor for that second half of the season. So it basically was one...one season that it lasted. My half, the first, then his half, the second. Then I had...I had been up for Policewoman, I believe...at least that's what David Jansen told me. Angie Dickinson picked between myself and Earl Holloman and I guess the matching, however that worked, cause I never got chance to...to read for them, or for her. They were familiar with my...obviously my Hispanic background...and that's when David said, "No, let's go with...let's go with act four, and we'll change it and make him Hispanic, Latino, Irish, etcetera." And then, from there, different kinds of shows cropped up.

I was guest starring on Hawaii Five-O and Magnum and a number of different shows. I did about three hundred episodes off and on throughout the years as a regular on a series. So that basically is a good ten year, twelve year run, if you were to be in a series that lasted that long...like twelve years...that Jack Ward did Hawaii Five-O. And then the people that I worked with...I mean working with Jean Simmons on Hawaii Five-O and just a beautiful woman and very elegant and classy and...they hadn't...they hadn't gotten to the point where the major motion picture people gained to get on a TV show but there was a very sharp young casting director named Susan McCray.

She was married to Kent McCray who was one of the producers with...with Michael Landon, of course, in his series Highway to Heaven. And her concept was, "We can't give you more than the top of the show." Let's say it's five thousand for the show a week, and they hired you for seven days. But when you said, "We'll pay for your children's fare, we'll have an extra room for your nanny, we'll give you extra per diem for the family, you'll have a car and a driver," then all of a sudden it became a different situation.

And so, then stars couldn't wait, because at that time that was...that was not something that was included as income as it now has become...oh, you're paid per diem, oh you're paid this...the other...you gotta declare that. It's like a gift. You win a gift on TV, you gotta pay the taxes on it...not with this.

Mims: You're getting all these roles with a Latino type flair. Were you developing a fan base with the Latino people?

Darrow: Oh yes...yea, I went to Mexico to do a soap. The first half of the day...eight, ten-hour day...they did the soap in Spanish. Then the second half, there was an English cast...English speaking cast. And we did it in English. In the streets there...I also did...we did a week or two weeks in Argentina...people recognized me on the street. They weren't sure cause...several...a decade or two had passed so they'd just look at me and they'd go, "Manolito?"...I was like, "Yes!" ... "Oh!" And then obviously...they wouldn't let me spend any money in the restaurants or in bars. Luckily I didn't have enough time to just hang out at bars and restaurants, but whenever I did, they were just generous to a fault with the way they dealt with me. And then in Mexico, in particular, because they knew I wasn't Mexican, but the fact that I was Spanish speaking and from Puerto Rico, it's like, "Oh, okay, you're Puerto Rican, no problem."

Parnell: With the soap that they filmed in Spanish and English...was that so they could import it into the US or...?

Darrow: Exactly.

Parnell: Did it come to the US?

Darrow: No, it didn't. What happened was the...there were two billionaires, one by the name of Rupert Murdock and another man named Azcarraga...Emilio Azcarraga...I believe it was A...z...I don't know the spelling after that. He was in charge of the biggest television station in Mexico. Emilio Azcarraga. And it's called televisa. And he had met Murdock on a yacht somewhere in the Mediterranean...they were entertaining each other and Azcarraga said, "You know, I'd like to do soaps and show them on American TV," and Murdock said "Why don't you do them here?" He said, "No, it's too expensive." "Well, how much?" "Well, lets say that one episode is worth twenty-five cents to do it here stateside, here in Mexico it costs a nickel an episode." So that was a pretty big savings. So they got together and they came up with, I don't know, ten, fifteen million dollars. They had a fifty-fifty deal. The shows were shot through Twentieth Century Fox...that was going to be the liaison. They planned some hundred and thirty episodes.

They were half hour episodes, and what happened was that a hundred and thirty got pushed down to a hundred and twenty and then it got pushed down to a hundred episodes. And when they finally pieced it all together, unfortunately there was only enough for about sixty-five episodes that could work.

And because when we were shooting in Mexico...for example, if we were shooting here at my house and we were shooting, let's say, four episodes of whatever this series was, we'd shoot all of the sequences in the house. But, if you have a hundred and thirty shows...a hundred and twenty shows, you're looking at me right now, lets say, the first day of shooting...seven months later, we're gonna cut to the kitchen...me walking in...I might have gained weight...the hair's different.

A whole bunch of things occur and that couldn't be matched...it didn't cut. So, we're starting a sequence in the dining room. I'm playing the great wazoo grandpa who's dying of cancer and I turn to the little kid whose seven years old...he has some dialogue...the mother says something. Seven months later, he's...we're finishing dinner, he's taller, he's bigger, the mother's different...cause she had another thing to do...it just didn't piece together. It just didn't work, so continuity was a major, major problem and the...the...the...Mexican actors use what we call the pea.

You put it in your ear and then people are whispering the dialogue to you... "Henry are you going to talk about the Pasadena Playhouse"...now as I'm...as they're talking to me I'm also hearing their questions that some... "Why don't you ask Henry about ah, when he ah, you know ah, when he was drowning in the beach in the Mediterranean...ah, why don't you ask Henry about this"...and I'm hearing all of that and that was confusing to us, whereas the Mexican actors were just home free...it was like, "No, you rehearse, you actors rehearse too much...you Americans...just go in and put the plug in and that's it" and they said, "They're talking to you and then you do it".

Parnell: What was this about drowning in the Mediterranean?

Darrow: (laughing) That's known as an improv!

Parnell: Oh, okay!

Darrow: That didn't work!

Mims: The reason I'm bringing up this is because you played one of the earliest Spanish-speaking characters on television, so you became sort of a role model for...

Darrow: Absolutely.

Mims: ...for people, not only in the United States of Hispanic heritage but throughout the world.

Darrow: I think so. It was...it was a nice feeling. I didn't know the kind of power that I could wield in terms of going to events to raise money for a library down in New Mexico or in Tucson, Arizona where there was a larger Mexican population. All of a sudden I'm invited to be ringside to watch a championship of two Mexican boxers in LA...you're invited to go to Mexico to do this or the other. I go back home, in Puerto Rico, and I'm considered a top of the line celebrity, it was like, "Hey," and I kept going back because my family was still living there...mom and dad and my brother. Dad died in the late '60s of a heart attack and so...that is true...and what became of Chaparral was the fact that Dortort had insisted on using as many Hispanic actors as he could on the show...on High Chaparral. And so, I think we used about a hundred and twenty five to a hundred and forty major roles...then there were a lot of support roles that were hired there in Tucson proper whereas shows like Resurrection Boulevard and American Family, which are two shows that were current...I don't believe their anymore in production...they lasted two, three years, maybe. They used that amount...a hundred thirty, forty, in one year.

So I went through a couple of times...did three episodes with American Family and Eddie Olmas...worked with Rita Moreno in a show called Resurrection Boulevard. And so, we all of a sudden...Hispanic actor was more noticeable, plus the fact that there were series being written about...about our background and so then, all of a sudden it just dies out. It's like a pendulum, it goes back and forth.

And at this particular point, I believe in Jimmy Smits, this is the year two thousand four, November 10th...he is back in the top of the line series called West Wing. Whether he's going to play Pepe Gonzalez...the doctor...the judge to be...I have no idea, but are they going to use his Hispanic background?...I have no idea...are they using his talent as a formidable actor?...yes, of course. He's going in as a heavy weight, able to match anybody on that show because he has had experience and background...has won his share of Emmy's and has done incredible wonderful performances on different series. He had been sort of quiet for a while, and then, all of a sudden, comes the kind of project that you go ahead. And then from there, he'll proceed like I have.

As you get older, maybe you produce...direct...and then it gets...it dries up. The work potential dries up and then...I go back to theater, which is what I've always loved. I like the contact with the live audience. Recently my wife and I performed a show that was written for us called That Certain Cervantes, which hopefully I'll be playing at Thalian Hall in the year of 2005...sometime in April. And I've also been asked by the University if I might be interested in doing something...well, like I'm doing now. Talking about Henry Darrow and actors life and of course performing at the same time.

Showing some clips from when I was nine, dancing an Irish jig with demonia...doing one of my first sequences from Chaparral...doing other bits and pieces from different shows...putting on a mask and hat as Zorro and the music swelling up and then grabbing the...the...the saber and going, "wsh wsh wsh" and the red 'Z' appears on screen and you're doing half hour sitcom on the over the hill Zorro, which at that time, I had bursitis, I had bad feet, and they said, "That's perfect...you're perfect for Zorro."

And the story line on that was that my son was coming back from Madrid and he had all new ideas to play Zorro and to be Zorro...and when he found out that I was Zorro...when I told him that I was Zorro and put the hat on and the mask, he just laughed in my face, he went, "You Zorro? Oh c'mon dad, you can't be Zorro!" And then, of course, I take him down to the Zorro-cade.

Parnell: Zorro-cade. Well, after High Chaparral, you did all these guest appearances...

Darrow: Different series...

Parnell: ...different series...

Darrow: I played Zorro's father in the early '90s for three years in Spain called The New New Zorro...Don Alejandro. I stepped in for Efram Zimbalist, Jr. He had played the father the first season and he decided maybe the weather was too hot, etcetera, etcetera...and he like playing golf and you don't play golf in a hundred and five degree heat, it's murderous. So he left the show. I stepped in for the last three years and then I was also doing at the same time, one of those rare moments for an actor, at least in my case...where you have two series, you leave one and then you come back stateside and I got into Santa Barbara playing the father of the leading young man in the show called A Martinez...and the first...I think it was eighty nine, A Martinez won the Emmy for lead actor and I won the Emmy for support actor and that was the first and only time that two Hispanic actors had won Emmys like that from the same show back to back.

And he received the Emmy on my behalf and I was in Spain at the time, doing Zorro. So they all found out I won the Emmy...and the next day there was a red carpet and a limo took me to the set and whatever...so it was fun. I mean, I've had some wonderful experiences working throughout the years and then, you...you...this full circle comes about and you start to...to become...you're like second, third level and you see the main cast, their up here, and then there's these support, and then back here, you are. Oh there's grandpa... "Hi gramps"...whatever...and you either have taken out your false teeth for the sequence or, dad's not remembering much anymore...whatever that might be...and then the roles that are written for you are not really of any consequence.

They are lightweight because it just depends on what you look like in some instances. In some instances, they write a heck of a part for you and that's because that might be someone whose known you for decades and says, "Hey, I got a great role for you"...and where that happens for me at this point in my life, is on the stage. And there my age isn't held against me, so to speak. And I'm not bitter about it, it's just the way it is. I mean, I see the cycle, I see it happening with all the young performers. I guess it's different from music.

The rock musician comes on the scene and it's an incredible amount of stardom that comes in a short period of time and then you have the Rolling Stones and the Beatles that went on for decades...and became part of the culture. And actors also...I mean, Ricardo Montalbon is in his middle...middle eighties maybe...Ric is...and ah, he...he unfortunately has an incredible back problem. He's one of the people that could be helped by stem cells as the possibility of Christopher Reeves and of course, this is all down the line, I'm not getting political on this, I'm just saying, he...he would've benefited from it...and he's confined to a wheelchair.

But business said, "Hey, you know what Ric?"...they did sequences were he was sitting and he was grandpa who was in a wheelchair. And then at some magic time, he became this robot in this film for kids.

Mims: Yea...kid's show.

Darrow: That was that kids show where they had the...

Mims: Spy Kids.

Darrow: Yes, Spy Kids.

Parnell: Oh, okay.

Mims: Um hum...Spy Kids, like four or three or something like that.

Darrow: Yea, Antonio Banderas was in it. And so, it goes on...you're not totally finished.

Parnell: No, you're still getting guest roles.

Darrow: Yea. And then when I went back to Hollywood to be...to do about thirty minutes of...or twenty minutes of my Cervantes, which was a one person show before it was rewritten to include my wife Lauren...ah, Ricardo was there and there were a number of other people in the Hispanic community. It was a wonderful theater...they renamed the theater...instead of The Huntington, it was now called the Ricardo Montalbon Theater. And I would love to be able to do this new version of that for...for...for him. And there he was and it was like nice getting back into the flow and then somebody found out I was in town and called me for...for reading...and I go...and it's a very small part and the same ten or twelve guys...we all look at each other...and they said, "I thought you had left Hollywood." I said, "I did, and made the mistake of thinking I could come back for one day for an interview and look...look...everybody, we're all here again...nothing has changed." And so I couldn't wait to get on the plane and come back home here to Wilmington. It was like, yep, it just...it's a little debilitating when you're there because that's the reality.

I look like what I look, I'm seventy years old, I have the energy and stamina...I can't compete at that level continuously...I don't know that I could ever do a play eight performances a week anymore, but if I were to do the two person show with Lauren, certainly I'd have to give it a shot...at least five shows a week and then struggle through a matinee and an evening performance.

So we'll see what happens though, but I'm looking forward to continuing what it is that I have been doing here in Wilmington and the fact that they want me to visit some classes and talk, etcetera. Now, it's going off...

Parnell: Yea, we've got about five minutes on this tape.

Mims: Um, is there any kind of memorial or tribute for your hometown in your name?

Darrow: Ah, no. My hometown would be New York.

Mims: Okay, in Puerto Rico then where you did your beginning acting and got the scholarship for...

Darrow: Not really. That organization, The Little Theater organization in Puerto Rico is still functioning and one of the young women who were part of the board members...she's still alive and...of course, I mention that like astonishment...that was only...that was fifty...my gosh, that was only fifty four, so add...if she was twenty, she would be seventy, so she's fine...we're similar age. She said, "Oh, Henry's still around, huh? Oh great, please say hello!" She said that to my brother, so I went back...she had told him... "Yea, tell him to drop by and we'll see maybe we can come up with something." So those are the kind of things that I write down in my diary and say "possibility...if I go back, let me check with this lady." Can I rent the theater downtown? Will they rent it for me? Will they produce it? Will they give me and Lauren a salary? If they want to save money putting me up in a hotel, I can stay with my mother...I can stay with my brother, or they can put me up at a hotel. And it's like, no, no, no...you know; treat me like you would if I were an outsider.

Parnell: When you say your diary, have you kept a lifelong diary?

Darrow: Yes. I have a friend who was writing a biography... autobiography. And I had...I've had several interviews like this...over four years ago...for over...over about a year there must have been six or eight meetings and his life changed and so everything that we had accumulated is gone. He had met people that I had worked with, we had a meeting with David Dortort, the producer of Chaparral...and it just...all of that came to a halt and...unfortunately, I used to write in code...so I look at it...

Parnell: And you don't remember the code.

Darrow: I don't remember what that...my wife teases me...she says, "You write a lot of stuff that always has to do with food and restaurants, divorce, great lamb chops"...like what? She said, "Yea...you." I said, "Oh, that's right." I'd finished and then I went to a restaurant and I had the best lamb chops that I could remember...or it might be another event that has to do with something...great wine. We were on the beach, Lauren and I, for our honeymoon in Garza Blanca...oh heck, down...ah...down in...ah...down in Mexico, the wonderful area where there are beaches and things like that and I set up a place right on the beach...the water coming in...and I brought a bottle of our favorite wine...German wine called Bernkastel and Doktor...and surprised her with it...and she didn't know that...that I was going to bring this extra bottle and they were taking photos of it and it wasn't until we came back and were going to develop the film that we found out there was no film to develop. So I have all kinds of things in the diary...professional things I would set aside...mark them with red. Peoples names...my recent ones all have people in the business...folks that I've met. Your names are...are...are in red also...circle people that I know at the university...people that I've met that belong to Thalian Hall, so that when I look through my diary, I can recall...oh I did meet this person. Oh yes, okay, so-and-so I met...because I'm getting to the point where... "We met...ah...in nineteen...in 2002,"... "Really, you'll have to tell me where, when," and then, they'll remind me and it's like, "Oh, okay, now I can..."

Parnell: The tape is getting ready to stop now.

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