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Interview with Henry Delgado Darrow,  November 23, 2004 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Henry Delgado Darrow,  November 23, 2004
November 23, 2004
In this third part of his interview, actor Henry Darrow further elaborates on his career, discussing the technical aspects of acting for television, his theater background, and auditioning. He also relates the difficulty of being a "New-Yorkian" while acting in Puerto Rico and his membership in "Nosotros," an organization of actors with Latino/Hispanic background. Finally, he touches on the nature of celebrity and publicity; the responsibility of being a public persona and the effects of celebrity status.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Darrow, Henry (Delgado) Interviewer: Parnell, Gerald / Mims, LuAnn Date of Interview: 11/23/2004 Series: Southeast North Carolina (SENC) Length 60 minutes

Parnell: Today is November 23, 2004 and we are at the home of Henry Darrow. We're going to continue our discussions on Henry's acting career. Good morning Henry.

Darrow: Good morning to you. I don't remember if this is the same shirt.

Parnell: That's okay; we know it's multiple days.

Mims: What we're going to do today is talk about the technical aspects of your acting career.

Darrow: Go ahead.

Mims: And we should talk before about your stage training, when you were at the Pasadena Play House, you were not trained to be on camera per se.

Darrow: That was...I came out from Puerto Rico in 1954 and they had a two year course, Acting for the Camera, but basically it was run by a man...I think his name was Storm...I don't quite recall totally. He had a wonderful incredible deep voice and had done the news for one of the networks and therefore it was tilted more toward, like, news reporting, documentary kind of situations. And it wasn't until a few years kept going by that the television industry all of a sudden started to grow and soon you had twenty...thirty, and then soon fifty and sixty and a hundred and something television shows that opened up the market for actors and a lot of the television was live at the time.

When I was at the playhouse...I graduated in 1956, and I had done theater in Puerto Rico. There was an organization called the Little Theater of Puerto Rico. I was going to high school and the university at the time, and I did Good News, Mr. Roberts, then the Metropolitan Opera Company came down and I became part of a chorus there and then they gave me bits and pieces...little bit parts, one line, two lines, something or other to perform or just walk across the stage as a drunk...and I could put that on my resume... "Drunk crossing in so-and-so opera. Henry Darrow along with Jan Peerce and etcetera."

And when...when my stage took off...stage background accumulating of roles...was when I came and graduated after the playhouse. At the playhouse proper, you did scenes the first season of the two-year program. I was in the degree program. There were about eight to twelve of us at the time...there was a very small graduating class. I'm sure it was around a hundred maybe, if that...hundred...hundred and twenty...something like that. And then, what you did pieces of...of...plays...scenes. And so you built up quite a little repertoire of scenes...or you would have scenes in music class, in dance class, having do to with movement. You had directors who specialized in movement.

Others that were more into performance, relating, building a character, and after two years, I took off for Hollywood. I moved up into the Hollywood Hills across the Hollywood Bowl and then started the procedure of joining acting groups. And there were many, and still are. I may have mentioned, I don't recall, we...there was a group called Group...Projects Fifty Eight...mostly New York actors...actors that became well known...Warren Oates...I've forgot...Rupert Cross, a wonderful actor and he happened to be black, and then Michael Parks, and other people that were rather well known from New York and on Broadway, off Broadway and they formed this group.

And we kept moving from place to place, and one of the final locations was the basement of a senior residence and at nine o'clock you couldn't applaud anymore after a scene...all you could do was this after the...(clicking sound). When you hear thirty or forty people doing...snapping their fingers, it's rather bizarre. I'm sure people walking around went, "What is going on in that building?" And since then, I've stolen that bit and have used it for other events...I don't know, my character could be someone out to lunch somewhere and he just goes, "Oh, very good!" (clicking sound). People would say, "What is he doing now?"

During my stay...the years following in Hollywood proper and then theaters out in the valley in Los Angeles...San Fernando Valley...all the little theaters started to crop just do a whole variety of different roles, support roles. And then, if you're lucky, you got two or three lines on a television show, which would pay for your addiction to acting for the theater. And even to this day, I would say that at this particular point, stage is what I prefer and it's my last last little niche that I have since I'm not there in Hollywood to do voiceovers, etcetera.

But, I played The Tavern in a George M. Cohen production...played this man who has escaped from an insane asylum...and it's a wonderful bizarre's one of the few characters, or if not the only character, that George M. Cohen wrote for himself where he did not sing or dance. However, he preceded the Rolling Stone Mick Jagger...when Mick Jagger came into an entrance in one of his theaters...outdoor places...they came in on a guidewire. Cohen had done that back in the nineteen hundreds. It was like old hat for the old-timers... "Oh, someone's...someone read that and is doing it."

And, then just different...a variety of different performances...different roles...and then there were Shakespeare groups that I belonged to and then there were people there in that Shakespeare group that were established actors. And so, on the basis of doing readings, and reading scenes, and preparing short scenes of two to three pages for Shakespeare rolls and things...those people see you and then someone says, "Hey, do you know anybody who can do so-and-so?" and the next thing you know is you get calls. You're called in by referral, which is what happened throughout all of those years.

So you wind up doing half a dozen to ten plays a year because you've got a two, three, four-week period to rehearse...and then the play goes on, if you're lucky, for a month. And if it's a turkey, you open and close within three to four days, which is most of what happened, except when I did a show called The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit. I believe I mentioned it in the past.

Mims: Can you give us an idea of what it's like to audition?

Darrow: Well, auditioning is probably at this point in my career, the most difficult...cause ninety percent of the people that I'm dealing with never heard of me. They don't know who I am and if they're directing a I'm doing an audition for Zorro...the opening of the movie with Antonio Banderas...Antonio Banderas never heard of me. And if...if I had worked with him in the past, he might say, "Oh yea, give Henry that day's's no big deal...he can do it, it's's no problem."

But now, it's almost like starting over and when I started in the fifties, middle fifties, after graduating from the playhouse, I was...I had a lot of moxie and I just went out and acted over the top. Lots of times I cut my own throat, but I always felt...just go out there and give it everything you have, cause you may have only that one chance. And then if they asked you, "How about trying it this way," it was usually to do this to me... "Bring it down just a little Darrow...just you know,...not as much." Then, there was interest. If they just said "thank you," then you knew that, okay, you had gone over the top and that was the end of it.

And I think I might have a screen test that I did for an episode of Zorro, a running character, or recurring character of the bad guy...I...director kept on telling me, "This is a close up, you have the gun in the hand, don't wave it, you're wearing a hat...if you do any movement, you do this'll be in and out of the camera,"...he told me "the camera is right here, if you move all like that, you'll be in and out." He said, "I can't emphasize that..." and of course I didn't pay attention cause I knew better...and so I just moved myself back and forth out of that particular scene and as I walked away...and I think I mentioned this...I heard him say, "Well, it looks like we have a Spanish John Barrymore on our hands."

And I thought it was a compliment. And I wrote my mother, and she said, "Darling John Barrymore was more of a ham,"...she said, "They may not have liked your work." But the audition process now has just taken a different tone and its...I've come full circle. I audition for two, three, four lines and at this moment, November of 2004 I'm going to audition for twenty lines. So, the dynamics have changed in the sense that I'm a little more clever as to what they want, but also not as excited about going for...for this particular role.

The one thing that I do like is that it's the opening of a major motion picture. That...that's the intrigue. That's the catch, that's the hook. One of the reasons when I left Hollywood was that the parts were small, but they had no significance in the project that I was reading for and competing for. And the same eight or ten, twelve of us would show up, all different sizes, and ages and shapes and colors, etcetera.

Mims: Who are you auditioning for? Are you auditioning or the director? Casting? Or other actors?

Darrow: Ah, the...Martin Campbell, the director. And he...I hopefully will finish the tape this morning, this November and I'll...within six, eight hours, however long it takes, I will then go to Fed Ex, ship it. I've done that several times here and I rarely have gotten a part with an audition tape...something lose that on one.

Parnell: Is this the same director who did the first...?

Darrow: That I don't know. I just know that it's Martin Campbell, the director is Pam Dixon, she is somebody that I've dealt with decades ago. So, she's still alive and kicking, as I am and she had me up for a Zorro decades ago, opposite Frank Langella. They were looking for a sidekick and I interpreted it to be Zorro, one with Frank Langella and then, of course, I was the sidekick, I was Zorro too. They told me, "No, no, no, the name of this show is Zorro. You're playing the sidekick, so you're gonna look messed up and you're not the leading Zorro, you're just second, third, fourth banana here."

And they wound up hiring a friend of mine, character actor, large, big voice, aahh...which now I can do, but not back then. And plus I had done...I had done some pretty good work back in those days, so I did have a little kind of a reputation going for me. And the audition process is much more difficult now because I've lost that interest, that spark, it comes if it's a pilot for a new series. I was offered a play a little while ago to run for five, six weeks in Dallas Texas, but then that takes me away from home here in Wilmington for four weeks rehearsal, the way I'm going, it would be eight performances a week, it's a little tough for me now at my age to do that.

I can do it, and I'm wife and I are preparing our two person show, called That Certain Cervantes, which we want to play here hopefully through Lou Criscoulo at Thalian Hall. And then there's a large theater complex and a Hispanic group in Albuquerque and they showed interest in the project. We sent them photos, things of the stage, photos of the stage, of us in our costumes. And then there's the possibility of the Laguna Playhouse and that's probably one of the most prestigious places.

And they do new projects. They also do the old tried and true shows, but That Certain Cervantes certainly is unique. People will ask, "Who the heck is Cervantes?" and once you say Don Quixote, they assume, oh, the musical, Don Quixote de la Mancha...and it's like "No, it has to do with that, but this is a whole different set up."

And rather than explain it, it's's good in the publicity to mention that I am not doing Man of La Mancha. I am doing That Certain Cervantes...that I do Don Quixote in Act II or something else, but...again, just to get back, auditioning is still hard...when you've had a script, when there are several I have two pages here...and it's interspersed with dialogue from two other characters, or from one other character, so, I decided just to make it into a monologue, rather than have someone else read the off stage dialogue. I've done that a couple of times.

I thought I gave an excellent audition last year for the part of a Mexican gardener who had a kind of a flair and a little kerchief, even though he was sweaty...and was teaching this lady...she was the leading lady of the piece...around my age, in her sixties, and he tries to romance her, etcetera...anyway, they wanted me to fly out and it's not like you...have that kind of money to just say, "Oh, okay, sure I'll spend three four hundred bucks on a round trip ticket to Colorado to..." it's not the way it is. They loved the tape...they hired someone that was there. And they cast it in Hollywood...another fellow actor, someone that I know.

So, auditioning is just less and less...unless someone approaches me, someone writes material for me, that's about the only way that I can get anything...anything now. And then, of course, always the question... is his memory okay? Sometimes you pretend you're losing your memory just so they don't bother you. It's like sitting on a either pretend you're gonna take out a book to read, 'cause you don't want to talk to the person who's next to you, and then that person falls asleep and you go, "Oh, okay, I'm safe," and then the moment you do something, bam, they're awake, and you're talking for the next three to four hours and you don't want to.

But it's still an interesting process and I always feel flat beforehand nowadays. Before I always waited and knew I had too much... burn up all that just dissipates...and now I just know how to save it. I'm in the office, I talk to the other actors, I'll go out in the hallway and just keep it focused...and then you go in, you say your four or five lines, and you're out of there. And you have to be incredible to knock them their feet. And if they don't know me from the past, then there's nothing for them to refer to.

Mims: It sounds like acting is a lifelong learning process. When you went from stage to camera, you started having to develop a camera presence. Tell us a little bit about that.

Darrow: Camera technique is interesting and it's one of the aspects of acting for television and for films and if you're doing a documentary where you are really can be yourself. "This is Henry Darrow, I'm talking from old Tucson, ladies and gentleman. I don't know if you remember about High Chaparral, it was a western, I was a kid from New York...," you can be yourself, there's no acting involved. You can create a feeling, but you become a storyteller.

That's one aspect of acting for the camera. You just talk to the camera, cause you're the moderator, the narrator, however you want to call get up on the horse and're teaching somebody how to use a whip, etcetera. Then, you have film, and film is quite large, and you've got the screen that is sixty by thirty feet, so you make some kind of a gesture or's magnified incredibly so. Some actors, who are lighter skinned, blondish, blue-eyed, can get away with more facial expressions, I believe, and that's what I have noticed.

Some actresses, a la Angela Lansbury say, "Acting is acting,"...that's fine, but if you've seen her on Broadway, as I have, see that she's over the top. Her whole body is in the sequences and she couldn't get away with that...I mean, if they were to film the stage performances, always something that's off...if you film a play...unless it is filmed specifically within the camera technique, rather than just putting three cameras and hoping you get lucky, and you get those great moments and the actor happens to hit the right place for the lighting...and then you go in and do close ups, etcetera.

And then, for television, since we're dealing with a small screen...and my point for film was, less is better...less is better. For film...for TV...if it's a soap, more is always good. More is more better...because you want to be able to have the audience connect with you Monday morning as you're saying, "I don't know if I can live this situation any more," and then when they turn it off on Friday, wondering what happens over the weekend, you have just said, "I know I said that I don't know if I can deal with this anymore, but we'll just have to see."

And so they haven't lost anything. If they catch Monday and Friday's show, they usually get a recap as to what occurred and they don't have to worry about it. But, television, since the screen is smaller, it's thirty odd inches...whatever...but when you have a long shot that shows your full body on a feature film, you're six, eight feet tall and so as you're walking toward the camera, the audience gets to see the body language and's John Wayne walking toward the...with his rolling shoulders...walking towards the lens. Or it's him walking away from the lens and you see the whole body and the whole thing and he's going out to search for so-and-so.

Then you have the medium shot, which catches you waist size and for television you have to start doing a little more, because if you establish something, you know, long shot, what they call the master shot...that is to say, where everybody is in the shot and the camera is catching everybody here, someone's over there, the bartender is serving some drinks here, the couple is dancing, aahh...if anything...if you do too much, then you'll stand out.

So you...if you do that to attract attention...if you're one of the stars, then that's proper, but if you're a support player, like I did when I started...they all come up and say, "That's okay, Mr. Delgado, you don't have to do anything...just dance and turn...don't get on your knees and shout hallelujah, that's not gonna work in this sequence, cause they're focusing on Mr. Rock Hudson here...," "Oh, okay, I didn't know." Yeah.

And so, then comes the close up and the close up is where I'm at right know, sort of, I guess. And that's what I call the money shot. So you prepare everything in sequence and what happens in the process of rehearsing...the master, the long shot, the medium have now rehearsed enough the be able to deliver seventy-five to eighty percent of a good performance.

If you've had the material beforehand and it is a good role, and you've had the script beforehand, and you've analyzed and you've made your little notes in the scripts to remind you that you shot scene ninety four yesterday, but now you're gonna shoot scene thirty six, which eventually will get to ninety four. And what happened in between, you've got to remember.

They have script supervisors who remind you, "Yes, you had your finger in your were scratching..." That's different. You have to remember the tone of what it was that you did, so little more mechanical technical stuff from my point of view. If you watch...I'm using Angela Lansbury...she's an incredible her show where she played the detective lady. She was marvelous. It was all contained, even when she was a little emotional or whatever. That's because you's her full face, and you can get away...and if it's quiet and low key and there's more going on with the eyes and then also the listening process is more important for television.

In features they don't let scenes go on usually that long. Two, three pages...for TV you can get away with two, two and a half sequence...they wanna try and get it all done in one take and there gonna focus on you, they catch me here as I get up and that camera moves...they'll catch me going into the dining room, opening up a book, turning around as the doorbell rings and I go towards it...and they would back up and follow me there. Can't use all of those things, but you can use six positions and then you leave out all of the rest and they can go from there.

Television is fun too...when I was doing western...Chaparral because the sun's going down, you've got fifteen minutes left and you can't see it, but when the sun starts to go down, something happens to the camera and when the sun turns from that yellow that we see, it becomes red in the lens and it changes...and then that's it...the shooting is's gone...they'll have to put on the lights and then you create a whole other feel, a whole other atmosphere. And so at that point you've got fifteen twenty minutes of good light and you're in a sequence where they're following you coming in...riding in...get off your horse at a gallop...get off, hit the mark, come up and say your six or seven's answered, and then you both go into the ranch house.

That's...that to me was just as much satisfying as to play a wonderful emotional scene, though the emotional scene certainly more hyper and there is more adrenalin going. But to hit the mark right on the money, to not fall off the side of the hill as you're galloping up, that was always important to me because I wasn't the best horseman. But I learned, though.

And so, I see it as a 'V'...and 'V' being your acting for stage with the 'V' here, you're at the center, your acting goes out that includes everything. If I'm seated here on stage and I get up, I can get up at my own pace. If I'm on a big screen, I'll have to get up a little slower because the cameraman then will adjust and just sort of tilt the camera up as I get up. Someone just comes in and I go, "Wait a minute, I think I've seen that person before," and as I start to get up, you have to think of it in terms of the camera, and for television, the same.

And if you want them to stay on you in close up then's best for you to move real slow...slowly and carefully, because as you've noticed sometimes, if you've seen someone walking across screen...just a slight blur that occurs...and so as you learn that process of what happens, you don't talk much in the cross, you start and then you would sort of react and...react to something that's being said, then you arrive, and then you start again. The director says, "Hank, just save the lines...don't...don't hold for when you get there and then you leave, cause it'll stretch's too much."

And so you...I mean, they know that you know, so you move on, you know. You try to get as much time on camera as you can within the context of the scene. And when you're acting with young people like I was in the beginning, acting with character actors is like, "Hey guys, come on, get into it...over-act like I do." They're all sort of quiet a low key and tell me, "Take it easy son, you'll be okay." Now I know what they meant.

Parnell: How much of this is learned through classroom or is more innate...?

Darrow: It becomes part of you as you...I always used it as a classroom being on the set. I'd watched actors that I thought, "Yea," I mean, I'm not gonna sit around and watch Clifton Webb. I can because of his comedic abilities and talents and then I might watch performers that are more within my age range as I was going to the Pasadena Playhouse, the movies that you see, and then in plays all of a sudden you're doing roles that suit you age-wise...back in the fifties and then the were perfect for and film for television mostly at that time in the fifties it was type cast.

I was Delgado, I was from Puerto Rico, so that meant I did Latino parts. I had a Latino agent. So many times, just the look... "Ah, you don't have to read, yea..." When they'd look at your resume, you'd done...maybe at this point of your career, you've done twelve mention the ones that are if you did a Bonanza...if you did a Six Million Dollar doesn't basically matter if it was one line, because you'll'll lie and say, "Yea, I worked three days on Six Million Dollar Man with Lee Majors,"...and they can call and find out, but the people who they're gonna call don't remember who the heck you are anyway even if you were the major guest star, 'cause they have guest stars coming in and out like a subway. "Who? Oh, I think he was on our show two years ago...or a year ago."

But when you see the name, that's the connection. So if I put down High Chaparral four years, Santa Barbara soap opera two and a half, and New Zorro three years, Harry O with David Jansen fifteen episodes, so-and-so, and I mentioned close to three hundred episodes of television that I've done, the majority...ninety percent of the people will go, "Well, I've never heard of those." Then you mention some of the shows that you guest starred...those they'll remember...Kojack on the cover of Time Magazine, so-and-so, "Oh, okay, you did a Columbo too, and what was it like working with...oh, you worked with Tony Quinn on the show"...that becomes...and you know that's the kind of dialogue they wanna hear when you're in the interview.

You come in and you lay your stuff out. I mean, I went to the dentist yesterday and she said "You're on're pension plan is screen actors guild...what...what do you do?" I said, "Well, I'm an actor," and she said, "Really?" and said, "What have you done?" I said, "Well, this is before your time." She said, "No, no, let me..." I said, "Well, in 1966..." She said, "I wasn't born yet." I said, "Okay,"...that's the end of it for me. Then you mention soap Santa Barbara...and she said, "I think I remember that, wasn't that in the eighties?" I said, "Yea."

And I said when you ask an actor about what they do or have done, you're asking for a resume, do you have fifteen or twenty minutes...where you rattle it off. And it's still fun because I bump into people at different events that will remember and that's...that's nice and it's's's a good little...good little ego booster. And every now and then comes ...I went to a reading of a movie, several months ago, and got the script beforehand, they said it's the part of this famous lawyer grandfather type person...they wanted to shoot it, or want to shoot it in Wilmington...they were thinking of Shirley McLaine for the lead role and for the part that I read was just a reading as a favor to the writer...friend of ours (coughing) actually...

Parnell: You want some water?

Darrow: Yea.

Mims: In talking about your career, you are closely related...or your...your personality is related to a single character on High Chaparral, the Manolito character...can you tell us how you started building that character once you were cast in that part?

Darrow: I think I was helped with the...the surface aspect of me. First of all, you get a chance to pick your wardrobe. I liked the idea, it was a bastardized version of early Spanish California. They added this, they put the little chap things, the conchos around the black hat...I like the concept of wearing a black hat, and then conchos...and then an off...sort of a dark purple short jacket and then the pants that were snug and then flared...then some boots...they wanted to know if I wanted a pair of long boots, I said, "No, give me something that I can run in and then a nice rubber sole." And at that time, I just wanted to look sleek; I didn't know that your feet swell up in the heat and on the hot sand and the rocks.

And then, I had a double, who was fifty-five years old. He was...they also...they also had someone who was a stand-in and the stand-in just stands in for you while they light and then your double does horseback riding, fight sequences, shooting a bow and arrow, throwing a rope...and those are all the things that Carl Petty taught me. That is to say, to throw a rope, how to hold the rope, to toss it as I'm on a to use a whip because he and his...he and his father worked rodeos. His father used a ten-twelve foot whip and...I think maybe if you want, you can leave our little Cairo, ten percent wild Bengal tiger...he usually has his own interviews and so I think he's rather annoyed that I'm being interviewed and not him. Go ahead Cai! Cairo! Go ahead!

Mims: Come on...he's gonna walk the long way around...

Parnell: He'a a cat, what can you say?

Darrow: Absolutely! He one day sponsored a full day on the WHQR...'cause he...I think the bottom line was that he allowed two humans and another fellow cat to live with him here in Wilmington, since his move from Hollywood. But...Chaparral...then I learned all of those things that surrounded the character, that physically gave me a little more confidence. Getting on and off a horse, doesn't sound like much, but when someone tells you, "You gotta pretend you're climbing up a ladder, you don't hunch over, you keep it get on, you make that leg come over the saddle as close as you can."

And if there's a blanket or something on the back, you have 'em take it off. You don't wanna be putting your leg up and, "Oh excuse me," you bump into the blanket and... "Cut!"... "Next!" ...and you do it again. And then getting off, the same process. You get off and then you straighten yourself up and then if your horse gets into a little kind of a lope getting out of town, that's excellent. If you can get into a lope coming in to town, it's a real comfortable way of riding when you come's loping...and you just sort of quietly get off the horse...throw throw the leather around the pole there and go into the bar...all of that's wonderful.

I had a horse like that, that did all of those wonderful things, but he was just too much of a horse for me to handle in the beginning of the shoot...the beginning of the series...and so they came up with a horse called Mackado and Mackado was one of the horses that you had to whack a little bit cause he didn't like the heat...and no one did...and so he would start off happy and then...I used...oh heck...spurs, but then I...I had them file...file the points and just make it round so it's as though I was hitting him with some half-dollar coins, rounded out. And he'd sort of perk when it's time for you do something you just hit him a little bit with the off stage foot...and then instead of using the regular spurs, I had...what they were known as clip-ons...just clip point to have it, cause you might get your horse going by accident...and that happened in the beginning of the shoot. So you have him, then you have the people who work with...are working with my horses, and they give you tips on the horse. So you learn certain things, basic things. It's almost like the technical aspect of working for film and TV and once you learn it and absorb it, it becomes part of your character...learning to put the saddle on the horse, learning what to do, learning to get up on the horse...that means the saddle is gonna move a little bit...then you sort of stand yourself up and you adjust the saddle by putting the weight on the other side to balance the saddle.

Those are little things I notice old timers, Randolph Scott or Joel McRae...they were wonderful riders. Randolph Scott was known for just getting on and off a horse beautifully and then later you find out that he had picked a smallish horse and he was tall and slim and thin and even that made it just look all the more glorious getting on and dismounting. And it's always exciting to see a fellow gallop up and get off and come in and the...the dirt is all...aahh...and then he pulls up and then he runs into the bar...that's pretty dramatic and usually that's what Carl would do for me on my behalf.

And then comes the actual playing of the scenes. And in the beginning they had to establish all of the different characters and Manolito started off on the rogue side, enjoyed his tequila, enjoyed romancing the ladies, was capable of stealing from the bad guys and ripping off his father. He and his father had a wonderful kind of classic European relationship... "I'm...I'm you father!" "Why are you behaving like that, son?" And he says, "Because I'm like you. This is what you taught me, you wanted me to be like you, and I am. But you don't want me to be be like you when you and I are arguing...that's what you don't like! You want me to be you when other people aren't around."

And so there was always that kind of discussion. And then some of the scenes, right within that context of the comedy...they would write I lied to him that...the lady who played my sister, Victoria, was going to have a baby and he said, "When is she going to have it?" and I said, "I lied." He said, "I thought so." I said, "Well, maybe sometime we'll be able to talk to each other in an honest way, dad. In the meantime I stole the bull from you and I'm walking out the door!"

And he picks up is book and flings it at me and then he laughs and the camera comes in and catches him having enjoyed that repartee that we had...but then you see a touch of sorrow that... "Aw, gee, I won't be a grandfather...he lied to me...goddarnit." And so then, I absorbed those parts...those little sequences stay with you and you are able to draw on them later and I thought of my character in a Shakespearean way.

I thought of him as a fun loving character from Romeo and Juliet, Romeo's friend Mercutio, who's a fun person, he's in his twenties...he's out there. He's the one... "Ro-me-o"...and teases him...and has a fabulous Queen Mahb speech and then gets killed by Tybalt and Romeo kills Tybalt and then the whole mess begins. And then I also used elements of Iago from Othello. He was in his twenties...I played it with a little short hairdo...I forgot what you would call this...

Parnell: A bowl cut.

Darrow: Yea, it was like the Beatle little haircut...and Shakespeare wrote for him some wonderful monologues that were quite comedic, I thought, and so I played him in a very pleasant, charming, honest...phony honesty...incredible directness to Othello...almost crying when he said, "Why would I lie to you about your wife, oh God strike me dead! Kill me! This is what happens when you try to be honest with a friend." And if you can throw a look at the audience, they go, "Oh God"'s like he's awful...and those are the things that this particular director would say, "Go ahead, do it...let's see what happens."

And then you get a laugh and then you go, "Hum...wonder if I could get a laugh in this section," and then it's like, "Henry, no, no, no, no, just that little thing over there will work better." And I...I...and when I had done a production of Othello, I replaced an actor that had been rehearsing for a week...there were only two weeks rehearsal, so I basically had six days to learn the largest role in Shakespeare...and I was not capable of it, so I went on stage with a script and my nightmare was that, of course, the script would either fold in my hand or it would open and pages would just fly out...and that was a nightmare for three nights before we opened.

And we'd rehearse until two, three in the morning. They rented a hotel room for me down there to stay. This was in Venice, Theater By The Sea...was a wonderful open-air theater. Now it's for music and concerts and bands and the family kind of place, but we started off the production with fog coming could hear the ocean...the waves hitting Venice beach...and Rodrigo, who I'm conning for give me put money in my purse and I'll make sure you have...have the situation with Desdemona.

And the fog is coming in and we're talking and he says something or other and the guy puts his sword in. And with that the whole scabbard went went sliding about eight or ten feet...aauughh...millions, of course, laughs. And I go and pick it up for him and say, "Well..." and put it back. We wound playing the street scene, where I murder wound up in Desdemona's bedroom. We hadn't finished the set. We had never had a run-through, the run-through was opening night.

The curtain went up fifty minutes late, it was a political convention of some kind, the people were rowdy, it was a curtain that took probably twenty seconds to just went on and on and then the lights might go of the microphones popped...broke because the actor Bill Marshall, who was famous also for doing Blackula...Bill had this incredible voice. And indeed my nightmare came true because Bill, when he first came first scene with him...he comes out in this white robe and he turns, he says, "Come on son, you'll be okay, I'm gonna go out there and kick your Puerto Rican ass."

And that sort of made me laugh...and I'm laughing as we're coming out and he me like a hug, pat...and he closed the script that was in my hand...and it just...and he's looking and "Oh Iago, ah ha," and it's like oh Lord, I did one of those old Carl Ritter routines where you go, "aye nay my lord for that I had not been before that no one has known and said, verily unto thee, say I, ah ha ha ha," and you say nothing until you find your place and you go, "Okay let's get it going."

I just enjoyed the concept that I could think in my way...Mercutio and Iago, two totally opposite characters, one who has tremendous gusto for life and one who has a tremendous gusto for evil...and that was like a nice combination. I could do things as my character, Manolito...I could appear to be a coward or actually be a coward, and not face up to a situation at the time, and then back and later have thoughts about that. And it was like, oh, maybe I'm...maybe this is not the right thing for me.

Mims: This façade that you created, also had a lot of realistic points that you brought in with your Latino heritage.

Darrow: Yes, I had to be careful, because since my Spanish was New Yorkican...I would do some ad libs. And the ad libs were New Yorkese Spanish and for those who say, "Well Spanish is Spanish," that's not true. The Spanish spoken in New York can call it Spanglish. In Puerto Rico now, you have Spanglish but it's not as pronounced or as New Yorkese as what's spoken in Manhattan proper or in New York.

And I know when I would ad lib some things, luckily there were three others...there were three Mexican actors also in the company and they were the ones who would say "Henry, you can't say that, that's...that's strictly New York! That's...that's modern and the Mexicans and other Latinos will go 'what?' What the heck did he say? Something about a subway?" And it's like, I thought, "Oh no, that's just in Puerto Rico or in New York...don't say that,"...or "You said that...that's horrible, you can't say that...that's a bad word in Mexico" go "Oh but for us it just means damn,"'s like, no, it won't work and luckily someone caught it just before we were taping dialogue...looping to go on the air, like the next day...and he caught it and he said, "You can't say that."

So, you don't say it. And they've thrown in something else and you start off with C - O...and then something else is said...they don't notice that you ended the letter O...and sounds like an was contola so it's ah vs. of oh...just a little kind of ramification. But among Latinos, all of a sudden, you start to get a reputation, and you start to be seen every week on television, and in our third year of Chaparral in 1970, Ricardo Montalban approached me and many other actors with much higher name value...Desi Arnes, Tony Quinn...many other people...Xavier Cugat, etcetera...people that had big names...had pull...and power form an organization called Nosotros, which means "us...we of Latino Hispanic background."

And that time in the '70s, you...there was dialogue about being Chicano, being Hispanic...Hispanic as you find out when you're...when you're down in the Southwest, in Santa Fe or places like that, it seems to be more toward the Spaniard background...the Chicano is more LA, Los Angeles, east LA...Chicano had connotations of negativity in Mexico City proper and New Yorkican...when I arrived in Puerto Rico as a teenager... "Well, you're not a Puerto Rican, you're a New Yorkican,"and it's...the difference are...are quite marked in their minds when you're up there.

And all of a sudden you're in this new situation and you thought you were coming to a place where you were the majority...and as a New Yorkican, you're not, you're part of the minority in Puerto Rico in terms of being Puerto Rican. And then, I come to California and they suggested that I pass myself off...(coughing) you have a cup? opens you up to other stuff.

Mims: Yea, like your publicity that you were getting, you were opening supermarkets; you were available for all these kind of things. A lot of that's your personality and some of it was the Manolito character...kind of describe that.

Darrow: Well, I could open up stores that was a chain back in the sixties called Whitefront and they were...might be a K-Mart now. And so, they pay you five hundred, seven hundred fifty go in for an're are have to wear your costume, of course. You don't put on the dark make up...people get...they're puzzled. It's like, "Oh, you're like, white, we thought you were dark." So then the next time you open up one, you put on the dark make up and you wear your gloves and if you take your gloves off, "Look you're white...what?"

So, you learn all of the different aspects of what you have to do and then you become a public persona. And at first it works great cause you're not used to it, I'm in my thirties, and there I am in restaurants being recognized and you're invited to special events...the World get great seats cause you're part of NBC, the network and if they are doing the World Series that season, you''re in.

And then that expands and translates into situations where all of a sudden you're working for a Hispanic group where you show up...your appearance at the event that night...being a get up and tell ten to fifteen minutes of your life...there are photographs with people...they pay money to have your photograph taken...their photograph taken with you...that's donated to whatever charity it is.

Some of the events are at the Beverly Hilton, which is posh, and some of the events are down in east LA in the barrio...the neighborhood community. And it's all valid and all of a sudden you start to realize that you have...there's a duty...there's a certain responsibility as to who or how you present yourself. And as we have seen, unfortunately, in many incidence this last year politically speaking, around the world, and lately in our sports events, situations that occur...and some ball players don't want to be put up as examples of role models.

I can certainly understand that, cause there were a number of things that I look back and go "Wow! If that had gotten in the papers"...would have shot me down and that's the end of any kind of representation for a charity event that I would have gotten and therefore you lose your ability to...not necessarily persuade, just to be someone who's supportive of a situation...whatever the climate that the country or the city is at the time. You show up after a riot and you're helping to clean the streets, like Eddie Olmos did...the riots in Watts...showing the Hispanic Mexican community...backing the situation and just join themselves there saying, "Hey, we're here to help our neighbors."

It doesn't matter what went on, we'll find out, etcetera...and you find out that indeed have some pull and then again with that comes this responsibility. And now at that age that has dissipated. I don't have to be as old as I have to be...or else someone in their fifties to sixties for them to remember me, or you see reruns and then I'm not the person in the rerun. They're looking at someone from the sixties or in the late fifties. You go, "I think I saw someone that you could be their grandfather on television the other episode of had black hair and you're teeth were separated." Yea, that's before I got the caps.

And...but...but that's another part of it...and then you travel around the world because of it. You wind up going to Tijuana, you wind up going to other places in the country for events. You wind up being interviewed by David Frost for St. Paul Minnesota Ice Festival...I've never heard of it, and all of a sudden, there you are...below zero...and you're in this...on this convertible, and when you look around there are thousands of people in the street...all huddled up, you can't seen anybody. Everybody's got their fur outfits and then they've given you some...and they say, "Here, drink this little hot toddy," and you drink it and you still feel cold and then later you find out that alcohol doesn't create heat, it takes it away.

Mims: Well, isn't this how you ended up at the Azalea Festival one year?

Darrow: Yes, that was 1971. I was the grand marshal. We had an actor named Joe Flynn, he had been in the comedy with Ernie Borgnine and...I was the grand marshal...Linda Cristal, who had played Victoria, my sister on Chaparral...I believe she had been here in 1969 and's sort of a haze. I...when I have come back, I have asked, "Did I behave properly?" Those may be some of the moments where lose your responsibility quota...your role model quota. Ah, yea, he was just some jerk Hollywood actor.

But it was a good group of people...I'm trying to recall...Eric Morris came...or Don Robinson...I know Ronald Reagan's daughter, Maureen was there with us. And those are events that all of a sudden you get involved with and someone says "Hey...that guy...let's bring him in,"...and so you pack up your little bag and head out and you tell stories?...yea, I can tell the story, I can do an imitation of some of the people on High Chaparral...I can sing a song and you and Maureen go off somewhere and rehearse a little thing called (Spanish name of song - singing of song), all of a sudden it's like, "Hey you guys were great," and it's like, "What'd we do?"

Parnell: Was that your first visit to Wilmington?

Darrow: Yes. I then have since gotten letters from friends of mine who had worked in Wilmington and I had met with them but they never let it be known because, who from California moves anywhere other than northern California or southern California. And so, when I told them Wilmington, it's like, "oh, I worked there in so and so...oh you'll love it, it's...the ocean is there, the river is there, they've got some nice restaurants, it's a great little town." And so a number of different situations, I mean, I've been to Germany, Denmark, Sweden, as a result of playing Manolito, so it's taken me all over the world and I love that part of the business.

Mims: Well, since you brought that up, tell us a little about that Bambi award.

Darrow: The Bambi award was in 1970. They paid me some good money. I went there with Farrah Fawcett who was receiving...she was...something to do with a commercial...I think it was one of those first commercials she did where she had great hair. I forget who it was...who the sponsors were, and then Lee Majors was there and I got the Bambi for...the German Emmy...for High Chaparral. And offered some kind of a salary to perform.

And I said, "What d'ya mean?" "Well, you know, do something." And I thought, "Wait a minute, I can...I, ah, I can do this," because I had gone to Sweden couple years before, I think in 1968 and had about a twenty minute, twenty five minute show. And so I did imitations of Boris Karloff or Rod Steiger. When I was a kid in high school in Puerto Rico I imitated the singers of that time. He's still around, Tony Bennett, but Billy Eckstein, Vaughn Monroe, Johnny Ray...(singing) the voice is too deep, but all of sudden I was like, "Yea, okay, I can do stories and imitations."

And then all of sudden, you're in a series and now it's like, "Hey, look at this other aspect of this guy," and all you're doing is telling old stories that you've told before at parties and events, but now you're attached to the word celebrity so everything that you say...gee it just might be interesting, it might be amusing, it might be boring as hell, you don't know, you just open up your mouth and just go until someone says you're doing now? Oh, one minute!

Parnell: We're getting down to the last minute of the tape, really...

Darrow: So you saw a real live...whisssht, Henry it's over.

Parnell: Yea, we're out of time for today.

Darrow: Okay.

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