The High Chaparral
The Bunkhouse Crew


Joe Pedro
Reno Ira Wind

There is no greater nor happier life in the world than that of a cowhand.

The bunkhouse crew consisted of several regular cowhands, who showed up in the first episode and remained to the last, as well as the wrangler and/or guest star who could stand the desert heat long enough to make an appearance.  There was no way to cool the outdoors, and the nature of the film industry being what it is meant that many of The High Chaparral episodes were shot in the Arizona desert, in summer temperatures approaching 110 degrees in the shade.  It was hot, dusty work, and everyone suffered.  

Since the show strove for realism, it was not unusual to see huge sweat stains streaking the shirts of the cast members, the one exception being Victoria, who always looked cool and refreshing.  It meant the wardrobe people were kept busy, as changes were often made throughout the day as clothing became more and more soggy.  Each actor had 12 identical shirts, 6 pairs of pants, and 3 pairs of boots each season. 

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NBC Publicity Photo


From "The Firing Wall"

Unlike most other Westerns of the era where the working hands were rarely seen or heard, the bunkhouse crew on the High Chaparral were clearly present as the working glue of the ranch.  Several episodes were particularly devoted to their antics.  "The Firing Wall", "The Covey", and "For What We Are About To Receive" were all memorable episodes that featured the whole crew.  Don Collier was the featured actor in "Follow Your Heart" while Bob Hoy took center stage in "Jelks" and "Too Many Chiefs".  Bob teamed up with Don in "Good Sound Profit", and with Roberto Contreras in "To Stand For Something More".  Ted Markland added a softer touch with his occasional guitar serenades. Jerry Summers, as Ira, was smaller and younger than the others, but never left any doubt that he could hold his own against the best of them.  The addition of Rudy Ramos as the young half-breed, Wind, in the fourth season added yet another character dynamic to the group in outstanding episodes such as "Pale Warrior".  

Sam, Joe, and Pedro are the only three cowhands to remain until the end of the series, although Sam took a temporary leave of absence in the third season, during which time Joe took over as ranch foreman.  Ira left after the first year, and Reno left at the end of the second.  Wind joined the bunkhouse in the fourth year.  Even their comings and goings lent an air of realism to the itinerant world of working cow hands.  All were integral to the functioning of the ranch, and each had their own fan-following on the show.  Their duties ranged from nursing cattle to protecting the ranch from Apaches raids to carousing and having fun in the area saloons.  They were typical cowboys, one and all.

See the Guide to Character Weight to determine in which episodes the various bunkhouse guys had major or minor roles.

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