The High Chaparral
Ira Bean


One of the lesser known, but no less important, characters on The High Chaparral is ranch hand Ira Bean. Part of the original crew hired by Buck in a saloon in Tucson on the first day that John Cannon takes possession of the ranch, there is never any attempt to explain Ira's background, but one really isn't necessary to understand his integrity and abilities. He is a born cowboy, capable of doing anything and everything in frontier Arizona, be it herding horses and cattle, fighting the Apaches, rescuing damsels in distress, standing guard, or chewing up the scenery while holding his own in fights.

At first glimpse, Ira comes across as a hot-blooded, young whippersnapper needing a firm hand to control. That firm hand is Sam Butler, who is hired as the ranch foreman. This relationship is never fully explained, but innuendoes imply that Ira was part of the Sam and Joe Butler group long before they all ended up in the saloon together, that Ira considers Sam his best friend. It is only Sam who can get him to give up his gun in his first fight with Blue, and it is by Sam's side that he can be found in many of the fight situations. Although he is often paired with Joe, he considers all the bunkhouse crew his close, personal friends.

Ira, watching as Sam is taken hostage by the Apaches in "Best Man for the Job"

Ira appears to be the youngest of the group, possibly about twenty-four, and a very handsome cowboy. He has dark hair, which he keeps tucked under a hat most of the time, and dark eyes, which are probably smiling to match his outgoing nature. He is never in any other dress than that of working cowboy. When we first see him, he is in a serious fight with Blue in the saloon in Tucson, and both men are holding their own against each other. As the months pass, it is either Ira and Joe, or Ira and Blue, who match fists, but only in a friendly manner and possibly because he is closest in size to Joe and Blue.

While smaller in stature than most of the crew, Ira is endowed not only with physical strength, but a raw, stubborn courage and a body as resilient as a tempered steel spring. Time after time, he throws himself to the ground to protect riders coming through the ranch gate against an onslaught of Apaches bent on annihilating anything that moves. He has knelt shoulder to shoulder with Sam against all manner of attack and has been the first to leap from his horse under rifle fire to help a fallen comrade. He can track like an Apache and shoot straight from the hip, and he's more than willing to do whatever it takes to protect the ranch and all who live there, even to the point of being tossed into jail under a death sentence.

Although he enjoys his leisure time, it is evident he would put it aside if the need called for it. Lean, yet tough, rugged, yet compassionate, he is hard-working, rough-and-ready for a fight or a good time, a good friend and a good man to have around. He is a true asset to the High Chaparral family.   (By Sandy Sturdivant)

From "Mark of the Turtle"

See the Guide to Character Weight to determine in which episodes Ira Bean had major or minor roles.

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