In 2012, it was a sincere pleasure to interview Henry Darrow. Henry is a charming and very gracious man, so it makes perfect sense that he would select someone with similar qualities to write his biography. Jan Pippins is that person and she has brought his story to life, with the passion and love it so richly deserves. Where did it all begin? That may surprise you.
"A friend of mine was going to the 2007 High Chaparral Reunion. It had started years before and was a nice event for fans. I had never been to a fan event, but ended up going and meeting Henry. We hit it off. He's real friendly and approachable, very charming. In his childhood, he moved often and was always the new kid. He had to figure out some way to get along and survive. Henry learned to thrive in that environment."
"I got to know Henry, wrote a couple of articles for the Hight Chaparral Newsletters and he was thrilled with them. He is fascinating, very intelligent, and has done a lot of interesting things. His career spreads over a very large time in history. More info than would fit into articles. I told him if he ever wanted to do a biography, that I'd love to help.
"My husband Mike and I met with Henry and his wife Lauren. We got to know them really well. He and Lauren were so wonderful to invite me into their lives. We spent five days cleaning the garage and closet. There were over 50 years worth of stage, film, and television in boxes and closets. We went through everything. He had wonderful stuff. I did the archival work with old, then interviews with his friends and family. It was great to get their perspectives. Lauren had wonderful stories to tell, insightful and intelligent."
Is this your first book?
"Yes, Lightning in the Bottle is the first and our publisher, Bear Manor Media, has a wonderful number of books dealing with television, radio, stage and movies with classic stars and character actors. We were in a time crunch shopping for a literary agent. Henry said, "I'm old, Jan, working as fast as I can." Henry wanted to do it quickly."
"Choosing what to leave in and what to take out, after all the raw material was there. Figuring out what worked best in this book, I had a clear idea of how to start and end, but the rest was up for grabs, picking and choosing. There were many good stories we had to leave out because they didn't fit in smoothly. Henry has a tremendous number of photos - billions that are wonderful in some way. We had to figure out which ones to use and those that were high enough resolution that they would work well in the book in print."
What was the most touching experience in this partnership?
"I think in a very global sense, the trust that develops in writing a bio - this is Henry's life. He's very frank and direct, has a good bit of courage and very realistic. He likes to entertain and teach - his goal is to present things that might help other people. A lot that he told me that was not in the book was back story that helped me get a better feeling. I told him he had the final say over what we send to the publisher. And he would review. My husband is a English major and info specialist. He would go over it, then I would send it to Henry and Lauren to look over."
"The first book signing for Henry was at the Memphis Film Festival in 2012. We also plan to attend the same event in 2013. Saturday, September 15, 2012 was a big day for Henry. It was not only his birthday, but also marked his appearance at the Gene Autry Museum in Los Angeles. Henry talked about his life, career on stage and screen, plus discussed his book and autographed copies for his fans. Ironically, The High Chaparral also returned to television the same day on INSP.
"I have no plans to write another book, but I'm open to the possibility. I enjoy doing the public relations, arranging pubic events with Bear Manor, and promoting. It's critical that personalities mesh when you collaborate with another."
Favorite Western Movie
"My favorites are any with Clint Eastwood, Robert Duvall, Burt Lancaster or Lee Marvin. I've been a Westerns fan for over half a century since I was a toddler. Used to sneak out of bed and watch, Have Gun Will Travel, Gunsmoke, Roy Rodgers. Death Valley Days, Wagon Train, The Rebel and Stoney Burke."
Did You Play Cowboys?
"No, actually my best friends and I cut out the cowboys and played horses. We had a big herd of model horses. When I was really small, the attraction was the horses. When we got older we liked cowboys because that's where the hottest guys were. I had a big crush on Monolito. He was a devilish guy and real lady's man.
"I grew up with a horse, a little Bay named Pepper who died of old age. Then I had a Chestnut named Dandy that was my heart. The only reason my husband married me was during the time I didn't have horses." Jan laughed.
Jan lives near Baton Rouge, Louisiana and is a wonderful, warm and intelligent lady that I'm proud to call my friend. We look forward to her next book. You can get a copy of her current book with Henry, Lightning In The Bottle, at Amazon and it's available in hardcopy and as an ebook. You can meet Jan Pippins and Henry Darrow at the upcoming High Chaparral Reunion in Tucson, Arizona from March 21 through the 24. If you love the show, this is a must attend event and the perfect weather in Arizona.
Join the banter about High Chaparral and view many photos of the cast and crew at WWN-Wild West News. and on Jan's Facebook page, Henry Darrow Friends, you'll learn nearly everything there is to know about Henry.
More coming soon about the High Chaparral Reunion. If you haven't gotten a ticket yet, this is the time to take care of it, Just click on the High Chaparral Reunion link.