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Henry Darrow: Lightning in the Bottle Paperback – September 5, 2015
... Darrow and Pippins skillfully intersperse the historical context with thoughtful analyses and often-lighthearted vignettes regarding various gigs and circumstances...the subject of ethnic identity is treated with focused consideration...An entertaining, well-organized account...
HENRY'S WESTERN ROUND-UP
From the Author
Henry Darrow lived it and told it. I wrote and researched. Together we strong-armed our nearest and dearest to edit, tell embarassing stories and tolerate the intolerable. In my husband's case, that meant living with a pajama-clad, coffee-swilling, sushi-sucking, bleary-eyed, antisocial writer. Henry was sure he'd die before it was done. He'd call and say in a feeble voice, "Jan, I'm getting older. I could go any day now." I'd respond that he was absolutely forbidden to die until the book was published. After three years of fun and toil, we were all still alive, married to the same spouses and speaking to one another. We still are. And we have a book about Henry's remarkable life which makes us all proud.
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This book provides a wealth of information about the man we first came to love as 'Manolito Montoya' - but there's much more to him than that. The funniest line in the book to me though, was from J.G. Hertzler (from Zorro) who said, something to the effect of... "a Mennonite Zorro and an Amish Alcalde." I must have laughed for ten minutes when I read that...my hometown in Kansas had some Regehrs, and Hertzlers, so I got a kick out of what he said.
At any rate - if you loved The High Chaparral or Zorro or anything else you've seen Henry Darrow in - you'll love Lightning in a Bottle. I loaned it to a friend from Arizona who also loved The High Chaparral...this comes out at a perfect time - as INSP is going to start running The High Chaparral on Saturday, September 15th. Finally - back on television. Maybe soon, the studio will release it on video here in the U.S.
As a theatre director in an age when "stars" go through roles with faces that seldom move and voices that stay on one note, I watch reruns of High Chaparral with a director's pleasure as a myriad of expressions flow over Manolito's face and texture his voice, constantly revealing the inner life of the character. You need only to read the listng of Mr. Darrow's body of work and see a few of his performances to understand that this is one of the most accomplished actors of our time. The honesty wth which Darrow narrates his life, accepting responsibility for foibles and tragedies, portrays him as a person you really would like to know.
The book also provides insight into minority struggles in the TV and film industry that may have been alleviated by time, but certainly stll exist. As an educator and director of minority theatre for over thirty years, many of the barriers and outright discrimination Mr. Darrow encountered echo the struggles faced by many of my friends and former students in the industry. The impact this has on the person and on the artist always affects me deeply, and this was true as I read this book. The lack of bitterness with which he tells this part of his story is truly remarkable. If it were not for stereotyping and financial decisions made by executives about what the perceived white middle-class audience wants to see, an actor of Mr. Darrow's skill and talent would have received the roles that would have allowed us far more access to one of the versatile actors of this age. Hopefully the brownng of America will further diminish this problem, but that does not erase the "what could have been" that robbed our culture of memorable performances in series that were never made and roles that were denied.
Pioneers such as Mr. Darrow deserve our culture's gratitute for perservering out of love of craft and a belief that he could make a difference for future generations of artists. He has made a difference, both for the artists and for the culture. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand in a very personal way the life of an actor and a man of courage.