Monty tells me that Corriganville-the old western set being-restored-is not open to the public yet. I am sure I speak for most of us when I say that when it does open it will be foremost on our must see list.
Since our last conversation Paradise had been cancelled and Monty has been working on the feature film Two Jakes as a stunt driver. This film stars Jack Nicholson and is a sequel to Chinatown and is supposed to be taking place 10 later.
I hope you enjoy the following interview.
I've heard AS&J was an unhappy crew, what is your comment
ML Some days were very enjoyable, but the long working hours would put a crew on edge regardless of the show. But Pete, Ben, and I were considered the jokesters of the crew and would always come up with something to put the crew in a happy mood!
In "The Day They Hanged Kid Curry", there was a fire
scene. How difficult was it and was it dangerous'?
ML No, it wasn't dangerous at all. They had people in the water out of frame of the scene so that you couldn't see them and they programmed how to do it-how to fight that fire in the water. They went to school for that so it wasn't dangerous at all.
MC Were Pete and Ben nervous about the fire?
ML Oh actors are always nervous about that. But Ben and Pete were both Pro's and they listened intently to who was giving the instructions and how to do it and when to do it and it went off with no hitch.
MC That was a great scene.
ML Oh yeah...
Who was your favorite director?
ML Fernando Lamas, without a doubt. He was a great guy. Not only that he was a good actor and he could direct very good. He was a funny man.
Which was your favorite episode?
ML Smiler with a Gun, cos I doubled Ben and Roger. That was the only one where I could outdraw and kill myself. I was doubling for Ben and Roger when they shot it out. I fast drawed for Ben and I fast drawed for Roger. Roger did a cross draw. I was also in the montage fast draw contest-I'm the one that came in second. I doubled Ben in the fast draw hand inserts and I doubled Roger when he got killed. I took the fall.
MC Why didn't Roger do it?
ML In the contracts back in those days they wouldn't let the actors do things like that. Suppose he fell over and hit his head and he's out of the show. You can't risk it.
MC How did you get along with Roger?
ML I get along with Roger fine. In fact the first day on the set when he started with AS&J he broke down and started to cry and I was there helping him out and talking to him and going down the road. But no, Roger's a nice guy.
Do you recall working with Jack Cassidy?
ML Yes very much so, in fact, at the memorial Jack was there.
MC I heard they were friends and planned to work on a play.
ML Yes, they were planning on it as far as I knew...I didn't get too involved in it, but I understood they were. Jack liked Peter very much.
MC Did they meet on AS&J?
ML They knew each other prior to that. You've gotta remember down here in California a lot of actors go to a lot of different functions and meet a lot of different people. A lot of actors are friends before the papers get ahold of it.
MC Like a small town?
ML Yeah, I'd say so. Any well known actor, they always go to functions and their paths do meet and they become friends. Prior to that, you know, acting schools, agents, drama school...whatever have you.
MC What type of friendship did Peter and Jack Cassidy have?
ML Jack and Pete had a real close knit friendship, how close I don't know. I know that Jack and him were very close.
MC Did Pete know his son, David Cassidy, who was also on television at the time?
ML Oh sure, in fact when Jack was on the set he brought David in with him. I rode David around on the back of a horse a couple times.
MC What kind of person was he?
ML Just a kid. Just a kid to the actor. That's all we saw. We didn't see David Cassidy as a grown up boy doing wonderful things.
Sally Field was on the show, was she replaced with Michelle Lee-it
was the same type role.
ML They were doing basically the same type role, but Sally was playing one character-she was a guest star. Michelle came on after...Sally didn't want to stay. I remember one where they were carrying her (Sally) out through the desert. She was a real trouper she was, cos it was cold, she was cold that day and they had to carry her off the set. Ben did that. Ben picked her up and carried her off the set cos she got so cold. You know, wind blowing, dust and everything else. Sally was a real trouper.
MC How did you like working with Michelle Lee?
ML Oh she was a card. Michelle was always funny. I enjoyed Michelle.
What are your recollections of working with Burl Ives?
ML Burl was a strange guy. We had a lot of fun with Burl. Burl used to play and sing on the set-he was a balladeer. It was great. Who we really liked was Fernando Lamas. Fernando directed a couple. He was in one and directed one. (Lamas directed Smiler with a Gun and guested in Return to Devils Hole).
You mentioned Pete had gone to a chiropractor, had he been hurt?
ML No, he just had a bad back. He had a trick back and now and again it would go out on him.
MC Had Pete ever been injured on the show?
ML No he was...me and Peter used to talk before he'd get ready to do anything that was hazardous. We talked about it.. he was a pretty wise boy. He would take his time. He'd listen to the wranglers, they'd listen to the raw data and he'd analyze it and go do it. Peter never got hurt, no.
Ben and Pete were not real familiar with the weapons. What did
you have to teach them as far as handling the weapons was concerned?
ML Ben was not familiar with weapons. I had to teach fast draw and gun spinning. I had to teach Pete what type and style were used in that time frame.
MC The guns Ben used were yours. Pete used stock guns, why was that?
ML Because Ben needed the gun that was single action and that was fast. I made the guns and tuned 'em so they were fast. Pete didn't play a fast gun-Ben did.
Pete sang some on the show, how did he like to do this?
ML Well, Peter played the guitar, he liked to play the guitar. He liked to do little things like that. I think he would have liked to sing-well his sister did. We used to go to the Ecetra Club over in Hollywood to see her. We used to go over there all the time.
Had Pete and Ben known each other before AS&J?
ML They had met a few times but I don't think they became friends till they were dialed in for AS&J.
did they feel about the teen magazines?
ML Oh they thought that was great, that they'd become sex symbols. They're normal men and anybody that put them out as sex idols they thought that was funny and great. They were trying to figure how come.
MC They didn't see themselves that way?
ML No they didn't see themselves that way at all. They were just everyday men. They were trying to eminate themselves as cowboys-they lived it, they breathed it. They hung around the wranglers and they tried to act like cowboys. They wanted their characters to be as close and true on the screen as the characters they were playing. They didn't want to cheat the public. When they said they rode horses they rode horses. They said they camped out and made bar-b-que that's what they went and did. And they chased women just like any other cowboy. They trained and believed in the characters they were portraying, especially Pete. We used to go to the hills and have bar-b-ques, drink beer, play volleyball and chase girls, all that kind of stuff. We were just plain old cowboys, that's all we were.
How well a rider was Pete?
ML Pete stole my horse! I rode a clayback horse called it Clay. Good old long legged thoroughbred type looking horse. In fact, in several of the episodes you see Pete riding him. And I was riding him...a good horse. All of a sudden the boss wrangler comes to me and says, "Monty, how's that clayback doing for you?", I said, "Oh, he's doing fine." I was one of the Devil's Hole Gang and that's one of the horses I rode. Well anyway, he said, "Pete's interested in that horse.", and I said, "You're kidding!" so I go a couple of times I got out there and made the horse cut up a bit and Pete said, "That ain't gonna work, I want that horse for riding",....so he got the horse for himself and he rode it the rest of the show. They kept the same horses and had back up double horses.
MC Was he familiar with horses? Because Peter and Geoff....
ML Both of 'em. Both of 'em were good riders. Geoffrey especially. Peter was an excellent rider.
MC Had he mentioned where he learned to ride?
ML No, he never did to my knowledge. He never did. He never bragged about his past...how he learned anything. Peter never did that. Peter wasn't a braggadocious type person. Neither was Ben.
How would you describe Pete and Geoff's relationship? I've heard
that Geoff felt he was living in Pete's shadow...that he couldn't
break out on his own always being compared to Pete.
ML They were the tightest of brothers I ever met. They loved each other and maybe Geoff did feel that way sometimes, that Peter was getting a better break than he was-but Geoff went off and did whatever he had to do to keep alive to keep on acting and he would have made it if he had kept it up. But no, they were real tight brothers. They loved each other very much.
MC And his relationship with Pam?
ML You know, I didn't know Pam that well. I met her a few times - we had a talk now and again. She always called me the "wild one" cos I was always doing crazy things with Pete and Ben and everything else. We used to chase each other like you wouldn't believe. You'd think we were 10 years old!
MC Was Geoff like that?
ML No, Pete was the most outgoing person I'd ever met. Pete was the most personable, outgoing person and he loved to see a smile on anybody's face.
MC He was more that way then Geoff then?
ML Yes...oh definitely. Pete loved everybody.
MC Geoff didn't?
ML Geoffrey didn't want to. Geoffrey was hurt, Geoffrey lost a brother.
MC What was he like before?
ML Well, he used to come on the set. The first time I met Geoffrey I called him Pete. That probably went over like uh...well he was sitting in the chair and I'd just come on the set and he was there visiting his brother and I walked through as I walked through-you know, the kid was all cocked up in Pete's chair-and I said, "Hey Pete, Good Morning!", and I walked by and he said, "No....no, no, no I'm Geoffrey.", and I turned around and said, "Well I'll be a son of a bitch."
MC Do you think that sort of thing bothered him?
ML Yes, that happened to him several times.
MC There are times when Geoff and Pete sound quite a bit alike.
ML Like on Chisum, they thought it was Pete. A lot of people they still say, "Did you see Pete on Chisum the other day?" I say, "No, that's not Pete that was Geoffrey." They don't relate it.
In our last conversation I asked you about an incident that happened
on the set. Pete had collapsed and was sent home for a few days.
Do you recall which episode that was?
ML Smiler with a Gun. We were out at Last Chance Rock. It was very hot and Peter came down with a very bad virus, but he was only out a couple of days.
Is Pete a person you'd remember...say if you were a guest on the
ML Oh yeah...in fact, Pete made an impression on everybody whether he was guest starring, doing a bit role or if he was just there visiting.
Before we close, can you think of anything I've forgotten?
ML No, not off hand, except that we're talking about two great guys that loved each other and were willing to play the characters just as people wanted to see them and they lived it.
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