The Big Valley!!! The Barkley’s !!! Nick!!!
Peter used to have with Nick. Read what he thought.
I am grateful for all the many fans he brought into my life. The cast of Big
Valley went right into the mix while it was boiling with Westerns all around
us. The ground work had been laid by some pretty good representatives of the
cowboy way of life. Working in Westerns , I think has been belittled for too
long by too many. Pre Big Valley , I worked in Shakespeare , Shaw , Ibsen ,
Moliere ,Agatha Christie , Neil Simon , Herb Gardner (Thousand Clowns) ,
Richard Nash (Rainmaker) . When I went into westerns , which is way
back , all of a sudden I was cognizant that these were also classics about
men who didn’t sit on the back of wagons eating beans and cleaning their
six-shooters – waiting to cut someone off at the pass. It wasn’t that way at
all. Lets get it straight folks ----- they tried to live and survive just
like anybody else would.
The real westerner had a code – it was a code of
the west. You didn’t ask a man his name , what he did for a living , where
he was from or any of the amenities that we do sometimes brazenly inquire of
our fellow man today. Prying into some persons private life , you just
didn’t do it.
The real westerner was a quiet man. Minding his own
business , he headed west looking for a piece of land that he could be
comfortable on with the hopes that he could have a partner -- a lady with
whom he could raise a family. He was a good man , a strong man and a
religious man – usually. His ethics and personal life, he wanted to keep
Big Valley gave me the opportunity of participating in the search of what
these men and women were like. Seriously , can you imagine what it must have
been to make all these things come to fruition? We tried in Big Valley
to show several different cases or segments that would be focused on one or
all of these things. I’d say we did a pretty good job.
Barbara Stanwyck was certainly an advocate of this lifestyle. You will
recall, as I do , that she did “The Cattle Queen” and many more westerns in
her earlier career. She loved horses. She knew how to ride without making a
big deal out of it and was at home on the set with all of the western
paraphernalia around her. She was a classy lady and never forgot that she
was representing the women of the west and their struggles. I was totally
captured by Barbara’s work in every scene that I had with her and I learned.
Everybody asks how did a guy from Boston and New York learn to ride. Well I
never had a lesson. I stepped on a horse and sat in him. As Ben Johnson
would say--- That’s the secret of riding --- you never sit on a horse
you sit in him. That way you get the feeling of tandem. You are working with
the horse and he is working with you. You’ve become one with each other. Ben
Johnson said “Peter ---- there are three cowboys that can sit a horse in
this town of Hollywood and only three ----- you’re one , Glenn Ford is two
and me” Needless to say , I was impressed with that.
The rest of the Barkley clan starts out with Jarrod , played by Richard
Long. He was the lawyer son of the family and a real class act. Lee Majors ,
who we all remember as “The 6 Million Dollar Man” and “ The Fall Guy” was
Heath. The pretty one in the family was Linda Evans. You can’t do better
than that. We all had a marvelous time with good scripts , good directors
and I must include the excellent crew. We had one of the best.
Boy – I really had fun with Nick Barkley. You see , Nick could do almost
anything or at least he thought he could. Anyway , he’d try it – whatever it
was – and you had the feeling he was having a lot of fun with whatever he
was trying to do. He was quite a dimensional person. You could tell that in
the thin line between his temper and his caring for whoever or whatever. I
thank the producers for thinking of me for the role and you folks. To quote
you “Nick can do it!! Where’s Nick? He’ll save it!!”. Well he usually did
try and he did save it. That’s why I like heroes who are open , aboveboard
and dead-on right or , at least they think they are. We should hold on to
that kind of philosophy especially now when it is challenged.
Thank you for watching ! We couldn't have done without you.