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The Big Valley!!!       The Barkley’s !!!       Nick!!!

 What fun 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.Nick

 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 private.

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 Nick--- 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.





Great news for all you "BIG VALLEY" fans out there.

Now out from FOX on DVD as of May, 2006.  The first season on DVD is now for sale as a 5 disc volume and available through most major DVD retail outlets.  Check out this link at "" for ordering information and read this news article "Spitfire Stanwyck led cast" taken from the Vancouver Sun and released through the Washington Post.  Also read this column written by Scott Holleran of Box Office Mojo on May 18, 2006.



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