My summer in Colorado With The Bad Guys, Goldie, and George
As the summer of 1975 neared, I got a call from the 20th Century Fox Wardrobe Department who wanted me to start on a Western starring George Segal and Goldie Hawn.
When I reported for work, all I was told was that The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox was not only a Western, it was a Comedy Western, and that Mel Frank, of the famed writing team of Panama & Frank, was directing. Only problem was – they wanted me to do wardrobe on the second unit.
At first I was disappointed. It was only after casting was completed on the lesser parts, in particular that of the Bloodworth Gang, did I rejoice in what was happening to me.
As the second unit wardrobe man, I would be in charge of costumes worn by the stuntmen. The Bloodworth Gang were all stuntmen, the star’s doubles were stuntmen – except for one stunt lady – and the director was a stuntman. And except for the small crew, the rest were Wranglers. I was in horse heaven. Cowboys all!
The Bloodworth Gang was made up of the cream-of-the-crop from the Stuntmen’s-Association: Roy Jensen; Robert F. Hoy; Bennie E. Dobbins; Walter Scott, and Jerry Gatlin. Segal’s double would be Jerry Wills, son of respected stuntman, Henry Wills; and Goldie Hawn’s stunt woman was Glynn Rubin. The second-unit director, another well-regarded stunt performer, was Max Kleven.
Our first location was Cañon (pronounced canyon) City, Colorado. I have no idea of what the first unit went off to do the first day, but we began with an ambush – a sheriff’s posse being waylaid by the Bloodworth Gang. With the exception of a stirrup drag going somewhat amiss for Walter Scott (a release strap didn’t work quite right, and he was dragged for several hundred feet before some wranglers were able to stop the horse), the day turned out perfect.
From then on it was more shoot-em-ups and pure excitement every day. A week of filming Jerry and Glynn (doubling for George and Goldie) as they rode the rapids of the Arkansas River in an old wooden boat; a stagecoach chase and transfer – Jerry as George, shifting from his horse to the moving stagecoach driven by stuntman Richard Farnsworth (who later went on to become an Academy Award Nominated actor); Jerry walking the ironing board, the stagecoach’s tongue between the six running horses, to later be done in close-up with Segal while he had dialogue with Farnsworth, the driver.
At times we were teamed up with the first unit and I was able to see George and Goldie do their stuff. I got to know Segal pretty well, and he turned out to be a really nice guy.
During a dance hall routine in one of the Central City, Colorado saloons, George brought out his banjo. Along with actor Conrad Janis on the sax, Segal played some darned good music between scenes.
But the second unit was my favorite – working with the people who really put in the most effort. Hey, of all the folks who make up the Hollywood community, the stunt people and the wranglers have been, and always will be, my favorites.