Remembering Richard Boone

by Lisa Oldham

January 10, 2001, marked the 20th anniversary of Richard Boone's passing. Although more than two decades have gone by, Mr. Boone is still remembered by his family and friends, and by his fans. Especially those fans who had the privilege of actually meeting Mr. Boone. Here's a memory from reader Dave Plank:

"I stumbled on your Richard Boone website, and thought you
might be interested in a personal anecdote about him.

When Boone was in Tucson [AZ] filming Hombre, the entire cast
frequently came into a restaurant/lounge, where I was working, for dinner in the evening.

You may recall that Boone's character in Hombre was the 'heavy,' so Boone's appearance was pretty intimidating.

One evening, a big man sitting at a table adjacent to Boone's was making a lot of noise when the [lounge] entertainer was performing, so Boone shouted out, 'Why don't you shut up!'

This big man stood up and said, loudly enough for all to hear, 'Who said that?'

Boone stood up beside him, all unshaven and looking like the wrath of God, and said 'I did!'

The big man simply sat down, and didn't say another word. The other customers applauded.

By the way, Boone didn't want us to play his Paladin theme for
him, which we wanted to do. He was a very personable man,
and when I first met him, he held out his hand and said,
'Hi, I'm Dick Boone.' He was certainly a marvelous actor
and a fine gentleman.

Just thought you might like to know."

Thank you, Dave.

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01/10/03

Here's another memory of Richard Boone, discovered by your webmaster (LLO) in a 1961 fan magazine:

"At the opening of the second Paladin Room in Apache Junction, AZ, Dick Boone presented the manager of the Hotel Superstition Ho with a ceramic tile replica of the Have Gun--Will Travel card that is a feature of the show. Done by Sasha Brastoff, the tile card is 11x21 and is now on display in the Paladin Room adjacent to the cocktail lounge called Jake's Saloon. With a decor of red brocade walls, marble tables and tufted black satin loveseats of the 1870 era, it compares favorably with the first Paladin Room in San Francisco, where Dick left the red-knight holster as a memento of his visit. The star is thinking seriously of a contest for the best Paladin cocktail--only bartenders are eligible to compete..." (From TV Radio Mirror 2/61)

UPDATE! (5/31/04) - Sadly, the Paladin Room mentioned above is probably history, as is the hotel itself. After several name changes, changes in ownership and various setbacks (including a fire in 1979), the lodging portion of the Hotel Superstition Ho (which became "The Grand Hotel" in 1980) closed on May 1, 2004. Most of its fixtures were auctioned off a few weeks later (any readers attend this auction?), and the hotel site is for sale, although a business complex adjacent to the hotel will remain open. A sharp-eyed fan of this site found a 2004 news story about the hotel and passed it along to me (thanks, Karl!)

UPDATE (8/6/12) - A 2006 article from the East Valley Tribune sifted through the history of the Superstition Ho and confirmed its sad final fate as the Grand Hotel. By August 2007, only the Grand Hotel's sign remained. (I still wonder what happened to the Paladin tile...)

TRIVIA (8/6/12) - Although the wagon wheel shaped Hotel Superstition Ho opened to fanfare in 1960, by late 1962 it had become the Marshall Inn. The exterior and part of the interior of the Marshall Inn can be seen in a 1963 episode of the TV series Route 66 titled "Shall Forfeit His Dog and Ten Shillings to the King", which guest-starred Steve Cochran and Kathleen Crowley. During the same time period, the spring training camp for the Houston Colt .45s (later Astros) baseball team was located in Apache Junction. A 1963 Sports Illustrated article describes the renamed hotel:
 

"In the dead center of Apache's craggy landscape sprawls a modern swank motel, last year the Superstition Ho, now less romantically called the Marshall Inn. It contains 146 rooms, a kidney-shaped swimming pool, a playground for tots and riding stables.

The legend of the misplaced ["Lost Dutchman's"] treasure lode figures strongly in the place, the decor of which is pure frontier. There's a Lost Dutchman Dining Room, a Jake's Saloon and a Paladin Room, where the trail riders wash the dust from their parched throats with shots of red-eye. The joint is off limits to the players, but they walk by and occasionally press their noses against the glass. What else there is in Apache Junction you can find across the street: a bar, hash house, supermarket, a branch of the First National Bank of Arizona and a few business offices."

There was also a western film complex in Apache Junction called Apacheland and its website lists Have Gun--Will Travel as one of many productions made there. Apacheland ran into hard times, as well, but, unlike the hotel, it appears to be making a comeback of sorts.

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08/16/03

Another RB memory: an essay from TV Prevue (Chicago Sun-Times), 6/16-22/63, about the end of a TV era:

"PALADIN RIDES AWAY
by Jack Smith

Paladin, they say, has gone. Slung his gun for the last time and rode forever out of television's wasteland. He'll be back, I suppose, on a weary horse called residuals. But it won't be the same. Some day sociologists may note that a whole generation of American boys grew up on Saturday night doses of Paladin, for better or for worse.Maybe I've sinned against television, almost as much as television has sinned against me. But I was a Paladin man. I was fond of this sardonic, flinty, compassionate knight. He was bigger than life; mystic, lusty, erudite, and not quite mortal.

My own boys for six years absorbed these weekly Paladin sermons. For that's what they were. Paladin played no less a role than redeemer. He staked his skin to deliver the weak and punish the wicked. Perhaps Paladin served this generation no less nobly than Ivanhoe, Frank Merriwell, and the Rover Boys served mine. Who was Paladin, anyway, but Ivanhoe, riding off to unhorse the tyrannical and rescue the chaste? I'll admit sometimes Paladin's methods of undoing evil seemed evil itself. Now and then he killed a half dozen men, who, with better plotting, might have been spared.

But so did Shakespeare. I've always believed that Othello and Desdemona could have straightened everything out and wound up with a pleasant day at the seashore if only the bard had tried a little harder to unravel the complications. Whenever he did have to kill somebody, Paladin came up with some nice quotation from Shakespeare, Milton, Baudelaire or the Holy Bible. It made everything all right. So far as I could see Paladin only had one weakness. He hardly ever bothered to bury his dead. That's one thing I'll say for Matt Dillon. When he has to shoot somebody, the first thing he thinks of is getting the chap in the ground. Even as he slips his Colt in its holster, Dillon says, 'Better get a shovel, Chester, and bury that man."

But I notice Dillon never thinks of a nice quotation from Shakespeare or Scripture. Apparently he never reads anything but the 'wanted' circulars and the menu at Delmonico's. Besides, Paladin was a lone wolf. He didn't have a shovel man. Sometimes, I remember, when there were two or more people who had to be shot, Paladin would shoot all but one, and make him bury the others. But it didn't always work out that way. Usually, he had to shoot everybody, or else the one left over got away.

Maybe the main reason I admired Paladin was his devotion to duty. The way he would get on his horse, with a shrug, as if to say, 'Que sera sera,' and ride out into the brutal wilderness to redress wrong, turning his back on some steamy seductress, and a table set with champagne and Alaskan king crab. I always knew I wasn't that much of a man. Now that's he hung up his spurs, I like to think that Paladin is back in that San Francisco hotel room, his last errand done, and a sign outside the door:

'Do not disturb - Wm. Shakespeare.'"

(Copyright 1963 by the Chicago Sun-Times) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

09/13/03

Now, here's a first-hand memory of RB from reader Guy Power:

"While searching the web for a site to explain Richard Boone to a friend, I came upon your nice and informative web site. I really enjoyed reading more about Richard Boone and thought I'd send you my first-hand remembrances.

I attended Flagler College (St. Augustine, FL) in 1972-73 as an art-drama double major. Richard Boone had [in-laws] who lived in St. Augustine, so he temporarily moved from his home in Hawaii to St. Augustine, where he became our drama coach (I still have the TV Guide issue that highlighted this period and even I'm in one of the photos). Boone's niece was his assistant, it was she who told me his relatives lived there. (I see he died there in 1981 from throat cancer.)

We were to perform a 16th-century Spanish play called The Dog in the Manger...Boone wanted to produce this relatively unknown play (1) because the history of St. Augustine was Spanish, and (2) 'everyone does Shakespeare.'

We received the scripts and were just about to have our first meeting with Mr. Boone when we were cautioned: (1) Do not ask for an autograph, and (2) NEVER mention 'Paladin' or Have Gun--Will Travel as Mr. Boone disliked being identified solely with that image.

Well, one of the students went up to [Boone] saying, 'I liked you as Paladin, may I have an autograph?' Mr. Boone growled, 'How 'bout me carving my intials on your forehead?' We were really startled, but had a great laugh later .... amongst ourselves.

...Anyway, [Boone] was a gruff man, but full of passion for his art. We were frightened of him; but fear turned into awe. It was an honor for me to be ever-so-slightly associated with him. My part in the play? A beggar. No lines or anything else; but it certainly was a memory worth having.

One evening during dress rehearsals [Boone] brought a friend backstage to meet us -- Ricardo Montalban. And, he arranged for makeup artist William Tuttle to design/supervise our makeup! Mr. Boone was a tough director -- but highly respected by the cast. Throughout his tenure as our coach/producer, he really showed how professional an actor he was -- and .... he knew Shakespeare back-to-front, a fact that surprised us."

Thank you, Guy! Incidentally, the TV Guide article Guy mentioned is in the May 19-25, 1973 issue. And, RB later directed The Dog in the Manger at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City, at the behest of Sanford Meisner, Boone's mentor and first drama teacher. (An article about RB and the NYC production of the play appears in the March 17, 1975, issue of People magazine.) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

(If anyone else has an RB memory they'd like to share, please e-mail me.)

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