‘High Chaparral’ improves with age

Frame grab of opening title for The High Chaparral shows a bright orange slowing rider on a rearing horse with the show's title superimposed in a white, western-style typeface.

Photo of a typewritten page with the following text. Lately, I've been watching all available episodes of The High Chaparral on YouTube and have a new appreciation for this series. Seeing the show all these decades later is really amazing. What I didn't know the first time around is that the story is inspired by the life and times of a real historical character, Pete Kitchen. What's really astonishing is that long before political correctness and diversity were rammed down popular culture's throat with a toilet plunger, The High Chaparral depicted essentially a blended family of European-Americans, Mexicans and Indians. In an era in which Mexicans were generally portrayed as hopeless stereotypes, Victoria and her brother, Manolito, are characters with depth and subtlety. In one of my favorite episodes, an English nobleman comes to the Arizona Territory to try to get Victoria to return to England as his wife. It turns out the guy had met Victoria and her bother in Paris years ago, where their father, Don Sebastian Montoya, had sent them to school. I sometimes forget how long ago this show was made, since the producers were even able to get Cochise's 94-year-old grandson, Nino Cochise, to portray the Apache leader.

 

“The High Chaparral” on YouTube.

Fan website devoted to the series.

Arizona rancher Pete Kitchen, who provided much of the inspiration for the show.

Note: An earlier version of this post appeared in a blog of mine several years ago.

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