A protest by The Waltons stars led film extra Jerado Decordovier unexpectedly into the spotlight

Will Geer and Ralph Waite refused to appear in "The Warrior" without him.

After Richard Thomas’ contract ended on The Waltons, Earl Hamner Jr. immediately turned to the directors that he knew he could depend on to help him introduce new dramatic characters that could distract the audience from John-Boy’s absence.

Ralph Senensky was one of those directors always in Hamner’s corner, going to the series creator’s house every morning to mull over new ideas. He said he was up for the challenge when he got pulled in to direct a sixth season episode called "The Warrior."

Reading the script, Senensky was drawn in by Hamner’s story of an elderly, 101-year-old Native American who believes his family’s burial ground is on the Waltons’ land.

He even had who he saw as the perfect actor in mind to play the part, an underutilized dramatic actor that he admired named Eduard Franz. The casting director quickly agreed that Franz fit the part, and before the script was even finalized, Franz had signed a contract to guest.

But then The Waltons stars Ralph Waite and Will Geer got wind of the casting decision, and they staged a protest by declaring they would not appear in the episode unless the role was re-cast to feature a Native American actor instead of Franz.

According to Senensky, Hamner told him to sit tight while the casting director sought to connect with Native American actors in Hollywood. None of the known talents were available, and Hamner and his producer Andy White assumed the protest would blow over once that reality set in, and Eduard Franz would inevitably play the part.

But Waite and Geer did not back down, and Senensky said the only available actor who could feasibly play the 101-year-old character was a 66-year-old film extra named Jerado DeCordovier.

DeCordovier had been acting in the background of films since 1941, playing characters like a taxi driver, sword dancer, waiter, soldier, priest, policeman, prisoner, the whole gamut. He could fit any part, but he didn’t necessarily have the dramatic chops of more seasoned actors.

On TV, DeCordovier appeared in similar bit parts from the Sixties through the Eighties, plugged into a variety of hit shows like Bonanza, Columbo and Family Affair. But 1977 is when The Waltons thrust him into the spotlight.

Senensky directed DeCordovier through the episode, doing everything he could to help the novice rise to the occasion and filming every scene with two cameras so that there were a variety of shots to choose from.

In the end, DeCordovier pulled it off, and Senensky said his favorite scene was one with Kami Cotler. It was the exact moment when the film extra found his footing and delivered a performance exactly the way the director had discussed the character during those early mornings at Hamner’s home.

"Earl had brilliantly brought young Kami Cotler’s Elizabeth into the personal scenes with the Grandfather that John-Boy would have played," Senensky said. "In only one scene between Elizabeth and the old Indian, filmed on the final day of shooting, was the performance as I envisioned it in Earl’s script."

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Kelley1 6 months ago
Indian: someone from India. Native American: someone born in the USA. Indigenous: those members of tribes who were present when white people landed. Also the Cherokee only count those as members whose ancestors made the Dawes Rolls and who have the birth records to prove it. If someone claims to have Cherokee blood that may well be true because so many Cherokee hid so they didn't walk the Trail of Tears and the hiders had to live as white people to prevent detection. If the Green Line marking Cherokee territory was moved but the Cherokee in question did not move to stay in the boundaries they were considered to have immigrated therefore cancelling their tribal membership. This is my understanding of it.
VernonPurvis 6 months ago
Perhaps my memory is getting old but I thought I remember Chief Dan George playing this role
PatLarkin 6 months ago
This show with the 101 year old Indian was really good. The Indian chosen to play the part was perfect. I'm glad Ralph Waite and Will Geer held out until he was found. He was meant to play the part.
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harlow1313 6 months ago
Too bad the 45th president was unavailable to toss the fast food packaging from the car window.
Thomas0263 6 months ago
And The Former Guys is a Christian and his daughter is an unmolested Jew.
DennisFaulkner 6 months ago
Of course the 46th President of the United States would have had the person who witnessed his crack head son throw the fast-food wrapper out the window - fired! He should not be allowed to be President -
GloryGrace 6 months ago
The 42nd President was known for liking fast food too. Who are we to judge someone on that? Well all pretty much like out fast food. It apart of being a American nowadays I think.
WGH 6 months ago
Amen Brother.
TomLawrence 6 months ago
Give it a rest, stupid.
nd1irish 6 months ago
Thank goodness that Congress has an authentic Native American member in Senator Elizabeth Warren 😂
Michael nd1irish 6 months ago
She's been debunked, as has Johnny Depp.

Deb Halaand is the first US Secretary of the Interior to be Native.

Sharice Davids is Ho Chunk.

Vice President Charles Curtis counts as Native.

There are a whole bunch, now and in the past, of Native politicians. They don't need to pretend.

There's a quote from Sitting Bull where he says he knew my great, great grandmother's brother. I'm still wondering if that's a garbling. But he was part of the (provisional) government in Red River in 1869, and they were Metis.
JoeBanks69 Michael 6 months ago
For extra bonus points: Who is the 1st REAL black president... Hint: Not BHO...
Michael 6 months ago
I don't know if this connects the story, but Will Geer apparently met Will Rogers. Will Rogers had Cherokee ancestry (lot of people claim that, but I think it's true in this case) Weren't the Native people in this episode Cherokee?
GloryGrace Michael 6 months ago
Basically if you are from that area and Oklahoma, Missouri you more then likely do have Cherokee somewhere in there. Showed up more Will Roger's generation because they where closer.
Michael GloryGrace 6 months ago
Actually, there are multiple reasons for all the claims of Cherokee ancestors. One is that at one time white people got on the roles, to get land, and much later, who can tell. But there's a lot of peolle wishing, and Cherokee are more visible.

People who claim ancestry in a "minor" tribe may be more likely to be right. Because false claims are rarely about more obscure people.

A lot of these come from family folklore. Some vague family story, or their cheekbones. The reality is if you want to hide your ancestry, it's completely buried.

A big problem is people make these claims without actually mapping out the family tree. Or, when there is really ancestry, assuming it gives them status.
Does anyone remember the public service ad where TV viewers saw an Indian with
a TEAR in his eye at the end of the ad?
Does anyone remember what the public service ad was about and what was the name of the Indian in the ad?
It was an ad about litter from a group and "Iron Eyes Cody" was of Italian descent. He played Indians so often, that he came to believe he was.
Thank you for the Video of Iron Eyes
Cody Harlow 1313 and also I wish that
BAG (Neil J Schwartz) had stayed on
Happy Days the ENTIRE 11 seasons
Instead of disappearing with no explanation on Happy Days.
I also wish that Chuck Cunningham 2 Randolph Roberts had become the
Assistant basketball coach at Jefferson High School in 1980 and
Roger Phillips (Ted McGinley) as the
head basketball coach at Jefferson High school. MOOSE appeared in only
3 episodes and Bag appeared in only
9 episodes and Randolph Roberts as Chuck Cunningham 2 was only in
2 episodes. Eugene BELVIN Denis MANDEL was in 8 episodes and
Melvin BELVIN Scott Bernstein was in
7! episodes.
Also Barry GREENBERG (Moose) never
Talked on Happy Days but he played
Alfred.in the 1973 TV movie Miracle on
34th Street and when Barry GREENBERG.played Alfred he DID
Talk. I also wish that Marsha and
Wendy the waitresses at Arnold's
Drive in had stayed on Happy Days.
CAREY WILLIAMS who danced with
MOOSE on Happy Days episode only
Appeared in one episode only and
Carol Williams who played Marilee
Only appeared in one episode only also.
Thanks for the information on
Iron Eyes Cody.
Gavan O Herlihy
Happy Days 1974
First Season
First Episode:All The Way
Last episode with Gavan O Herlihy as Chuck Cunningham:
Give The Band A Hand
Chuck is the only person who
Likes Joanie's willow soup and when Chuck said that he liked Joanie's soup Richie Howard
Marion and Joanie all have Chuck Joanie's willow soup.
So Chuck Cunningham 1 Gavan O Herlihy had the Last Laugh on
How Last Episode of Happy Days.
Correction :his last episode .
Peter_Falk_Fan 6 months ago
I applaud them for looking for a Native American actor, but Jerado Decordovier (born Jeradose Sei Groves) wasn't any more Native American than Eduard Franz. Decordovier was from American Samoa in the South Pacific. That means he has Polynesian heritage. He came to the US in 1934 as a stowaway.
Michael Peter_Falk_Fan 6 months ago
That's interesting. I guess he counts as Indigenous, which is better than an Italian actor playing a Native. There's some leeway there. A Syilx actor may play adifferent people.
nd1irish Michael 6 months ago
Why it is better? I agree that no one should be discriminated against because of their race, religion, etc. but if Franz was determined to be the better, more experienced actor, he should have gotten the part. How would feel if you applied for a job and knew you were the most qualified candidate but the company hired someone less qualified because of ‘diversity’ concerns? Be honest.
MaryHelen Peter_Falk_Fan 6 months ago
some ploynesians are native americans- so who knows?
Thomas0263 nd1irish 6 months ago
Your second sentence makes no sense. Just sayin'.
nd1irish Thomas0263 6 months ago
Explain how it doesn’t make sense. Just saying’.
Peter_Falk_Fan MaryHelen 6 months ago
Actually, that's partly true. They may have found a DNA connection between Australasia (including Polynesia) and Native Americans in South America (mostly related to the Zenu tribe in Columbia). Apparently, they hooked up about 800 years ago. These connections were only found in the eastern Polynesian islands of Palliser, the Marquesas, Mangareva, and Rapa Nui. But, there is no DNA connection found with Central and North American Native Tribes.

When I noticed that Jerado Decordovier was from American Samoa, I looked to see if there was a connection between Samoa and NA Native Americans. It was some interesting reading.
Zip 6 months ago
For an extra, he did a great job and brought some real heart-felt emotion to the role.
LoveMETV22 6 months ago
"The Warrior" was a good episode, giving Decordovier some additional visibility in the industry. Liked the interaction between Will Geer and Kami Cotler’s characters with Decordovier's in the episode. Bravo to Ralph Waite and Will Geer advocating to have a Native American actor play the role.
Michael 6 months ago
A lot of famous Indians aren't, and that still happens today, though more in academia and other arts. There's a good base of actors who are real. And they play Natives, but they also get other roles. Lorne Cardinal comes to mind.

It is much better, real people playing the parts, better scripts written by Natives, so better diversity onscreen. But also the money goes to Natives, not actors pretending.

Was the grandson native? Ernest Esparza III played a Native in other things, but it's not clear.

Chief Dan George was still living in 1977, though maybe too obvious a choice.

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harlow1313 MrsPhilHarris 6 months ago
I remember reading that Andy Griffith said he wanted the town of Mayberry to be a character on the show. I think Dog River is like that. Also, like "Seinfeld," "Corner Gas" is a show about nothing.
harlow1313 MrsPhilHarris 6 months ago
Oh, and I like the Dog River Police force's "surveillance bush."
MrsPhilHarris Michael 6 months ago
Great character. Reader of Cosmopolitan and the Hardy Boys.
Onewouldhope Michael 6 months ago
“ Chief Dan George was still living in 1977, though maybe too obvious a choice.”. Maybe he was one of the known talents that weren’t available.
daDoctah 6 months ago
Not to worry, though. Eduard Franz had already been on "The Waltons" twice before Jerado DeCordovier made his appearance.
Michael daDoctah 6 months ago
Selina Linville's grandfather.

And in season 1, a Walton cousin they try to set up with someone.
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