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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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.
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.
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?
Cody Harlow 1313 and also I wish that
MOOSE (Barry GREENBERG) and
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
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.
MOOSE on Happy Days episode only
Appeared in one episode only and
Carol Williams who played Marilee
Only appeared in one episode only also.
Gavan O Herlihy
Chuck CUNNINGHAM 1
Happy Days 1974
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.
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.
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.