Trail Tales Cast Interview:

Bob Bish

Bob was kind enough to spend some time on email and answer a number of questions for me.
He was in a number of episodes and has a great memory for stories.
He also has a website dedicated to the film "Quick and the Dead" .  
For more of Bob's websites, I'll post the links after the interview.
Thank you, Bob... for all your time!

THE INTERVIEW
my questions are in GOLD    *    Bob's answers are in WHITE
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How did you get the job as an extra on the show?

I worked in radio as an on-air personality for 27 years (retired in 1996).  In that occupation, I would sometimes find myself unemployed or under-employed.  It was during a period of under-employment in 1989 that I was looking to pick up some part-time work, so I asked everyone I knew if they knew of anything.  A friend of mine, an aspiring actor, told me they were signing up extras for The Young Riders, then in its first season, and where to go and who to see.  Since I had done work doing sound for film locally, I went down hoping they'd need someone in the sound dept.  They didn't, but I signed up to be an extra.  I put down on my application that I had done sound for film, just in case.  I never thought I had any kind of old-west look, but apparently they did.  I was surprised then I got a call, about a week later, to come work as an extra.  I found it very enjoyable and it got into my blood immediately.  BTW, the casting people told me years later that a main reason they called me was because I had put down that I had worked in sound, because that told them that I had been on film sets before.
    The irony here is, working in radio and as an extra, I was either seen and not heard, or heard and not seen.

Was this your first Television Show?

Yes.  I worked on two more network TV series (and 10 movies) after that.

Take us through the process of a regular filming day:  When did you report to set?

Whenever the "call" time was for that particular day.  It varied, but was usually very early in the morning.

Where did you park?

There were designated parking areas near the set.

What kind of security clearance did you have to go through?

None, oddly enough.  Everyone knew everyone.

Wardrobe?

It very rarely changed and almost never laundered (only once).  The same old wardrobe got kind of raunchy after a while.

Staging Rehearsals?

Sometimes one rehearsal before rolling film.  Sometimes those rehearsals were shot just in case they came off well.

What was the length of the day?

Probably averaged 12 hours.  Often, after working all day (since sunrise or before), we would be asked if we wanted to stay for night shots, so that was voluntary.  Since we got paid by the day, we would get no more money for doing so.  There was one day when I showed up for work only to find out that the shooting schedule had been changed.  We were sent home, but got paid for the day.

Did you work at both Mescal and OTS?

Yes, as well as the "warehouse", which was a soundstage along with offices, carpentry shops, wardrobe dept., etc. in what had been a vacant warehouse here in
Tucson.  That's where many interior shots were made.  For example, there was an exact duplicate of the interior of the Riders' bunkhouse there.  Bunkhouse interior shots could be done either at the warehouse or in Mescal.  All saloon scenes were done at the warehouse.

Which of the three seasons did you work on?

All three.  Only one episode the first season, only two episodes the second season, but most episodes of the third season .

Do you recall any of the episodes by name?

I'm away from home and my videotapes, but I'll see how many I can remember offhand (I may not be able to recall them accurately or in chronological order):

Bulldog (my first one)
And Then There Was One
A Tiger's Tale
Good Night Sweet Charlotte
Spies
Til Death Do Us Part (pts. 1 & 2)

I know there were more, but I can't remember titles offhand.  Right after the last episode of the second season, all the behind-the-scenes people (crew, producers, etc.) did a made-for-CBS-TV movie called "Gunsmoke III: To the Last Man" with James Arness.

Which episodes/scenes can you be 'seen' in?

Too many to try to list.  My best shots were in "Goodnight Sweet Charlotte", "Spies" and "Til Death Do Us Part", among others.

Do you recall any episodes or scenes that took 'forever' to film?

There weren't many.  Each episode was scheduled to be shot in 8 days, so it moved right along.  Scenes take longer to shoot for movies than for TV shows.  In The Quick and the Dead, for instance, each of those gunfights took 3 days to film.

What did everyone do between takes to amuse themselves?

That varied widely, but mostly talking, getting to know other people on set.  It became one big family after a while.  Some took naps.  Some of the stars hit golf balls into the desert during lunch break.  Some crew people played hacky-sack.

Which actors from the Main Cast did you have the opportunity to work with?

All of them, except Travis Fine (Ike).  For some reason, he was not in any of the scenes I worked during the first two seasons, and he was gone by the third season.

Do you recall any practical jokes on set?

Not offhand.  There were jokes, but I don't remember any practical jokes.

What were the funniest moments of production?

They should have made a blooper reel.  There was one scene where Hickok (Josh Brolin) took off on his horse after some bank robbers.  On the first take, as he took off at a gallop, his pistols flew out of their holsters.  It may not sound like it in this description, but it was hilarious!  During "Til Death Do Us Part", in the very serious scene where the young man lies dying outside the church, a horse nearby let loose with a terrific piss.  That broke everyone up.  There were many other funny moments.

What were the scariest moments from production?

One comes to mind:  In "Spies", where the schoolhouse is on fire, they had a window rigged to blow out.  They did a separate shot of just this effect, so I was not needed in the background.  I took a "butt can" (like a pail), turned it upside down in the middle of the street about a block away from the schoolhouse, and stood on top of it with my camera hoping to get a photo of the explosion.  Well, some flame bars (propane powered) failed to ignite, filling the building with propane.  The FX people were unaware of this and, when the explosion was triggered, it was MUCH more of an explosion than anticipated.  The shock wave threw me right off that butt can, onto my own butt.  I did not get the photo.

What were your memories from the last (Til Death Do Us Part) Episode?

It was the first, and so far only, 12-hour wedding ceremony I've ever attended.  Those wooden pews got pretty hard after a while.

Here's a very interesting anecdote for you:  according to the original script for that episode, when Teaspoon, conducting the ceremony, came to the part where he needed to call the Kid by name, it was to turn out that the Kid's name was Lou.  That's right, Lou and Lou!  They changed that at the last moment.

MORE STORIES.......

I remember a couple that just involved extras.
   
One time there was a first-time extra on set.  We were sitting around between scenes.  At one point, this guy went up to the extras-casting person and asked "When do I find out what my lines will be?".  Made us experienced extras laugh!

During the third season, a new Asst. Asst. Director (the person responsible for placing extras in scenes) came up to a group of us.  He said "I need a couple of cowpokes...you and...you (pointed at me).  I had already determined that this guy had a sense of humor so, on the way to where the scene was being shot, I said to him,

"Listen, I resent the use of the term "cowpoke".  I don't like the sexual innuendo.  I'm a "saddle tramp." 

He laughed.

OK, now I remember one that involved at least a guest star.  I forget the title of the episode, but it was the one where they made the transition, or move, from Sweetwater to Rock Creek.  The original Marshal of Rock Creek had been killed (clearing the way for Teaspoon to become the Marshal).  On the day they filmed the scene where his body was brought into town on a buckboard, the actor had an abscessed tooth.  They didn't want him to get it treated (pulled or a root canal), fearing that his jaw might swell up as a result and he wouldn't look right, so they just got him some pain-killers.  While playing the dead body on the buckboard, he fell asleep and started snoring.

I also remember a couple of other potentially dangerous situations.  They would always leave horses, wagons, etc. tied up at hitching posts in town all day long.  One day we were shooting a scene at the cemetery just off the town.  There was a buckboard with a horse and a mule hitched to it.  The horse and mule did not get along, and on two different occasions, broke free and ran helter-skelter through the town.  Runaway buckboard!  They very nearly crashed through one of the buildings.  It's a good thing we weren't shooting in the street at the time, or someone may have been hurt.

"A Tiger's Tale" was an episode that, in my opinion, had a weak premise (misinterpreting "Bengal Tiger" as "
Bengal triggers"???), but it was one of the most fun ones on which to work.  They had two tigers on set, a male and a female.  EVERY horse in town was very nervous.  The male was just a big pussycat, gentle and mellow, and they'd walk him around on a leash.  The female was edgy, jumpy, a little mean-spirited and ferocious.  They attempted to shoot only one scene with the female, the one where they drive the tiger out of town in a cage on the back of a wagon.  The tiger would growl and swat at the bars with her paws.  They had mules hitched to the wagon in the belief that they would be more relaxed about it than horses, but they did not like it at all.  I remember saying to another extra that this was not going to work.  At one point, the mules broke loose from the hitch and ran off.  They eventually switched tigers and put the male in the cage.  If you watch that scene very closely, you can catch a glimpse of a reflection off the plexiglass they installed over the window in the cage nearest the drivers to protect them.

Pictures from Bob Bish!

Bob sent a number of Pictures to the Express Station Site run by Wendy.
These are all photos you will not see at EXP Station...

 This group photo was taken after the one sent to Express Station. That photo is of the group as it's being assembled.
  This one is the actual, official photo.


The photo is quite large.. so I (Raye) have made some closeups of certain people in the picture!
Bob said that I should pay close attention to the cast members on the right side of the pic... hmmm I can't understand why? *cough*


"
I made some really good friends while working on The Young Riders, particularly a couple named Bill and Penny McLain."


This one is of a group of extras who were dressed in night clothes and long-johns, since they were supposedly awakened when the schoolhouse caught fire, then rushed out of their homes to help put it out.  In the center are my friends Bill (plaid robe) and Penny (brown shawl).  Kneeling (old man with white beard and suspenders) is Chappy who was in his 90's at the time.  He's now 100 years old and doing great.  BTW, they ran out of night clothes by the time they got to me, so
they left me in my usual wardrobe, figuring I had come from the saloon.  There are some excellent shots of me (in the episode) in the bucket brigade.

Penny had her one and only speaking part in "Spies".  She played the conservative older lady (they made her look older than she really was) who objected to Rachel being the new schoolmarm because she had once worked for a gambler. Her husband Bill was standing in the background of that scene.



Thanks again, Bob! These memories are wonderful!