Trail Tales Cast Interview with Ed Adams

Appeared in FOURTEEN Episodes of 'The Young Riders'




Wrangler from DEAD RINGER

Gerrit from THE DEBT

Evers   from JESSE

Rough and Tumble

My Questions and Comments in gold
Ed Adams  in white

Mr. Adams was able to juggle me into his schedule as he was traveling between two cities, and I was very thankful that he did. He is one of my ‘network’ interviews. Thanks to Billy Joe Patton I was able to contact Mr. Adams.

I did 14 episodes... I did seven of them where I was hired as an actor and I was always a villain/villain type... then I did seven other episodes where I was hired on as a stunt person, to get killed in the background.  There again it was funny,  in the Young Riders they used footage of some of their other shows so you’d see yourself shooting ... and then you’d see yourself fall.  So it’s an old scene of you shooting and then cut in with a guy doing a stunt. The guy would be you, too.  So you’d actually be shooting yourself on film.  That happened to Robin, too, a couple of times.


Have you talked to Robin Wayne?


He’s another great guy. We did about six episodes together... as brothers in one of them. He’s blonde and I’m dark as can be.  [laughter]

Sounds like an interesting gene pool!


It was great in Tucson, for three years all of the people who were talented, whether it was being able to ride horses, or just talented actors, worked all the time, because there were different directors every week.  So I worked for one director three times because he'd come back over the three seasons.  I worked for a guy named George Mendeluk and I think James Keach did a couple of episodes also. I got my biggest part when James Keach was directing, when they introduced Chris Pettit as the little Jesse James. Did you see any of those episodes?

[laughter] Yes...

Well, the one with Chris Pettiet as Jesse James, I'm the lead bad guy, my hair is real scraggly in that one. I'm the guy who says... "We have to find that kid and bury him... you think they're gonna believe that we didn't kill his grandfather with this little kid out there sayin' 'They killed my grandpa!'" That was my biggest acting part on the Young Riders that I had. 


I was in one as 'Boone' a civil war guy. We were trying to rob money to support the Confederates.  We killed the guys in the blue and put on their uniforms. [FALSE COLORS]  I can't even remember the names of some of the other ones... GATHERING CLOUDS, I think was one.  Funny thing is.. Josh Brolin, he would crack up... I mean, he would kill me in the one with Jesse... at the very end Chris has a gun and he's holding it on me...  and Josh comes around the corner. "Don't do it, don't do it... you'll never stop running."  Josh gets to the set and he's lookin' at the scene. "It's YOU again?" You see, I'd drawn down against him... three times. AND he's always killed me. It's like Terminator ... I just keep coming back. That was kind of funny. 

"JESSE" continued

Steve... Steve Baldwin was the same way. "You? Didn't we kill you?" Yep, but that's when my hair was long and I had a beard, now I've cut my hair... I'd just change my look every couple of weeks for a different director. I'd shave my mustache or do something different. It would get pretty funny.. "Didn't I kill your brother last week?" "Yeah.. you shot my brother and now I'm back." The typical western story.

*in gravely western drawl*  You shot my cousin last week, and now I'm here to avenge his death!

 Yeah,.. oh, and one scene with Robin we're both sitting around a campfire and we're both killed. We got killed all the time.

I was stunt coordinator at Old Tucson from 1976 to 1988. Yeah, those were the good years. I trained half the people in Young Riders... they came from when I trained them at Old Tucson... how to fall off a roof, fall off horses... I was the coordinator out there for 12 years and when I left, Robin took over. Most all of the guys, except for the guys from L.A. , anyone who did stunts came from Old Tucson.  Grant Wheeler, Billy Joe Patton... I hired Billy, almost didn't, ‘cause he was an Okie... "He'd kind of talk funny..."  He was funny, if you talk to him; he's got a pretty heavy accent.  We'd take pictures with the tourists and someone would come up from New Jersey and go "Hey, yo, can I take a picture?"  And Billy Joe would say "I can hardly understand you, y'all sure do talk funny."  We'd all crack up.

I had left Old Tucson... ten years had gone by and when they re-opened it they had thirty kids who didn't know anything about stunt work. So Robin and myself were hired to put them through a six week course, trained them how to do... we had thirty-six people... guys and girls ... and we didn't have one injury except this guy sprained his thumb and we taught them how to do falls and fights... how to fall off a 28 foot building.  Then we left...  they had no quality control... the shows went to something real touristy...  I started doing the stunt demonstrations while we were there, rather than just the gun-fights. We took people and got them out of the audience and told them how we did stunts. That was one of my endeavors. I thought we needed to get the audience involved and tell them about it, rather than just... do it. One show out of five in a day was the stunt demonstration.

I live there, close to Old Tucson, a few miles west, further out in the desert, so the last three years that I was employed there, I had horses... and I would ride my horses to work, play cowboy all day, then hop on my horse and ride back when the sun is going down.  Until 1988, all the shows were actual scenes that happened in movies and were extremely physical. It was like watching TV for thirty minutes. The shows were between 12 and 20 minutes and there was music in the background. 

"Dead Ringer"

Did you ever see the old Old Tucson? Or just Pictures?

Just Pictures.

We had a 33,000 ft. sound stage, a saloon set that been in hundreds of movies. It had been in everything from the remake of High Noon to Young Riders... it was in everything. We used to take people on tours through there and then it all burnt down.

Did you know there was an old west town in Henderson [Nevada]?

I've heard of it, but it wasn't there when I lived in Vegas.

Robert Shelton sent me out there to train the stunt guys there. I opened the place up. We had all the stunt men that started up that place. There was a big grand opening and Don Collier came down, he was on the Young Riders. Don and I are really close. We did about two dozen Hubba-Bubba Bubble gum commercials together. "Big Bubbles... no troubles!"  We did a bunch of those together. 

I got my start working on the Gambler with Kenny Rogers at Old Tucson.   They filmed that there and then I worked on five other Gamblers. That's how I got my union card back in 1979. I worked on the Lazarus Man with Robert Urick before he died, and I had a really good part on a couple of episodes, working two episodes of that, then there was talk of moving that to Canada  and that's when he got sick, so they ended up cancelling it all together. 

Someone needs to make another good western.  I liked the Young Riders because it didn't coat anything. People got shot and killed every week. The critiques, that's what they were against. Westerns are always good over evil, like the Young Riders. 

"Unfinished Business"

Odd little side note here, that I noticed as I was making the screen caps for this episode and "Jesse." In this episode, Teaspoon shoots Taylor [Ed] ... then in "Jesse" Ed's character, Evers, shoots Teaspoon off his horse. Payback? You decide.

Do you remember what the casting process was in your case?

Oh yeah.  Holly Hire, Don Collier's wife, she had been a casting director in Hollywood for many years and moved to Arizona. I had a agent, but Holly... she'd call me in because she knows I can do it all for Westerns. I'm a trick gun handler. I can do everything with two guns spin 'em, throw 'em all around, catch 'em. I can ride horses, rope, I can do all of it... drive four horses, teams and plus.. I'd been doing stunts for 11 years. I had also worked with Dona number of times.

So, whenever I'd go into an audition... I would get called in and normally you go through the first call and go in to read for the casting director, and she's make sure you're good enough to go read for the L.A. casting director who's coming in, or someone who's helping with the casting, so we'd get to skip that first part of the process... 'cause she knew I could do everything.  So, my first audition would usually be with the director or with the producer of the show... and it was always a great thing when you walk in there and Holly says, "Oh, this is Ed Adams, he's excellent... he can ride, shoot, rope...he can do everything.

When you get a good report from the casting director... I mean she puts herself on the line.  Like a lot of the actors in Tucson that Holly knew, we got to skip that first step of going to read for her, because she already knew we could read.  Sometimes you have to go, cause I always play a bad guy, so if it was a part for a good guy, she'd call me in and say. "I never saw you read for a Good Guy…"  So once in awhile, you have to go in and say 'okay.' Show her that you could be gentle or 'nice'.

A kinder, gentler, stuntman.

Yeah, it was great... 'cause they were casting for the show next week. So you wouldn't have to wait a month to hear if you were cast. If they liked you, they'd put you on tape send it into the network in L.A.  for them to okay you, and then go to work the next week. It was a quick process.

I was lucky, in that a lot of times I would get to ride in a gang. If you were one of the actors, yeah you had a role, but you'd work one day on the show, ‘cause you do all your scenes in one day. Well, I'd get in with the gang and Billy Joe would always crack up... that he was making scale for the day and
I wouldn't say a word, but they'd pay me ... I'd work six days on a weekly contract... never say a word, get shot and die and make twice as much money as the guy that's getting the acting roles.

As a stunt man, you don't want your face seen, because you want to be used as a gang member, so you'd sit there with your hat pulled down over your head, or you'd spend a lot of time in the background. You can tell, there I am... People would ask me "Why don't you look up!?"
"Cause if they see me, then they're not gonna use me again next week."

So, you try to hide yourself and not be seen.  Now, I'm worried that when I go to make screen caps... I won't be able to find you.

Well, if I'm listed as having a part, then you'll be able to see me.


You can't hide when you're acting.  You WANT to be seen then.

Gerrit from THE DEBT

Oh yeah! I remember that one. At the beginning of the episode Josh kills me and then at the end I'm riding up on a horse, but I'm dead. It's one of the hardest stunts, 'cause I'm sitting .... and when you fall off the horse, you're supposed to hit the ground and roll to absorb the impact, but when I'm 'dead' on a horse just walking into town. As I'm riding in, my 'brothers' are shooting up the town and they see me riding up the street, cause I've got a 'board' in my back, supposedly holding me in the saddle.

"the DEBT"

Once I ride up to them, I slowly slide off of the horse and fall to the ground, and the stunt co-ordinator wondered. "Can't his brothers catch him? Just as he rides up"... cause they all come out... and as I'm falling off, they could have caught me in their arms. But the director said ... " I wanna see him hit the ground."  So I hit the ground many a time and that's  a funny story because a week before I got shot when Josh calls me out. 

"the DEBT"

He shoots me... and it was soaking wet. It had been raining that day and the horses are standing in the street urinating into the streams of water... So I fall dead in this puddle of water and they can't wash my jacket, because the next week when I come riding in, the jacket is all covered in mud. So it smells just like horse pee. I'm wearing a jacket soaked in horse pee... and I come riding up and not falling in the arms of my brothers but on my shoulder.

Wow, I'm sorry...

That's okay, they paid me well.

JESSE  Do you have any memories of Chris Pettiet, since you worked on his introductory episode?

I remember him as a really skinny, gangly kid. I think this was his first big role. Big and wide-eyed... everything around the horses, like a kid for the first time on a ranch.  He was really having fun, they put him on a horse and he got to carry a gun. I'm sorry to hear [that Chris was gone] he was a really talented actor... for being as young as he was... I remember thinking, "Oh my God, this poor kid, I'm gonna break him.  At the end, he holds a gun on me ... and I never actually get physical with him, but he did a fight scene with Yvonne... and that was cute, watching those two fight cause... I was puttin' my money on Yvonne. He was skinny as a rail, but just the nicest kid. What a short young life.

Other Cast Members?

Josh was probably my favorite.  Josh was always real serious as far as his work was concerned and always extremely nice and he remembered your face. As time goes on and you do one episode, then to the next... once he knew who you were, he was always talking to you...always real nice... Steve was the same way. Which was funny.. I had a daughter, who right after Young Riders was finished, Steve was working on Posse... I was working on it too, but not on this day... my daughter was 16 and I'm just in my regular clothes when I wasn't working, but I went out there to do something.  I'm standing there, and she knew that I worked on the Young Riders, and she had Steven on the show and he was doing those shows like MTV basketball and was in with the hip crowd.  I'm standing there behind the ropes where the people stand to watch the filming. My daughter told me "Dad, Dad, look! That's Stephen Baldwin." "I know Steve," I told her. Steve's walking by to get dressed or something and he stops. "Ed! What are you doin'? What are you doin on that side [of the ropes]? Get over here!" So he calls me over there and I introduced him to my daughter Morgan. After that she couldn't get over the fact that he REALLY knew me.

I had a Harley during the show... and so did they [the actors]. I had the oldest one of the bunch and they all had new ones. I had an old '72... and they thought that was cool.   Both of those guys, Steve and Josh were the two that I would really talk to. The others... like Travis Fine, I never really spoke much to him, he was kind of off to himself, and Gregg Rainwater was okay, but really, Steve and Josh were the two that I spent the most time with... probably because I did most of my scenes with them.  They were also the most rugged, so they were into all the horse stuff.. and then into the guns. I was a trick gun handler. So I'd be messin' around and Josh would ask me how I did that. I'd show him some things and Yvonne was really sweet. She was so different, 'cause she'd show up 'not being Lou' ... your jaw would drop, she was just gorgeous... "WOW!" "Damn, girl!" The first couple times we saw her when she wasn't Lou, like when they'd have a wrap party or something, she be 'miniskirted-out'... she was really sweet, as well....  The three of those are the ones that I have memories of. 

Bloopers, Practical Jokes, Outakes?

There wasn't a whole lot of joking going on.  Working on westerns it's funny enough when a guy can't get on his horse.  You know, you run to the horses to make a get away, but the horses are already tryin' to take off.  Or, something that happened quite often were guns misfiring, or not firing. Someone pulling out a gun, cocking it... shooting it again and again and ...ending up standing there looking really stupid, holding a gun... and once in awhile you get someone that would say "BANG" and they'd be told... "Don't say that!" If it doesn't work just don't do anything!  When you're doing westerns that's the kind of stuff that always happens.

If you're on a horse, trying to do a scene, the horse is just not co-operating, trying to move in or out, so sometimes the wrangler would have to sit off set and grab the horse by the bit and kneel down.. If on film you see someone riding slowly up but only half of the horse is visible, a wrangler is actually on his hands and knees walking the horse in and standing there holding the horse while the scene is going on.  So, if you're watching it, these guys all look like cowboys, but what you don't see is the wranglers on his hands and knees. 

There weren't a lot of practical jokes, but those guys used to like to go skydiving and things like that in between... and the producers would totally have fits. They'd find out that they'd go to Marana and go jumping out of a plane, and stuff that they weren't supposed to be doing, but it was funny cause they were all pretty dare devilish.  They liked doing their own riding and hard riding themselves and they were all young enough.

Someday, I've got to sit him down and hear about the ton of other shows he's been in, talk about experience and talent! Thanks, Ed! We'll be looking for you in the movies!

"Starlight, Starbright"

Screencaps used for this interview are courtesy of Cindy and Raye