Trail Tales Cast Interview with Sonny Skyhawk

"Chief Standing Bear" from Man Behind the Badge

Sonny Skyhawk

Had you seen "The Young Riders" show before you appeared in this episode?

Yes, I had seen the show quite a few times before I was on it. I really liked it because it was very well represented. Good actors and the show was pretty much true to the Western.

How were you cast on the show?

I auditioned for the role.

I read with someone from the show and got the job and they said to show up on the set. It was a lot of fun, a very professional show. Everybody was there to do a good job.

I was cast on the show as Standing Bear. He came into town for a parley with the bureaucrats and Teaspoon happened to come into the scene and talked to one of Government bureaucrats that said, “We’re having a problem with these Indians.”

“Looks like Standing Bear, I know him.”

So we talked and the whole thing was resolved because of Teaspoon’s relationship with ‘me’.

Do you remember the actors from the show?

Stephen Baldwin was one of the young men. Probably Stephen and ‘Teaspoon’ were the most memorable, how nice they were and how professional they were. Years later… I think it was this January (2003) that we ended up giving some money to a foundation that Stephen Baldwin and his mother run. It’s a breast cancer foundation. I got to see him again after all those years. One of the tribes that I represent [Rosebud  Sioux Tribe in  South  Central  South  Dakota] was having a Grammy party in New York. Stephen Baldwin, his mother and his sister showed up. We had asked him to come to accept the donation to their foundation.

Gregg Rainwater was in the scene too. I remember Gregg and Teaspoon were fantastic. I think I had worked with Teaspoon many years ago, Anthony Zerbe. Always a professional actor, it was a pleasure working with him… all of them.

Was this the first show you had done in Tucson?

No, I had probably done about 28 shows in Tucson at Old Tucson, were this particular episode took place.

I’ve worked with John Wayne and Kirk Douglas… with so many of the older guys, the westerns that were shot there at old Tucson. I was working on Little House on the Prairie, and I had done a few shows there prior to that. I moved to Tucson for ten years during that particular period there from the 70s to the 80s. I was traveling too much back and forth from Hollywood and so I decided to buy a home there. It’s a beautiful city and it’s grown tremendously since I’d been there. I enjoyed working on Little House on the Prairie and the shows that
he spun off after that.

How did The Young Riders compare to the other Westerns you’ve worked on?

It was probably the first show where Native Americans were treated as they ALWAYS should have been treated. They got to eat with everybody.. the whole cast. They got to eat together. Most other western shows that I’ve been on, everybody ate first…and we ate last.


Evidently, that’s just the way they did things. Native American were only thought of as Extras, and the Western wouldn’t have been anything without the Native Americans as the villains.

I've always admired this scene. Teaspoons words were convincing and prophetic.  Standing Bear was a formidable man with a true love of his people and a caring heart worried about the future.

Thanks go to Mr. Skyhawk for bringing this noble man to life for us!

Thanks so much to Mr. Skyhawk!  It's just fantastic to hear your memories of the show and to hear your thoughts on the Young Riders... speaking with you opened my eyes! -  Raye