Thursday, September 09, 2010

TV Westerns Producer David Dortort Dies at 93

50 Westerns From the 50s shared the news that David Dortort, the creator and producer of classic TV Westerns, has passed away at the age of 93.

Dortort is best known for creating and producing the long-running BONANZA, but I far preferred his grittier and more realistic desert Western THE HIGH CHAPARRAL, which debuted in 1967 and ran for four seasons. This series is long overdue for DVD.

The High Chaparral Homepage pays tribute to Dortort and THE HIGH CHAPARRAL: "Shooting on location in Arizona instead of on a Hollywood soundstage, and featuring a mixed ethnicity step-family with relationship challenges, were things simply not done in the Ward-and-June-Cleaver atmosphere of sixties television. Perhaps his biggest contribution was in breaking down conventional stereotypes in the portrayal of Indians, Latinos, and Anglos. His insistence on authenticity in language and roles resulted in early acting opportunities for many Latino and Indian actors who went on to full Hollywood careers."

Dortort also produced a superb 1979 miniseries, THE CHISHOLMS, based on a novel by Evan Hunter. THE CHISHOLMS starred Robert Preston, Rosemary Harris, and Ben Murphy. It became a very short-lived TV series, minus Preston; I still have a couple episodes on a Beta tape, but again, I'd love to have THE CHISHOLMS on DVD.

Prior to his work in television, Dortort's writing credits include THE LUSTY MEN (1952), starring Robert Mitchum and Susan Hayward. THE LUSTY MEN happens to be scheduled to air on Turner Classic Movies on September 28th.

He also wrote A CRY IN THE NIGHT (1956), with Natalie Wood, Edmond O'Brien, and Brian Donlevy, and REPRISAL! (1956) which is mentioned at 50 Westerns From the 50s.


Blogger The Rush Blog said...

I would love to have "THE CHISHOLMS" on DVD as well. I only have the 1979 miniseries on VHS, which I cannot find at the moment.

1:08 AM  

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