Coming up next week, great western supporting actor Don Collier will be 90. He was part of that cowboy world I lived in as a kid, especially in 60+ episodes of The High Chaparral in which he played foreman Sam Butler.
Pre-Chaparral, he starred in 50 episodes of Outlaws (1960-62) as Marshall Will Forman and guest-starred in various TV shows including Perry Mason, The Virginian, Branded, Death Valley Days, Bonanza, Wagon Train, The Waltons, and many more.
He appeared in movies with John Wayne; The War Wagon (1967), El Dorado (1967) and The Undefeated (1969). He was in Five Card Stud with Dean Martin and Robert Mitchum. He featured in the 1973 Stephen Boyd film Key West.
He was a jobbing actor but I liked his Sam Butler role best of all, and especially his deep drawl, not quite Sam Elliott but very distinctive and effective.
A few years ago, I sent him a fan letter and he replied with a signed photograph of the core Chaparral cast. "To Joe, best wishes, Don Collier" and as if he had to clarify, he noted that he was Sam!
He last appeared on screen 10 years ago but thanks to the CBS Action channel, The High Chaparral is oft-repeated, a great show with a wonderful ensemble cast.
In the photograph, only four actors are still with us; Don Collier (89); Henry Darrow (85); Linda Cristal (84); Mark Slade (79).
I salute Don Collier.