Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hair Dare: Don Pedro Colley and Byron Cherry

Don Pedro Colley and Byron Cherry can always be counted on for two distinct things: Colley always has a good story on hand about his classic acting days, and Cherry never sits still. Our weeklong coverage of the sixth annual Hair Dare Dukes Weekend in Leamington, Ontario, Canada, continues with a closer look at our own Sheriff Ed Little and Coy Duke of "The Dukes of Hazzard."

Don Pedro Colley lives in Oregon, in an A-frame house his father built in the 1960s. Adding to his quality of life: a six-foot in diameter hot tub he built himself in the 1980s from California Redwood. No wonder he retreats to this oasis and only does a few of these kinds of shows a year nowadays.

We had a chance to chat with Colley at last year's show (see our August 15, 2007 post), but this year we found out more about how that whole Sheriff Little thing came about.

It was a 1967 episode of "Daktari" -- his very first screen credit -- that laid the groundwork. In the episode, "Killer Tribe," Colley was guest-starring as tribesman Mtola in "chest-high weeds." In one action-packed scene, he says, "I slide down the embankment, roll over, and the camera turns and sees what's chasing me." Things didn't go quite as planned, though, but the classically trained Colley improvised with the logistics and saved the scene.

Years later, he got a call from the show's producer, Leonard Kaufman. "I really didn't have an agent at the time," Colley says. Kaufman began to describe for Colley a part on this one particular little show, "The Dukes of Hazzard," a part that at the time was called Sheriff Lucas. "I never have forgotten what you did for me," Kaufman told him.

During his audition, Colley burst into the room strongly and took an "ice-cold" Sheriff Little stance. He didn't have the attention of the show's bigwigs, at first, though. They were still looking down at their papers. He waited. He wasn't going anywhere, after all. When one, executive producer Paul Picard, finally looked up and met his "gaze" (to put it politely), "the pen slipped out of his hand, the piece of paper fell on the floor," Colley laughs.

"After the interview was over, I took off my hat, shook his hand," Colley says. "The interview was over -- I was out of character now."

That regular gig put Colley's career into a more comfy position, but this is a man with a wealth of experience. He also reminisced about the two-hour episode of "Starsky and Hutch" that he did in 1977, "Starsky and Hutch on Playboy Island," featuring someone else we know, Joan Collins. And later, as our group had dinner, Colley regaled us with stories of Jack Palance and others from his earlier days in stage productions. Fun, indeed.

In Saturday morning's parade, Byron Cherry and Billie Rae Bates rode in the Hazzard County Sheriff's boat, while Felix Silla rode with event organizer Paul Harrington in the General Lee in the lead, and Colley rode in this most-appropriate number: a gleaming Chickasaw County Sheriff's car.

John Thomas Staton of Ontario had no trouble convincing Don to don his former garb (the helmet, of course -- not the shirt!).

Time to switch gears on the General ... Why, what's that? A sea of Coys? Evidently our show organizer got a good deal on them! How delightful, for an event featuring the real-life Coy Duke!

Here, Cherry watches a video with Kevin Webb of Tennessee (owner of that aforementioned -- and twice pictured -- Chickasaw County car), while Cherry's charming blond assistant, Brooke, looks on! (The video? It depicts Kevin jumping a clunker car. You know how it is.)

The amazing Zealand (known to some as Andrew Watt -- but not to us!!!) has made the trip all the way from New Zealand two years in a row to hang out with us.

"I bet Bo and Luke never signed a cracker!" Cherry quipped at Friday night's dinner with the stars.

If you ask us, the boat was the primo ride of Saturday morning's parade down the main street of town.

Remember that thing we said about not sitting still?

On Sunday afternoon, Cherry took a turn in the dunk tank. Kids lined up from all around (especially the tiny, tiny ones!). "C'mon!" Cherry taunted from the tank. "I wanna go swimming! It's hot out here!"

"Dunk a Duke! Dunk a Duke!" he continued. "C'mon, you little Dukes -- dunk a big Duke!"

... And he was down for the count. Right away. By a little kid, no less. Of course, we can't say that every single kid in line didn't get a little help from the show organizer! Anything for a good cause.

Photos by Billie Rae Bates / BRBTV
Copying with credit is OK; a link would be grand
More event photos can always be found in BRB's Yahoo group

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