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Remember Serang the tiger? He was a movie star! And Cheryl Miller pulled his tail!

from Ralph Helfer’s Facebook page:

serangSerang was featured in the TV Guide article, “The Lady and the Tiger”
(see previous post) -
here’s a picture of Cheryl Miller pulling Serang’s tail.

cheryl miller as paula tracy with sarang the tiger on daktari

This picture of Serang was featured in the Africa U.S.A. article in TV Guide (see previous post).

Be sure and visit Ralph Helfer’s Facebook page -
he provided trained animals for many films and TV series.

Click to Tweet & Share: Remember Serang the tiger? He was a movie star! And Cheryl Miller pulled his tail! http://wp.me/p3hKG3-fZ
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What has become of Ralph Helfer, genius animal trainer for Daktari? Plus another new video: Cheryl Miller’s appearance on The Streets of San Francisco

ralph helfer todayRalph Helfer, the genius animal trainer known for his radical departure from conventional training techniques, is alive and well and living in Africa. Helfer, who introduced affection training to the animal world, is now an author and has written several books. His latest, Zamba: The True Story of the Greatest Lion That Ever Lived tells the story of a magnificent lion whom Helfer loved dearly (see previous post).

season 3 yale and cheryl with cheetahAlongside his writing, Helfer leads safaris in Africa. He has a Facebook page and I recently noticed a new picture from Daktari which he loaded. I left a comment, giving him the link to the post about Africa, U.S.A. and he wrote back,

“So nice to know that someone remembers the wonderful days of Daktari. Keep it up! The series is one of the reasons I started to write. There where so many wonderful animal things happening I felt they should be in print .I hope my readers have enjoyed them. R.H.”

You can follow Helfer on his Facebook page. Leave him a comment and let him know how much you enjoyed Daktari.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

On another note, I have loaded another video onto the YouTube Daktari Fan Site of Cheryl Miller’s appearance on the Streets of San Francisco. As you will see, it is a rather different role for Cheryl who was trying to branch out:

My thanks to Ken for this clip.

Click to Tweet & Share: What has become of Ralph Helfer, genius animal trainer for Daktari ? Plus, new TV appearance video w/Cheryl Miller http://wp.me/p3hKG3-fQ
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A sampling of Cheryl Miller’s television appearances in the 1960′s

When I set out to recreate my Cheryl Miller scrapbook, my vision was small. Just replace my pictures. I probably now have twice as many pictures as I ever had with my scrapbook, having replaced several treasured ones, and acquiring many more new photos.

As a kid I I wished I had been able to see Cheryl in some of her other television appearances. Thanks to readers Ken and Walter, I’ve been able to see many of them and now I will share them with you!

Here are some rare videos from some of Cheryl’s guest starring roles on classic 1960′s sitcoms:

Leave it To Beaver

as Helen in “The Party Spoiler” (1962) (episode available on Netflix)

Perry Mason

as First Girl in “The Case of the Lurid Letter” (1962)

My Three Sons

as Georgina Williams in “Never Look Back” (1964)

Be sure and check out the new Daktari Fan Site YouTube channel for more videos!

Click to Tweet & Share: A sampling of Cheryl Miller’s television appearances in the 1960′s http://wp.me/p3hKG3-fh
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Time for a Daktari Reboot? Who should play Marsh, Paula, Jack and Mike?

Guest post by Ken Lynch (author of our Episode Guides)

the man from uncleThe recent (June 2013) announcement that Henry Cavill is going from “Man of Steel” to a theatrical movie reboot of “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” has made me think about the possibilities for rebooting our favourite 1960s TV series “Daktari”.

Why not a reboot?

While “Daktari” didn’t have the onscreen longevity of “U.N.C.L.E.”, it certainly had a relatively good run of four seasons.  I have also read several entries on the internet asking why the show had never been remade over the years.

wameru3

Of course, I don’t think that “Daktari” has the pulling power to justify a big screen return but it could generate enough interest to consider a Made-for-TV remake (and potential series return?).

Original cast members that are still living

cheryl miller and erin moran daktari

The disadvantage that “Daktari” has is that only one of the original stars of the TV series (70 year old Cheryl Miller) is still alive – if you don’t count late entry to the TV series 52 year old Erin Moran.  However, as recent postings on this website have revealed, Cheryl Miller is still alive and well in Arizona and I am sure the right offer might coax her out of retirement for a return to the screen (even if it was a cameo appearance).

Where to film

The other factor against any “Daktari” reboot is the absence of the original film location Africa U.S.A.  However, I’m sure there are similar locations still available in the Soledad Canyon area that could substitute (maybe the Shambala Preserve?).

But enough of the negatives, let’s look at the positive possibilities for the return of “Daktari”!

Past or present?

Any reboot could obviously pick up the “Daktari” storyline years down the track and feature the descendents of the Tracy family continuing their adventures on the Wameru Reserve.  However, I think the better possibility might be to explore how Wameru was first established.

wameru7

There were passing references to this background in the TV series (with a reference to Marsh Tracy’s departed wife in the First Season and several mentions of Tracy gaining Government permission to run the Wameru Reserve) and even in some of the paperback books.

Exploring Daktari’s beginnings

But wouldn’t it be interesting to explore how Tracy’s love of animals and the African bush turned into his dream of creating Wameru?

This scenario would get over the problem of the absence of the original stars of the TV show and allow new actors to take on the key roles.  The storyline would have to obviously pre-date the events in “Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion” and ideally move through to the very early days of the Reserve after Jack Dane and Mike Makula had joined the team.

Motivation for Wameru

daktaritvshow.wordpress.com marshall thompson autograph actormunder.comThere would be plenty of opportunities to go into Tracy’s early days in Africa, the reason why he chose to start Wameru, the hardships in creating the Wameru compound alongside his wife and young daughter, the process of recruiting Jack and Mike, his first meeting with Hedley, etc.

If the TV movie was successful, this approach would leave the way open for lots more adventures on the small screen should “Daktari” be picked up as a TV series again.

Who would portray the characters?

The big question would be to consider which of today’s actors and actresses are best suited for the key roles of Marsh, Paula, Jack, Mike and Hedley (not forgetting animal ‘stars’ to portray Judy and Clarence, of course).  I have my own thoughts, but this late-night musing could perhaps be the basis of further discussion and input on this website?

Bring back Cheryl Miller

Any reboot wouldn’t be the same if Cheryl Miller did not have some involvement of course.  There are several ways in which this could be done (even if it was behind the scenes advising on the script) but my preference would be an onscreen appearance.

In my ‘back to the beginning’ scenario, Cheryl couldn’t really play Paula (or even her mother).  However, why not as Paula’s grandmother who could join the Tracy family in their quest to establish Wameru?

Precedent set?

wild at hearthayley millsThere is a precedent for this  approach with the successful UK TV series “Wild at Heart”, a similarly themed vet-goes-to-Africa show (remade less successfully for the US as “Life is Wild”).  Veteran actress Hayley Mills played the matriarchal figure of the Trevanion family who made semi-regular appearances on the show.  Cheryl Miller certainly looks well enough (and just as beautiful as she was onscreen all those years ago) to be able to put in similar appearances on any “Daktari” TV movie or subsequent series!

Time for a reboot?

The possibilities are endless and I’m sure many of this website’s readers have their own views.  I’d just like to ‘sow the seed’ for further discussion and perhaps start a groundswell of support for resurrecting one of the most popular animal adventure TV series of all time.

What do you think? Focus on the past or concentrate on the future? What actors/actresses would you choose for a reboot?

Click to Tweet & Share: Time for a Daktari Reboot? Who should play Marsh, Paula, Jack, and Mike? http://wp.me/p3hKG3-f1
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Erin Moran Biographical Information

erin moran season four-2From Wikipedia: Erin Moran was cast as Jenny Jones in the television series Daktari, which ran from 1966 to 1969.  [Moran joined the cast during the fourth season to provide the father-daughter dynamic that was missing now that Cheryl Miller was 24 years old. Jenny Jones was an orphan adopted by Marsh. In an attempt to appeal to children, many of the stories from season 4 focused on Jenny. Unfortunately Daktari was cancelled in the middle of the fourth season.]

In 1968, she made her feature-film debut in How Sweet It Is! with Debbie Reynolds. She appeared in 80 Steps to Jonah (1969) and Watermelon Man (1970). She made regular appearances on The Don Rickles Show in 1972. She made guest appearances in The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, My Three Sons, Bearcats! and Family Affair. As a young child, she was also on the television series Gunsmoke.

erin moran from daktari and happy days5In 1974, Moran was cast to play her best known role, Joanie Cunningham on the sitcom Happy Days. She played the feisty younger sister of Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard). Moran continued the role in 1982 in the short-lived spin-off series Joanie Loves Chachi, alongside Scott Baio. After Joanie Loves Chachi’s cancellation in 1983, she returned to Happy Days for its final season.

Moran has made several other television guest appearances, including The Love Boat, Murder, She Wrote and Diagnosis: Murder. In 2007, she made an appearance in the independent comedy feature Not Another B Movie. In 2008, she was a contestant on VH1′s reality show Celebrity Fit Club. In 2013, despite reports that she would be reunited with former Happy Days co-stars Henry Winkler, Ron Howard and Scott Baio in the fourth season of Arrested Development, she did not appear in the revamped Netflix series.

Wikipedia has more on Moran’s life and career – click here to read.

Click to Tweet & Share: Before Joannie Cunningham on Happy Days, there was Jenny Jones on Daktari Erin Moran Biographical Information http://wp.me/p3hKG3-eC
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Ross Hagen Biographical Information

ross hagen daktari season fourFrom Wikipedia: Ross Hagen (May 21, 1938 – May 7, 2011) was an American voice actor, actor, director, screenwriter and producer whose television acting credits included Daktari.

His film credits included The Sidehackers in 1969 and The Hellcats in 1967. His video game credits included Red Dead Redemption and Undead Nightmare.

Hagen was born Leland Lando Lilly in Williams, Arizona, on May 21, 1938. However, he was raised on an Oregon farm. Hagen and his first wife had two children, Bob Lilly and Julie Lilly-Beloit. He was married to his second wife, Claire Polan, an actress from 1963 until her death in 2003.

Outside of acting, Hagen also served in the United States Army.

daktaritvshow.wordpress.com ross hagen bart jason daktariHagen began his acting career during the 1960s. His early career included guest appearances on The Virginian and The Big Valley. He was cast in the CBS television series Daktari, in 1968. He portrayed a safari photographer named Bart Jason until the end of the show in 1969.

Hagen’s other film credits included The Mini-Skirt Mob and Speedway in 1968.

His other credits as a director and producer have included Reel Horror, The Media Madman and Time Wars. Before his death Ross, also provided the voice of Landon Ricketts, a retired gunslinger, in the video game Red Dead Redemption. He also starred in Dinosaur Island and Fugitive Rage, both directed by Fred Olen Ray.

Ross Hagen died of prostate cancer at his home in Brentwood, Los Angeles, on May 7, 2011, at the age of 72.

Here is a tribute to him with lots of extra information on the Tough and Gritty blog.

Click to Tweet & Share: Remember the character of Bart Jason on Dakari? He was played by Ross Hagen. Biographical Information http://wp.me/p3hKG3-e0
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Hedley Mattingly Biographical Information

hedley mattingly daktari2Born on May 7, 1915, Hedley Mattingly is best remembered by Daktari fans as Officer Hedley.

From All Movie Guide: British actor Hedley Mattingly primarily played character roles on television and only occasionally appeared in feature films of the 1960s. The London-born Mattingly launched his career as a Shakespearean actor. Following service in the Royal Air Force during WWII, he worked as the Front of House manager at the Theatre Royal, Windsor.

Mattingly and his wife, costume designer Barbara Mattingly, emigrated to Canada in the early ’50s. He became an actor for CBC Television and appeared in several dramas. The couple became Hollywood residents in the 1960s.

Mattingly made his feature film debut in 1963, playing a chauffeur in Norman Jewison’s The Thrill of It All. His subsequent film credits include King Rat (1965), Lost Horizon (1973), and All of Me (1984). ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

hedley marsh and paula on daktari season threeFrom Wikipedia: Born in London, England, Mattingly was featured in Alexander Galt: The Stubborn Idealist (1962), King Rat (1965), and The Bermuda Triangle (1979).

Mattingly portrayed the role of Officer Hedley in the CBS television series, Daktari (1966–1969) starring Marshall Thompson in the title role. In the 1960s and 1970s, he guest-starred in the NBC series Thriller (1962). He also appeared on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Perry Mason, Mannix, Night Gallery, Ironside, and Columbo. His last appearance was in the film Riot (1997), with Sugar Ray Leonard.

He passed away from cancer at the age of 82 on March 3, 1998.

Click to Tweet & Share: Hedley Mattingly Biographical Information http://wp.me/p3hKG3-dI
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